Michelle is running the London Marathon to highlight the pressure and struggles she faced in her Performing Arts Career.
Having suffered with depression from a young age, I found dance and sport an excellent outlet to express my feelings, and channel it into creativity, enabling me to express myself through movement.
I had worked for many years working to reach my full potential as a dancer and prepare myself for working professionally in the industry.
When it came to my career, I found it so hard to cope with the high level of competition, the pressure of being judged by others, and having to look a certain way the expectation of being a particular size, and overall being made to feel like a piece of meat. Although I knew at the back of my mind that this was the reality of the industry, my passion, drive and determination carried me through my doubts and anxiety.
Through my performing career, it felt what I can only describe as a very lonely and daunting time – living out of a suitcase in strange places with complete strangers, working with horrible and bitchy casts, always being away from home with no friends or family around. Nobody prepares you for this. I felt like what I had worked my whole life to do was now a challenge in itself.
Getting through years of tough and intense training was battle number 1, whilst being told “I’ll never make it”. Then facing my challenges in my career which I thought would be like ‘living the dream’ turned out to be battle number 2. I had nobody around me to share my doubts, life struggles and concerns with, or take my mind away from my constant self doubt and mind games, which I had in fact struggled with my whole life, but soon discovered how radically it had developed.
My passion for dance and performing was completely swallowed up by my extreme life struggles, which I no longer wanted to face. I was in everyway so deeply unhappy, I felt like I couldn’t do anything else, I felt unwanted, useless to the world and didn’t want to forever be faced with these horrendous feelings of constant dejection, distress and disappointment. I needed a way out, years of battling with myself came to a head.
I eventually reached out and came clean – it was worth at least trying to talk before considering the worst.
After 5 years, that was the end of my performing career, which is sad as I was so passionate and good at what I did. If at the time, I had professional support for this, maybe things would have been different.
My close family and friends are so understanding of my mental health and are very supportive, they are just brilliant.
I hope my story raises awareness for young performers and people alike in the industry who need someone to talk to.