Hi, I’ve decided to do a blog every day for advent (well at least try to). These blogs are going to be about various things, some about mental health but also some about other topics. I haven’t planned them yet, so they may be (most definitely will be) rough around the edges. Some may contain trigger warnings; I will say this before the start of the post.
Day 12- A Year (and a bit) with TTC
Just over a year ago I became a young champion with Time to Change. Through this I have been given some wonderful experiences and have meet some even more wonderful and lovely people.
At the initial training was where we all met. It was a weekend long training session, and was full on but amazing. It was the first time I had been with so many people who knew what it felt like to be me and have experience of having a mental illness. Here I met all the other fabulous young champions as well.
Testimony training was more intimate, there was around ten of us. It was here that I got to meet Rachel properly, who has now become a good friend of mine. Here we shared our personal stories and experiences of mental illness. It was a tough and emotional day but it was amazing to see the strength of everybody in that room, including staff who shared their stories. (Joss=Inspirational/Amazing)
My First Testimony Delivery and DoH
The first testimony I delivered was at a school in Leytonstone. I went with Joss. It was quite intimate, there was probably only about 15 people in the room, but I was terrified. It was the first time I had ever properly shared my story, but the teenagers who were in that room were so polite and listened to me, I was so honoured to have their attention.
I didn’t realise that my story would have so much of an impact but one of the teachers was crying and some of the students came up to me at the end and spoke to me. It’s an experience I will never forget.
This day wasn’t just that visit though. In the afternoon was asked to go to the Department of Health to talk about what it was like to be a Young Champion. There I got to meet the lovely and inspirational Sue Baker.
It was such an amazing experience to be able to speak about my experiences in front of people who I believed to be much more important than me.
My Second Testimony
For my second testimony delivery was with Tanne. I went to an all-girls private school just outside the centre of Bristol. This was in front of about 40 girls. I found it easier this time to deliver it as I had done it before. But I did feel the pressure as I wanted the girls to look up to me. I really hope they did.
Testimony Deliveries (going it alone)
After these two testimony deliveries I ended up doing two whilst I was at steiner school doing some volunteering and one whilst I was working on NCS.
Whilst I was at the school one of the teachers asked me to deliver my story, he already knew it as he worked at my previous school, but he wanted me to share it with two of his classes. These classes we year 7 and year 8. He thought it be of benefit for them to hear it.
Straight after the first one I delivered to the year 8s I had a boy come up to me at the end and say thank you, as his uncle had taken his own life, and he was glad to hear somebody talking about the topic of mental health.
After the second one that I deliver to the year 7s I had one girl come up to me and speak about her anxiety and how she wanted some help, so I spoke to her about it.
I had these reactions straight after I had done it, but for the following three weeks I had more reactions.
I had the mother of the boy who spoke to me come up and thank me in the playground. I then had a mother of one of the other boys come up to me, hug me, and cry because her soon was so touched by my story and she wanted to thank me for sharing.
I also had a mother come up to me and tell me that it really impacted her daughter and she was glad that she now had insight and another mother emailed the head teacher saying that I had made her daughter feel like she was no longer weird and that she would be okay.
I was so shocked with the response I had but in a good way. I’m so glad I managed to have an impact in this school.
I delivered another testimony on the second phase of NCS to a group of 30 16/17 year olds and the reaction I got from them was very similar. I also had a few of them saying they were shocked and didn’t expect me to have any issues. They had previously spent a week and half with me, so I think it surprised them as I must of seemed “normal”, I tried to tell them there is no such thing.
Reading Uni Conference
Another event I took part in was a young people mental health conference at the university of Reading. I went here with Jacob, Mary, and Jack. Here we delivered our own stories of our experiences. My main focus was on the teachers who helped me- you can read a blog about them on here. This was an amazing experience.
Bristol Uni WMHD
With my new regional co-ordinator I help facilitate a stall at Bristol Unis world mental health day event. There I spoke to members of the public about mental health, Time to Change, and what they could do support a friend. It was a lovely positive day, surrounded by wonderful people.
Over this year I have met some wonderful people who I can now call my friends, Rachel, Jodie, James, Peter, Mary, Jacob, Jack and many others.
I’m currently planning to write a book, with the help of Jodie and Rachel.
But I also hope to just do lots more testimonies in schools as I like the idea I can positively impact people’s lives directly.
Thank you all for a wonderful year (and a bit) and I look forward to what we get up to in 2018.
Love Abbie xx