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Thursday, 31 December 2015

Reasonable, Real New Year's Resolutions for 2016... The Balance Between Ambition and Self) Acceptance

It's 16:25 on New Year's Eve 2015 and I've now made a few resolutions now that the precarious time that is - for me - Christmas - has passed.

One of them is, next year, cut down on the number of articles I read about making or breaking new year's resolutions, since it has taken me the whole afternoon and my iPad has nearly run out of juice watching back-to-back episodes of Jessica Jones on Netflix to figure out that - big whoop - lots of people make similar new year's resolutions, quite a lot of us do it when we're drunk, and many of us find that by January 5th (that's one day after returning to work for most) we're clambering for the chardonnay and shunning spin classes left right and centre.

Common resolutions as per Time 2012

And here are the favourites from this year, as per Time magazine. It seems that many people are, at this very moment, steaming broccoli and lentils (if you are, stop - you'll be bloated in your sparkly dress / dinner jacket later!) whilst writing their letters of resignation, practising deep breathing and mindfulness (that's assuming you're reading a self-help de-stress website and not taking a bath at the same time as you try and cook stuff), and juggling the steamer and the crochet needles. Good luck to you, good people. Hey, at least you'll be going out soon and can leave alone these worthy activities for a few paltry hours.

Seriously, people, kale chips? Just go and buy some if you're that desperate.

Just as not everyone has a great Christmas day, a whole lot of people hate New Year's Eve, and I can't say it's always been my favourite night of the year either. For one thing, the stamina I associate with a) standing up for any period of time and b) staying up past 8pm is pretty much beyond me unless I've broken my psychiatrist's golden rule of substance misuse and hit the caffeine like a fiend. And, just so you know, since I am going out tonight, I have already made it two thirds of the way through my first 500ml Coke Zero. Spoiler alert: I may make it to midnight, with a few more of those under my belt.

AT LEAST this many and I may make it

The second reason is that I've still spend most of my life as a single person, albeit that for the first fifteen of those, it was definitely acceptable, or let's even say appropriate for that to happen. I'm sure I don't need to explain that it's not exactly fun to go out on the night of the year when everyone's focused on having 'the best night ever' when you're single. That's a night built up for failure without a kiss at midnight. You've donned your sequins, followed the tutorials on how to make yourself into a new year, new you woman for the night, and you've spent far too much money for some flouncy event it'll cost you a fortune so get home from. And this is not New Year's Eve, the movie, so the likelihood that you'll meet Ashton Kutchner in the broken elevator is pretty slim (though, if that does happen to you, fair play!).

Oh Ashton, not even you can pull this look off. Enough now.

I don't know where those house parties are that have a bunch of random single people who've never met each other before. To me that's just called inviting complete strangers into your home and feeding them alcohol. Forget new year's resolutions. Just don't be a complete dimwit! Anyway, those are the parties where across a crowded room a young-ish woman (anywhere between 16 and 45, let's say) can expect to glance across the room with her newly smoky-ed luscious lids and lock eyes with someone who's vaguely in the sphere of being good looking, isn't wearing a wedding ring, and in any case looks a little bit like James Bond (i.e. is wearing black tie, which means even the pimply and puny stand a chance of romance).

Line up fellas. Tonight you too can be 
any of these short Hollywood celebrities.

My best worst NYE: 1999-2000. Not only did all the computers make it through just fine as the clocks struck midnight; not only did the 'river of fire' in no way ignite along the Thames that night. Worse. I lost one of my Patrick Cox loafers in the muddy banks of the Thames. If you're listening, old river, you owe me a loafer. I hope you're enjoying wearing it in your watery depths tonight. I can tell you it was not that much fun walking all the way back to Kennington from the south bank near Vauxhall with just one shoe. Not much fun at all. And no kiss at midnight. No Champagne either. More like a can of Tizer and a freezing cold and altogether underwhelming night. Happy New Year? Oh F off.

Seriously Jools, I think you're great, but I might just call it a night.

(Joking aside, there are much worse situations. If you're with someone you don't get on with, or who is even abusive either mentally, verbally or physically, that's worse than being alone. If you are in that situation please try to keep yourself safe and contact Refuge for support. You deserve better.) If you're in an unhappy relationship that can be a lot lonelier than being alone on any night of the year. I am lucky to be blessed with my wonderful husband. I'm so grateful to have someone by my side through all this life.

