Sunday, 19 August 2012

Steps In The Right Direction.

There have been times when I felt like a distant spectator, too scared to be part of it all.

The torment of clinical depression means I have good days and I have bad days.  With determination and reaching out for positive resources, positive distractions, the bad days are further apart.
It takes a lot to challenge my fears, to get out of the house, get out on the road and find the destination that brings the tantalising magic of adventure.
I first met my friends, Julie and Philip, who now live in Cardigan, Wales, when we all worked for a mental health charity based in Stoke on Trent.  We are no longer involved with that charity and we have our various reasons.  I, for one, got disillusioned by the lack of support and encouragement.  I was vulnerable and that was exploited.  I felt taken for granted and the awful irony was that the charity actually reinforced my mental health issues.  Instead of feeling empowered, I felt used and disrespected.  My genuine empathy for those who needed help and reassurance, was undermined by a charity that seemed to put funding before the powerful ideals of empathy.  I moved on and we all moved on.
Julie and Philip have now set up a new mental health charity in Cardigan, Wales and I'm trying to be, from a distance, an integral part of it.  We are determined to show compassion and understanding to those who are needing a helping hand.  We are determined that this charity will demonstrate that there is no shame in having mental health issues and that one doesn't need to feel alone.  Time to eradicate the unfair stigma, the stereotypes, the labels, that still surround mental health concerns.  We are, very much, all in this together.
If you are needing support, or know of somebody who might appreciate support and live within a twenty mile radius of Cardigan, Wales, Julie and Philip have meetings that can be of mutual benefit.  No matter what, if you are struggling, need someone to 'chat' to, there are various resources online that can be of help.  I used to be the moderator on a mental health 'chat room' and it was the stepping stone for a number of those who wanted to pursue other avenues in their recovery.

Here is the link to the charity that Julie and Philip have started:  STEPS TO MENTAL HEALTH   They welcome your interaction, whether it be via a meeting, or if you just wish further information.

Please realise that mental health concerns can happen to anyone.  Those who would stigmatise, must understand that a negative environment can overwhelm any of us.  That's why it's imperative that we reach out and be here for each other.  I am not ashamed of who I am and through further awareness and understanding, we can finally remove the stigma still surrounding mental health issues.  Yes, we are all in this together.  All different and all equal.  Help each other, we help ourselves.

68 comments:

  1. I am about to turn in for the night when your blog post popped up! I'm glad I've stayed up this late!

    I'm sorry the charity you and your amazing friends were involved with in Stoke on Trent was a negative experience. What a shame! But look how you've all risen from the ashes, phoenix like, stronger and more determined than ever! Good for you! I wish your new organization all the best!

    Take care
    x

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    1. Hi Old Kitty,
      Aha, thanks and being in the same time zone, I reckon I should go and get some sleep, also :)
      We learnt from that negative experience with that mental health charity. And quite right, it has made us even more determined to be there and show empathy to those who want help and feel empowered. Have a good sleep, eh :)
      Gary
      x

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  2. Not at all surprised to find you involved in such a healing endeavour. Best of luck to all of you.

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    1. Hi Delores,
      Thank you for your kind wishes. I attended a meeting in Cardigan and I really miss being a coordinator. I had some rewarding experiences in the past and it was inspiring being there.
      Hope you had a lovely weekend.
      In kindness and gratitude, Gary

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  3. A person's mental health is a fragile entity subject to many inner and outside forces. Some we can control or repel, but at times we lose the upper hand. The people that seek help are the strong ones and deserve the accolades that go with it. They lead by example and you deservedly so are one of the leaders.

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    1. Hi Ray,
      Well said, my friend. There can be times in our lives that our mental health well being can take one heck of a pounding. Indeed, as you so eloquently state, those that seek help are strong and those that would ridicule have an issue they need to address.
      I'm very flattered by what you have written, Ray.
      Hope you had a peaceful, positive weekend.
      With respect, Gary

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  4. Glad you're going the right direction. It's always terrible when charities don't really help the way they should.

