You may have seen my last post focused on Men's mental health and the wonderful Male Time to change Young Champions. I did this as It is so incredibly important to get more men opening up - which can be seen by the fact I have 16 female Time to Change Young Champions speaking out below (which is AMAZING), in comparison to the five Males (also incredible humans). That being said, I did not want to miss the lovely ladies out as they have shared some truly inspiring #InYourCorner stories below. Please always remember that experiencing a mental health condition can be incredibly scary, however just one small act can make a huge difference to that person's battle. It does not have to be a big gesture, small things make a huge difference, so grab a stool and get in your mates corner.
For more information on this wonderful campaign see Time to Change for videos, resources and more!
Strength to fight another day
"When I’m unwell, it isn’t just my symptoms that are hard. I can’t work properly, I struggle with my finances, my relationships suffer and it can feel like my whole world is falling apart. My friends reaching out and sending me a message, tagging me in a meme, or coming to visit me makes such a difference. My partner putting the duvet on me on the sofa and popping a film on, calling the doctors for me when I can’t face it or taking me for an ice cream. My parents telling me they love me, that they’re there for me. Having people in my corner hasn’t cured my Bipolar, but it’s given me the strength to fight another day, to get back up and keep trying. It doesn’t take something big to be in someone’s corner, I’ve had a text that has saved my life, a hug that has got me up and to my appointments. Having a Mental Health problem is scary, it’s hard and it’s lonely. It’s even worse if people aren’t on your side. Be in someone’s corner and let them know they’re not alone, they're loved, and hope and happiness is possible. Your support can give them the strength to live another day and to face their Mental Health problem head on, not a bad result for a cup of tea or a text." - Katie 'Tiger' Bambury
To see more from Katie please follow her on twitter @katie_bamburs
They don't need to be experts
"My parents have been amazing at being in my corner throughout my struggles with my mental health. They're always there with a supportive text, a cute picture, for their hug of the day or an hour long phone call when I need them and I cant them enough for it as thats all it takes! They're not mental health experts and they don't need to be, they're just there in my corner to help me stay strong and see the positives in every day." - Casie Mills
He was so caring
"I have been very fortunate to have been surrounded by people to support me with my mental health, but not everybody is as fortunate. Mental health is still seen as a taboo subject, one people are too afraid to talk about or approach, often leaving people with nobody to go to. Looking back at those who have supported me I am reminded of all the times I truly needed someone, the times when I dread to think what could have happened without them there. I remember my first panic attack but at the time I didn’t know it was a panic attack, I didn’t know what was happening. My arms and hands completely tingling, my chest so tight I felt as though each breath would be my last, I know that sounds a little dramatic but it was one of the scariest experiences of my life. I was with my dad, he was driving us both home. Looking back, I am surprised at how he responded. He was very calm and told me to take deep breaths. He asked if I wanted to stop but I shook my head as I just wanted to get home, I could tell that he did to. Once we were home he didn’t leave me until I had calmed my breathing down, even then he asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. He was so caring and it was very reassuring to know he was there for me and that I was not alone. After I had settled my dad continued to talk about it. Together we tried to figure out why it happened and spoke about what I could do if it happened again. My dad has been in my corner ever since, we are able to talk openly about mental health and I always know he is there for me." - Nicole Williams
To see more from Nicole please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @_nicolesjourney
A friendship that diluted the darkness
"Depression and anxiety are isolating illnesses; they make you feel lonely and underserving of love. For me, I didn’t want to burden anyone with my problems or, as stupid as it may sound, to infect their lives with my presence; my two best friends helped me feel worthwhile and that I was a positive influence in their lives. We met in halls during the first year of university; there were 18 of us all living in the same flat and, it most definitely wasn’t as bad as it sounds, we all got along (99% of the time) and we were close. Come second year, we split off into 3 houses but remained equally close but as I became ill, I became distant and lost more and more contact with the group. A random Wednesday in third year, they asked if anyone fancied going out for a meal. I decided to go, it ended up just being the 3 of us and I confessed all – it was the first time I had voluntarily told anyone about my illness. I had previously been to ashamed to tell anyone that I didn’t have to, I didn’t want anyone to think I was weak or less capable. I don’t regret telling them, it was the best decision I had made. I found people who I could be imperfect with, be sad with, be happy with, ultimately I had found a friendship that involved no judgment