We really need to think about our priorities
Fun is fun, but we could all get a laugh watching
the Oban fireworks catastrophe of 2011

Last year I talked about the pressures of the season - that five seconds after being encouraged to shove every fatty, creamy, stodgy food down your gullet you're expected to squeeze yourself into sexy, slinky spandex and strut your funky stuff in stilettos that are far too uncomfortable to be worn even sitting down, let alone with the extra five pounds of lard you've casually added to your girth over the last few days. And that would be my own personal third reason.

You said it, Sali. 
(And apologies if you hate this avatar, 
Bitstrips didn't turn out to be quite the easy (or accurate)
avatar creator that I thought it was)

(Link to Sali's article on The Pool) I told you I'd done my reading :)

Anyway, back to new year's resolutions. What I realised reading through all the articles this afternoon is that, like everything else, new year's resolutions could do with a bit of balance to be effective. So here they are:

Overall: be more mindful and take care of my mental health so that I can achieve the other resolutions as far as I possibly can.

Yes indeed. The first resolution is about being ambitious, forward-thinking and aim for progress, but in the end achieve what I can with the right degree of balance to I can be healthy (within my control).

I haven't figured out a master plan, but what I do know is that I won't give up sharing my story with as many organisations or people who will have me. The only way we're going to normalise mental health in the workplace and the world is if we make having conversations about it easier. I believe this will help people find help earlier and easier, and hopefully make for healthier attitudes all round.

Me, jumping over rocks in a baseball cap.
I suppose it could happen.

It's not all that helpful to say to yourself, "Lose weight", or even "Lose twenty pounds by April", in my case, because I don't know whether my body will be able to do it. My medications have weight gain side-effects; my back still gets sore and my mental health is still teetering on a slender pinnacle between fine and failing, so to set targets like this aren't going to work for me.

Again, Tim, I know it doesn't look like you. Sorry. And sorry to your wife too. 
I know who wears the proverbial trousers.

I have made the above few resolutions after some thought about what I wanted to achieve in the next year, but they are longer term goals, more likely to result in success, going by what Tim Dowling suggests in his piece on fool proof new year's resolutions, published today. (By the way, Tim, in the unlikely event that you read this piece, apologies for your avatar. I tried but there's only so many things you can do with Bitstrips' avatars. I know it looks nothing like you. Sorry.)

There's a theme to them, though: that I'm going to try, but I'm also going to try not to be too hard on myself for these resolutions. They don't have definitive outcomes. That's deliberate. I've set targets that are very specific in my life before - both personally and at work, but for the next year given the delicate state of my health I want to have areas to focus on, but not milestones which - should I fall short of them - will fuel the fire of self-loathing or a sense of failure.

I'm spending tonight over the road at my local pub with my husband. The very kind manager has allowed me to reserve a table because she knows I can't stand. There will be a band, which I'm looking forward to, and I'm hoping my husband will grace me with a new year's kiss...and then tomorrow I'll get up and run the parkrun, possibly with quite the hangover. Whatever you're up to, I hope that you have a not-unhappy night, and whatever the year brings your way, please take care of yourself. Sending you love for 2016. x

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Monday, 28 December 2015

Merry ParkRun to All and to All a Good Flight! In Praise of ParkRun

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, how lovely are thy cheapo hats

After a few days of indulging in every delicious food and drink we now have the delight of New Year's Eve ahead of us, with its perceived obligations to look glittery and make grand schemes, or 'resolutions' to be better and achieve more in the new year. Last year I wrote about feeling anxious about this event, a day when one looks in the closet or on the sales racks for sequins and spandex, hoping that the two will come together in a wonderful symbiosis which belies the enormous quantities of stuffing that we've just cheerfully crammed into ourselves without a care for our waistlines or coronaries.

The closest I shall come to the above (and I do have dresses like this that don't fit)
is this: sequin spanx. (

This year I started a little better on the journey towards eating one's own body weight, by taking part on two consecutive days in my local park run at Bushy Park. Have you heard of ParkRun? Here's a little about them from the website:

"parkrun organise[s] free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in.These events take place in pleasant parkland surroundings and we encourage people of every ability to take part; from those taking their first steps in running to Olympians; from juniors to those with more experience; we welcome you all."