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    1. Hi PT,
      Thank you, my friend. It beggars belief when you put your faith in a charity and they let you down.
      Take good care.
      Gary

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  5. Good for you. Who better to help someone struggling with mental health issues than someone who's "been there, done that"? I salute you and your friends for showing empathy and lending a helping hand to those who need it.

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    1. Hi Susan,
      Thank you very much. My friends and I embrace the power of empathy and genuine understanding. We try to demonstrate that our mental health concerns are only a small part of who we are. This is most powerful and thank you for your kindness.
      With respect,
      Gary

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  6. This is great! Good luck to you all in this endeavour to help and spread goodness. Wonderful news.
    Laura
    x

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    1. Hi Laura,
      For sure. And we shall do our utmost to make people who are struggling realise they don't have to suffer in silence. There is help to be had and we embrace the ideals of sharing and caring.
      Thanks Laura.
      In peace a good wishes,
      Gary
      x

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  7. How wonderful. I love that you are reaching out to people with the warmth and empathy that we in the blogosphere see and value. And slowly, very slowly I think/hope we are inching to the point where mental health problems are classified as an illness which needs support and treatment.

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    1. Hi The Elephant's Child,
      Thank you. The ethos of my blog has always had an underlying theme of making those who are not experiencing mental health concerns, realise that the misconceptions, somewhat sensationalised by the media, are grossly exaggerated.
      Mental health problems are indeed an illness. Some have it through genetics (nature) and some have acquired illness via their environment (nurture). And some have a combination of both. Support, encouragement, understanding and awareness are vital aspects to removing the unfair stigma.
      Thank you, my friend.
      In kindness, Gary

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  8. That sucks it wasn't focused on what really matters - the people.
    Focus on those positive days, Gary. You'll always be going in the right direction then.

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    1. Hi Alex,
      I do believe that the charity started out with the best of intentions. Somewhere along the way, the ideals of empathy got caught up in some sort of bureaucratic garbage.
      It took ages to recover from such poor treatment. Yet, the positive focus is the determination to truly be there for others who are needing the attention they so rightly deserve.
      Thanks Alex.
      Much respect to you,
      Gary

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  9. Dear Gary,
    So glad to hear that you and your friends have overcome your problems with the charity in Stoke (which shall remain nameless, although I know that you know that I know which it was - does that make sense?), and done a great thing by giving it a go yourselves. As you are well aware, the main purpose of my own blog is to get further understanding of mental ill health, and to attempt to get rid of some of the stigma which surrounds such conditions. So I say well done, Gary, for being so candid and open about your own feelings on the matter, and I wish all of you the very best of luck in your new endeavour.
    Very Best Wishes,
    David.

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    1. Dear David,
      Ah yes, I understand what you are saying. I know that you know that I know that you know what charity I was meaning. In fact, once I recovered from the shock of how they treated people, notably the volunteers, the backbone of any charity, I embraced the opportunity to be involved with a new mental health charity that emphasises empathy foremost.
      Your blog continues to be a beacon of hope as you strive to eliminate the unfair stigma surrounding mental health concerns. Your input is truly welcome. We can both be encouraged by the responses from those others who have commented here.
      Thank you for your very best wishes in this endeavour. I'm proud to do my bit for my friends' new mental health charity.
      Positive wishes, Gary

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  10. What a great endeavor, Gary. I wish you all great success in educating people and reaching ones who need help. You have been so open and helpful in talking about your struggles. Present or not, you are helping many readers.

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    1. Hi Susan,
      Thank you and yes indeed, this is a great endeavour. I will and my friends will, do our best to bring further awareness and be of support to those who are experiencing mental health concerns.
      I have always written my blog with the underlying ethos of proving that there is no shame in having mental health issues. It really is true it can happen to anyone. I thank you for your positive thoughts, Susan.
      With respect and positive wishes, your way, Gary

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  11. The future can only be bright with a positive guy like you working toward it. That's awesome about the charity your friends have set up -and fantastic, too, for all the work both they and you do in helping those in need. There is no room in this world for stigmatizing; anything could happen to any of us at any time.
    Best of wishes on the new endeavor!

