Kirkstall and beyond

Diary, Kirkstall Arts, Mental Health

I’d finished the Kirkstall project back in January, but unfortunately life got in the way and messed up my mental health, so I never delivered the final instalment. But before I do, I shall update you with how things are with me.

I’m fortunate, if you can say that about mental ill health, that I can recognise my triggers before they get too out of hand. I wrote previously when I was in quite a low place, which I wanted to share because it is important to me to be honest if I am to be a volunteer and spokesperson for Time To Change Leeds. I’m still waiting my therapy, but that’s the state of the care in the UK, even though this time I am seeking counselling through Leeds Mind there is still a long waiting list. In the meantime, I need to recognise my triggers and my coping strategies. I talk of the support from my friends, but there comes a point where we need to separate them from listening friend to intended therapist. Until I receive the appropriate counselling, I need to treat my close friends with care, having mental health problems can make you quite a difficult person to deal with at times. BUT I’m determined not to be stuck in this emotional hole. I’ve questioned myself on how to do this, and wonder “how did I escape last time”?

I found volunteering, and a new set of people to be around. It changed my life, and I have talked before about the power of volunteering on your wellbeing. Since I started work with Mencap, a job I love, I have been doing less of the volunteering and I miss it terribly. I need to get myself out again, doing things, trying new things, meeting new people, giving myself challenges. Those are the things I enjoy and those are the things that keep me well. I started a photography group last summer, but it’s yet to take off and grow, but with time and commitment on my part it will, give it time. I want to curate and organise a photography exhibition, I enjoyed the planning and the joy of seeing everyone’s work on display the last time I organised an exhibition, so it’s something I wish to try again. I want to find a new volunteer role, maybe more outdoors, at the weekend, walks, conservation, keeping me healthy in mind and body. I’ve seen options which I intend on following up.

My anxieties, self doubt, negative thinking are my other issues I need to work upon. I know my problems, I steadfastly believe them, but then rationality tries to fight back. It’s the war that keeps me having these complete swings of character, which make me the difficult person, it’s frustrating, I begin to not want to spend time with me, so why would anyone else, the circle is complete. BUT again, I do not want to be stuck in this hole.

I’ve given myself a plan to lift me out of the quagmire:

  • Build on the photography group, Take Notice Leeds, to make it more successful.
  • Give myself a challenge or project and follow through.
  • Volunteer in a new outdoor role (Kirkstall Garden) and connect with my community.
  • Try to keep a CBT diary until my counselling starts, and avoid treating friends as therapists.
  • Look for the positive in everyday using a good memory jar.
  • Look after myself and take pride in my appearance.
  • Try not to avoid social gatherings because of past irrational fears – but take it slowly.
  • Relax and not feel bad in doing so, it’s ok to give myself space to reenergise.

Gloom becomes more with imagination