and as we like to joke we can be messes together. I often found nighttime to be the most difficult and they were always there, offering me a place to stay if I didn’t want to be alone, random texts and probably the time I am must grateful for is randomly calling me at a time, unbeknownst to them, I was extremely suicidal. After becoming extremely ill, I had to take a month off university so graduated in the winter ceremony rather than summer ceremony; I didn’t want to go, I didn’t think I deserved to go or that I had achieved anything, I had to take a month off of doing the work I love and I couldn’t forgive myself for this but they encouraged me to go and ensured I had a fabulous day. It helped me come to terms with what had happened and to accept that it didn’t affect my intelligence. They made the whole day about me and made me feel like a badass Queen (tiara included). Ultimately, they didn’t give up and so neither did I. It may be difficult and exhausting but if you love someone don’t give up on them. Having someone in your corner gives you someone to battle the demons with and whilst it doesn’t make anything better, it does make it more bearable. And when everything seems unachievable and dark, little moments of happiness and friendship dilute the darkness and make all the difference." - Anonymous
He inspires me
"Josh has been in my corner since he knew about my panic disorder. He has always been there for me when I needed him, and he never thought any different of me if he saw me having a panic attack. He knows when I'm feeling anxious and knows what to do. He inspires me to keep going and is so understanding. It's made a huge difference in my mental illness knowing I can talk to him whenever and he's there if I'm panicking. I couldn't get through some nights without having him. Sometimes, I might have a panic attack when I'm with him, he will immediately start making me laugh. He will help me with my breathing and calm me down. And what makes it all okay is we still love each other through it its so important to be there for someone you love, whether its your partner or your best friend, your son or your sister. It can change their life, just like Josh changed mine." - Heidi Williams
A simple action can be lifesaving
"My best friend has been a key part of helping me along my mental health journey. She is always there when I need to vent or let something go. She doesn't ask me questions unless I feel confident in answering. She would take the time out when I was in some of my worst times to just come and see me and give me a hug. I love her for all that she has done for me. Without her support I probably wouldn't be here and be having the aspiration to go off to university and do something I dream of. She kept me fighting and I cannot thank her enough for that. It's so important that when your friend is going through a tough time that you are there for them. The simplest of actions can sometimes be the most lifesaving and thoughtful to someone in a crisis. Be in your friends corner when they need you; you never know how much difference it can make." - Leah Barfield
To see more from Leah please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @leahbarfield
Sometimes I just needed company
"When I was going through the worst time at school my teacher Mr A (Alan) was always in my corner. This man always made time for me, even when he was at his busiest. No matter what he had going on he was always there for me. He knew what to say, even if that meant admitting that he didn't know what to say ! He would listen to me, even if I wasn't making any sense. Sometimes all I needed was a listening ear or someone who would reassure me that it was all going to be okay. I know I didn't give him the easiest of times, but I'm glad he never gave up on me and I'm super grateful for everything he ever did. The best thing is that even though I've left school and I'm much better than I was, I know that he'd still be there for me now and is still #inmycorner and I'm in his! Thank you Alan!
My best friend Nicole has also been my support for the last few years. In my darkest times she knew that just being there was helping me. Sometimes I didn't want to talk and all I needed was her company. She has taken me to doctors appointments and spoken for me if I couldn't bring myself to speak to them. She would help me speak to teachers about things. She would always be in my corner when things got tough. She still is all these things even though I'm not in such a bad place. I know that if I ever felt that way again she'd be there for me. She makes me realise that I am never alone in this. Thank you Nicole, I'll always be #inyourcorner " - Abbie Brewer
To see more from Abbie please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @AbbieVolunteers
My best friend built my confidence
"When people ask, who has been there throughout the years, always by my side, I often can easily recall my best friend being there for me through so many different times and never leaving. This is because she was also going through her own struggles but always found the time for me like I did her. Being in someone’s corner does not mean extravagant actions, more often than not, small acts make the largest differences, for us, it would be bringing each other chocolate and letting each other vent our frustrations, actively listening and wanting to understand. My best friend would often invite me out to help me build my confidence and grow friendships so I could then have a larger support network of amazing people; larger actions have occurred which involved her helping me through episodes.