In a typical week I try to do exercise as part of my week's activities, in order to boost the endorphin levels and (I would hope) to keep my mental health on an even keel or at least on the up (however minutely). Around Christmas, though, I tend to head squarely for the sofa from the desk and leave the thousands of emails unanswered with a to do list to rival the length of Santa's naughty and nice list, but the issue I then face is that my body starts to mould into the fabric of the sofa, and does not want to move, not one little bit. This is quite dangerous because the less I do, the less I want to do. The more I watch television and eat, and do nothing but that, the less I can do. And that could lead to a dissatisfaction with everything because I don't feel like doing things, but I certainly do not need any more sitting or scoffing.

You can find a parkrun near you every weekend, in the UK and around the world

It was probably good luck (and good management on the part of the Bushy Park's parkrun management committee) that I found myself down to write the run report for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, meaning that however many mince pies I'd managed to gorge myself on the night before, I wasn't going to be able to excuse myself from the festive fitness proceedings. 

A sea of Santa Hats getting ready to cover 5K...however they wanted

The 5K runs that parkrun organises gets everyone involved, and is a great way to kick start my weekend. Not only that, but when I feel totally reluctant to see another soul I can participate in the run with no obligation to speak to other people, but with the lovely sense of having joined in with something, even though my mind has closed itself off to callers.

Boxing day in a toned-down version of headgear. Just sparkly antlers.
My weight had already increased through Christmas consumption!

My stomach is not feeling very well eve n now as I type this because despite my attempts to moderate the consumption of meat, cheese, potatoes and, mainly, sausages, on a typical day I'd be more likely to eat carrot and lentil salad than chestnut stuffing, which means that I'm still overeating even when compared to the average calorie intake I've taken it pretty easy. It's annoying that this happens - and I'm sure I'm not the only one - who makes an effort not to overdo it, only for my stomach to tell me that I have been immoderate in my moderation. 

Anyway, I'm lucky that I had to run 10K in total over 25th and 26th. I also drank some vegetable juices to keep some semblance of normality in my diet. Tomorrow, I plan to run again to keep my hand in and (hopefully) my hips within their normal range on the lead up to New Year's Eve. And my mental health? It's hanging in there, but I certainly plan to keep it that way as far as possible with the amount of exercise that will start to return things to normal after five days of solid stodge.

View from the snug sofa.
It is pretty hard to leave these woodland animals to head for the, err, woods.

As something a little different I composed a poem for the run report I wrote for the Christmas and Boxing day Bushy Park runs. The point was to have a little bit of fun with the report, very much in the spirit of Bushy Park itself. This post serves for me as a 'check in' for my health - in every sense - and to remind me why I love parkrun and how helpful it is for me. It also serves as my community fitness contribution. I've written before about Mind's #GetSetToGo programme, which helps people to become more active for better mental health, but although this programme is currently working in a handful of locations, it's good to know that there are other community fitness schemes like the wonderful parkrun to help us to become active.

This is Andy, one of the key Bushy Park parkrun volunteers

If you are looking for a new way to keep fit in 2016, you can find a local park run here on the registration page (click for more) and even start your own. The next parkrun at Bushy is on New Year's Day, and you can walk, run, jog, hop or do a combination of all of these to join in with your community and do a bit for your fitness. Parkrun is a run, not a race. Everyone is welcome, and encouraged to do what they can. I share its desire to help people to participate at any level, for free, for better fitness for everyone. 

Runners go Crackers!

Take care in the remaining days of holiday, of yourself and others, and perhaps see you at a parkrun in 2016? x

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the town
No creature was stirring (we were all lying down).
The running tights snug in their drawers all together,
As we shut out the wind, and cold winter weather.
Then at seven AM, arose such a clatter
I opened my eyes to see what was the matter.
My alarm had gone off, surely by some mistake?
On Christmas Day morning? No one else was awake.
But apparently no, it was meant to be done,
As today was the Christmas day Bushy ParkRun!
I rose from my bed, and put on the lights,
To avoid falling down as I put on my tights,
Then out of the door donning festive headwear,
Hoping some other runners would also be there.
A thousand one hundred plus forty five more
Turned up as elves, reindeer and Santas galore!
Double buggies and dogs in tinsel and bells,
Dodging puddles of mud just like graceful gazelles.

