Debs Taylor is one of our Trust’s most inspirational success stories. Battling with depression, she was left isolated, lost, and with no desire to go on. However, after picking up a leaflet for an art group funded by our charity, Creative Minds, her life was completely transformed. Debs now works for Creative Minds as a peer project support worker and has sold and exhibited her artwork across the country.
The change in Debs’ life has seen her involved in a number of high-profile events and award ceremonies – either as a speaker raising awareness of mental health or as a well-deserved winner. Most recently, she was shortlisted at the Sue Ryder Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards.
Debs was a nominee in the Jane Tomlinson Courage Award category, which recognises people who have shown courage or determination in the face of adversity or personal difficulties.
After the event, held at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, Debs said:
“I just want everyone to look at the smiles of the people in the picture of me and my beautiful daughters at the Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards on Friday. I was a shortlisted candidate – sadly I didn’t win the award, but just getting as far as I did was a huge achievement to me.
“My girls are smiling because I am still alive. Six years ago I thought the only answer to my mental health issues was to take my own life. I had no hope and no purpose in life. I was invisible and nothing but a burden to the system and certainly to my girls who were my carers at times. I was desperate, on lots of medication and just existing with no quality of life.
“So much has happened to me since I took up the art class with Creative Minds that saved and ultimately changed my life beyond any recognition. I am no longer medicated, no longer classed as a service user, have my first ever full time job, do talks all over the country about my journey, mental health awareness, anti-stigma, suicide awareness and suicide prevention. I have had apple juice at Buckingham Palace and met several high profile people along the way.
“My biggest ever achievement is seeing my girls happy at the awards. Had I not discovered art my girls would not be smiling in a picture next to their mum. They would not be there helping me celebrate being shortlisted. They would not finally be proud and inspired by the very person they should have always been looking up to.”