Put simply, I am beyond excited to start my journey as a Time to Change Wales Champion and it’s a campaign I’ve been watching from afar for a few years.
With a change in job, setting up my own business – Speakeasy Club – and on the back being diagnosed with depression and severe anxiety just over a year ago today, I now feel in the right place to support this fantastic campaign.
As I write this on 23rd May, it is exactly 12 months and one week since my diagnosis. At the time, feelings of confusion, exhaustion, lack of self-worth and complete disinterest in doing things I love were rife.
‘I had a support network behind me’
Naturally, the story is a more complex and detailed one than this blog post will illustrate, but when I was at my lowest point, somewhere inside me I knew that I had a support network of family and friends behind me that I could open up to and would support me through this terrifying and confusing time.
This network was so important in helping me open up, talk about what was going on in my head at the time, and I was given the freedom and support to simply stop and prioritise my recovery.
Talking therapy has been a hugely important part of my journey and something I still do today. Finding a routine again with positive behaviours such as exercise and a healthy diet have certainly complemented this, and whilst, yes, I do take antidepressants to manage the anxiety, however, medication is not a one-stop-shop to fix all my problems.
‘Using positive language and positive behaviours’
Since sharing my challenges via social media, the response has been remarkable. Not only in terms of the support, but of the similar position many other people are in and the amount of people who are suffering in silence because of this stigma. This must change, and I want to be a catalyst for change wherever I can.
Talking about your mental health is a positive and a strength. Simple. We’re often told, ‘Don’t worry, it’s not a weakness to talk about how you feel’. Yes, these people are right – it isn’t a weakness.
However, when we’re at our most vulnerable, any use of negative words like ‘weakness’ are the words we most likely latch onto. I really want to help change our culture, using positive language and positive behaviours to celebrate ourselves and each other.
Being vulnerable and looking to learn something new to help your physical and mental wellbeing is a major strength. It’s difficult, which is why it can be scary. It’s so worth it, though!
‘Someone who creates a safe space’
I want to become a Time to Change Wales Champion who is known for celebrating individuals by asking more questions to better understand, not to judge – someone who creates a safe and empathetic environment for people to truly discover who they are and the positive aspects of their lives.
I’ve been able to incorporate my four values into Speakeasy Club:
I’m a firm believer that, if we spend more time learning about the fun stuff in our lives, it makes it easier to learn about the harder stuff.
Roll on 23rd June [the next Champions training day], and I hope I can help others find their passions, like my friends and family have helped!