Rebecca Joy Novell

The creation of a charity, from the very beginning.

I’m One Coca-Cola Off A Mental Breakdown

This week I have taken two days off work to complete a Mental Health First Aid Training Course. Not only was it two days off work, but it was a chance to improve my knowledge of mental health- something which had proved to be severely lacking in my first year exams.

If I’m being honest, mental illness is something that scares me. I don’t think Social Workers are allowed to say that, but after giving you a mental image of me bulging out of a bikini in my last post, I think it’s fair to say we’re all friends here. My fear is not because I’ve watched too many horror films in which a “paranoid schizophrenic’ dons a scary mask and chases beautiful people. No, no, no. That portrayal is not only highly offensive, but totally inaccurate. I would just like to remind everyone that you are as likely to get struck by lightning as you are to be killed by someone suffering from a mental illness. The reason I’m scared of mental illness, is because it is only a matter of time before it affects me.

Statistics say that one in four people will suffer from mental illness. But statistics also say that women are safer drivers (and we all know that’s a load of bollocks, don’t we lads? *nudge, nudge* Ey, ey, ey? *swigs beer*). Actually, everyone will suffer from a mental health problem at some point. Luckily, for many people it will not be severe and it may not last long. I, however, am from a family with a history of severe depression and am also chronically stressed. Brilliant.

One of the trainees on the two day mental health first aid course, was a man called Graham. Half way through the second day, after we’d all become comfortable enough to divulge our inner most thoughts, we were asked to each draw a stress bucket. A stress bucket is a drawing of a bucket, within which is written a (long) list of all the things that are stressing you out. We then had to go around the room and share our stress buckets. There were a few recurring themes within the stress buckets; kids, money, work, kids, partners, kids, parents, kids, health and kids. Then we got to Graham’s list. Graham, who had managed to maintain a smile for the entirity of the 11 hour course, turned his paper round to reveal… a smiley face. A SMILEY FACE! He then explained how he focuses on every moment for what it is. He is not materialistic; he plans meticulously what he eats; he listens and appreciates; and, of course, he doesn’t have kids. After hearing everybody elses lists, Graham felt compelled to tell us all that we should appreciate every moment for that moment. “Don’t think about what’s ahead or behind. When you’re walking, focus on walking. When you’re cooking, focus on every chop of the carrot.” There was a simplistic beauty in Graham’s way of life. A beauty that shone thorugh him. 

And all I could think was, ‘OH, PLEASE! Behave, Graham. I don’t even like carrots.’ Of course what Graham said made a lot of sense. But that stuff doesn’t work for me. I’m chronically stressed, and after learning from the course coordinator that caffeine increases your risk of mental illness, I’m pretty sure my eight cans of coke a day are going to tip me over the edge. But who’s to say madness is a bad thing? All the best people were a little bit ‘mad’. Einstein, Van Gogh and my favourite, Marilyn Monroe! Worrying, stressing and over-thinking are obviously a bit of a burden, but I’m with Malcolm X when he said ‘The future belongs to those who prepare for it’. It may just be necessary for me to stress a little (a lot).

I do stress. I do get overly emotional. And in winter I suffer from depression. But all these qualities make me passionate. Extremely passionate. Ask anyone. The main thing I learnt over the last two days was to be thankful that I don’t suffer from an acute mental illness, something which can be extremely debilitating. But I’ve also learnt not to fear my anxiety and depression. My advice this week, is to anyone who can relate to the feeling that they are only just holding their head above water- and no one really gets just how hard you have to try every day to stay sane. Embrace your weaknesses. They may just be the things that make you great.

I also met a woman on the course who had an amazing job working for an amazing charity. Which reminded me; I should probably tell you all what type of charity I’m thinking of setting up. But that will have to wait till next time. Until then, here’s a link to the above mentioned charity:

http://www.genesisleeds.org.uk/about_genesis_unid7c82_page.aspx

Night, Novs x

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This entry was posted on 01/09/2011 by in The Beginning.

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