Tuesday, 19 March 2019

AN OPEN LETTER TO MARTIN BAKER OF 'GUM ON MY SHOE'



Dear Marty,


After reading one of your recent blog posts, I know that you’ve been feeling sort of lost recently and have been questioning your place in the mental health world so I thought that perhaps this letter might motivate you through these doubts and struggles. 


Firstly, I wanted to say how glad I am to have met you at that Time To Change event – it’s always nice and fun to meet someone who you’ve connected with online, in person. But there was something special about you – something different. You were genuine. I think that, these days, it’s incredibly hard to find someone who is the same in person as they are online, not a lot of people are genuine and of course there those who hide behind a keyboard but I feel like you and I are both learning that there’s also a huge number of people on social media who can be of invaluable support online. And you have helped me to see this as I’ve gotten to know you – especially during a recent visit to A&E(!) – I’ve seen how many people you support through social media. Learning that number really did leave me speechless! It’s inspiring to think of the strength you have in order to be there for so many people.



Now, I know that part of your struggle recently has been that you feel like a bit of a fraud in being involved in events and projects in the mental health industry because you feel you have no lived experience. But I want you to know that your lived experience of supporting someone with a mental health illness is invaluable in events like the one Time To Change hosted when we met. Having gone through my mental health journey with my Mum being my main source of support, I think that I now know how essential it is to have the support of another person through your times of struggle and the challenges thrown at you. And this is why we actually need more people like you! I fully believe that you can’t get through a mental health illness alone; and that support can come from anyone… a professional, a family member, or a friend... The difficulty comes in allowing yourself to lean on another person or even to just admit that you need to lean on them! But people like you, make it so much easier because your support is unconditional and, whilst you’re unable to identify with some aspects of mental health, you have an unmeasurable willingness to learn and develop an understanding in order to better support a person. I love that you ask me questions when I’m struggling because it’s much more helpful than you just sitting there and nodding along, pretending to understand. In asking these questions, you’ve helped me to make a better sense of my self-harm and that, is one of the first steps in changing the behaviour and moving forwards in my recovery.


I just want to finish up by saying that I, for one, would find that mental health events wouldn’t be the same without you.  


To read Marty’s blog visit: www.gumonmyshoe.com



To follow all his work visit: www.twitter.com/GumOnMyShoeBook