To truly understand my story of how stigma and discrimination has affected me in my life, we have to go back to over 5 years ago when I started to work for a large mobile phone sales company. I have other examples but this one resonates with me the most. The interaction with people from different walks of life and the opportunity to explore new phones that were coming out were great perks of the job. However, when my mental health started to affect me, I sought advice and support from colleagues and management. I expected compassion and empathy in return but in the end, I got nothing. I was discriminated against and told that I should just “man up” and “deal with it”. I tried to carry on with the job but unfortunately, I could not cope. It was 9 months later when I walked out of the job and never looked back. Not the best decision I’ve ever made, but it was one that I made to safeguard my own mental health before it got to the point of no return.
Since then, my mental health has been somewhat stable. I have had points when I’ve doubted my existence and wondered what on earth I was doing on the planet, but I have pushed on and tried to make my life positive and full of purpose.
My journey with Time to Change Wales started in September of 2018 when I signed up to take part their training course to become a Time to Change Wales Champion. Two days of learning about the campaign and how to deliver an anti-stigma talk effectively, really helped to develop my public speaking skills.
Over the last couple of years, I have had the opportunity to deliver anti-stigma talks at organisations and groups across South Wales, including at the Suicide and Self Harm Prevention Workshop organised by Public Health Wales in Swansea. In addition, I have spoken at Singleton Hospital, YMCA Swansea and Cardiff University. I have also spoken to staff at BBC Wales News as a direct result of being part of this amazing campaign.
To finish up, I am grateful to Time to Change Wales for giving me opportunity to share my story and the campaign’s message across Wales. I have a constant passion and enthusiasm to also act as a positive ambassador and role model. It is that constant passion that drives me to volunteer, to keep myself positive and to help others.
Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you all stay safe and well and remember to stay home during this crisis.