A MenTellHealth Wristband adventure.
So I’ve been attending the Men Tell Health SpeakEasy in Middlesbrough and Stockton (and sometimes Redcar) now for a few months. I can’t make every one due to the fact that they’re an hour’s drive for me to get to, and also (slightly more significantly you might say) I spend half my life out in the North Sea on a Multi-Role ERRV! (Google it - other search engines are available!).
I have been wanting to write a blog for some time now, I even got round to creating a Wordpress page for myself, but that was as far as it got before the mental health issues I am dealing with got in the way, and also I had NO idea where to start! So, here goes!
I am mostly dealing with depression which, as I have been learning more about the condition and myself, I realise I may well have had for many of my current 31 years on the planet!
There a good few other issues floating about in my head. These include (but as I delve further into my head they may not be limited to); a lack of Emotional Intelligence, Childhood Emotional Neglect (go and Google that as well as it was new to me, there’s a lot to explain and it took me a good while to come to terms with, but also not hold onto any blame!), self-criticism / putting myself down, emotional eating, bullying from school - from when I can remember school life until year 11 (they were horrible times). I suspect I could go on……but not for now at least as my head has dried up and you may stop reading this!
Having been told for a long while from the wife that I wasn’t “right”, it still took me a long time to acknowledge that. Eventually, with the help of my very loving and supportive wife, I plucked up the courage to go and speak to the Doctor about my mental health and she came with me to figuratively and physically hold my hand.
From there I got prescribed Citalopram (a small dose) and got the referral for talking therapies. This was all going seemingly okay, but during the talking therapies sessions, I had tried to ignore the past and my childhood…..oops.
I self-referred for the second round of South Tyneside NHS’s Talking Therapies due to things from my childhood coming back to bite me in the bum and I was finding things hard. I was pretty sure that there would likely be a waiting list, so in the meantime, I knew I had to do something to help myself.
After pottering around the internet I stumbled across Men Tell Health and started following them on Facebook and Twitter. I came round to thinking that heading down to one of their SpeakEasy sessions might help me. I also figured it couldn’t really do much harm!
I soon found that attending the SpeakEasy sessions was good for me. I was a bit nervous about my first journey down the road to meet up with Gary (the head man of Men Tell Health) and whoever else was going to be there, especially as I know that different things work for different people and I know a few people where a group setting hasn’t worked for them.
Alas, it was good for me…..not to mention the coffee shops that Gary has set the SpeakEasy groups in do some really rather nice coffee! It’s also good to know that, as a man, you’re not alone “out there” with your mental health issues. Getting to hear other people's stories in an atmosphere such that I felt I was able to share my own story & offer my insight into other guys situations and what has helped me.
I have also found myself taking away other peoples insights and outlooks that I hope will help me as I progress forward. Aside from that, we also have a good ol’ belly laugh at most sessions when the conversation gets onto completely un-mental health related topics!
Purchasing a wristband was my way of starting to feel like I was able to give a little back to Men Tell Health for all the work that it does and the support I felt being able to attend the SpeakEasy groups. It has also seemingly given me a starting point to talk to people about mental health, especially to those people that notice it and inquire about it when they see it on my wrist.
Out on a Walk with the Pooch and Meeting New Friends
It was mentioned that Gary thought I should do a SpeakEasy onboard the ship (or the SpeakQueasy as he wanted to call it!) as I said I have some very good friends onboard that I am able to open up and talk to about things on my mind. That is still a possibility, but maybe not quite yet.
It was also mentioned that I should get some pics of the Men Tell Health wristband onboard. From this I came up with the idea of using the wristband to “help” me blog (as it is always with me and thus my thoughts and feelings – both good and bad!) I can also take pics of it about the place and maybe in the long run blogging will help spread the word about, not only mental health, but also male mental health and help me in my recovery.
A bit of a Snowy day joining the ship; wristband in my cabin (can’t wear it when at work)
Taking the first step in recognising you have a problem is very much the hardest (see above!) and even when you do, it doesn’t instantly make it easier. What it does allow you to do though, is take that first step to getting better and that DOES feel good.
After that first step, there are so many people out there that are willing to help you along the many more steps, these people are worth keeping around and investing in. I have found some of those people from those I meet at SpeakEasy sessions. I have re-kindled some slightly lost friendships and I am learning and trusting myself to open up and be vulnerable with the most amazing and supportive lady in my life, my wife….even though I’m sure I can be a massive pain in bum at times!
It's amazing what a piece of fabric and a new found motivation to be yourself and open up about your own mental health can do. We've seen the improvements in Steven over the last few months (even if he can't) and we're delighted we can be a small part of his recovery.
Have you made a small change in your life that's lead to better mental health? What was it? Let us know in the comments below.
You can keep up-to-date with Steven's journey on Twitter, where he's @chaplin_steven. If you want to get your own wristband to start your own recovery adventure, just click here! #CheapAtTwiceThePrice