A FIREFIGHTER who found herself in a “dark place” following the death of her boyfriend and while in toxic relationship has spoken about her mental health fight.

Katie Maynard, of Brightlingsea, will soon be an on-call firefighter for the Essex Fire and Rescue Service.

The 28-year-old is training at Dovercourt Fire Station, in Harwich.

Seven months ago the emergency worker’s outlook on life took a turn for the worse and she did not know where to turn or how to alter her mindset.

She predominantly found herself struggling to cope with the death of her boyfriend, who had been tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in 2018.

Katie, who runs a business training horses, also found herself in a destructive relationship with a new partner and spent majority of her time drinking alcohol.

"I moved out of my family home and started living on my own,” she said.

“I spent a year not caring about anything other than alcohol and partying and then I found myself in a toxic relationship.

"I was suicidal, I was in a hole and it took me a long time to get out of it."

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Katie’s life, however, was given new meaning after she decided to train to become an on-call firefighter in her hometown of Brightlingsea and turned to exercise.

Since doing so, she says her mental wellbeing and relationships with her family and friends have dramatically improved and she is overall more positive.

She said: "I found an on-call advert on Facebook and my mum joked about it at first but then I thought: 'I really fancy that.'

"I threw myself into the fitness side of things and started looking after my mental wellness.

“I was running every day and bought weights and other equipment because I didn't know how fit I'd have to get.

"The fire service really gave me a goal, something to aim for, and I'm still running three times a week and using the station gym."

She decided to share her struggles with her mental health for Mental Health Awareness Week to encourage more people to reach out for support.

Katie, who should be able to attend incident from June, added: "I've suffered from depression throughout my life, but I never used to talk about my problems.

“It wasn't until I got angry and my personality changed that I realised I needed to do something.

"My advice is to talk. All I needed to do was to talk to friends and family.

"I have never felt so happy and comfortable in my own skin than I do today. My message is: 'You are amazing just the way you are and there is help and support if you need it'."

If you are struggling with your mental health visit essex.gov.uk/mental-health/get-help-and-support.