When Barriers Become Opportunities

Hi everyone,

Summer has been really busy and that’s why I haven’t been around, but I have a few things that I really wanted to tell you about.

Firstly, I was lucky enough to attend Campaign Bootcamp at Bore Place in Kent at the start of July.  However, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity if I wasn’t working for Time To Change. As part of my role, I talk about my lived experience of mental health problems. So I guess that’s where the mental health barrier became an opportunity.

Bootcamp was the most amazing and maybe even life-changing (is that cringey?) week. I learned so much from the sessions, which included strategy, tech, and self-care. But I think the most powerful conversations I had were with the other campaigners about their work. I learned about issues that naïvely, I hadn’t thought much about before (e.g. my own white privilege) and it was great to be around so many like-minded people. My biggest learning point was around the ‘queer’ movement. Being reminded of people’s pronouns became the norm, which is great. I was also corrected when I inevitably got some of them wrong, which was a necessity for my learning.

For me, wheelchair access was a huge point to consider and I was very happy to discover that there was no step to get into my accommodation and although I had to go the long way round to get to the dining hall, that too was step-free. I’m so used to having to ask people to help me in terms of mobility assistance, so it was such a relief to be able to get around the site independently.  It was a place where my chair didn’t feel like such a big deal, it was great.

The whole week was extremely intense and I experienced a whole range of emotions. I think the fact that I felt safe enough to get upset and show my vulnerable side is testament to how wonderful and supportive my fellow ‘bootcampers’ and staff alike were. I opened up about myself, my identity, and some of the barriers and opportunities this creates for me more than I ever have done before. Certainly more than I ever expected to. This was such a cathartic experience and I’ll be eternally grateful to the whole group for listening so intently and for their kind words of support and encouragement afterwards.

My highlights were: the food (wow! All hail Sparky the chef) and the lip sync battle on the last day. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the confidence. Bootcamp was a place to let go of my inhibitions and give things a go. I loved it.

I hope I have made friends for life, all of their stories and campaigns really did inspire me to work harder to be a better campaigner. We had the opportunity to write ‘warm and fuzzy’ compliments to other members of the group over the week and I will treasure mine forever. Thank you to everyone involved in Bootcamp 10. It was an experience I will never forget!

Bootcamp
My wonderful Bootcamp ‘Buddy’, Babs

After Bootcamp I was even featured in an article in the London Evening Standard (another opportunity)!

Oh, and Pride! At the start of July I marched in London Pride with Rethink Mental Illness. It was my first Pride, something I’ve always wanted to attend and I had a fantastic day with friends and colleagues. If I hadn’t experienced poor mental health, I wouldn’t be doing my current job and I subsequently I wouldn’t be marching in Pride. Swings and Roundabouts, eh? I’m so thankful I got to do this, it was one of my happiest days this year!

Pride
London Pride 2017 #LoveHappensHere #LoveIsLove

Of course, poor mental health sucks. Yep, it’s a barrier. It stops me getting out of bed at times; and it makes me doubt myself. Do I wish the bad stuff in the past hadn’t happened? For sure, 100%. But hey, I guess bad break ups happen, and people lose friends. I’m definitely working on moving forward. It’s only after two years of therapy (another opportunity, I wouldn’t be having regular therapy if I wasn’t studying my MSc Psychotherapy) that I’ve realised my feelings are valid. As are yours. It’s OK not to be OK, and the more we talk about this the better, in my opinion. I still have bad days, there’s still a long way to go, but that’s OK, and more and more I’m turning the barrier into an opportunity.

The title of this blog comes from the title of a session I did at the GroundWork Youth Summit last week. Again, I went there with Time To Change and spoke about the work we do: to challenge the way we think and act about mental health. I’m also working with a group of HeadStart ambassadors to put on an event for World Mental Health Day in October. There’s another barrier I used to face… At school, I used to DREAD reading aloud in class. Now, I get paid to deliver presentations as part of my job. I grew in confidence and I took opportunities that came my way.

GWk
Presenting at GroundWork Youth Summit

At Bootcamp and by working with HeadStart and GroundWork Youth  I have met so many wonderful people who campaign about issues close to their hearts. I feel honoured to have met you all, thank you.

As always, thank you to my best friends and family who keep me strong during the dark times and are the reason for my smiles in the happy times. I love you.

I’d really like to hear about barriers you have overcome and turned into opportunities. Please feel free to share them.

