Since I was offered the chance to work with Trigger Press on a book about my mental health experiences, and the challenges I have undertaken to try and raise awareness, I have done a fair amount of reading on the subject of mental health; from social media posts, articles and blogs right the way through to some of the other volumes published by Trigger Press.
Notwithstanding the mixture of nerves and excitement surrounding the publication of “Today, Just Like yesterday” in April (form an orderly queue…); I am already planning more challenges and looking at how I can best support both Trigger Press and also their parent charity The Shaw Mind Foundation.
I remain grateful and incredibly flattered at the faith that’s being shown in me to tell my story. I have worked really hard to try and do justice to those who believe in me; and hopefully beyond the book, there will be other ways to promote the fantastic work being done by publisher and charity alike.
Over these past few months, through everything I’ve read, and all the conversations I’ve had, I feel I have being somehow trying to make sense of where or how I fit into a world where mental illness can be discussed as easily as the weekend’s football results.
I’ve met or spoken to people who’ve battled (or are battling) truly horrible conditions, and done so with remarkable courage; simply refusing to give up, even when there seems to be no way out of the darkness. I sometimes feel like a fraud because my condition is relatively mild—even though I’ve had it for forty years—and I have regularly questioned whether I have the right to share my experiences with others whose strength and bravery is greater than I can even imagine.
Although it’s taken a while, I understand myself pretty well now, but I don’t have extensive medical knowledge; I’ll leave that to the doctors, consultants and those whose job title starts with “psycho-” and ends in “-st”. I’m not an expert in all the available treatments and support systems either; but I can talk, I can listen … and I care.
And perhaps those three attributes are all I need?
By definition no one else has had or ever will have my exact symptoms and experiences; but even though there will always be part of me that wonders if a relatively mild condition has the same relevance or even validity as other forms of mental illness, I also recognise that parts of my story … parts of me … may just resonate with someone somewhere…
And if that one small spark of recognition is enough to ignite a conversation … with a friend, family member, teacher, employer, medical professional, et al; then maybe those feelings of self-doubt or the need for self-justification can be replaced by an acceptance I might just have made a difference.
When my book hits the streets (obviously I’m hoping that’s not literally what happens), I hope the readers will realise how much I appreciate all those who have made a difference to me. I intend to keep doing all I can to show that it is fine to talk about mental health; and asking for help when you’re struggling is most definitely a strength, not a weakness. Like I’ve said before; I don’t know if I will ever make that difference, but I know for certain that I won’t if I don’t try.
Richard... Jack of some trades... you can guess the rest