Yesterday’s blog didn’t post and feeling like it’s a chore to write // 07/04/17 + 08/04/17

Yesterday’s blog posts seems not to have published and i can’t figure out where it’s gone.. once I find it I’ll post that on another day! 

I’m not writing much tonight as I’m giving myself a bit of a night off after a very long day of university lectures and then travelling. I’m exhausted and almost even forgot to write on here… 

Tonight I’m feeling quite insincereand  like  it would be a chore to write a full post so my question for today is.. 

what would you like to see me write about this month? 

We can beat this! 

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My experience talking to Childline // 06/04/17

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Tonight I had my 6th session of Childline volunteer counselling training which means I am almost halfway through the training. So I thought I would write a linked post not about my training experience or being a counsellor but about my experiences of contacting Childline when I was younger. I have spoke a lot in the media about what I spoke to Childline about and how I went about that but I thought it would also be ice to put this on here as it was part of my recovery and still very relevant as it is the reason I am training as a volunteer.. So here goes;

If I remember rightly I was about 14/15 when I first contacted Childline.. I had been struggling with mental health difficulties (anxiety, panic attacks, low mood, low self esteem and self-harm) for around a year without anyone noticing and without me telling anyone. It was getting progressively worse and I was finding everyday life increasingly difficult. I was starting to struggle to maintain relationships with family and with friends as well as struggling to even stay in lessons in school never mind answer a question in class. I was turning to self-harm for a few different reasons at different times. Sometimes it was about the fact that physical pain was easier to deal with than the mental torture I felt I was going through. At other times it was a form of self-punishment and I genuinely felt I deserved it. A lot was going on and I just had no idea how to deal with it or express it to anyone. I couldn’t even answer questions in class from a teacher never mind talk about these feelings to anyone.. so I had kept quiet.

But it was getting worse and I was getting desperate. I wanted things to change but I didn’t know how to change things. I wanted to feel better but didn’t know how to. More importantly I got to the point where I wanted to tell someone.. I wanted help.. I just didn’t know who to turn to. It would have been too much for me to tell my family.. it would upset them too much.. they’d worry and they had enough going on. I wasn’t comfortable with telling them. I couldn’t talk to teachers.. they wouldn’t listen or understand and they might tell my family.. I had no idea what the outcome would be if I told someone. I barely knew what was going on myself and couldn’t make sense of it all so how was I supposed to explain that to anyone else? That’s when I decided to contact Childline.

I had always known the service existed but didn’t know too much about it. I’m sure a lot of children at some point threaten to call Childline on their parents when they aren’t happy about something. I knew you could talk to Childline about abuse.. but I wasn’t being abused..I’d seen posters though and they said you could talk to them about anything. But again I couldn’t find the words.. ringing would be useless as I wouldn’t say anything and anyway my family might hear me..I knew they had a website so decided to go on and have a look. When I got on there I saw that they had an online chat service. It was at that point I realised I might actually be able to tell someone. I first looked around the website, looked on the message boards, checked their confidentiality policy all while I worked up the courage to see if I could actually make an account and start a chat.. eventually I did. I clicked to start and it said there would be a wait but that was okay.. I’d got this far,, I had to try it.

I got through.. and I was so anxious.. I didn’t know what to say.. do I go straight in and blurt it all? do I say a bit and test it out? Can I really talk to them about anything? people are worse off than me.. other people deserve to talk more.. the thoughts were racing around my mind. I was terrified but I was also desperate. I said Hello and was greeted by a friendly counsellor. I started to go into some of it and then helped me slowly start to talk about what was going on. I was a long paragraph type of young person and I ended up writing loads. We discovered writing was my way of expressing.. where I couldn’t express the words out loud.. I could write them and not just write them but express my feelings quite coherently. Childline didn’t push me to talk about anything I didn’t want to and they didn’t judge me either. It was reassuring to know I had someone to talk to that wasn’t somebody I knew.. it made such a difference. We explored what had been going on and how I had been feeling and what if anything I had done so far to try and change things. Things started to make more sense. Writing my feelings and thoughts down made them less scary.. I could see what was going on but I still wasn’t sure what to do. Stopping self-harming was scary it was my coping mechanism and my anxiety couldn’t be waved away with a magic wand. There was no quick fix but there was someone I could talk to.

