Tuesday, 11 September 2018

The start of a new adventure - Time to change

Its been a while since you've read a blog post from me but after the weekend I've had, I've found myself with a spark of motivation. If you have been following my blog or my social media for a while you will be well aware that 2018 hasn't been the smoothest of rides for my family and on top of it all I have been stuck in the worst mental health patch I think I've ever had. It's for sure been one of the hardest years of my life and the fact that there are still 4 months left of 2018 and then more years kind of makes me sad because will it actually get better? Will I ever feel better? But this weekend I had that little spark of hope as I attended the Time to Change young champion training weekend in London and I wanted to tell you all about it.

Going to a training like this is incredibly exciting but daunting at the same time. My anxiety was at its peak, I wasn't in the best of moods and when I forgot my coat back in Essex I got so angry with myself that I just wanted to turn back home and be like "f*ck it, I'm not going". The trains weren't running as they should either so it was plenty of little stresses on top of the bigger stresses. I felt like shit the entirety of the first day, so shit that I wasn't actually sure if I would go back on the Sunday. I can't remember all that much from the Saturday if I am honest as I was too much in my head and not enough in the present. I realised just how hard I find it to vocalize my struggle as we were paired up with a "buddy" and had to tell them what our tell tail signs are when we are struggling, something I found incredibly hard. We also had to ask the other if they were really okay, again something that I couldn't bring myself to answer truthfully. For a campaign that is all about working to get rid of the stigma that surrounds mental illness, I think this weekend I learnt that I have a lot of inner stigma towards myself still.

On the morning of day 2, I went to breakfast where one girl told us that her mum had been up all night in the hotel being sick. Red flag as that anxiety peaked again. Emetophobia ran loose and again I wanted to throw in the towel and go home where I feel safe. It felt like I was destined to have another difficult day. 

Surprisingly though, this day was different. Once we arrived back at the location of the training my anxiety eased, and my head finally became quiet enough to be able to be fully present in the room. We had an amazing talk by Jonny Benjamin and it was hard not to fangirl. I even asked a question! I LIKE FORMULATED WORDS AND SPOKE TO JONNY BENJAMIN. His speech showed that despite every time that he fell ill he always got back up and then strived to do great things with his story. I guess it is what you want to hear when you are currently fighting a behind the scenes war that feels like it'll never end.

Whilst this message is powerful, it was something else on this Sunday that I heard what I needed to hear most, the one thing that I personally needed to take away from this training.

2018 has left me hanging by a thread. Whilst I was hoping to use the summer to recover and get back to being a healthier, happier Angela I am still firmly on a waiting list to receive help. Whilst being ill during the summer sucks (big time) at least I don't have commitments.  I went to this training however full well knowing that whilst this is something I REALLY want to do, it is yet another thing on my plate. Soon I will be juggling uni, my job, 2 voluntary rolls, a blog and an Etsy store. Before this weekend the thought of juggling all that with my mental health as it is scared me because I knew full well that I will juggle it all until I crash. That's just how I am, I give and give and give until there is nothing left.

But a couple of speeches given by staff at Time to Change made me realise that this doesn't have to be something else that runs me into the ground. That I can go at my own pace and take time off if I need it.
 If I'm not coping I cannot be a good campaigner.

Once I got home, exhausted but feeling good, my dad phoned and when he found out I had been in London training all weekend he was not happy, his reaction was: "Angela you need YOU time, you can't take on any more".

I'm a firm believer that things happen for a reason, that I had this message repeated many times by many people in the same day so that I could really hear it. I turned up to the training overwhelmed with my choice to take on yet another commitment, a role that I am incredibly passionate about but was afraid about as I didn't know how I would be able to give 100% to campaigning, 100% to the final year of my degree, 100% to my job, 100% to my blog, 100% to my students and 100% to my Etsy store. As said by Jodie from Time to Change, you can't give 100% to everything, it's actually impossible.

So I am sitting in bed now on the Monday morning hopefully with a different attitude. That in all of my commitments, if I fall down, I am replaceable. But to my friends and family, those who love me, if I fall down I am not. So I need to put myself first in the next 12 months, whilst juggling all that is on my plate.

It is a weekend I don't think I will ever forget and I think I learnt the most important lesson I could possibly have learnt. I am excited for what the next 18 months in this role have to offer and it has been a while since I have been excited about the future.

It will be a challenge and a lesson to learn how to prioritise myself over my commitments but I have heard that message loud and clear.

So here is to the start of a new adventure.


  1. A new adventure...putting yourself first can certainly be an adventure.

    Please, make sure you have time for you. Also, I get what you mean about inner stigma.

  2. Oops, meant to sign that as @AbrachHutchison