In January, I was lucky enough to take part in an amazing photo shoot along with five other Time To Change Campaigners (in association with The Metro Newspaper) about a series of articles to raise awareness of mental health and getting people to speak out about it. The article ran at the beginning of February; you may have seen it in the newspaper recently.
An Actress in a different role
I have to say I was a little nervous about taking part and unsure in many respects of what to expect. Being an Actress and Presenter by trade I am used to doing a number of different shoots, commercials, stills, short films, TV projects but they have all required me to play a certain role; putting on the costume, or styling the hair differently to take on a whole new persona. This photo shoot and interview would be about me, Emily - something/someone for many years I have struggled to be comfortable with.
When I arrived at The Metro head offices I had an awkward moment with the security guard who was trying to mouth to me “other door”. I have never been any good at lip reading, despite my training in British Sign Language.
I felt special being here
Finally, upon entering and ascending the escalators to the atrium, I felt like I was about to meet 007 for some secret mission, I had no idea who 007 was. I started to act out the role as I frantically scanned the seating areas. I wasn’t meeting 007 at all but rather a lovely lady called Alliaya from The Metro. The point is I felt really quite special being here.
The building had a wonderful opulent feeling to it. Light shone through beautifully from the glass windows and high flying business bods, media professionals, experts in their fields were gathering in pairs and smalls groups discussing their next projects. I was quite taken aback by it, wondering what these people do for a living? How old they were? How did they get into this profession, whatever it is they do? How glamorous they were? I often do this, I love to people watch, trouble is, I’m not the most subtle people watcher in the world. Luckily before I got caught out I was called in.
The friendly make-up artist made me feel good about myself
I was taken through to make-up first. I am always incredibly conscious of my eyebrows; one of the things with my Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is that many years ago when my BDD was at its worst I really went at my eyebrows and they have never grown back. I made my excuses about how bad they were but the friendly make-up artist assured me they were fine and her warmth and friendly nature made me immediately trust her. She made me feel so good about myself.
For the first time in a while, I said "Thank you"
For those of you that don’t know, about 9 years ago I was diagnosed with BDD alongside my OCD and I took to picking at my skin on quite a severe level to get rid of any imperfections that I saw. The thing was I didn’t suffer with any skin problems and didn’t really get spots I just didn’t like what I saw. This escalated completely out of control and coupled with my OCD I felt really out of my depth The makeup artist went on about how lovely my skin was and how soft and smooth it was. I sat there, wriggling in my seat, I’ve never been that comfortable with comments like this but, for the first time in a while, I said “Thank you”. She said “What do you use?” . We then got onto a big conversation about make-up and cosmetics and next thing I know I am being whisked into wardrobe and being put in a beautiful cerise pink dress.
I was inspired by stories from other Time to Change campaigners
The shoot went amazingly well. The photographer was brilliant and made everyone feel so at ease. The creative team, the people at The Metro, the Time To Change team and everyone else involved in the shoot made it one of the best days I have had for a long time. Rohan, one of the other guys involved with the shoot really made an impression on me, hearing his story was so incredibly inspirational and thought provoking. He does a great deal of running and has made big changes with his life, which were amazing to see and hear about. I felt so propelled and encouraged, leaving the shoot that I walked out with a spring in my step and smile from ear to ear. I even went for a run that night.