Hope you’ve all had a wonderful summer, here’s to the next academic year. May you all find time to do things you’re passionate about and that make you happy, like I’m fortunate enough to be doing right now.

xxx

P.S. RIP Chester Bennington. Thank you for the songs that I love and that have helped me through such hard times.

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2016 Round Up: Believing in the Impossible

Hey everyone,

I’m back. Just thought that as we’re coming to the end of 2016 I would do a round up and show myself in the blogging world again. 2016 has been one unusual year, filled with lots of ups and downs (like all other years, I guess), but I’d say it’s ending on a positive note.

I don’t want to talk too much about politics, but I guess I couldn’t write this blog without mentioning the shocking events of June and November with Brexit and the new President Elect and what that means for those of us with ‘disability issues’ (as it’s affectionately known between my friends and I). I’m nervous about what the future holds for those of us who use wheelchairs or are just in some way ‘different’ (though surely that’s everyone?), but for now, I’m trying not to think too much about it. Thinking about the title of this post, maybe that was the impossible happening 😦

I also received my long-awaited letter this week from DWP telling me that DLA was stopping and if I wanted to continue with disability benefit I should call up to be put on the list to claim for Personal Independence Payment. Merry Christmas, Lou. Now, as much as I would like not to have to claim benefits, I would not be able to afford my car without it, and my car is my pride and joy! Over the last 3 years it has given me independence that just  a few years ago I could only dream of. Try taking my car off me and I will fight with every bone in my body to not let that happen!

I have to talk about the Rio Paralympics. Wasn’t it wonderful?! I’m lucky enough to know a couple of the competitors, having studied at Loughborough University, so  I have just a slight insight into how hard they train and work during the 4 year cycle. And they came away second in the medal table! SECOND! They totally believed the impossible was possible. I was (and still am) so proud of ParalympicsGB and TeamGB. It gave us something positive to talk about for the summer months amongst all the sad news around the world. For about 2 weeks I was even motivated to exercise again. Unfortunately that didn’t last long, a 2017 resolution for me maybe? Watch this space…

“Believe in the Impossible” was a titled inspired by a quote from one of Tom Fletcher’s Vlogs. In case you don’t know, I’m slightly obsessed with McFly/McBusted and also love watching Tom, Gi and Carrie’s Vlogs. Tom has recently written a book, ‘The Christmasaurus’ and I was SO excited when I realised that the main character (a young boy) is a wheelchair user. I can’t think of any other books that have this (let me know if you can think of any) and it made me so happy. Maybe this will help young wheelchair users feel more ‘normal’. The Christmasaurus Live is also happening in the theatre next Christmas and I was also really happy when a friend informed me that the actor playing the main character is actually a wheelchair user. Raising the profile of young wheelchair users, this can only be a good thing! Thank you, Tom 🙂

I’ve been really busy with work and university. I’m an MSc student now and although it’s only part time is taking up most of my time. Will be starting a counselling placement in January. Nervous, but excited. 2017 will be busy, but I’m looking forward to it.

Well, I’ll sign off now. Thanks for reading.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2017,

Louise

 

 

Introducing Rebecca, her Family and JIA

In this post, Rebecca shares the story of her daughter, who has juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). I learned a lot from this post, and I hope you will learn something too.

 