The impact of all of this over the years has meant my life was literally saved, I learned to not be ashamed and stand up for myself when others wanted to shame and humiliate me, I built my confidence and can stand strong, those venting sessions meant I could learn to talk and express myself properly instead of repressing everything and making myself more ill. Without her, I could not be here today, I would not have such amazing friendships that I have built, I would not be so actively wanting to campaign and ensure others (who will be affected my mental illness at some point) have a positive experience and recovery.
If you know someone who is struggling, please do not think ignorance is bliss, all it takes is no more than two questions, “how are you?”, if they say fine ask, “really?” and from there you will find you may just save their life also. We just need people to want to understand and be willing to listen, from there you will find that small acts that increase their positivity will go an immense way and they will be thankful that someone cares. Having a mental illness can feel so isolating, we just need someone else around to feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel." - Leanne Smith
To see more from Leanne please check out her blog here and follow her on twitter @woahitslea
Please be thoughtful
"The main person who comes to mind straight away when I think of who is in my corner the most, is my mum. If not for her love and support, while I was suffering with my eating disorder for two years, I wouldn't be here today. She gave me strength, when I emotionally and physically didn't have it. Everyday was a real battle to recover, each meal was a mental struggle, but she believed in me - when I believed all was lost. Having my mum beside me, when no one else understood what I was going through, is why I am able to tell you this right now. So please, be thoughtful and be active in other people's corners." - Abbey Swan
My supportive circle
"I’ve been so lucky to have such a supportive circle of close friends. When I was experiencing my most difficult mental health challenges, I was a university student living in a shared student house. Living in such close proximity to my housemates meant that I couldn’t exactly hide my mental health struggles, and I found that being open and honest was the best way to be moving forward. At first, just holding me whilst I sobbed uncontrollably in my darkest, depressed days seemed like the only thing they could do. But then something strange happened. The more open and honest we were about this taboo subject, the more humour we were able to incorporate into our discussions. Albeit very dark humour at times, my friends found that normalising concepts such as ‘suicide watch’ and ‘feeling dead behind the eyes’ made them less frightening, and therefore having less power over me. After I had been catatonic and in bed for days, it takes a true friend to say ‘you stink – go and wash’, and sometimes this brutal honesty can make you crack a smile when your face feels frozen in an expression of despair. I’m aware this approach to talking about mental health is an acquired taste, but the phrase ‘if you don’t laugh – you’ll cry’ never rings truer than when you live with a mental illness." - Hannah Lewis
To see more from Hannah follow her on twitter @hannahloo1234
A friend continued to show me love
"I feel that my friends were an important part in my recovery, I found that just having a friend that listened and didn’t judge me was the most helpful thing. A friend who just continued to show me they loved me meant a lot, a friend that still wanted to go out for coffee and encouraged me to go to the cinema with them. I believe that this was a crucial element of my recovery and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to get through it without them. Without their positivity and encouragement, I don’t think i’d be where I am now or doing any of the exciting things i’m doing at the moment, so doing small things and showing care does go a really long way." - Bryony Hacker
The little things helped
"The person that helped me the most when I was struggling with my mental health was my mother. Although for a long time she did not understand what was wrong with me, she tried in her own way to make me feel better, even when she was struggling herself. Last year I had the worst year of my life. I would Skype her, crying about yet another thing that I thought I had failed or did wrong, and she did not tell me to stop crying, she would say 'cry it out, and then make a list of things you could do to fix it. What can be your next move?' I always struggled with that bit but she always made me think about my issue as a bump in the road rather than the end of a road. Having somebody there for me meant that I was able to cope with my anxiety and depression without doing anything harmful to myself, which I definitely would have done if nobody was around. She also helped me with things like eating regularly and getting enough sleep, as she would speak to me in the morning, forcing me to wake up early and to get enough sleep so that I was actually able to speak to her properly. My mother would always ask me what I had eaten, and this made me think about what I was putting into my body. These little things helped me get out of a bad situation. They encouraged me to fight the disorders and push through when it got too hard. If I didn't have someone there for me, I don't know where I would have been right now. This is why it is important to always be there for your friends, family and people that you know who are struggling. They might not say it but every time you call or text just to see how they are, you are improving their day. When it gets hard, don't leave them behind, encourage them to seek help or simply be the friend they need. Be their person so that they can be yours." - Mary Afanaswa
