Groups & Individuals; how others can really help you
Hi there and welcome to the penultimate part of my blog story; thanks again so much for the fantastic feedback, it does mean a lot to me and your continued messages here, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Messenger are all fuelling my output, so here goes.
Having imploded a year ago as outlined in my opening post, we had a serious word with ourselves in part two and did the very best we could on our own, in short, we realised we needed help.
I needed help, and whether it’s now or at some stage in the
future, you may need it too; so this week I will be reflecting on all of the
important people who have helped me in the last year in the hope that my
experiences will help us all; everyone deserves some help from others and by
reading this, you too can help.
As humans we are programmed to believe we can identify, self-diagnose,
treat and rectify any potential healthcare issues that threaten the smooth
running super-efficient machine that is our body and soul; sadly, where mental
health is concerned, nothing could be further from the truth.
You place a huge amount of stress on yourself, day in day
out; to be 100% perfect in every way, to keep up with the pack, to possibly be
something you are not, to live a life, to weave the dream, to spin the plates, to
make ends meet; and sometimes you are your own worst enemy, but you don’t even
That is the problem; you can’t actually trust yourself to
identify there is an issue, because you are indeed part of the problem – and an
important lesson I have learnt is, you cannot solve this on your own, you may
not know it yet, but you will need others.
Putting your hand up is the single most important step to
Don’t feel guilty or inadequate for asking for some help; even
if you think you don’t need it; you need to get it out, you need to share your story;
you need to speak about it – you need other people to help you right here,
right now, whatever stage you are at on the journey.
And they can only help if you cross the line and let them in.
So put your hand up; you owe it to yourself, and once others see the ‘open for
business’ sign on the door, they will be forming an orderly queue to play their
This last 12 months experience has been truly humbling for
me to realise just how much people do care; so, my intention here is to share
some links and experiences from both professional and amateur helpers alike; from
the consultant psychologist to the complete stranger; these are the souls that have
surrounded me in everyday life and helped in such big and small ways; they can
help you too, if you let them.
Start with your partner, your siblings, your parents and
your offspring; all is not lost if you don’t have any of these, but if you do
have some of them, then make the most of them; ask three people who love you to
write down 5 characteristics that you have that they admire about you. I did
this and it was extremely powerful, I still treasure the texts and notes that made
me realise that I was perhaps not the basket case I thought I was, it is
fantastic to see real support in the form of words characterising your inner
strengths – and that is just the start, your family can help you in so many
ways; but they are not mind readers, they need letting in.
I know I have been very lucky to have a hugely supportive
partner of thirty years who’s primary objective has always been to promote my own
health and happiness; anyone who really cares for you will always put your
health first, whoever that person is for you, when the mentalist bell starts
ringing, you need to be honest with them, they will help you.
As will friends who have known you a long time and work colleagues
who have integrity; these are the people who you can open up to, these are the
people who know you and these are the people who know how to listen; it’s not
about them telling you how good they are, or how they tackled some stress when
they had it; they invest time in you, they drive miles to visit you, they check
in on you, they send you cards, they buy you lunch, they have two ears and one mouth;
they don’t judge, they just care.
And then there are ordinary people outside of your bubble
that were always there but you ordinarily would never have met; you don’t need
to share anything with these people, but you will want to, because unfamiliarity
and anonymity brings a comfort blanket of safety, shared experiences will help
you realise you are not alone, and that is a great feeling.
One thing I did quite early on was go to some group ‘Healthy
Minds’ sessions run by the local NHS IAPT team, a room full of people from all
walks of life suffering with similar issues getting some cognitive behavioural
therapy, everyone dreading being there, but coming away thinking ‘that was all
right actually’; after week six we were all hooked.
On to the professionals; those whose job it is to help; they
do this for a living, when you need them, you realise they are doing this job because
they are bloody good at it.
Let’s start with the doctor; from complete stranger to
super-hero; I saw him every Wednesday for the first few weeks, ten times in the
first 3 months and then at regular check-ins up until the half-year mark. It
started with him listening, a brilliant bedside manner; some face time, a sick
note and a promise to go back the next week; it became the best bromance of my
Then there was the clinical psychologist, after the initial
few weeks we wheeled in some proper expertise; a Doctor in Psychology, specialising
in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychotherapy, Depression and Anxiety Disorders.
For me this was somebody who could help to get inside my head, scoop out the
contents and work with me to pop them back in part by part. You may not need
this lady, but I found our weekly one to one sessions, something to really look
forward to, somebody willing you to tell your story, real therapy, real useful help
for a better life.
Talking to a Mental Health Nurse is a wonderful thing, I
found myself undergoing numerous online and telephone assessments with NHS IAPT
(Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) Professionals, they helped me
monitor progress using GAD7 and PHQ9 tests that calibrate how your mind is doing;
they will listen and they will help, you are on a journey that they understand,
in fact they know every bend in the road.
These people will be available in your area and I have
included some links in my reading list.
Of course, one last living being who has helped me as much
as anyone is Öve the working cocker spaniel, more about him next week in my
My point in summary is this; you are not alone; to improve
your mental healthiness and wellbeing you need these people to help you – one of
them, some of them, or even all of them.
And help you they will; but only if you let them.
A year ago, I was suffering serious psychological impairment
that was diagnosed as being likely to improve with the passage of time. That
time has passed, and I would like to thank every single person who has helped
me and continues to help me with that journey.
Anyhow that’s enough about me, let’s talk about you; what do you think about me?
Reading list will follow - I promise this weekend!