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On Saturday I volunteered to help the Time to Change campaign which was located outside Chapelfield Big Screen Shopping Mall. My friends Silvia and Ann both volunteered as well and Oz was there to help and support the event. I was nervous to start with but I thoroughly enjoyed the event and enjoyed meeting and talking to so many interesting people from the public. I met some lovely volunteers and staff from the Time to Change campaign.
We gave out postcards about the campaign and scratchcards, we offered cups of tea in exchange for chats on the sofa and goodie bags. We also encouraged people to watch the TV advert campaign on You Tube which is absolutely brilliant. The interactive Time to Talk video is also on You Tube. The video uses humor which is something I believe is a really powerful tool in trying to get across the message. There was also some actors who played out a play about someone having Bipolar, again they used humor and it was brilliant and a very effective way of getting the message out to the public in a quick and entertaining way.
My animations ‘Undine’ and ‘Lola and the Petrol Pump’ were playing on the Big Screen whilst we were volunteering. Becky Betts from the BBC asked me if she could play them for the Lord Mayors Procession and I was absolutely thrilled. ‘Undine’ looked great on the screen, the colours looked amazing. It was quite strange for me to be doing the campaign and seeing the film at the same time, it was whilst I was making ‘Undine’ at University that I became ill. I have no idea how I did it but I remember I did not enjoy it and couldn’t wait for it to be over. I was on medication at the time. I think its probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but my determination and strong will power and support from others helped me through.
The Time to Change campaign is about trying to help educate people about the discrimination and stigma associated towards people with mental illness. It is hoped that by talking to people, talking openly about mental health, we can start to break down the barriers, help to educate people and end Mental Health discrimination. 1 in 4 people have a mental health illness and it can effect anyone, we all have mental health.
Never in a million years did I ever think I would have a mental health breakdown and initially I felt very ashamed and embarrassed and I kept it a secret for several years. I found it very hard to accept what had happened to me and to talk about it. Through the volunteering with the Time to Change campaign last year, I have slowly come out about it and now can talk quite openly. Also my project and working with Oz Osborne has helped me a great deal to accept it and to not feel ashamed about it. Hopefully through talking it can help to educate people and help them to understand. I do still find it hard to talk to people about it, especially people who I knew before I was ill. Some people find it hard to talk to me or even acknowledge that I have been ill. I find the ignorance and lack of empathy and interest from people quite upsetting at times. I am glad that I have come out about it, its very hard keeping secrets and its not always good for your wellbeing. It’s much better to not live in fear and to sometimes take a few risks in life. Talking has helped me to grow in strength and confidence and I hope I can help others to do the same. At the same time I appreciate not everyone wants to or is ready to talk about it, we are all different and what will work for one person will not necessarily work with everyone. It’s about doing what you feel is right for you and what helps your own mental health and wellbeing.
I would like to thank the Time to Change Team for a great event and especially to Sarah James, Regional Co-ordinator for the region, who made us all feel really valued and welcome. She gave us a really good training session at Hellesdon Hospital. I would also like to thank all the people who kindly stopped to talk to me on Saturday, it was great having a chat and I met some really interesting people. Thanks to Ann and Silvia for volunteering as well, they were great.