I didn’t just contact Childline once.. I contacted them lots of times over the following few years.. they were there when I needed to just talk or to have a perspective from somewhere other than people I knew. They gave me a voice when I needed it most. Different chats were about different things and we just talked about whatever I wanted to. Sometimes it was just a more general chat to distract me from urges to self-harm. Other times we explored my options and the actions I could take to start changing things. Childline had helped a lot by just being there to listen to me but I really did need more professional support. They helped me work out a plan. They recognised how writing was helpful for me in order to express things and was far less scary than talking. Together we worked out that a good way for me to get the help I needed was to write it down in a letter and to give it to someone. We explored who that might be and decided on a pastoral teacher at my school and we also explored what the outcomes of this might be so it wouldn’t be so scary. We talked about it a lot before I actually gave a letter to anyone but in the end I felt empowered enough to do that. Things started to move on and I was getting referrals to mental health services and to school counselling. I was nearly 16 at this point.. so much had fed into what was going on. Exam stress, family stress, peer pressure, not fitting in, body image.. lots of things and none of it was going away anytime soon. I needed therapy from CAMHS so that I could take back control and start to build strategies of coping with the challenges life threw at me. Therapy made a huge difference and finally helped me to stop self-harming.

Without Childline I wouldn’t have got to that point.. in fact I don’t actually know where I would be today. They helped me even once I started to get support. They were there when I felt things till weren’t going right. They were there when I had urges to self harm.. they distracted me and meant for that one extra night I was self-harm free. They gave me a space.. a space to be me.. a space to explore what I wanted to.. a space where I had a voice. At times I probably became quite reliant on the service.. I went through a period at the start when things were really difficult of contacting them every day at times or every few days at least. They were the only people I had to talk to though. They were then there for me through all the ups and downs.. the relapses, finishing exams, getting discharged from therapy. I always knew there was somewhere I could turn. At times I was probably also a pain.. I’d got the timing figured out for how long a chat usually lasted and knew the phrases they used to end chats but would try to keep them going because I just felt like I was really being listened to or had ore to say. But I always understood why they worked they way they did and appreciated that. It wasn’t all great.. they were occasions where I had counsellors who I just didn’t click with and I would end the chat and request another instead because it wasn’t worth me wasting 40 minutes talking to someone who was just getting frustrated with. When I had a good chat though which had been really helpful I always made sure to thank them and to show them why I really valued their support.. they’re all volunteers after all and some of them genuinely did change my life for the better. Childline meant a lot to me.. and it always will. Now is my time to give back and my aim is to complete training and be on the other side of that line.

Childline gave me a voice when I couldn’t talk to anyone. They stopped me harming myself at some of my darkest moments. They kept me afloat until I could get the support I needed. I was lost and they helped me figure it all out. They listened and that was all that I needed.

I am doing a skydive in October to raise money for the NSPCC to give back too.. Childline changed my life and I want them to be able to support as many young people as possible. Please if you can donate to my fundraising page.. it would mean the world to me and to the charity (and this isn’t just about rising money for me.. it’s more than that. I value the NSPCC more than anyone could ever understand and this is just one of the ways I feel I can give back!)

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Naomi-Lea

I did really well in my GCSEs and A levels. I went on to study Psychology at university. I stopped self-harming and haven’t self-harmed in nearly 2 years now. I built up my resilience. I am happier and more confident. I am now in a position where I can help others. I volunteer with the young volunteers participation team and am training to be a Childline counsellor. I found my voice.

I will never forget what Childline did for me and will always value the incredible work they do to support so many young people across the UK!

We can beat this!

Feeling ill + not feeling like writing… //04/04/17

This isn’t a great start to BEDA at all.. Today I’ve been feeling quite ill (physically) and tonight I just really don’t feel like writing much. My mind is blank and I don’t have much that I want to wrote out. I mean I have plenty of ideas but I just don’t have the energy to sit and type them out.. so for today I’m just going to leave you with a quote..

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I’ll be back tomorrow with a post that’s actually worth reading I hope!

We can beat this!

A busy but normal day! // 03/04/17

Today hasn’t exactly been a very chilled but busy day and I’ve really enjoyed that. I spent the morning in lectures followed by a meeting about my project and then meeting up with one of the people I’m living with next year to book house viewings. I enjoy days like this because I’m spending a lot of time around people that I really like being around. ¬†Because of that today went so quickly.

I also got my exam timetable today… and back even last year that moment would have sent me into meltdown. Exams and me were not good mix in terms of my anxiety (not that most people enjoy exams). Exam season was something, like everyone, that I used to dread but not because of the exams themselves but because of the panic attack and anxiety that I would have to deal with. Since coming to university things have been different. My January exam season passed without a single panic attacks. Yes I was anxious to an extent but it was a normal amount and wasn’t excessive at all like I’m used to.

