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Our local Time to Change Champions are leading the fight against mental health stigma. With this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week being themed on ‘Kindness’, they are sharing stories about how different sorts of kindness have helped them, and allowed them to help others:

Kindness from a friend

When I was in hospital recovering from a vicious psychosis episode, my relationships with my family unfortunately had broken down. Many of my friends had also abandoned me because my illness had changed my behaviour and ultimately the person I was. However, there was one friend who used to actually be a boyfriend, he visited every other day whilst I was in hospital. It was over Christmas and New Year for a month. My friend Andy travelled a good 2 hours on some days for a visit. He brought me things I was missing due to being in hospital. He even bought me a new phone because just before I was in hospital I threw mine in the bin because I believed it bugged! Psychosis is such a terrifying experience it tells you lies about the world and can make you extremely paranoid about the people around you. The hope and kindness Andy’s visits gave to me at a time when no one else could be there really helped! I will always be thankful for that kindness and support.

Kindness to self

I have bipolar and I have a leg injury (nerve damage). Learning to be kind to myself, self-compassion has been really important. You know when you feel you’re on a battle between needing something for your brain, but your body is not able to accommodate because it’s also recovering from something big. That’s where compassion is needed! There is no point getting annoyed with my leg that it is in plaster from the surgery I’ve just had 10 years after a nasty accident! And there is no point wishing for a better brain – trust me it just doesn’t work!!

My journey with yoga started just after my accident on a trampoline where I was told I wouldn’t walk again. I spent every day in a hot sweaty yoga studio for two years! I was in a wheelchair on and off at this time too and walking was just impossible. Since then I’ve had a few surgeries and also had some mental health challenges. Recovering from psychosis is probably the most excruciatingly painful journey I’ve been through. It’s confronting and you have to redefine who you are whilst trying to rebuild your relationships that have fallen apart because of how my brain had let me down during the psychosis. Having self-compassion for this is much harder than it was for the physical injury even though that was pretty painful at the time.

The way people treated me was also different, I found that people didn’t mention how I was doing after being in hospital for my mental health, but when I hurt my leg my room and my ward room was full of flowers.

We all need to be loved, especially at hard times and even more with mental health because damn can’t we already be hard on ourselves!

Yoga is a daily practice. It helps me to love my once broken leg. It helps me to accept the ups and downs of having bipolar and loving my brain anyway. But most of all it helps me to be grateful for everything I have and not what I don’t have.”

The Portsmouth and Southampton Time to change hub is delivered in partnership by Southampton City Council and Portsmouth City Council, co-ordinated by Solent Mind.

We are committed to the Hub being led by Champions. There are many ways that registered Champions can get involved in the direction of the Hub, including joining us at Steering Group meetings. If you’d like to find out more please contact ttc@solentmind.org.uk.

If you are looking for support with your mental health or wellbeing at this difficult time, please visit our support page.

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