Lea Gibson otherwise known in the blogging world as ‘Sincerely Shug', is currently studying part time for a degree in combined social sciences as well as an ambassador for the Prince's Trust. In addition to these commitments she is an established beauty and lifestyle blogger. Lea has accomplished much whilst living with a number of mental health conditions.
Lea grew up in London and Essex with her mum and three siblings including her twin brother. She explained that her "family is a cocktail" with a mixture of St. Lucian, Carib and Portuguese members.
"Mental health illness is not exclusive to one type of person, anyone can fall into mental health conditions at any point of their life"
I was really impressed when Lea shared her experience of mental illness with me as it is a highly stigmatised topic. (She has spoken about her mental health conditions on her blog too). Lea uncovered a number of mental health conditions she has been diagnosed with:
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD):
At eight years old Lea was diagnosed with GAD; she would become anxious over a number of different things at junior school, from her handwriting to the homework she was given. This condition has never left her and she continues to manage it with support.
"Severe depression was diagnosed in 2010"
She explained that she has overcome "the worse...but it can still flare up."
Agoraphobia can also occur in "bouts"
This condition stems from anxiety about certain circumstances such as leaving the house or using public transport as the affected person might feel as though they may be in danger or that they cannot 'escape' from a particular situation. NHS choices explains the condition well.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
Lea will be talking more about this condition on her blog so keep an eye out for her experiences with this on Sincerely Shug.
I asked Lea how these conditions affect her daily and she explained that it varies tremendously so she tries to take one day at a time. Counselling and medications have been tried but she feels that in time she will be able to fully understand and manage her conditions.
I asked Lea if she had any advice for those living with mental health issues:
"In general I think if you are struggling with your mental health reach out to someone, that can be your brother, mother, sister, cousin, friend or doctor. Let them know how you are feeling so you have someone you can confide in. Set small goals for yourself; don’t think nothing is unachievable as things do get better. Even if you have just got out of the bed in the morning- at least you got up"
Sincerely Shug, (previously known as Shugahlicious Shug) derived from a nickname her friends gave her with 'Shug' being short for sugar. The site has come a long way and it all began in 2011 when Lea used it as an outlet; it helped her to focus on something else during her depressive episodes. She writes primarily about beauty, (which has always been an interest of hers) and her mental health conditions, (so that others in similar situations realise they are not suffering alone).
Lea denied her blog as being "successful" but definitely thinks it has come a long way and did not believe it would have progressed as much as it has over the four years.
Lea has been an ambassador for the Prince's Trust for approximately a year after joining "their team programme" whilst living in a hostel. She helps other young people by sharing her own personal experiences in addition to guiding them to services tailored to their needs. She explained that she enjoys "everything" about working at the organisation. "How can you not love a job that enables you to help other people and see them reach their potential?" She describes being able to experience places she would have only seen in her dreams as well as discussing important issues in parliament. She has even "made grown men cry" with her inspiring story thus far!
To finish off I asked her what advice she would have for her past and future selves:
"Things get better and believe in yourself because you are capable of much more than you think. And after everything you have been through you are a pretty tough cookie"
"Keep doing you girl!"
Words of Wisdom
"Be the best you can be...
FAIL- First Attempt In Learning.
END- Effort Never Dies.
If you get NO as an answer, remember NO means Next Opportunity"
Lea has overcome and continues to overcome a number of obstacles daily. She is a brave individual as she faces her illnesses head on; she also shares her mental health issues and experiences with the world by trying to raise awareness and understanding of many mental health conditions not often talked about or publicised. We need more people talking about pertinent issues such as this and I hope that through some of the articles I have already written about mental health as well as sharing Lea's story I can help to contribute to exposing mental health issues so that everyone understands it more and is not frightened to talk about it.
Lea is a strong black woman and role model who sets a shining example to those around her. She is focused on helping others and making a difference in the lives of those she encounters. She is intelligent and strong minded. I hope that we can all learn from her experiences and use them as strength when we ourselves are trying to surmount major issues or indeed cope with mental health issues we might face.
Source of featured image.