I’m hoping for a similar relatively low stress exam season this summer. My exams are just over a month away and that is scary. By the 16th of May I will have finished all of my first year of university – terrifying!! But getting my exam timetable today wasn’t so bad.. I looked at it and it’s actually made me feel quite motivated to get on with revision. I’m feeling quite calm about exams at the moment and that may change but I can just take that as it comes. I’m really hoping I can get through another exam season without panic attacks but we will just have to wait and see. I do think the university structure makes a difference as I definitely don’t feel the same amount of pressure here as I did in school. I obviously want to do well and need to pass to get onto next year but any pressure there is is coming from myself to from anyone else. That works for me and I genuinely¬†feel that has made a huge difference to how I feel around exam time but that’s not the same for everyone.

What did you find got you through exam time?

We can beat this!

Youth Led Volunteering Conference // 02/04/17

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Today I attended the Welsh Youth Led Volunteering Conference in Cardiff as an #iwill ambassador. I became in ambassador in November 2016 and really enjoy being able to spread the message of the campaign as well as tell others about my social action journey. Today I was helping out by leading a workshop on the campaign to attendees with another ambassador, Roxanne.

I really enjoyed today and it allowed me to reflect really on how far I have come and how much volunteering and social action really did change things for me. I’m a long way from the me that was struggling so badly with anxiety that I couldn’t even stay in a classroom. Today I was able to co-lead a workshop to small groups – something that I would never ever have imagined doing. The reason I’m able to do these things now is because of the benefits thats social action had on my wellbeing. It gave me confidence and allowed me to have a purpose so that I no longer felt worthless. It gave me a platform to meet likeminded people and be inspired by others to do bigger and better things. Social action for me is not just something I do, it’s a way of life. I enjoy it so much and helping out at events like today’s always remind me of that.

I met some truly amazing young people at the conference today who are doing some seriously incredible work in the their communities and are also really dedicated to getting others involved. I came away feeling so energised instead of tired and that is always a good sign!

Today as part of the workshop both Roxanne and I shared our social action journeys in storyboard form before then getting everyone else to do theirs to help make the link between the #iwill campaign and the work they are already doing. I thought I would share on here today my brief social action journey (a longer version may come at some point!) which I shared today;

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In theory my social action journey started aged 7ish, not that I recognised it as that at that age! My Mum was really heavily involved in PTA (Parent Teacher Association) at my primary school and was aways helping out with their events and fundraising. I was always really excited about this and always wanted to help with whatever they would let me. But things really got serious (in a good way!) in high school. We were required in our later years of high school to complete voluntary hours as part of our Welsh Baccalaureate qualification. I found that these hours came so easily to me as I was already involved with quite a lot and I actually had to make decision as which hours I wanted to count towards it. From here I was involved with a number of different organisation from small school projects like being a peer mentor to being involved with big national charities like the NSPCC. I then also got involved with Fixers where I created my mental health campaign and video which had huge success. In November 2016 I was selected as an #iwill ambassador as I was so passionate about social action. After that I got even more passionate about it and decided to really establish my project so applied for some funding, created a logo and also created some volunteering opportunities for other young people! My #iwill pledge was that I would show the positive impact that social action can have on mental health and self-confidence! Through my project as well as on social media and when talking to other young people I am always trying to show that. Social action has given me friendships, improved mental health, fun, a better CV, confidence, new skills and amazing opportunities! I don’t know what’s coming next, I can’t predict the future but what I do know is that I’ll continue to share my passion for youth social action and also hopefully carry on the work I’m doing! I don’t imagine social action not being part of my life anytime soon.

That’s just some of my story and there is so much more I could say but I’ll save that for another time. I’m truly grateful for the opputunities I’ve had and the ones I continue to get. Today reminded me of that and I’m really glad I got the chance to attend today and to lead on the workshop.

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My question for you today is;

What social action have you been involved in and what impact has it had on you?

We can beat this!

Blogging everyday of April again?!

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So.. It’s been a good few months since I last blogged on here (I feel like I start a lot of my posts like this…) but recently I’ve found myself wanting to blog again. SO I thought to get back into it I’d blog every day of April again!

This month I’m going to be doing a lot of travelling back and forwards between home and University as I need to be in Cardiff most weeks for volunteer training! This means plenty of time to write blog posts so hopefully like last year I will succeed at writing a blog every day of this month. They’ll be on varied topics such as updates on my current mental health, tips and tricks, mental health project updates, events I go to, current mental health news and so much more!

I really hope that this month I get my enjoyment of blogging back and that I can rite some really useful and enjoyable posts! I also hope that this month I’m also going yo start reading a lot more blogs too so please leave links to any good blogs that you recommend (they can be your own!) in the comment!

We can beat this!