Well, today was a day full of emotion and (for myself) a lot of realizations. In the quiet town of Galashiels, Depressed Cake Shop (DCS) and Walk a Mile (WAM) took over for the day. Arriving about half 10 I could feel my heart racing and to be honest, I was worried about having a meltdown after taking a bad turn a work last night. I was with a friend of mine from church, Sally Ness, which helped me keep going instead of turning around and saying “Sorry, can’t make it.”
It was great to see Freda again and basically, to have someone who can look at me and know I’m not completely okay. There were some faces I recognized and a few who I hadn’t met before. We had Karen Lerpiniere who was leading the exploration station and Kate Martin from Pink Ladies 1st who helped out with the exploration, along with Ali Cameron and Freda Douglas and myself. I also had the joy of seeing Chris and Ella again from WAM. I was so happy to see them I almost rugby tackled Chris with a hug. Between Chris, Freda, and Ella, you cannot help but smile and laugh as they are such amazing people.
However, you might be asking what happened at the exploration station (for even more information look at the unityproject.net). Well, we had a small circle of chairs where on one chair is a ball of wool tied to the leg. It starts off with the first level where we just say our names and then we pass the wool to someone (it can be anyone) in the circle, they would wrap the wool around the leg of their chair, say their name then pass it to someone else and so on. So in the end, the wool has connected between all the chairs. The second level, someone (the person with the wool) will read something of a card about ourselves (e.g. I have dark hair or I am from Galashiels) if the statement was something that related to you then you would put your hand up and the wool will be passed around (again getting wrapped around the leg of the chair as it gets passed on), and this will go on until all the cards have been read out. The third round there was a card under the chair, and on the card was a statement about mental health. These cards could have anything from “I have struggled with mental health” to “I have had suicidal thoughts”. This level you can be as open as you want by putting up your hand and saying nothing or putting up your hand and share something to the group. Again the same thing happens, the wool goes around the leg of the chair and passed onto someone else with their hand up until all the cards are done. So we are left with something like this:
We had some really interesting discussions in the group about mental health and the way it has or is affecting each of us and it was in this I had some acceptances and realizations. My biggest realization was probably that the biggest stigma of mental health is probably from ourself by our own mental health. I write and talk about how I would like to see people change their views towards mental health, to challenge the stigma behind it. However, I am just as bad when it comes to seeing myself with mental health.I stigmatize myself which puts me in a worse place and can really affect me mentally. My biggest acceptance which I said for the first time today, aloud and I heard it properly, my overdose back in February was not due to self-harm. I wanted to die. I wanted my life to be over and for a month leading up to my overdose, my diary was full of letters for my family and close friends saying how sorry I was and that they wouldn’t need to worry anymore and also had my funeral plan on what I wanted. I couldn’t cope with the pain in my life and I wanted it all to just stop, and the next day the first thing that was recorded in my diary was “I am a failure.” I denied it for so long about it being, basically, a suicide attempt because to me I wasn’t that bad. That was also what I thought as a size 8, abusing laxatives, hardly eating and making myself sick to the point of collapsing and being so unwell. To be quite honest, those thoughts still haven’t left. Last weekend I ended up in A&E and I wanted to fall asleep and not wake up, the next day when I woke up at 2pm I was kicking myself because I didn’t want to wake up. I wished and prayed that God would take everything away and let me die. That is why I decided on Monday I wasn’t taking my Sertraline anymore. I was quitting them, and I told the doctor that. So, he changed it to Mirtazapine because he was feeling like the sertraline weren’t working. Although I had to face some hard truths today, I feel slightly better because of it. It was an amazing experience to be part of the exploration group.
(group discussion as the wool gets passed on)
(two cards as we did the exploration station)
After the exploration was over I got a surprise when I girl I went to High School with was right behind me and said hiya. I hadn’t spoken to Cara in years and even in school, we never spoke until our final year in Religious Education. So when the walk started I walked with her and shared different stories. The Walk a Mile was so relaxing and was another great experience and I got to speak to some amazing people and hear lots of different stories and even though Galashiels is still Scotland, the rain held off.
(some of our walkers)
When we got back to the hall I sat and had a laugh with Cara and a girl called Rebecca for aa while. However, being in a busy room was really starting to take its toll so I went quietly off to play the guitar quietly to myself as my breathing space.Then Ali (the guitar’s owner) came over and we sat and spoke about music and had a small laugh before I left to take Sally home and to go home myself to have my escape. The day was absolutely fantastic and there is even talk about doing another one in Midlothian. 3 guesses who already signed up. Well, just now I am saying “bring it on” we will see a different story later on if it happens.
(photo of Jen and me starting the walk)