Barley teen set for charity fundraisers inspired by mental health journey
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
A Barley teenager has spoken about their experiences of mental illness ahead of a fundraising tea party this weekend.
Cisco Higgins - who identifies as non-binary - began experiencing symptoms when they were completing their GCSE exams at Freman College in Buntingford.
Cisco, now 18, told the Crow: "The brain is an organ. If you have a problem with your kidneys or your lungs it is accepted you need medication, but when it comes to treating the brain there is stigma around it.
"For me it was a genetic component, because I had a wonderful childhood. But the stress of my GCSEs meant I couldn't cope, and I was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service."
Cisco spent three months in a mental health unit in Kent and was treated for conditions including depression, gender dysphoria and anorexia.
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They said the information they received from mental health charity Mind was pivotal in them accepting there was something wrong.
"I hadn't realised that something was up," said Cisco.
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"I thought the way I was feeling was normal and I was so stuck in that routine and didn't see that something was seriously wrong at first."
Cisco, who is a bartender at The Old Courthouse in Royston, is taking on the 350-mile Euro City Cycle Challenge for Mind this September in the latest in a string of charity challenges and gestures - which have also included taking on a 10K, and shaving their head for the Little Princess Trust.
They said: "Each year I like to do something for charity because it makes me feel good and I like to help other people, and this year I wanted to do this for Mind because they were very helpful to me when I needed information. I had no idea what was going on with me, but their leaflets and website really helped.
"I am a little bit scared, but I am going to do it - I'm excited."
To fund their charity ride, Cisco has been hosting charity events and the latest is a vintage tea room event this weekend, where they will be doing all the baking and sandwich making - and even decorating with their own homemade bunting.
"The tea room event came about because I love vintage stuff and tea is my lifeblood, and when I told my boss Aidan about it he was really supportive," they said.
"A year ago I couldn't hold down a job because I couldn't leave the house - and now look at me go.
"The Courthouse have been awesome, Freman College have been awesome and the NHS and Mind are wonderful, I just want to give something back."
Cisco's vintage tea room will open on Saturday from 12 noon until 4pm at The Old Courthouse in Fish Hill. Check out Cisco's fundraising page at justgiving.com/cisco-higgins1.