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    1. Hi Kim,
      That's very kind of you. I was thrilled and inspired when my friends set up their new mental health charity. We believe this endeavour will be empowering for all concerned.
      You are so right, mental health issues can happen to anyone. An overwhelming negative environment can take its toll.
      Thank you, Kim.
      Peaceful, hopeful wishes, your way, Gary

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  12. Dear Gary, your kindness and compassion shines through in this post. I hope you get the appreciation you deserve in this venture because you have shown no self-pity, just a desire to help others. That's a really worthwhile thing.
    Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

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    1. Dear bazza,
      I'm most flattered by what you say. Thank you kindly. My ongoing aim and my friends' aim, is to be there for others and make them understand that support is there. They need not suffer in silence. Thank you, my friend.
      In peace and respect, Gary

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  13. Hi Gary,

    Long time no talk! I am so excited about your trip to Wales and your involvement with your friend's new charity. I feel optimistic just reading about it! I've been crazy busy this summer and have recently emerged from the onslaught. I will soon be submerging again until school starts, at which point I might just get back into a normal routine. I hope you and Tristan are well, and Penny of course! I think of you often. Stay well. I've missed you. Rebecca

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    1. Hi THE SNEE,
      So glad to have you drop by, Rebecca! :) These are exciting, hopeful times for my friends and I.
      I'm looking forward to your hectic summer times subsiding and await another post from your good self. We are all fine, thank you. Maintaining a determined positive focus seems to be paying dividends. I hope you and your loved ones are settling well in your new adventure. You have been dearly missed and you know I'm always here to do my best to support you.
      In peace and hope, your way, Gary

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  14. Steps sounds wonderful. Good luck to Julie and Philip and yourself. I hope many people struggling with the loneliness of depression will come forward and take the help on offer. It is so hard to reach out when you need it and terrible when there are those ready to take advantage, but you can see just by looking at the website that genuine help is there at Steps x

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    1. Hi Teresa,
      Thank you and I know my friends want to help those whose confidence may have taken a bit of a battering. "Steps To Mental Health" is a positive resource, among many that are out there that truly can be of benefit. We hope that those who are struggling, realise that they need not be alone. Help, support and understanding is on offer. Thanks so much for your input, Teresa.
      Warm wishes,
      Gary x

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  15. Hello Gary:
    What is so very encouraging to read here is that you are very slowly, but we trust surely, emerging from your own dark days to be in a position, through Julie and Philip, once again to help others. Mental illness is, we believe, an illness like any other. It differs only in that the treatments are not always clear cut and sometimes the healing process can take a much longer time.

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance,
      Thank you and yes, it's most encouraging that I am recovering from a rather unpleasant time with an alleged mental health charity. Julie and Philip want people to realise that there is no shame in needing help for mental health concerns.
      And yes, it's an illness. Each person has there own unique experience and it's a matter of finding a positive action plan that's conducive to their mental health needs.
      Thank you, my friends.
      With respect and good wishes,
      Gary

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  16. Your writing here gave me chills. In a good way, I mean, for your honesty, eloquence, and meaningful intent. Professional "help" I found actually damaging and it's just an extra blow, beyond crippling, to seek help and get knocked down again by individuals or organizations that are supposed to be helping. Knowing you're not alone and that there are resources available to help from people who actually "get it" is huge. Thanks for this, Gary.

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    1. Hi CarrieBoo,
      One has to be careful with the so called professional 'experts'. The bottom line is that we are the experts on ourselves. The answers are there, through the encouragement of others, we can try to make some sense of it all.
      The ideals of a mental health charity that Julie and Philip have established is that it's user led and each person is a vital part of it all. That is powerful and empowering. The gift of empathy can work wonders. Thank you for your inspirational input.
      With respect and positive wishes,
      Gary

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  17. What you and your friends are doing is so admirable. Wish I were closer to help out. I'm actually having a blah day, which surprised me upon rising this morning because it's been awhile. Sometimes I wonder if my psyche knows something I don't. I guess I should blog about what I'm feeling even if I'm embarrassed. Hey! Thanks, Gary! I know you didn't say anything, but I can still hear your encouragement in my head.

