An agoraphobic woman will confront her fears which took her to her lowest point as she pays tribute to her late grandmother.
Brave Sarah Robson will join thousands of participants at this year’s Memory Walk in South Tyneside – a scenario she could never have imagined possible until recently.
The 22-year-old has suffered from depression since her late teens and has a deep-seated fear of public places.
But she is determined to overcome her anxiety to honour the memory of her grandmother Patricia, who died in June this year after a seven-year battle with dementia.
The North East Memory Walk – run by the Alzheimer’s Society’s – takes place in Bents Park, South Shields, on Saturday, October 8.
An estimated 4,000 people are expected to take part.
At the height of my depression I felt suicidal, and I would go to sleep hoping my eyes wouldn’t open again.Sarah Robson
Sarah, from South Shields, said: “Taking part in Memory Walk will be a huge step for me, especially as I will be doing it on my own.
“I’m recovering from agoraphobia and have suffered from depression since I was 17, so participating in such a big event won’t be easy, but I’m determined to go through with it.
“At the height of my depression I felt suicidal, and I would go to sleep hoping my eyes wouldn’t open again.
“It really was that bad.”
One of Sarah’s coping strategies, which have been taught to her by a therapist, is to listen to calming music when she gets anxious.
Top of her playlist during the Memory Walk will be North East band The Lighthouse Family.
Sarah said: “Their music has helped me though my darkest days.
“I’ve met the lead singer Tunde and he was lovely and so supportive when I told him about my problems.
“I now have his name tattooed on my arm next to a symbol of the sun, because he told me every day was a new beginning.
“That’s a thought that keeps me going when I get anxious, and I’ll certainly be listening to his music on my iPhone during Memory Walk to get me through.”
Sarah’s grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease seven years ago and passed away in June.
Sarah said: “I have so many fond memories of Nana Pat.
“She taught me to cross stich when I was just five years old and that’s something I still do.
“My grandad looked after her for as long as he could but she was eventually admitted to a care home in March and died 12 weeks later.
“At her funeral we raised £200 for the Alzheimer’s Society through donations.
Former music student Sarah is currently unemployed but hopes to secure work as a teaching assistant.
She added: “When I saw an advertisement for Memory Walk, I felt it was something I had to do.
“It’s a way of paying tribute to Nana Pat and helping my own recovery at the same time.”
Rebecca Scott, Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk Officer, said: “People have all sorts of personal reasons for taking part in Memory Walk – it can be in memory of a loved one, to celebrate someone affected by the condition or simply to create memories with family and friends.
“Sarah’s reasons are quite unique. She’s a brave and thoughtful young woman and I hope she has a very special day to remember.”