To see more from Mary please check out her blog here
My turning point
"It sounds strange but adopting my cat was a major turning point in my recovery. Taking care of her needs meant that I had an incentive to look after my own; I had recently left a five-month long hospital admission, the possibility of a life worth living felt a long way off. Knowing she was around meant that home began to feel safer- she would jump onto my lap and demand a cuddle at exactly the right times. She has sat through so many bad nights of flashbacks with me, waited patiently for me to resist doing my compulsions and leave the house in the mornings. No matter how anxious and ashamed I felt, I knew she couldn’t judge me and this was comforting. I began to properly engage with mental health services- before I got her, I couldn’t see the point. Last year I had a part time job which involved using my experiences to train CAMHS clinicians and have since moved to a different city to start university and begin a new job. I have been through a lot but, I honestly do believe that having people (and a cat) around me have grown my confidence and reduced the guilt I have about being ill." - Marianna Karavidas
I am much more confident
"One of my work colleagues is always there for me. She always asks how I am, how work is going and I can talk to her about anything. She never judges me, just listens. I always feel like I can be myself and I do not have to hide how I am feeling. My work colleague always helps me to find the positives in every situation. Having someone in my corner has made a huge difference. I am a lot more confident and I believe in myself more than I used to. I do not feel so alone anymore. It is so important to be in someones corner who is struggling with their mental health. People often feel alone and even just listening to how someone feels can often change that. Being in someones corner could help them see the light and save their life." - Becca
P.S I Love You, The Friend Edition
"When I was 16 years old I was headed towards a month's hospital stay, terrified of what was around the corner. I knew that the coming weeks would be day in day out full of psychological intervention. Along with the fear of being 160 miles away from home I knew that the emotions I'd been pushing to the surface were bound to rise. I was not ready, I was understandably apprehensive and wondered how I could get myself out of going to hospital. Day 1 came around, isolated from my friends who were all living their lives as normal back home I didn't feel connected. That was until I was left a note on my pillow, one for every single morning that I was inpatient for. My friend, Paige had written a motivational, uplifting and personal handwritten letter to be left on my pillow each morning. She was 160 miles away and yet she made me feel so much less isolated, it gave me a reason to fight another day, I was excited to see what the next letter had written on it. I've often been told that it is quite literally the friendship version of 'P.S I Love You'. This was an act of kindness that I will never forget and it made an incredibly difficult time just a little bit easier" - Jodie Goodacre
Sometimes we just want to be with someone
"Two friends of mine (and their children where appropriate) have been there for me throughout the last few years, with all the ups and downs a long the way, they distracted me and cheered me up, they've cried with me, been there into the early hours in hospital, talked me down from suicide, been to appointments, called for help, listened, brushed and washed my hair when it's matted, helped me tidy my flat, helped me find somewhere to live when I was homeless, and never once judged, belittle or put me down. Without them, to put it simply, I wouldn't be alive, but I also wouldn't have been able to go for help in the first place, or get help when I needed it, or stand up for my rights. It's so important to be there for a friend who is struggling, to not judge, to do what is needed or encourage them to be able to make those steps with your support, to enjoy the good times as well as being there in the hard times. Learn what you can about what they're going through, take an interest, find out what's what and don't be afraid to ask them if your unsure, they won't mind. Often it's the small things that make the biggest difference, the meeting for a coffee once a week, the invite for them to spend the afternoon with you, even if your just doing "normal life" stuff, sometimes we just want to be with someone." - Anonymous
I hope these wonderful #InYourCorner stories inspire you to be in your loved ones corner. Thank you to all of the amazing people who have contributed to this post, it has honestly been so overwhelming to see how your loved ones have supported you and the positive impact this has had! Keep shining like the stars you are!
I would love to hear how people have been in your corner and how you have been in a loved ones corner!
Sending positive vibes,