When my daughter first received a diagnosis of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) I wrote a piece on our own blog entitled ‘Even 2 year olds can get arthritis’ (http://thebeesleybuzz.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/even-2-year-olds-can-get-arthritis.html)
You see, even though I suffered from arthritis as a child (mine started at age 10) I still found myself shocked and surprised that my daughter at such a young age of 2 could possibly have arthritis.
When people asked me why I used crutches and I told them I had arthritis, I hated the usual response I would get from them. Usually something along the lines of ‘my granny/grandad / elderly neighbour has that’.
It was (and still is) considered to be an old persons disease and yet arthritis can affect people of any age.
My daughter was lucky. The doctors recognised that it could be JIA and within 3 months she had been referred to the experts at Great Ormond Street and received a formal diagnosis. For many diagnosis takes a lot longer. In my own case it was over a year. During this time the body is attacking itself (rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder) and the affected joint(s) are becoming permanently damaged.
Between January and March of last year, my daughter, Miss T, was in a huge amount of pain. She had multiple swollen joints. She was unable to walk and would crawl or shuffle around the house. She was prescribed high dose pain killers which enabled her to begin to walk again.
After her formal diagnosis from Great Ormond Street she Began on methotrexate treatment – a disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug (also used in chemotherapy) that can help prevent the arthritis from causing joint damage and reduce the inflammation and pain.
9 months on and most of the affected joints are looking normal. It is just the left foot which was the worst affected that still has some swelling and can be very painful.
As a result Miss T uses a wheelchair on an occasional basis (for example she cannot walk long distances)
The plan is that with ongoing physio and continuation of the methotrexate injections that she will be pain-free enough to manage without it. But for now we’ve had to experience the steep learning curve that comes with finding your child needing a wheelchair.
When faced with sympathetic stares or those who say how awful it is that she needs weekly injections of methotrexate with all the side effects that can go with it…I just want to tell them that we actually have so much to be thankful for….
That the pain is getting under control
That there are drugs that prevent the joint damage (something that wasn’t available to me as a youngster)
That there is very little that Miss T misses out on. Whilst we’ve had to make some changes to plans, on the whole we encourage her to join in with as much as she can.
That we’ve found a wheelchair that meets her needs and our needs (it took several adjustments to get it right so that it was the right fit for her as well as being comfortable enough for me to me able to push given my own arthritis but we got there in the end)
That her doctors were aware of JIA and made a speedy referral to the rheumatologist.
That she is under the care of world experts in JIA and they are hopeful of a bright future for her.
I would be happy to hear from anyone else who has a young child with arthritis. Whether you just starting out on the journey with a new JIA diagnosis or whether you are some way down the road with treatment. I can be found on twitter at @TheBeesleyBuzz on facebook at facebook.com/thebeesleybuzz and our family blog is http://thebeesleybuzz.blogspot.co.uk

Beth’s Story

**WARNING: Potential Mental Health Trigger as Suicidal feelings are mentioned**

Hey, Beth here.

The purpose of my story is to give out a greater awareness of psychical disabilities and mental health problems and this will be done by me sharing my life experiences. Hope you enjoy!

I am at Queen Alexandra College (QAC) in Harborne, Birmingham, doing Health and Social Care Level 3 BTEC. My aim is to go to university and study a foundation degree in Psychology at St Marys University, Twickenham London in September 2016. After completing this degree, my plan is to work in the mental health sector. This is because I am able to relate to different experiences.

During my time at QAC I have been able to become a residential student which has empowered me to feel free and independent. Also my dream is to raise awareness for those with Cerebral Palsy suffering from mental health difficulties.

My early years were full of experiences! My Mum was determined to ensure that I had the best possible chance to develop and be included into as many social and educational opportunities despite me being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. She knew that early intervention in physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy was critical in me becoming as able to access education and social situations as possible.

I went to Conductive Education (CE) from 9 months old right the way through to 4 years old help with my physical ability as I could not do the things that other toddlers could do like pick up toys, crawl around, climb, or ride toy cars. But CE helped me to become more confident and hold toys. I was taken to playgroup before moving to nursery at 3.

Initially I went to Wilson Stuart special School nursery. My teacher, and teaching assistants were so caring and thought of mine and the other children’s needs individually. I took part in music and drama, arts and learning numbers and letters. It was hard for me to show that I understood the learning as I could not speak verbally. I was taught to use Makaton and Widget symbols to get my message across.

Having Cerebral Palsy, I found it difficult to eat and drink as my mouth control was poor but I loved my food. I would get frustrated that I could not eat independently; I still do now and get embarrassed about the way I look. I would need to be fed and used a beaker to drink. I had a lovely Speech and Language Therapist who looked at my eating and drinking and offered ways of helping me to not choke.
As I got older, my feeding got better and now I can drink from a straw and I’m able to feed myself some foods. I still sometimes choke but not regularly.

My mum used to invite other Mums and their disabled children to our house to play together. After a few years at Wilson Stuart school it was agreed in my Special Educational Needs annual review that I was more intellectually able and I therefore started to go to Kings Heath mainstream primary school half of the week and the other Wilson Stuart. After some time, I went to Kings Heath full time.

My dream is to raise awareness for those with Cerebral Palsy suffering from mental health difficulties.