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    1. Hi Joylene,
      I appreciate that, Joylene. You are closer than you think and your thoughtful interaction is all a part of this. We now know that your "blah" day is not so blah. You verbalised your thoughts so transparently and candidly on your latest posting. We both know there is no embarrassment in showing our wide range of emotions. I encourage you and you encourage me. Dear lady, that's one hell of a positive result.
      In peace and positive wishes,
      Gary

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  18. Gary, this is a wonderful resource. You and your friends offer hope to so many. Depression is so horribly misunderstood. My praise and thanks that you have had the courage--and I know it takes courage--to step forward and help others. Many blessings on your head.

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    1. Greetings Susan,
      Such kind and thoughtful words. Thank you. We do indeed offer hope for those who deserve a better life. Depression is still, like you note, horribly misunderstood. Mental health concerns, generally speaking, are horribly misunderstood. And of course, through bringing forward further awareness to those who have not experienced mental health issues, we get that one step closer to eradicating the unfair stigma that still surrounds mental health.
      You are most kind and many blessings to you.
      With respect and admiration,
      Gary

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  19. Hi Gary:
    What a wonderful way to give back. I'm so inspired with what you have created for yourself and now with others. Your humor and wit bring such light to the world. Thanks for being you!!!!

    Best wishes from Canada, the toque wearing and eh saying country!!! :)
    Suzanne

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    1. Hi Suzanne,
      Thank you and when we try to help others, we do indeed, help ourselves. I have been delighted when I have coordinated meetings for various mental health organisations in the past, that my hoped for humour, puts folks at ease.
      Thanks to you in Canada, eh. Now where did I put my toque and my Vancouver Canucks baseball cap, eh :)
      Respect to you,
      Gary

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  20. "If you haven't any charity in your heart you have the worst kind of heart trouble" to cure it help people, let's unite for one good cause, be a volunteer"save lives"!mawaddainternationalaid

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    1. Hi Redspect,
      I respect what you are trying to convey here. And yes, volunteers, the backbone of any charity, should be praised for all they do.
      However, I think it would of been respectful of you to have made note of my posting in your comment.
      Kind regards,
      Gary

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  21. We've all experienced the bitter taste of depression, I am aware it can develop into terrible dramas, we all fight it the best we can. I have an innate tendency towards the bitterest kind of depression but I find great joy in nature, it soothes me and fixes me with a significant dose of optimism. You and your friends have all my admiration.

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    1. Hi Petronela,
      Most of us have experienced some form of depression. For some, through overwhelming negative influences, or genetic disorders, can find their depression to be all consuming.
      What you do and what I also do, is try to focus on the positive resource, the positive distraction, that is the joy of nature. In the peak of my depression and I know others would concur, even getting out of the house, seeing the colours of nature, became a distant dream. Thanks to support, encouragement and determination, I rejoice in all the good things in life.
      Thank you for your thoughtful words, my friend. Much admiration and respect to you.
      Gary

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  22. Good luck to you and your friends with this new charity. I have always thought that it is those who have been there themselves who are the best people to help when we have mental health issues. Empathy goes such a long way.

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    1. Hi Lost in Space,
      Thank you kindly for your positive words. And quite right, those who have experienced, or are experiencing mental health issues, are the ones who truly relate. You and I share that wondrous gift of empathy.
      With understanding and support, your way, Gary

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  23. I admire you for reaching out to help so many people. You have such a wonderful sense of humor, and are so compassionate that I know this will be a huge success. Julie

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    1. Hi Julie,
      Thanks and my blog has always been about reaching out to those who need help, need comfort. And it has always been about bringing further awareness to those who do not have mental health issues, that my issues are only a small part of who I am.
      Now, I will do my very best to see my friends mental health charity reach out to all who need a bit of comfort and reassurance.
      Blessings to you, my friend,
      Gary

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  24. thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,
      Thank you for sharing :)

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  25. I love that you are so open and inspire others. In my previous professional life, I worked with veterans who suffered from PTSD and other emotional and mental challenges. I've worked locked ward to out patient. You are so right, mental illness can strike anyone.