Congrats to Andrius Jak-sev-ic-i-us
Who finished in first (did he hop on a bus?)
Molly Renfer: first female, 18:11
A jolly good time for a mud-spattered run.
To Craig Jarman, Matt Reed, and to Richard Berry
Congrats on new PBs and hope you are merry.
Add on seventy eight with new personal bests
Well done all eighty one, now, have well-deserved rests!

Around forty park run volunteers ran the show
With a three-funnel finish to manage the flow.
Prosecco, mince pies and sweet treats were in store
For the finishers, volunteers, fam’lies and more,
So Christmas Day started in true ParkRun style
With goodwill shown to all for just over three miles
Our five K now ended we went home to our trees
Till we’d eaten our eight thousand (ish) calories
A warm glow in our cheeks till the next week’s park fun

No, wait, it’s tomorrow for the Boxing day run!

Boxing Day turnout of 700+ parkrunners. 
Perhaps a little slower in some cases (mine) but good to participate all the same!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Have Yourselves A Merry - Mindful - Christmas. #12DaysOfXmasMH

It's the night before Christmas and all through the flat...we're just about tidy, thank goodness for that.
Luckily for you, dear reader, I won't continue to write in rhyme for this post about the lead up to Christmas.

This year I've had to be more 'mindful' than in previous Christmasses of how I've felt every day. The idea behind the #12DaysOfXmasMH was to show what it is really like to manage a mental health condition every day.

Day 10 #12DaysOfXmasMH

As it turns out, it has been particularly educational for me because from being tired out and stressed at the end of the year's work, to absolutely calm and content a couple of days later, just from having the right amount of sleep, to it being the day before Christmas Day and waking up feeling the usual anxieties associated with the pressures of the season.

Mindfulness. Father Christmas Style... 
(Thanks to Raymond Briggs for lending me Santa)

I've heard a lot of negative opinions on mindfulness from people, especially in the city environment where I work. They've said that mindfulness is 'fluffy', 'pointless', 'embarrassing', 'strange', 'not my kind of thing' and 'something I tried but couldn't get into'. I would have to agree with some of these statements. Firstly, I'm really bad at relaxing.(I'm actually a lot better at it now, but that means I've gone from someone who needed to sit watching a film whilst washing was on while playing angry birds while writing my blog and twitching my toes in regular patterns, to someone who's writing her blog while watching a film. And the washing is on. But that's it, I promise.) Secondly, the first time I realised that I had been really stressed was last year, when for the first time in about twenty-something years, I was actually relaxed for the first time. It was definitely the biggest 'AHA' moment ever!

When I was in hospital last summer I attended mindfulness groups, which were part of the treatment plan to develop better ways to manage our mental health and improve our mood and self-care. I had to stop lying down for the exercises as I was totally unable to stay awake during the sessions, and now when I listen to my Headspace app (which I should do more as it's really helpful) I follow its guidelines when the soothing voice tells me that it's better to sit up straight rather than lie down. Plus, the videos at the beginning of the exercises are really cute. There are long exercises to learn for mindfulness practitioners eventually, but even an exercise of ten minutes in length is quite tricky to follow.

Gender stereotyping aside. This is me.

But the point isn't to 'do an exercise' or 'complete' a fixed length of meditation (unless I've totally missed the point, that is). The point is for each of us to ask ourselves, "How are you doing right now?" "What's going on in your head?" "How well are you feeling?".

Day 7 #12DaysOfXmasMH

This could last 10 seconds or even 5 if you can answer it in that time. So, for the last eleven days, each time I've made a short video of myself out and about, waking up, exercising, walking, making juices, playing computer games or watching Netflix... Or all of them, I've had to tell my iphone video camera how I felt. And it has actually helped me to take better care of myself.

Thanks again Raymond Briggs.
I think the Snowman could teach me a few things about mindfulness

I was shaking with anxiety on day two so even though I felt like a big body-shaped bowl of jelly on a powerplate I made myself go to one of the bootcamp classes I'd signed up for for this month, and the jog there, the many squats and circuits, and finally the run back exhausted some of that nervous energy and made me feel better just one hour later.

Me. This. Definitely this.

(I should add that I could hardly sit or stand the next day, the day after, or the day after that because of the squats. So, whilst lurching around on days 3-5 attempting but failing to walk, but hey, at least I was distracting myself!) The learning: I needed to treat my anxiety there and then to prevent it from getting worse. And I did what I could.

