As we reach the end of Mental Health Awareness Week, it's important that we do not stop talking about Mental Health.
To help encourage others to speak out about their experiences with Mental Health, our Head of Business Improvement, Steve Lemmon, shares an incredibly honest and powerful story about his own fight with Mental Health, and how three small words made such a huge difference…
A little over 4 years ago, on my commute, I identified the spot where I was going to take my own life.
The idea was now clearer in my mind than any other thought, I’d had enough and could see no other thing to do next – to me, it was as simple as following a map…
I hated where I was in life, hated myself for being a failure.
I was ready.
I was at my lowest point ever, ever…
I thought everyone would be better off without me… Wouldn’t they???
That tiny grain of doubt…
Rather than drive to ‘work’ that day, I said 3 words…
“I’m not ok.”
I said them to my family, I said them to my doctor, I said them to my employer…and left my job. It took a while but I finally said them to my friends…and they listened.
I’ve struggled with my own mind for years, and I probably will on and off. But 2 things, above all others, continue to help me: walking and talking…
I’ve always hiked (and ran) long-distance but often in solitude…it’s a great feeling, but could it be better? Could it help others and me further…?
Last year Covid-19 curtailed plans to hike the Norfolk Coast Path with a group of friends – 84 miles in 4 days (for a ‘mixed fitness’ group.) BUT, what it did do was create the Saturday Morning Lockdown Walking Club (SMLWC) - also meeting on Tuesday.
As soon as the restrictions opened to allow people to exercise with one other person we did. With no small measure of relief. We hiked and we talked and talked and we hiked, and when restrictions allowed we even hiked and talked and had a beer! 2 became 4 became, 4 became 6, and the personnel differed from time to time but what stayed the same, was that the footpaths of Leicestershire were our space.
Talking whilst hiking felt less obvious than sitting down for a cup of tea or a pint and a chat (both work wonderfully too), and so it felt easier for us to be open and honest. We shared what was on our minds, how lockdown was getting us down, our worries, fears and hopes… The talking distracted us from the effort of racking up the miles…
This Saturday 4 members of the SMLWC won’t be walking the Norfolk Coast path (either this year). HOWEVER, we will be hiking from Birstall to Foxton Locks – 22.5miles of Leicestershire’s waterways!
It’s something of a celebration.
A celebration of our countryside.
A celebration of friendship.
A celebration that we’re still walking and still talking.
It costs nothing to do, you don’t need a fancy kit just someone to talk with and a footpath or two… it might just change your life.
If you or anyone you know is suffering with Mental Health, you can find support and advice by visiting https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/crisis-services/helplines-listening-services/