“Youth hostelling with Chris Eubank” (Alan Partridge)
Now, it’s fair to say I’ve had some strange, surreal, brilliant experiences as a result of my blog but today tops the lot.
It does not involve budget accommodation and Mr Christopher Livingstone Eubank Esq but it’s not far off:
Mental Health with Louie Spence.
For ITV’s Lorraine.
Yep, I didn’t see that one coming. Especially not this week. Truth be told I wasn’t having the best of weeks when I checked my work emails to see,
The email was from Time to Change, whose brilliant ‘In Your Corner’ campaign I am fortunate to be featured in (https://lovelaughtertruthblog.com/2017/02/27/with-a-lot-of-help-from-my-friends/), and it is that campaign that led directly to this opportunity.
I was invited to be part of a group conversation to be led by Louie Spence of Pineapple Dance Studios fame. Louie has himself suffered with mental health problems and the feature is to be part of a series highlighting men’s mental health. Would I like to be involved?
Hmmm, let me think…
After careful consideration lasting approximately 1.16 seconds I said, well, I said yes of course. I’m a firm believer in saying yes to life’s weird and wonderful opportunities and the opportunity to be part of something that raises awareness of an issue that is so close to my heart was not one that I was going to refuse. Oh, and I’d get to be on the telly (OK I confess, I’m not entirely selfless).
All that said, saying yes did cause pause for consideration, coming as it does at a time when I have been forced to contemplate the fine line that I can at times tread between wanting to learn from my experiences of mental ill health and use them in advocacy to help raise awareness, and the potential danger of anchoring myself in a very traumatic time of my life that it took an awful lot to pull myself out of.
How to find the correct balance? It’s something I’ve been thinking about recently and it was brought to mind on my journey to the central London location where we were to be filming.
Big time charlie
As my driver – yes, ITV sent a driver to pick me up from the train station #bigtime – fought his way through London traffic and approximately 87 red lights I was reminded of how, as a frequent traveller in my job, I would rather endure a longer journey throughout which I am constantly moving forward than spend large portions of time sitting still on an ultimately quicker journey. It seems an appropriate analogy – the key question is whether what I am doing ultimately means that my life is moving forward. It’s something that I shall be keeping in mind.
Filming the segment was a brilliant experience and it was fascinating and eye-opening for me to hear the experiences of the four other men involved. The whole experience really brought home to me what has been one of the greatest benefits of having experienced mental ill health – a greater ability to empathise and connect with others that have shared similar traumatic, profoundly life altering experiences. And if that sounds as though it could be a bit, well, depressing; it isn’t. Quite the opposite in fact.
As was highlighted during our conversation, such shared experiences really do enable you to open up to others, people that you perhaps wouldn’t have thought you had anything in common with, and connect in a way that feels quite unique.
You just never know…
The whole experience also reminded me, once again, of one of the greatest life lessons that my encounters with depression and recovery have taught me: you really do never know just what waits around the corner for you, and the very worst moments of your life really can – and I guess often do – propel you towards some of the very best.
In that lesson there lies hope, and that is the one thing that we should never lose. I sincerely wish that through having this opportunity to share my experiences I can do my little bit to bring hope to others in times of suffering and doubt.
And as I sit typing this in a Tesco’s Costa, adrenaline subsiding and the reality of a 5.45 am start to the day catching up with me, a further truth echoes in my mind: whether it’s your best day or your worst day, remember,
This feature will be screened on ITV’s Lorraine show on Thursday 11th May 2017.
Let’s Dance – David Bowie