I decided to write a blog post as my ‘Take 5 Minutes’ for this year’s ‘Time to Talk Day’, which is part of the Time to Change campaign to raise awareness and reduce stigma about mental health issues.
It appears that it’s been 18 months since my last post…I thought the April A-Z Challenge in 2013 would get me into the habit of regular blogging, but it seems it only served to put me off!
Although about 18 months ago is when I rediscovered my passion for art, so that’s probably more to do with it…since then I’ve got back into painting, drawing and making, which I am getting so much joy from. I’ve taught myself face painting, developed my own ‘faceless illustration’ style, made bits and pieces for my first two stalls at craft and vintage fairs, baked a lot of cakes, helped paint murals, been involved in collaborative and community projects and connected and with loads of lovely artists in my local area, some of whom have become good friends. I often tell people that art is a form of therapy for me – it’s a very mindful activity and takes me away from things that might be on my mind or distracts me from how I feel like nothing else does. If you’re interested in seeing any of my work you can find me at ‘Artmanship’ on Facebook or @artmanship on Twitter 🙂
Also, in the last 18 months I have discovered new things related to mental health which I thought were worth sharing on this Time to Talk Day:
1) The Live It Well website is part of a Kent and Medway initiative to encourage people to enhance their own wellbeing, incorporating the ‘Six Ways to Wellbeing’ – small changes you can make to your life which can make a big difference. I personally find them really easy to remember and translate into everyday examples (more ideas can be found on the website). The Six Ways are:
– Be active
– Keep learning
– Take notice
– Care for the planet
2) I discovered ‘The Depressed Cake Shop’ – an initiative that sees volunteer bakers produce and sell grey cakes with the purpose of raising awareness about mental health issues. I was so inspired that I set up a local branch (as many others have done in their own areas) which can be found on Facebook at ‘The Depressed Cake Shop – Medway’. I’ve run four events so far with some lovely volunteers, made some new friends, had some very interesting chats, helped to signpost people to services and groups that can help them, and made a bit of money for mental health charities along the way. I am planning to organise another event, I just have the small matter of a dissertation to write first! There are lots of branches across the UK (and indeed the world now) which can be found on Facebook…if there isn’t one in your area perhaps you might consider setting one up yourself? I’m more than happy to share tips from my own experiences if it helps anyone.
3) As part of last year’s ‘Time to Talk Day’ a friend of mine, Nikki, set up a get together at a café in Rochester for those who wanted to talk about mental health. It was so successful and well received that it has run every month since! If you’re interested, look up the Facebook page ‘Time to Talk Rochester’ for details and feel free to join us for a chat. And tea. And cake! Our next meet up is Saturday 14th February from 12.00-2.00pm at the Dot Café. Newcomers are always very welcome and people often find it beneficial to talk to others who understand, share ideas, or just generally pass the time of day with and get to know each other.
4) In relation to my own issues with mental health, which have been on a bit of a downward trajectory in recent months, I decided last week to ask my GP for blood tests to see if there were any underlying causes of my symptoms. He was very understanding and happy to refer me. To be honest I didn’t expect anything to come back, it was more to rule things out, but it turns out that my Vitamin D levels are very low (hardly surprising at this time of year I guess), so I’m now on tablets to hopefully help with that, and it will be interesting to see if it alleviates any of my mood, sleep-related or other symptoms over time, along with some dietary and lifestyle adjustments that I have made. If not, then it’s clear that I need at least a month away in the sun 😉 But, joking aside, I would personally recommend if you haven’t done so already to ask your GP for some blood tests…when I looked into it further there are many nutritional deficiencies that may cause depression.
Until next time, love and happy talk, sm (aka Sharon, aka Artmanship) x