Have you ever thought about teenagers that are physically disabled but also suffer from mental health problems? Well, you can now! In 2008 I was admitted into Birmingham Children’s Hospital for a normal procedure to have Botox injections in my legs to help with my muscles relaxing. I was having them every 6 months. But this time it went downhill. When I was coming round from the anesthetic I was totally confused with where I was and who I was with. I didn’t even recognise who my mum, dad, his girlfriend and my brother were. I ended up being admitted into hospital for 6 months. Doctors ended up saying that they thought I was having a major emotional/mental breakdown and having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Then it all came tumbling down again! In the November of 2008 I had a massive seizure out of the blue. I ended staying in hospital for a whole year! I was moved from ward to ward – wards with loud crying babies, bright lights, and noises that sent my senses spinning! I ended being seen by a psychiatrist and things started to get sorted between him and my mum. I ended up being admitted into the CAMHS inpatient ward with loads of mostly teenagers like me suffering from lots of different mental health challenges. I had different therapy and talk time. In time I got better with help and was discharged. I saw the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services out-patients team until I turned 18.

It felt like suicide was the only way out of the pain and turmoil. There were quite a few times where I attempted ending my life but being in a chair, it was like it was impossible to physically to get myself into a dangerous place. Looking back my wheelchair actually saved my life.

In April 2013 I had quite of family issues and I was doing my GCSEs. It came to a point where life was too much and ended up being diagnosed with anxiety and a form of depression called ‘major depression’.

However, since this I have grown and got to know who I am. It means a lot to have laugh with friends because I feel like I belong despite me have Cerebral Palsy and mental health challenges. With the support from friends, mental health services, and college I am able to manage my depression and feel empowered to come into my own person.

My life has extremely changed during my two years studying at QAC. Firstly, I want to tell you about my friendships group.
My experiences with inclusion and social situations haven’t been great but when I started a new beginning at college I started to create my first ever social life and friendships. As I settled down into college life, I socialised at weekends as it made me feel accepted despite my Cerebral Palsy.

As time when on I felt like I could share some of my personal past with one or two close friends, and when I did this I found out that we have gone through similar experiences and feelings. Still today, my social life has a massive positive on my life and hope we can keep our friendships beyond QAC. As the weeks passed, the group learnt and observed and I have a voice therefore they started hear my voice. Now, they banter and joke about with me. All of these little things have enabled me to own a social life, be a normal 18 year old student and be included.

During studying BTEC Health & Social Care my tutor has empowered me to reach my career goals despite my disability, by pushing and encouraging me to work hard. She treats me with respect and understands my academic as well as my personal needs.

In the college weeks I have had a great speech and language therapist that has helped my voice to be heard in terms of using my communication aid, letting people know the situation to understand my communication and to inform people that I have normal intelligence, therefore they can interact with me as they would like to be talked to.

When I first started residential college, I was put into a certain house due to the access and it was thought my physical needs were greater than they actually were. As the weeks went on I had feelings of isolation as I was more independent and had the mental ability with living in a more high functioning group that wasn’t being met. Therefore it was decided for me to move to a different house after Christmas. Now, I am living in my stride as I can be more and more independent with daily tasks e.g. making a cuppa tea for myself, being responsible with doing my washing and studying. I know it is not a big deal to a lot of people, but to me it is a dream that has come true!

Also, when I am going through a difficult time the staff respect my needs and support me. Lastly in the evenings my social life still runs, as four of my peers live in too so we cook, chill out and have a laugh. This has made me feel so much freer and included in being a student.

Lastly, QAC has given me a voice with some personal issues that come with Depression. They have given me a chance to deal with feelings by providing me with mentoring & counselling. They have helped me in so many ways: from assertiveness to being non-judgmental when things have got tough. They see past my four wheels and only see where I am coming form. Today, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for these wonderful people!

Thank you for taking the time to enter my personal world! I hoped that you have enjoyed reading this.

Beth.

Nikki’s Story

Hi my name is Nikki.

I was asked by Louise if I would contribute to the blog and like Louise I also have Cerebral Palsy. It means I am in a wheelchair and have difficulty with mobility.

I’m sure like many of us, my disability has meant I have had to prove a lot of people wrong and I very often hear the word “can’t”. Well, who says I can’t! When I was younger a doctor once said to my parents “just a little warning Nikki won’t have much of a life”. Well, 10 GCSEs, 3 Alevels and a degree later, I feel I’m doing just fine!
It was advised I was put into a special needs school, and I never really coped too well. My parents fought and fought to get me into a mainstream school and that’s where I stayed until moving onto university to study Media and Commiunication studies. Uni wasn’t much fun for me but that was no reflection on my disability it was just people being – people!

