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I was pleased to be invited to a Staff Away Day by Psychologist Ruth Turner who works for the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s Early Intervention Psychosis Team. I was asked to do a presentation of my mental health journey and incorporate an animation film I made when I first become unwell whilst studying for my degree. I was also asked to show my showreel of animations including ‘Yessica’s Journey’ which is hoped to be used by the NHS and Mind in training workshops and events when completed. The event took place at Carrow Road in Norwich.
I first met Ruth when I was invited to do an event by the Chalk Circle Theatre Company last year. I was asked to talk about my journey and show my animations and work. This was the first time I had ever done anything like this and I was extremely nervous. I invited a representative from the NHS and Mind as both organisations have helped to fund the project. Maggie Wheeler who was the Chair of the NHS Trust and was also my mentor for the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project kindly asked Ruth to represent the Trust which is how I met her. The project has given me so many opportunities to meet people within the NHS and be involved with the Trust.
When Ruth asked me I was really pleased but also a bit nervous as I knew there would be around 40 staff there and I was also given around an hour to do the presentation, something I am not used to doing. I went in the week before to Carrow Road to make sure my Apple laptop worked on their projector and it was a good job I did as they had to get a special adapter. The presentation went really well and although I was a bit nervous to start with I noticed that I was much more confident that I thought I would be. I was asked so many questions by the staff and everyone seemed really interested in my journey and animations which was so nice and quite unexpected.
I stayed for the whole day and had lunch with the staff and was invited to join in staff group activities which was fun. Everyone was so nice and friendly and they made me feel really welcome. I was also asked by many staff if I would be interested in working with them in the future doing more talks and being involved in art with the team which I was really pleased about and was not expecting. I got some really good feedback from staff so that was really nice and I was pleased the talk was successful and helpful. Someone commented on the fact that I presented it by talking naturally about my journey and didn’t follow a plan. In the past I would never have been able to do this as talking about yourself is quite hard but I have noticed that I am less nervous and more confident for the first time in my life about public speaking and presenting, something I never thought I would be able to do without feeling nervous.
I think it is through my journey and experience, especially after the relapse I had last year and through the talking therapy I received from the NHS that has helped me with my confidence. Most of my life I feel I have wasted time worrying about what other people think of me, what if I muck up, what if something goes wrong, what if… but what if – so many if’s and but’s. I have learned slowly through experience that it really does not matter and once you conquer that fear you can find the confidence within yourself to no longer be afraid. We sometimes spend our lives living in fear so this really is an amazing gift which I feel I have gained through my mental health experience. Something good and positive has come from my journey and never in a million years did I ever think I would conquer my fears in talking to large groups and most importantly not worrying about it. To gain confidence is a wonderful thing, it can help you do so much more in life. To build confidence takes time and patience but the rewards are huge.
Peter Edge who works for the NHS was also at the event and it was really nice to see him there as he used to be my mentor for the project. Above is a Slideshow of images from the staff event.