Last week was rather momentous for me, so I wanted to take time to reflect, and then commit my thoughts to long lasting memory.
Last week, I became a Mental Health First Aider.
Becoming a Mental Health First Aider has had quite a profound effect.
To understand why, I need to take you back to August, when I added the following post to my Facebook profile.
“Depression/anxiety/mental health is very real! I’d like to see five of my friends post this message (Not share) to show you are always there if I need to talk. Thank you.” 😊
Straightforward enough, and I did post the update with relatively little thought, until the comments began to appear…and one by one, friends, ex-colleagues, acquaintances started to post messages of support and good wishes, offers of a cuppa, a catch-up, a shoulder to cry on, and suddenly the world thinks my mental health is suffering.
Now this is the bit I’m not proud of. Really not proud of. All too quickly I reacted by posting the ‘counter-reply’…of course it wasn’t me who was unwell, I was merely highlighting the need for awareness around others. I even toyed with the idea of deleting the post completely, to remove a ‘less-than-perfect’ imprint upon my social media presence. Even as I’m typing this I’m shocked at the shallowness of some of my thoughts – feel free to think the same!
This is why I’m writing.
Because there is a stigma, mental ill-health happens to others, I’m in control for heaven’s sake! I’m strong and resilient and more than capable of dealing with whatever s**t life throws at me.
I’m not a victim.
I don’t want people thinking that I am.
But then there was last week. Last week I attended a Mental Health First Aider course and it was a total epiphany. I’m now a certified Mental Health First Aider, and that’s the bit I’m proud of. Really proud of.
It was a profound two days, a huge learning curve, myth after myth smashed to pieces, shared experiences with our tight-knit group and a growing desire to reach out and make a difference.
The two days took me on my own personal roller-coaster journey. The pain of losing my Dad two years ago, the shame and harsh reality of being made redundant last year – the course also became a cathartic experience for me. And that’s when the empathy lightening bolt struck.
We’re all on this journey called life, and the obstacles can come along at any time, diverting us, taking us along a different route – throughout the dark days after losing my Dad and the scary reality of redundancy, I always, always had hope and belief that life would get better, and with time, healing and the support of others, it did.
The overriding message from my two days training was that there is always hope, and a Mental Health First Aider can be the person who simply lights a candle in someone’s darkness…until the right people with brighter lights find us.
We think Sue must be a ‘Master of the Dark Arts’, as she has hidden depths! Running our office with meticulous planning and capability, Sue is an avid list writer with a keen eye for detail. But don’t be fooled by that organised demeanour, for Sue is as creative as she is efficient! A skilled communicator with a humorous edge, Sue is as passionate about people and their learning and development as she is about becoming the future Mrs Tom Hardy or Mrs Benedict Cumberbatch (either will do!). An interesting career path has taken her from the glamour of working in luxury London hotels to the chilled Distribution Centres of supermarket retail, and whether managing small groups or large teams, people are at the heart of everything Sue does.