I’m not going to lie, I’m not always upbeat, I have days where I would wish it would all just go away! Sometimes I can’t stand the fact I’m so reliant on others but I try not to let it get to me, after all, there are people worse off, I’m sure 🙂

Being in my chair hasn’t been without its comedic moments either; my Mom says I should write a book, I was once in my electric wheelchair shopping in M&S and I went down an aisle only to hear lots of laughing coming from behind me. I saw I had a trail of underwear dragging behind me – I guess you could say that day was a bit pants 😛

For me one of the best ways I find helps if I feel and bit down is music, it’s kinda become my escapism where I lose myself a while. Recently, one of the best experiences I had was at a Mcbusted concert. Usually I stay seated but the atmosphere was amazing and I wanted to dance so I noticed a bar in front of me so I got up and held tight and I didn’t care how stupid I might have looked I jumped around like everyone else. – I didn’t let my chair stop me from enjoying myself that night, I never have.

I hope I haven’t bored people to tears and this was somewhat enjoyable to read.

Nikki

Poetry Competition Entry

Ask and See
by Eleanor Pilcher 
Let’s talk about the weather,
my family and the cats.
Just ignore me as I roll
all over your welcome mat.

You see I’m a bit bored
of all these nervous looks,
these forced laughs and endless smiles
like you’re guilty leg crooks.

I can talk about my wheels,
my leathery throne, my seat.
But your ignorant chatter, smiles,
are neither humble, nor sweet.

I glide and skate and roll,
across the bumpy ground,
in winter time I need no blades
to help me get around.

In the mornings, I sleep
wake, then sit, then pull
on a helpful hanging bar,
to get into position – I fall

when I get around my kitchen
I knock all over things,
but do you know I have a life?
I knit and drive and sing.

My wheels are my occasional strike
but I’m a person just the same
as him and her and you, I’m
not just simply lame.

So ask me about my life,
about my hobbies, the traffic and me.
Talk to me as you would that person,
as I am normal. Ask, and you’ll see.

I really love this. Wonderful entry. Thank you and congratulations, Eleanor 🙂

Physical Disability & Mental Health

Hi everyone,

So, here’s my next blog. I’m going to talk about a subject that I’m very passionate about. It’s an area I have worked in previously, an area I continue to work in occasionally, and an area I’d like to get more involved with in the future. It’s also a topic that, from my experience, most people have struggled to talk openly about. It’s Mental Health.

Our mental health is SO important. It’s as important – if not more important – than our physical health and is something we ALL have. How many of you have felt like you’ve had a REALLY bad day? What about a really good day? Ever felt anxious about things you have to do at work, or exams you’ve had to take at school? All of those things involve our mental health. Most of us will experience these things very regularly. So, why don’t we talk about it? Why is it so taboo to say “actually, I’m not feeling so good today”?

1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 young people will experience some form of mental health issue at any one time in their lives. Yes, those are the statistics (see the Time to Change website for more details, links to follow at the end of this blog). So, why is there still, in 2015, so much stigma surrounding talking about mental health problems and saying if you’re feeling depressed or anxious? The more we talk about it, the more we can try and challenge that stigma. This is why I’ve decided to share my experience of mental health problems with you now.

*and breathe* (see, the stigma is still there, I’m nervous about writing this, and especially nervous for my family to read this, anyway…Here goes)

Right, well. I’d say I realised I have mental health issues aged 19, in my second year of university, following the break up of a relationship. It was awful: I was crying constantly, I didn’t want to eat, I couldn’t sleep, I certainly didn’t want to socialise. Now, as a psychology student, I could only bury my head in the sand for a short time. After reading the text books & writing the essays, I was pretty sure I was depressed. So I booked an appointment with the GP.

I was diagnosed with depression and the doctor prescribed anti-depressants. Initially, I felt worse and debated stopping taking them, but after about a month, they started to take the edge off. I started to feel human again. Following a number of difficult life events since then, I still take anti-depressants now (though I’m on my third different type), and I finally feel human again. In my opinion, they definitely keep me ‘stable’.

Anyway, I was 19 when I first admitted I had a problem, but if you ask my close friends and family (and probably myself, if I’m truly honest) my mental health issues began much earlier, when I started high school (aged 11), following a stay in hospital after a major hip operation.

