I could tell you all about the stats that are out there:
‘1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health condition in any given year’,
‘9 out of 10 people who suffer from mental health difficulties will be the subject of stigma and discrimination’,
and ‘nearly 3 in 4 young people fear the reaction of friends when they talk about their mental health difficulties’
( http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/mental-health-statistics-facts ).
Being Brave . . . .
On some level we are aware of these facts, we know people who suffer from mental health difficulties, these people are our friends, family, work colleagues. I would add myself to this list of people, I am not identified by this, nor does it define me. I have been told at different times to ‘Get a grip’, ‘dont be dramatic’, ‘why do you think you are any more important than anyone else’ and many more. I have had health professionals see me only as my mental illness, some can not see past it, family and people I thought were friends, be dismissive of it. I really believe it is important to never judge the road you have never travelled, and in all honesty, will not travel, because you are never fully in that person’s shoes. You can sympathise and empathise but you can not walk in their shoes.
How would people describe me? (comments I have had back)
‘determined, strong, active, successful, distant, arrogant’, amongst many other sayings. Why is this important?
Those who suffer from mental health difficulties come from all walks of life, why am I talking about this, because I believe by being open I can help others see that those with mental health difficulties are not the stereotypical images that we have imagined, but can affect so many of us to a variety of levels and extents. Does this mean your feelings are any less than anyone elses – NO! Yes, there may be people in a worse position than yourself food wise, poverty wise but this does not detract from the feelings that you have.
To help me, cope with a bad day (or anyway you wish to describe such a day), I choose to exercise. I choose to get out in the fresh air, there is nothing I find more exhilirating than getting out in the country, in the fresh air of Scotland, the surrounding area. To see wildlife on my run, for me that in itself really does make a run or a cycle, to run in the hills, past the farmyards. The occasional nod from a fellow runner/ cyclist, its that mutual understanding. Don’t get me wrong, I have to work at it, this is by no means easy. But there is some celebration in this achievement of simply sticking to the decision to look after myself. Simple and silly to some but an important necessity to me. I have managed to take what I enjoy and use it to benefit others.
On and off I have raised money for local mental health charities Insight Counselling (http://www.insightcanhelp.co.uk/).
Last year after being encouraged by a previous client, I decided to fundraise properly for a big challenge I was undertaking. Now, I do a fair few challenges and races, I really enjoy pushing my own limits and fully seeing what I can do. For me, at the time, this was a biggie! So I met up with DAMH (Dundee Association for Mental Health – http://damh.org.uk/), Jenni was amazing and super keen for me to hear of the various activities that they do. I wanted to ensure that the momey raised would go to a specific initiative and wouldn’t be swallowed up, into admin for example. What excited me, ALOT, was that the money raised could go to a physical activity initiative, well this blew me away, this was completely in line with my own beliefs, what I do for a living at Louise’s PT 4 U (http://www.louisept4u.co.uk/) and fully in line with the research out there.
I was alittle worried that I wouldn’t be able to raise enough to really help the charity but I was committed to doing my best. WOW! I was blown away by the support I was given for my Cotswold Way 100 Mile Run (Equivalent of 4 marathons in 4 days! – there is a blog detailing the 4 days if you want to have a read). It was incredibly tough, this was the furthest distance I had ever run back to back and I think, it was my furthest distance in one day also. I ticked off alot over these 4 days. Truly pushing your limits, really is a great thing, your perception of yourself and the possibilities really does change. Not only that, the fact so many people supported me and donated money, showed me they believed I could do it. I couldn’t let them down. So through those hazy, lightheaded moments – I pushed through with my donaters in mind at all times, helping me put one foot in front of the other to the finish line! We had raised over £800 by this point. Simply outstanding, I really can’t even begin to have the words to say thank you and express my gratitude!
Tough Guy The Original
This one deserves italics!! I decided it would be great to top the money off to £1000, I thought that would be great. Next big challenge, ‘Holy S**t’ – you get the idea this was going to be mental. It pushed my boundaries in a way I never thought possible. Blog is upcoming for this folks – keep your eyes peeled! (Apologies for the profanity, but even now, I have butterflies in my belly thinking about it, so that is tame)
You guys, everyone who donated are simply AMAZING – we hit that £1000 and some. Truly amazing. Blown away!
Time to Change . . .
MIND, the mental health charity based in England were running a campaign called ‘Time to Change’ on the 5th February 2015. Now, I just happened to see it on facebook and decided this would a great wee initiative to encourage folks to get involved in, albeit, it was last minute as it had only just popped up on newsfeed.
This was a great day that we ran at the gym I work from – Good Health and Fitness (City Quay, Dundee). The members as well as my own clients and friends there were fantastic in supporting the day. I did an early morning walk, a midday walk and we had a few guys do some baking, by the way, I believe I may have consumed my fair share of them.
All in the name of checking it was appropriate and tasty enough for you guys of course, hahaha. During the day it was about simply taking that 5 minutes to talk about mental health. This could be from a personal experience perspective, it could have been from the view of having supported someone, a work initaitive or simply your own perceptions. We also looked at how physical activity played a vital role. We then asked everyone to make a pledge, not in the typical sense, this was about maybe something that had been learnt or what you already did, maybe mental health and physical activity. I was overjoyed to see we raised a brilliant £85, for a last minute day and not managing to get as much done for the day as I would have liked, I was super pleased! Again, the people I have to thank are all of you out there who have sponsored, supported and shared anything I have been running. It has been amazing!
Last words . . .
Those who suffer from mental health illnesses are not by any stretch of the imagination weak. They are strong beyond belief! To get through every day can be the hardest thing in the world, our history makes us who we are today. I would not be the person I am today had I not had to go through the difficulties and experiences that I have, this in no way intimates that I wanted these situations or would choose them. Simply that I know I am stronger today than I was yesterday.
‘It is not the mountain we must conquer but ourselves’
Thank you folks for taking the time to read this blog folks. Please remember these are my own opinions and not those of any organisation/ business or group. Keep any comments positive, any negativity will be removed.
P.S Just heading off to hand over the cheque folks – picture will follow.