The location, was ah-mazing! I literally lost my breath when I saw the corridor I had to walk down to the room the event was held in.
Everyone was really friendly and one of the ladies I was talking to was the first to get up to speak. To open the event, Danny did a speech about his own lived experience of mental ill health and talking passionately about how mental health care should be a higher priority for the government. To be honest, I haven't got a clue when it comes to politics but I enjoy hearing people speak about something they're passionate about.
Second to speak was Sara Hawthorn who spoke about her battle with depression, after losing a close friend. She began suffering from anxiety as she worried that something bad would happen and she constantly blamed herself. At her lowest, Sara was abusing pain killers and on a particularly difficult day she overdosed. She hated herself for not succeeding. Sara's battle affected her partner at the time who ended the relationship and initially, Sara felt worse, but then she realised that she shouldn't be ashamed for having mental illness. She now has counselling and she finished her talk by quoting Stephen Hawkings; "where there is life, there is hope."
Next up was Scott Wood who is a political speaker. I spoke about how he's studying Neuro-Linguistic Programming which I assumed to be computer-related from the 'Programming' part of it but interested to discover it's a psychotherapy approach. It supports the theory that there is a connection between neurological processes, language and behaviour learnt through experience and that this can be altered when set specific goals. "The government are spending more on helping people with mental health conditions."
And to finish, we heard from Tracey Buzz Gregory. Now, I feel a little bad for using more space on one person but there's no denying the fact that Tracey's speech was the most moving of the day. Tracey talked about the abuse her children had suffered and how one of her son's (at a very young age) attempted suicide. He continued to experience episodes of depression and when he became sexually active he asked his Doctor to be chemically castrated at fear he would end up like his abuser. He was eventually referred to CAMHS, though Tracey acknowledged this didn't help. She talked about how one day her son was happy and back to himself and that he even washed the dishes after the family Sunday roast and she was so happy. She later realised that he'd given them that good day as he planned for it to be his last. When Tracey went to wake him the next day, he was dead from an overdose. "I felt that I was on the edge of a cliff and jumping would be so much easier than scrambling back to safety." It was Tracey's thoughts on her son's suicide that made me tear up; she said that it annoys when people say it's a selfish act because he took his life to stop the pain he thought he was, and could, cause to others. She also said that she respected his decision and was proud of him for being so strong and courageous as to take such an action.
It was an incredibly inspirational event and everyone was so lovely and friendly. And the blog address was passed around many times!
Thank you to all of the brave people who spoke today and thank you to Danny for having me.
For more information or any media enquiries regarding this event, please contact Danny here