Now, this is where my physical disability comes in. I wouldn’t have needed the aforementioned hip operation had I not had a physical disability (Cerebral Palsy, AKA. CP). As I grew, my left hip grew out of its socket and I needed an operation (and the insertion of a metal plate) to put it back into place.

The operation was a success. Years later (aged 16) I had the metal plate removed, and today my hip is totally fine (*touches wood*). So thankfully, as I type this, my mental health and physical health are stable (CP is not a degenerative condition, it won’t get majorly worse as I get older, as some physical disabilities do).

As you can imagine, it has taken me a long time (and a lot of soul searching) to get to this point. I owe so so much to my closest friends. I hope they read this and know who they are (they should do). Secondly, thank you SO much to my family, particularly my parents and my Nan, who have had to (and still have to) put up with so much c**p from me over the years, but continue to love and support me through the good, and not-so-good times. I honestly would not be in such a positive place now without you all.

It’s only now that I understand, or at least properly realise, how much of an impact on my mental health my physical disability has had and continues to have. As I grow up, there’s the usual worries about moving out, getting my own place, and whether I will start a family; with the added worry of will I be able to employ a suitable carer, will I be able to buy an accessible house/flat, and will I find a partner who will honestly, unconditionally put up with the challenges of living & being with someone who has a physical disability?

When I was younger I had a lot of support and meetings about how to look after myself physically: “do these exercises”, “wear these special shoes”, “you might want to consider this operation”. However, there was no support around ‘Oh, you have to use a wheelchair, you’re not ‘the same’ as the majority of your peers and that must be tough’. In fact, from what I remember, the difficulty surrounding this was not addressed at all. Don’t you think it should be? I certainly do! And I REALLY hope young wheelchair users these days are given the option of some kind of mental support for the struggles they might face, because as soon as puberty and hormones kick in, life gets a whole lot tougher.

I can’t speak for them, but I don’t think my parents received any support for how to care for a physically disabled child either. That also must have been really tough: it’s certainly not what they signed up for, I can assure you. I always hear pregnant ladies say “as long as it’s healthy, I don’t care what it is”. So many people don’t get that luxury. Where is the support and advice? I do, however, think these support groups are more common now, 25 years after I was born. I’m glad. But as far as I know, there’s still very minimal support from disabled children and how to deal with how much it can suck at times.

Shouldn’t we live in a world where we have some kind of provision for this now? Even if kids in wheelchairs just get a single letter or phone call from an older person with the same disability that they have (I know, their experiences won’t be the same, but hopefully they won’t feel so alone and they would be able to talk to somebody who has a slight idea what they’re going through). I’d certainly be up for doing this. Maybe I’ll put the idea forward to my local MP, maybe even the PM, who knows…

These days, I have completed my undergraduate degree, and as you may be aware from my first blog, I am currently studying a postgraduate course in Integrative Psychotherapy. It is definitely my own experience of mental health problems that have led me to pursue a career in one of the helping professions. If I can make even just the slightest difference to just one person, I will have done my job.

I still work occasionally for the Mental Health charities Time to Change and Rethink Mental Illness as a Co-Trainer. I have been into schools to deliver my personal testimony about my mental health issues and the stigma I have experienced, alongside one of the charity workers who’ll show fancy films and deliver all the stats. Our aim is to get more people talking about mental health (even if it’s just asking somebody how they are and actually listening to their answer) with a hope to reduce the stigma around it. I feel it’s so important to deliver this message in schools as it will be the next generation who could really make a difference, and make the subject of mental health a little less taboo.

I really hope so anyway.

If you take one thing from this blog, I want it to be that of course, having a physical disability will affect your mental health. However, if you tell someone, you can get help and support. People can help you. Therapy has certainly helped me. It’s tough, but it can be managed and you can live a ‘normal’ life (whatever that means).

If you read this far, thank you so much. I hope it has given you some food for thought; encouraged you to take some time out to look after your own mental health; and you may have even learned something…Maybe.

Take Care,

Louise

*And breathe Again*
P.S. as promised, here are some mental health links that I find helpful:

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

http://www.rethink.org/

http://www.mind.org.uk

http://www.samaritans.org

http://www.scope.org.uk

http://www.b-eat.co.uk

http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk

http://www.bipolaruk.org.uk

http://www.bpdworld.org

Healthy Minds

Depression Alliance

OCD Action