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  26. Hi Ciara,
    I know we both understand that transparency and being supportive of others who need help, can inspire them and further inspire ourselves.
    What you did in your previous professional life, is a cause close to our hearts. The suffering from PTSD that so many veterans have endured, is an absolute disgrace that so many have not got the help they need. You are a shining beacon of hope. Coincidentally, my friends who have set up the mental health charity in Wales, are attempting to work with a number of Welsh veterans who are sleeping rough on the streets. An awful and very sad situation that needs to be rectified.
    Indeed, folks need to understand that mental illness can happen to any of us.
    Much respect and admiration to you, Ciara.
    In kindness and gratitude, Gary

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  27. Wonderful and inspiring post Gary. x

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    1. Hi All Consuming,
      Thank you, dear lady. That mean a lot.
      Gary x

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  28. Faith in humanity restored. Nice one fella.

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    1. Hi crowbloke,
      Thanks for that. I know that there are some decent, genuine folks in this world.
      Take good care,
      Gary

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  29. Hi Gary. Of late I've been dealing with mental & physical issues. So it is always nice to visit here to hear positive thoughts and behaviors. Very encouraging for me to continue my path in a positive light. I've always had you on my list of people I am most grateful for, regarding help and direction. Your empathy is most appreciated.
    Kindness and well wishes for the charity work,
    Love, Dixie

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    1. Hi Dixie,
      I'm so sorry and we both know that mental and physical issues are intertwined. I'm heartened that you can embrace and do your best to cultivate positive thinking and behaviour. I know this must be most difficult what with all you endure. Thus, much admiration for your determination to seek out positive distractions to give you some comfort.
      You know I have always been grateful to you and when we help each other, yes we truly help ourselves. We do indeed share a wondrous gift. That gift of empathy.
      Thank you so much for your kindness and well wishes for the new charity. Your words are cherished.
      Love to you, Gary

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  30. Hi Gary

    What a great thing you and your friends are doing. Well done and good luck with it all. I often think about doing charity work and I hope one day that I will settled somewhere long enough to offer my help.

    Take Care

    GEM

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    1. Hi GEM,
      Thank you very much, my dear friend. Volunteering can be a most worthy and fulfilling endeavour. Thank you for the positive wishes and we will do our best to be of support and encouragement.
      All the best to you,
      Gary

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  31. Well said. Truly well said.
    Thank you for sharing with us.
    Heather

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    1. Hi Heather,
      I'm most thankful for your comment. My pleasure to share as we share with each other.
      In kindness and good wishes, Gary :)

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  32. I <3 you Gary! You are such an honest man. I'm glad you and your friends are starting a new charity. Helping others always helps oneself. Depression affects so many people, especially in the current world economy. I would be willing to bet that in my last teaching post over half of the staff were on antidepressants. But very few people talked about it. I think if everyone had realized so many people were in the same boat, we could have helped each other.

    Take care of you, my friend!

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    1. Hi Sharon,
      What a most thoughtful comment, Sharon. Thank you. And so true, with this brutal world economy, many people are experiencing the affects of an overwhelming negative environment that has an adverse impact on their mental health well being. Yes, we truly need to be open, to not be ashamed and learn to share with each other, to help each other.
      We hope that the empathetic ideals of my friend's new mental health charity will be of much comfort and help reduce the unfair stigma. Indeed, when we help each other, we help ourselves.
      Thank you for such thought provoking comment. You are a dear friend.
      With peaceful, positive wishes, your way, Gary :)

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  33. Hi Gary .. you set a wonderful example for us all - and I do hope your involvement with your friends' charity will benefit you .. as I'm sure your input will benefit others ... as it does here ..

    I admire you for persevering and not giving up - you're setting an example to your son too .. from which he'll benefit hugely in the years ahead ..

