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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

Talk to Talk; has it been that long?

It was Time to Talk Day last week, which means there’s been lots of cool, important and hopefully helpful conversations happening. This also means something else. And each year I forget until it’s past. It’s my work anniversary.

I started working with my current employer the week after Time to Talk in 2018. Fresh from my 3 or 4 day trip in Dublin. Though I was back in time to kinda secretly walk past one or two of the community stands they had in a local town centre on Time to Talk Day. I didn’t learn all the inside info, but I did get to see they had friendly staff and a willingness to chat with people passing by.

In the first 12 to 18 months at the charity my role changed as I grew into my position and discovered what I could offer past the original role. At some stage between 18 and 24 months, my role evolved into a new position. Throughout that time I was managing my own mental health illness, with therapy, medication and coping strategies.

I am fairly task orientated; I think that’s fair to say. So while I am at work I’m usually good. There have been occasions when I have had to manage my tasks and recognise when a particular task or activity may not be helpful for me. Or could in fact be triggering for me. I still experience days or more so moments of depression, thoughts of self harm and I can go down that spiral. But I feel that the ‘work’ or rather the effort and time I have put in with four rounds/ seasons of therapy, along with developing and using my coping strategies have massively helped my mental health and my ability to manage my illness. I definitely understand and manage my illness much better today than I did four plus years ago.

That is what I find myself reflecting on today, rather than “o, it’s four years. This is now my longest ever job in one place”, which it is O my gosh! But rather, “wow, what a journey it’s been. And continues to be”.

As I reflect on that journey, I very much think of the role the mental health charity Mind has played in my recovery. At the start of my struggles in 2013 and 2014, it was the Mind website that I looked at for information about the things I was struggling with and what sort of support there was. While I didn’t immediately try to access the support, I think it was over 9 months before I called or emailed anyone, it was through a local Mind subcontractor service I accessed support.

Having worked at a local Mind, I have been able to use my experience to better support individuals and groups within local communities. I have hosted discussions, presented information, listened to others experiences and signposted to various supports and services.

I am also delighted to say prior to starting my role back in 2018, I had been part of projects with other local Minds; having shared my experience with Middlesbrough & Stockton Mind's blog story sharing and with CPSL Mind's Stop Suicide Campaign. Subsequently, in my role I have had the opportunity to collaborate with many more amazing individuals at other local Minds across England and Wales.

Image taken by Dexter Morgan

I have been extremely fortunate to have had the experiences I have had over the last four year at a local Mind and to have been able to access the support from national and local Minds, to support my recovery. Who knows what the future holds? But for now, I am delighted to reflect on the journey so far; the achievements, challenges, the failures and successes.


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