#timetotalk @timetochange

So around it comes again, time to talk day. As a youth worker, I deal with and talk about mental health issues all the time.

I am also open about my own mental health, having suffered five major depressive episodes in my life, and now, permanently on antidepressants.

Really, you are supposed to talk to people face to face today, but to talk in depth would feel too exposed for me, so here it is in a blog post.

The medication and my own self care, which includes prayer, mindfulness, healthy eating, regular dog walking and sleep (as much as a new mum ever gets) keeps me well.

But there in lies the thing.

I have found that talking about mental health, people tend to see it as “my thing” as in, they don’t mind me being passionate about the subject, and will listen to me talk about it… But that’s as far as it goes. People generally, I find, don’t really want to take action.

Secondly, people are great when you have a crisis. So five, nearly six years ago, when I was too depressed even to leave the house, people were very kind to me.

But when it comes to living with clinical depression, if you are well enough to work, and you look cheerful, people forget you have a chronic illness.

No one sees how much effort, how much energy it takes, just to be normal.

If I slip at all with my self care, particularly at this time of year (between December and March), I would become unwell.

And I see other people able to do so much in their lives and I think of all the things I could fit in my life if I were mentally strong enough… But I’m not.

Keeping the discipline of a balanced life is what keeps me well enough to work and to take care of my son properly.

Its so hard, actually. You don’t get medals for ordinary, even when it takes extraordinary effort to get there. People don’t realise that their starting point is my mid point.

So next time you see people being ordinary, remember, for some of us, that, in itself, is a daily achievement.

Something new, something old and preferably nothing blue.

So apparently the meaning of my life starts today, as I turn 42 😊

And I am planning to take hold of this coming year with both hands.

I saw a @tearfundlife  article recently on how our lives can be a place:

where the outsider is brought close, the excluded are ushered in and the down-trodden are given refuge.


This matters a great deal to me and I want my life to be:

  a roaring fireplace of safety and warmth, rather than a mat that tells you to wipe the dirt from your feet before entering.

So figuring out what that looks like this year is my top priority.

I have other priorities, never stop learning, keep on being creative, find wonder wherever I can and stay well.

So my something new is going to be joining a flower arranging club in January.

My something old will be continuing the diploma I have been doing… well forever really. And the future learn courses I have on the go, and maybe one or two more.
Finally I intend to keep in top of my health, so no blue for me hopefully,  just the gym, proper sleep, lots of prayer and healthy food.

I wonder, what would your old, new and not blue things be?

#mentalhealth voices: lived, supporting or professional, get your voice heard.

This week I am curating the twitter feed mh_voices.

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It is always a privalage to hear other people’s stories and I am using this week to get as many people heard as possible. I may not be a politician or a celebrity and my voice may not get heard very far away, but listening is an act of love, and as mother Theresa said:

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

So this week I get to help promote the voices of people who sometimes find even getting out of bed and dressed takes all the mental strength they have… and yet get up and go to work/college/school anyway. Surely this is worth hearing.

So many people with mental ill health get on each day and do the same day as their co workers but it takes the courage of heroes to do.

Here is to their often unnoticed battle.

I see you.

@Number10gov shows total disregard for #democracy

I used to be the kind of average middle class citizen that believed in government and supporting our national leaders.
I have always voted and enouraged others to participate in the democratic process (and will continue to do so).

But now I am beginnjng to wonder if I even live in a democracy.

Truly, can this government get any worse? They disregard the poor, even though five months ago they said they wouldnt, ignore the mentally ill and are now showing a China like attitude to democracy.

Doesn’t this scare anyone else?

Right now our government is putting into law what we are allowed to protest or not.

And this is not just about Israel, it’s about weapons, tobacco and fossil fuels. Read this from the independent:

“Under the plan all publicly funded institutions will lose the freedom to refuse to buy goods and services from companies involved in the arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco products or Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank….
…The only exemption will be UK-wide sanctions decided by the Government in Westminster.”

You can see the full article here:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/israel-boycott-local-councils-public-bodies-and-student-unions-to-be-banned-from-shunning-israeli-a6874006.html

We live in worrying times.

September 2015 David Cameron says they won’t scrap.the funding for free school meals.

This month news comes out that the funding for free school meals is being scrapped.

The government’s own task force reveals the appalling state of mental health provision in our country.

#timetotalk addendum

Today the lovely people at the Blurt Foundation posted this on their instagram:

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It’s so true. I hate having to spend so much time and effort just to remain well.
Others sail through the week without so much as a thought to the fact that they are well – it is taken for granted.
Don’t get me wrong, I am so very grateful to be well. I notice it all the time and thank  God for it.
But all the same. All that time and energy spent maintaining wellness. Imagine what I could do if being well was effortless and I could use all that energy for something else. Imagine the projects that could be started, the goals achieved…
So yes, this little cartoon does indeed, say it all.

It’s #timetotalk day: on #depression and staying well

So its time to talk day once again and the mental health  charity Time to Change is asking the UK to talk about mental health in a bid to reduce stigma.

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Personally I have lived, either well or ill with depression since my late teens. During that time I have had four major depressive episodes, three lots of face to face councelling and done the lightening process course (all private, the latter I held a cake sale to raise money for my own therapy). As well as a six week over the phone cbt course and ongoing medication from the NHS.

If I hadn’t had sypathetic family, friends and work colleagues, I would never have been able to be so proactive.

It saddens me that  there is so much out there that can be of genuine help to those suffering from depression and other mental health difficulties, but the government doesn’t even cover the cost of extreme crisis.

There aren’t even enough services for fire fighting, and as a consequence, people are going up in flames.

And people forget that even when you are well enough to go back to work, it isn’t over.

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I continue to keep an eye on what I eat and how much sleep I get. I exercise regularly, do mindful meditation and pray. I also take antidepressants and work part time.

It means I am well and productive most of the time. And and yet when it comes to talking about mental health to others, I find I get pigeon holed – it’s “my thing” (just like environmental care is apparently) and yet surely it’s all of our thing?
I expect I need to learn better ways of approaching the topic, but also I have a plea – please remember it really is your thing too.

When I try to discuss my own mental health, I find people tend to panic if I say “I’m not so well right now” and respond by parenting me.
You know the kind of thing “no you can’t do that it’s too much for you ” um, how would you know what is or isn’t too much for me when you haven’t asked?

Of course, people are kind and we’ll meaning, but I have discovered it is easier not to say anything unless I am so ill I feel I can’t do my job properly.
On the flip side, I have never suffered from serious prejudice – I told my present employer that I have depression and they still employed me.

So there you have it, I have talked and shared. If you would like to continue the conversation, feel free to comment, I will of course read and reply to you.