World Mental Health Day is held on 10th October each year and it's important to me for two reasons:
Firstly because for nearly ten years I worked for 'see me', Scotland's national and multi-award-winning campaign to end the stigma and discrimination of mental ill-health. Latterly as Director of the campaign. WMHD (and mental health week) provided a welcome focus for local and national campaign and lobbying work - , work which went on all year without always making the headlines.
Secondly because for the last twenty years or so I have come to a recognition and acceptance of my own mental health challenges and learned better how to be more resilient, and how to take care of myself when things become difficult. There is also now mere awareness in Scotland of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the impact that they have on us as adults. Not before time and very welcome.
My mental health is definitely better these days: finally finding a good GP, the right medication, and a different way of living have made all the difference. Being self-employed is not without its challenges for someone who is extremely diffident, but stepping away from the mental health charity which employed me is the best thing I ever did for my mental health.
Now my life is less structured (unless I'm working on a project for a client in which case I am mega-disciplined!) and more focused on the things I enjoy doing. These are:
- being with my sheep
- working with the wool that they produce (whether that is knitting, crochet, weaving and - more recently forays into hook-rugging and needlefelting)
- walking outside and foraging
- scouring charity shops and eBay for clothes (have decided that buying new is a mug's game)
- coming up with creative ideas for the business
- reading Scandi and Scottish crime
- painting in watercolurs
- pottery (a constant and felt absence in my life while I try to get on top of things woolly)
- talking to people about my wool and my sheep.
I am aware that I am incredibly lucky at present to be able to live life in this fashion: in a way that is good for me, good for my relationships and my mental health.