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"I'm pushing myself to be brave": Take to the skies for Beat!

Take part along with hundreds of other brave fundraisers, and skydive together to help end the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders. Here, Abi tells us about her post-lockdown skydive challenge.

What inspired you to support Beat at this time? 

Beat have supported myself and my family throughout the past four years that I have struggled with an eating disorder. I wanted to raise awareness for this amazing charity so that anyone who has gone through a similar experience to me knows that they’re not alone and that there is help available. I know that lockdown and the constant changing situations that are going on in the world can make things a lot worse for people’s mental health. I’ve found it difficult having my regular routine stripped away as well as losing many distractions and social interactions. It’s important to me to keep supporting a charity that helps so many people, especially during this difficult time.

What motivated you to start your fundraising now (before booking your skydive)? 

I have always wanted to raise money for Beat and after finishing my second year of university in lockdown, I have had a lot of time to plan and prepare for it. I wanted to use my time at home to raise the money so when restrictions were lifted and skydiving centres were open, I could book my jump straight away. Also, raising the money for BEAT is the most important aspect of this experience, and therefore, it needed to be a priority. As I’ve mentioned, functioning normally during this pandemic can be very difficult for someone struggling with a mental health issue, so I wanted to raise the money during a time where I know Beat and people affected by eating disorders need it the most.

What response did you get from donors by taking this approach? Did you get the response you expected? 

The people who have donated money towards my skydive have been nothing but kind and supportive. Although I am very proud of how far I have come in recovery, I was very nervous to share my story, but it has allowed me to open up to family and friends, creating a discussion about mental health amongst the people closest to me. I did not expect to get as much support as I did, with many people I have not spoken to in a while donating money and sharing my story. It has made me feel very overwhelmed and grateful.

Why do you think people are happy to support you before booking your skydive? 

I think people are happy to support me because mental health illnesses affect so many people. For example, Coronavirus has caused a staggering 81% rise in demand for Beat’s helpline. Talking about my experiences with an eating disorder has helped many of my friends to speak to me about their mental health issues, and sometimes has encouraged them to seek help. I hope that by talking about my experiences with mental health issues whilst supporting Beat, I have shown others that they’re not alone and that services are available to help them.

How easy was this to do/explain to your family and friends? 

I tried to keep it casual to not make a big deal out of it, just slipping it into conversation when I was on a walk with my mum and sister like ‘yeah so I’ve decided that I’m gonna throw myself off a plane for charity because why not’. It’s scary to explain because every time you repeat it, it feels a lot more real and daunting. This happened especially as I raised the money, because then there reaaally was no turning back! But my family and friends have been nothing but supportive. Although, I’m not sure if my mum and sister will sleep well the night before!

Why did you choose a skydive for your post-lockdown challenge? 

I have always wanted to skydive and after I started using the resources available from Beat whilst I struggled with my eating disorder, I hoped to raise money for them. Then when I read that you can skydive to raise money for Beat, it was the perfect combination! I read on another blog post that skydiving for Beat can feel like you’re freeing yourself from your eating disorder, and that seemed special to me (and very metaphorical!). I also wanted to do something challenging so that I’m pushing myself to be brave, similar to how brave I have been to start recovery.

If you could say one thing to someone planning to do something really exciting for life after lockdown, how would you encourage them to fundraise while doing it? 

This is a bit of a difficult question because I didn’t hold any fundraising events to raise my money. However, I would say that it is incredibly rewarding knowing that whilst you’re doing something exciting, you’re also doing it for an incredible cause. I’d recommend that you choose a cause that is important to you, and that you’re aware of how your money can help. I feel very glad that the money I have raised will help Beat in their continuation to support people and families affected by eating disorders. It makes the whole exciting experience so much more special and personal. It also makes the very daunting thought of jumping off a plane a lot less terrifying because it represents so much more than me just skydiving. 

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