Let me tell you a little story.
5 and a bit years ago I started university. It was a wonderful time. The course I can take or leave (I have no interest in pursuing it as a career) but the people I met were wonderful. some of my greatest friends were made there and, of course, I met my partner there. 5 years later we are engaged and I know I never would have met him had I not gone to uni. So it was a great time. But it was also a difficult time for me. Not in terms of the work, but in terms of my mental health. Maybe it was the stress of uni, or maybe it was the sudden departure from home comforts, having to learn very quickly how to do everything involved in moving away fore the first time, but I started to get anxious. I rediscovered my crafting and that helped me to keep my mild anxiety problems under control.
When I finished university, my partner and I decided to move to London. He finished uni just after I started so had been commuting to London from Canterbury for about 2 years, so it made sense to move. It was also something I had always wanted to do – it was always a dream of mine to live in London. However, in the beginning it was difficult. When we moved here, we made sure my partner could afford to pay the bills and rent on his own – this meant that there wasn’t too much pressure for me to find a job immediately. But not working had a very negative effect on me. I was unemployed for 6 months, and those were the worst 6 months of my life. I felt completely worthless. I was in an expensive city, with no income, no friends, no money to go out and make friends, no reason to get up in the morning. There were periods of time where I wouldn’t leave the house for weeks at a time. And the anxiety which this caused was immobilizing, so often, I wouldn’t get out of bed, I wouldn’t do anything all day, and that lack of achievement would make me feel worse. It was a horrible cycle.
One of my coping mechanisms was nail biting. I would sit there, unable to move, unable to speak, just biting to the point my fingers would bleed. I couldn’t stop myself.
My partner saw how bad I was getting – he suggested many times that I should see someone about it. For a long time, I would say I was fine. I didn’t need help. But I did, and eventually, I got help. I went to the doctors, who referred me to my local mental health service, SLAM IAPT. And it was the best thing I ever did. Over the 7 months that I attended weekly therapy sessions, I got a little bit better each weeks. I learnt what triggered my anxiety, why I felt the way I did and how I could control it. and Now I am so much happier and healthier. And whilst I still have the occasional wobble, for the most part I am now in complete control and it feels great.
Unfortunately, not everyone has such quick access to mental health services – and this is really upsetting to me. This is where charities like Mind come it play. Mind offer help to people struggling with mental health issues. They provide information to help you understand your condition, what help you can get, what your rights are in the workplace, how to help others who are suffering, and most importantly, they run crucial hotlines and local support groups all over the country.
At the end of November, Mind are asking people to host a Christmas Crafternoon. Crafting is well known to be a helpful tool to improve peoples mental health by keeping their hands busy and their minds active. We all know the warm satisfaction of making something, that’s why we craft. Mind are asking us to use those skills to raise funds this November, so that is exactly what I wish to do.
I plan to make as many Christmas cards and decorations as I can, and I will sell them on my ETSY store with all profits going to Mind. I will start selling them on November 18th and will post them all in time to arrive for December 1st. I have a Facebook page where you can keep up to date with the upcoming events, and of course, I will post about decorations I have made as I make them.
If you got to the end, I would like to say thank you very much – I know this is a bit of a heavy post but I feel its really important to speak out about mental health and I am really excited to support such a cause!