Other days I felt exceptionally rested and relaxed after having a proper night of sleep. Having to notice that feeling first thing in the morning because of the video diaries was actually really helpful, because I was grateful for it. It's not just the bad times or the bad moments I want to notice throughout a life managing a mental health problem (and, of course, life, love, work and everything else... you know, the small stuff) but the times when I'm feeling happy, still, energised, rested, at peace and all of those wonderful other feelings that I bet I take for granted most of the time. The learning here - it's actually lovely to notice myself feeling good, and just stay with that feeling of contentment for a little while. It meant I stayed in bed a little longer than usual, but it felt good to do it, and it was the holiday, so why not?

Thanks Piglet and Pooh for reminding 
me to take each day at a time.

And yesterday I was hugely frustrated, angry, tired, worried, anxious, and totally restless. Making the #12DaysOfXmasMH meant that I noticed that too. I was cheerful and smiley with the sunshine and off to do the recycling (I know, the glamour) but on return home with our Christmas food and cheese we were locked out of our building and had to wait for a locksmith to charge us the delightful sum of £250+ for a new lock, new set of building keys for all the residents, only to find out later that they've given us a key that can only be re-made at a locksmith miles away for much more money. We didn't manage the walk we had planned and I was exhausted by the annoyance of it all. Low frustration tolerance stuck again.

My head. yesterday at about 15:15

This was truly not a big deal; a minor detail in a great week, and we'll even get the money refunded to us. But the point for suffering with depression has never been that 'there are people starving in Africa who are much worse off'... we all know that (I think, anyway), but it doesn't stop us from being ill just because someone else is worse off. We're just ill anyway. It might even make us feel worse that we can't feel better because we know our lives our good and we should.

My just-awake-hair in this video is particularly *special*

At the end of these fourteen days of Christmas, for mental health, what mindfulness has really meant is being aware of the good, the bad and the ugly feelings and handling them as needed. Noticing negative thoughts, restlessness, anxiety flutters, insomnia and disinterest in things as early as possible means I can (hopefully) take some steps to treat these nasty visitors before they become permanent house guests.

If noticing that means I am well more often, for longer, or that I avoid having to take time off from work because the niggling feelings have festered and grown, then good. That is the sort of mindfulness I can support fully, and advocate for others. And if I do feel like standing on one leg, completing a ten minute meditative exercise involving a raisin or whatever else, well, then, each to one's own...

Staying balanced is a balancing act in itself. 
(credit: Mindfulness Exchange)

To all of you, remember to take a breather whenever you need to this holiday, and have a Christmas that is as calm, contented and charming (in the best sense), and as you do, I'll be remembering the same thing and taking it one breath at a time. Love and peace to all. x

With credit to Disney, I think Olaf is pretty mindful of love

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Community Spirits...Let's All Stand Together in Love, Support and Respect

Sitting and reflecting on the wonderful communities I belong to

Did you know that there was a time when communities didn't exist at all? I hadn't thought of it until I was in my third year at university learning about Ancient Greece and I started reading about the way city states (poleis or polis, singular) were created.

"Greek citizenship stemmed from the fusion of two distinct but related elements, (a) the notion of the individual state as a 'thing' with boundaries, an ongoing existence, and a power of decision, and (b) the notion of its inhabitants participating in its life as joint proprietors."

Of course, communities and the act of living together go back tens of thousands of years before this, but as any historian would say, that's "not my period"! (I think they were talking about dates, though one can never be too sure.) As early as the seventh century BC, people were identifying themselves as a group with the people who lived around them, making boundaries that defined where they were and then taking part in life as a group.

Totally Locally... Teddington

For me it's hard to believe that people didn't always have a joint identity at least where they lived. Now, of course, we have communities all around us, not only where we live, but where we work, where we exercise, where we go to school or university, and where we join groups with like-minded people for artistic, political, religious or any other type of shared interest.

We all stand together. Indeed. Love this.

Over the past year I've experienced some of the best community spirits I could possibly imagine.
My work colleagues in the KPMG Learning Academy are brilliant people who have supported me with reasonable adjustments for my health, real dedication and team spirit for every project we've worked on together. I've made friends at Bushy Park parkrun where we gather in rain or frost or (crosses fingers) sunshine at 9am on a Saturday to do a collectively mad thing and run around the park for a 5K run. I've been accepted by Mind as a volunteer and together we are working on addressing the stigma around mental health and trying to raise funds to get people the support they so deserve, and the respect that should be a given but is still something many are struggling to find. I've had my wonderful friends, who have sent me messages in tough times and shared their own troubles with me, and we've supported each other, which, as my therapist keeps telling me, is exactly how it should be.

