This is a post about why aye Mind about the mental health charity, Mind! This post is for Geordies/ people who volunteer/ people who ever donate to charity, and people who care about improving mental health and wellbeing in your community.

Top Definition of why aye

geordie way of saying yes in an enthusiastic way.

“why aye man!

I live in the north-east of England. Though not a native, I’ve adopted this piece of England as my own, and have lived here five years. I live in Northumberland, which they call ‘the secret kingdom’.

[or at least they did until Robson Green packed his BBC film crew and set up camp here…publishing the north-east’s beauty in a tourism type way, rendering it a KINGDOM NOT SO SECRET grrrr].

Anyway, I may not have been born here, but I happen to LOVE the north-east.

I used to live in a place where people manicured their lawns and drove fancy cars and talked about money a great deal (Cheshire)…now I live somewhere far more rugged, naturalistic in it’s beauty, and considerably less image conscious (which is a good thing).

Where I lived before I grew up to be quite shallow and materialistic I admit… because it was an area populated by wealthy narcissists who showed their love by spending like there was no tomorrow.

When I moved to Northumberland I immediately sighed with relief. Money doesn’t do the talking here. The beauty is in being down-to-earth, rather than flashy, and weekends are spent enjoying nature, feeling the breeze from the bright un-polluted skies and appreciating the sight of fields of crops and clouds meeting the horizon of the sea and the sand dunes.

After absorbing this new life for a while I found new parts of me becoming alive. Your environment very much dictates your attitudes and aspirations I think, and I suddenly became more charity conscious.

In Cheshire, I didn’t give a monkeys about donating to charity if I’m brutally honest, because I didn’t really feel much connection with the locals. I didn’t really get behind people or necessarily want to help them, as my viewpoint (shaped by my experiences of living there) was that people competed with each other rather than helped each other. People tried to show each other up, or out-do each other, rather than give each other a leg up or a helping hand.

But in Northumberland I shifted my attitude and quickly wanted to become involved in the community…maybe it was just because I was new to the area, but I wanted to do something positive on a voluntary basis. First I trained at the local hospice to be a bereavement volunteer. I absolutely LOVED that, though sadly didn’t get to have any clients after completing the training because that marked the beginning point of my slide into mental illness and poorliness of EPIC suicidal proportions.

You cannot help anyone or support them emotionally, if you don’t want to live yourself, otherwise you’d just be agreeing with them that life was difficult and painful and telling them “why bother”….and that would NOT have helped anyone clearly…so of course sensibly, I decided jointly with my supervisors that I would not take on client work.

My breakdown unfolded…I got worse and worse…I got more and more desperate and functioned less and less well. My husband took stretches off work for months at a time to support me and basically try to stop me trying to hurt myself.

Then last year, my local Mind came into the picture. I volunteered for a bit in the charity shop (which went ok, though really I was far too poorly to be doing anything at that time), so I stopped that and accepted OK, FAIR ENOUGH. I AM ILL. I fell into the abyss of my illness in spring last year. It was an awful time…BUT I met the lovely people at Tyneside & Northumberland Mind and began attending their Safe Space support group.

This is what Safe Space was more or less like…. (insert badly drawn doodle)

I also benefitted from a support group for sexual abuse survivors, which was ran by a children’s charity.

The benefit of these two groups was HUGE, even though I only attended them for a matter of months.

That was the first time I had ever personally benefitted from a charity and felt a tangible personal benefit….I always thought charities were to raise money for people who I would never meet, who I didn’t even know existed, and who maybe didn’t even exist. (I realise how absurd that third suggestion sounds, but that is genuinely how I felt about charity back then).

I used to think donating to a national charity was like throwing money in a bottomless pit, and that the money was bound to be wasted and you never knew where that money would be going etc.

With national Mind however, I felt happy donating to them, as I only needed to go on their brilliant website, or use the elefriends support community or follow their feeds on Twitter and Facebook, to know how much good they do for mental health awareness and supporting in general.

When I was at the beginning stages of diagnosis, I read the Mind website virtually word for word, absorbing information about every mental health condition known to man, even ones I didn’t even have. If I truly was a person with a psychiatric disorder, I wanted to know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING…. Therapy, meds, labelling, symptoms, recovery prospects, coping strategies….absolutely EVERYTHING…and the UK Mind website was where I went.

I did R.E.D (run every day) January and raised over 250 squid which I am really proud of…The reason I am now working as a fundraising volunteer for my local Mind (Tyneside and Northumberland), is that their Safe Space group (that I used to attend) is under threat of stopping because they are struggling to fund it on an ongoing basis. :(
This is really sad. Although I don’t go to the group anymore, I know how essential that group (as well as the sexual abuse survivor group) was to my recovery. I know how much it helped the other group participants too.

What was Safe Space?

It was a ‘safe space’- a place to share, to vent, to ask questions, to cry, to hug and be hugged, to realise how much you had in common with people, as well as how different your lives were. We all, however, had our various mental health demons which united us. There was a very positive vibe there which was compassionate, nurturing and supportive. We helped each other, and the facilitator did her job marvellously, making sure everyone had a turn to speak if they wanted to speak, respecting our preferences if sometimes people just wanted to sit quietly and listen- also making sure we always ended on a positive, even if a lot of emotion had been thrown out within those four walls during the meeting.

At Safe Space, what we saw was people at their weakest, at their rawest, at their most thoughtful, at their most angry, at their most sad, most desperate, most vulnerable and most regretful. We saw and felt it all- We felt our own stuff, as well as empathic recognition of the pain in the glassy eyes of others.

At the start of each session we would rate our current mood on the board, on a scale of one to ten, which would prompt us to explain to the others exactly how our week had been and what had affected our state of mind.

We’d sit with a mug of steaming coffee or tea, and smile at each other and greet each other when we first entered the room with hugs. When we asked each other “how are you doing?”...we meant every word. We DID care how each other felt. If they had had a bad week and so had we, then we would experience a sense of solidarity, and if someone looked visibly brighter than last week, we were genuinely pleased for them. Even if we ourselves felt awful, it was uplifting to see the progress in someone else who we had on other days seen in such low states.

Safe Space was brill, and I can’t speak highly enough of it.  For the time I needed it, it benefitted me so much. As my recovery progressed and I stabilised more, I found I preferred to concentrate on my one-to-one trauma counselling rather than being in a group setting, but I valued and appreciate every supportive Safe Space group session I attended.

I am really sad that we might lose this service, because I have personally benefited from it, so know first hand how important it is. Now I am well, raising money for safe space is my top priority. I only hope that my efforts, combined with the efforts of many other people associated with Tyneside & Northumberland Mind, will mean that Safe Space stays open.

So that, readers, is WHY AYE care about supporting my local Mind- Tyneside & Northumberland Mind :)

 

Imani 

(SummerSHINES) XX

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