    With many thoughts and congratulations for your courage and conviction to share and help others ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi Hilary,
      That's very kind of you, Hilary. Yes indeed, the ideals of such a charity is for the mutual, empowering benefit of all concerned. And, thank you, my blog has always had the underlying ideals of being here for others and thus, others, such as your kind self, are here for me.
      My son is a major catalyst in my ongoing determination that he and thus I, can have a more positive future. I remain positive, despite battling my illness, that all is going to be just fine.
      Thank you for such encouraging words. Hilary, you are a marvel.
      In peace and positive wishes,
      Gary

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  34. That's too bad to hear about your experience with the first group you were involved with. Too often situations that are meant to help people end up being all about money. I can relate; I had a therapist about 7 years ago who was unfit for the responsibility. I had an appt. with him on a Monday morning, I was paid on Friday and my paycheck ended up being less than I expected so I could not afford my co-pay for his services, so I decided to cancel my appt. His requirement was 48-hour notice. Since no one was at his office on the weekend I left a msg on his voicemail letting him know I couldn't make it. He called me Monday yelling his head off, complaining that I cancelled — that he was really counting on my co-pay for his cash expenditures. My co-pay was $10.... I politely told him he needed therapy and that I would never see him again and hung up the phone.

    Best of luck with your new venture. There will always be a demand for mental health assistance so long as the world keeps ignoring the needs of it's own kind.

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    1. Hi Static,
      Oh yes, money became the dominant theme and the true ideals, of empathy, encouragement, support and empowerment, became secondary. Ironically, after recovering from the disillusionment, I became determined that the true ideals of being there for each other, would be realised.
      And, right on in what you told that alleged 'therapist'. In fact, I have discovered that the true experts are ourselves. Some have read it in a book. And some of us were in the book. You have my respect, good friend.
      Thanks for your kind wishes in regards to the venture. And with today's brutal world, there is even more need for positive resources such as genuine, client lead, mental health charities.
      May you have a peaceful, positive weekend.
      Gary

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  35. I haven't read the rest of the comments that have been made beforehand, Gary, so you may have heard what I'm about to say but... to hear that that charity exploited you in that way when you were already vulnerable sickens me. It's like kicking someone when they're not just down, but when they're crippled, emotionally and struggle to even begin to get the f*ck up again.

    Okay. Now that I've gotten that I've my chest, I just want to also say I'm going to be checking out that link to Julie and Phillip's site. I could use their words of true understanding on depression right now. 1- Because I need to go back to seeing a therapist right now... but can't afford one yet. and 2- I have no one to talk to about what I'm currently going through, except my Aunt Kay, who's a sweetheart and listens to whatever is troubling your soul WITHOUT JUDGEMENT.

    I find it odd, during these times of economic woe, why some people still find that seeking help for depression is taboo. That's really sad and needless. I feel like shouting from the rooftops, "GET HELP, PEOPLE! THERE IS NO SHAME IN IT!"

    Okay, rant over. You know me. When I'm passionate about something, I tend to overdo it. Unfortunately, sometimes, you have to do that or people will ignore it.

    Take care, Gary and thank you for this article and the link.

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    1. Hi Kelly,
      Your sentiments pretty well echo much of what those other fine folks alluded to. That 'mental health' charity took advantage of my genuine empathy and exploited my good, yet vulnerable disposition. It took ages to recover from it. For awhile, I thought I might be paranoid. Then I got similar testimony from others who felt equally exploited. They have a large turn over of volunteers. That should tell them something.
      Please do check out their link. It's still in the early stages, but as the site progresses, I'm confident that other features will be added. Hopefully, an anonymous 'chat room' such as the one I used to moderate for. You need, many need as many positive resources we can find in these especially stressful times. Thank goodness for your Aunt Kay. A special lady who listens and would never pass judgement. That's exactly what you need and what those in emotional turmoil, need.
      There are too many people who are scared to seek help because of the stigma they think they'd receive. With continued information and further awareness, we can make people realise, whether ill or not, that there is no shame in having mental health concerns. It is not a sign of weakness to realise one needs help, support and comfort.
      My friend, your eloquent statement resonates with what this truly is all about. Being here for each other. For yes, your impassioned plea will be observed and respected. It is so very true, good friend, when we help each other, we help ourselves. Time to end the unfair stigma and labels that still surround mental health issues. It's the dawn of a new understanding.
      Thanks, Kelly. You are a thoroughly decent man. Much respect and admiration, Gary

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I do try to comment back to each commenter individually. However, I might have to shorten my replies or give a group thank you. That way, I can spend more time commenting on your blogs. Thank you and peace, my friend.