A new community of friends made through
Helen Astrid and her Singing Academy

The community I haven't mentioned about is the place where I live - Teddington. Having broken back my back late last year, and also trying to manage my depression through 'reasonable adjustments' like home working and not travelling, I've stayed at home to work for a lot of my working weeks. As I've said before, this is hugely helpful because I've been able to stave off loneliness which I experience when I'm isolated too much from others, It's a balance for me of wanting to get out into the world and see people and feeling that I'm not up to it on other days. Thankfully at the moment those days are much fewer, but I do pause to check in with my health regularly to see if I'm lower than usual and might need to do something extra to keep my health as good as I can.

London, Christmas Style

Teddington is a small town about 35 minutes from central London by train. Many families live here, many people (from my small network) seem to have grandparents or great aunts here. And there are also people like me, in their thirties (and twenties) who have a flat here because it's (just about) affordable based on quite a good salary and is not too far away from central London. It used to be colloquially and locally known as Deadington, lacking many shops, with a fairly unhealthy crime rate and not much going on.

Thanks Postman Pat for teaching me about communities from an early age.
Plus, you had a cat called Jess. I had to be on your team!

What a difference even in the five years since we've lived here. We have a huge range of unique shops selling everything you could want, and a particularly strong collection of independent shops, which I'm really proud of, especially given our current economic climate and how challenging it is to afford all things small-business.

Hands up!

Within those small businesses I've made friends with some very special people in the last year. I've been able to get out of the house and experience just a little bit of the outside world when I'm particularly unwell, or when better I've had wonderful conversations with these people and we've shared laughs and experiences in a way that has been hugely beneficial to my mental health. I am really touched by the kindness, support and love that I've received (and hopefully I've given some of this back!).

My mum... I'm so lucky to have a supportive family

Last night I launched my mental health campaign #RedefiningResilience at 1of1 Designs, a beautiful treasure trove of a shop where you can find many, many treats for yourself or your home, run with love by Kate and her husband Charlie, who also generously donated 10% of takings to Mind last night. Other special local businesses (and a few chains too) were kind enough to donate raffle prizes for the night, which raised money for Mind. A local couple who run a wine company - Doran Vineyards - provided wine for the event, my friend Hannah (whom I had not seen for 15+ years since we left school!) went above and beyond the bounds of friendship and made 50 cupcakes with cherry blossom decoration to match the brand.

AND they tasted SO GOOD

On top of all of the above, the friends who either came along or sent messages of good luck from wherever they were, truly touched me. I think it's probably quite hard to be friends with me because although I manage to work full time and hardly ever take a day off, there have to be trade-offs for this, and they come in the form of my being not always that social. That being said, I love my friends, I love seeing them and that we support each other, and last night very special messages came my way, and some people discovered that the journey from Highgate to Teddington really does take about an hour and a half, even on good public transport! Eek!

My friend George...A super friend.

I am a part of a community of individuals challenging stigma around mental health, but in all of the above I find myself in communities. At work, in Teddington, in my interests in books and films and food, and in much more. Within our communities we can make positive changes - whether that's at work or elsewhere. Working together, supporting one another, we can grow. As a change management specialist, who tries to shape change within organisations through learning, communicating and bringing people together, I see everyday why it is important that we have our communities (or our networks if that sounds more work-appropriate).

Speaking at the Redefining Resilience Launch in Teddington
at 1of1Designs Teddington, who generously hosted the event

The communities that I have chosen form my identity, as a friend, wife, colleague, campaigner, patient and more. Without this support, I don't think I could be here today, so thank you to all of you.
I have included some pictures and videos of the communities in my video diary series #12DaysOfXmasMH. This short Christmas campaign describes my experiences of what resilience and what mental health is like for me, and a big part of that is finding support from others that enables me to keep going.

More posts to come, but for now, thank you, readers, because you are a part of this community reading the blog and interacting with mental health and life and all its winding pathways. Take care of yourselves and I send you much love for the weekend. x

Can't wait to give these gifts to my family tomorrow!