'I walked a mental health tightrope, but joining the circus saved me'

Suzie Bee credits circus training with helping her overcome depression and now works as an instructor.

A woman from Perth says joining the circus “saved her life” by helping with her depression and anxiety.

Suzie Bee was battling mental health issues and had been signed off work for six months when she came to Adventure Circus’ ever adult class in 2015.

The 35-year-old threw herself into her new hobby, progressing from participant to instructor and performer – teaching children’s classes, aerial hoop and silks, aerial yoga and circus-based fitness classes.

Now, Suzie helps others find fun, fitness, and balance in their lives.

She told STV News: “I was signed off work for six months with depression and anxiety, and unfortunately, it was suicidal at that time as well.

“Adventure Circus was the only thing I consistently looked forward to, the focus of my week. For me, it shows you things that look impossible, you work through them and they become possible.”

For many people, battling depression and anxiety can seem like walking a tightrope, but Suzie Bee credits acrobatics with lifting her from the darkest days.

Suzie Bee is now a performer and instructor

“They show you something, and I’m like, ‘I can’t do that. I’m never going to do that. I’m not letting go’,” she said.

“I always think it’s like the impossible becomes possible. I totally live by that and try to help others do that as well.

“It’s totally saved me, and it gives me a purpose.”

She’s now urging others to give it a try at the Perth and Kinross Mental Health and Wellbeing Festival at Perth Concert Hall this weekend.

Now in its third year and organised by Perth charity Trauma Healing Together, this year’s festival theme is ‘Mental Health for All: Promoting Inclusivity and Connection’, aimed at breaking down the barriers people face when seeking or accessing support.

People can try their hand at acrobatics, and for those who prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground, yoga, photography, and arts and crafts are also on offer.

It’s organised by Roxanne Kerr, the CEO of Trauma Healing Together, to help the growing number of people in need of support.

She said: “Our referrals for trauma support have tripled, so there is a real need, and a festival like ours is about ‘actually, it’s ok to ask for help, but also bringing in that aspect of fun.

“Mental health doesn’t have to be this negative, terrible thing that you are stuck with for the rest of your life. We can have meaningful lives.”

Suzie is participating in free workshops and a circus show at the festival and would like to use her experience to help others.

She said: “I’m helping other people now, boost their confidence or self-esteem, many with mental health conditions.

Suzie Bee said acrobatics helps boost confidence and makes the 'impossible possible'

“It’s lovely to see them progress from being like, ‘I’m not getting in the air. I’m not sitting on that. Am I letting go with one hand? No chance’.

“And now they’re flying through the air, and they’re smiling and laughing.

“I would say at the weekend, come and have a go, because once you’ve taken the first initial step, you’ll be like, ‘Oh, I did it. Oh, I did let go with one hand’.

“And you’ll be surprised what you can do. Being physically strong helps me be mentally strong. It’s probably the best place I’ve been.”

For more information about the festival, visit https://www.traumahealingtogether.org/mental-health-festival-2023.

Help and support is available now if you need it. Details of services available can be found at stv.tv/advice

The Samaritans can be contacted any time, from any phone, free on 116 123, email at jo@samaritans.org, or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch. Details of other services and more information can be found on the NHS website here.

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