(image: Trigger Publishing)
Nearly a month ago, I started my new job at a big Jewish charity here in London. I work in a small but lovely team in PR and Communications- helping run social media, write and distribute press releases and copywriting. I am enjoying it but its totally different from my other work and I am far less immersed in the mental health world than I was a few months ago. It is a juggling act. Trying to keep up with changes and all that’s occurring though. Hopefully soon I will find time to write articles again for my friends at Metro.co.uk and Happiful.
This has brought its own challenges as I havn’t been blogging here as much either, due to writing my book. My book ‘Bring me to Light’ will be released in the UK on November 5th and the USA shortly after, with Trigger Publishing. The title references going from darkness to light, as I have done with my bipolar and anxiety since I was 16. I have written most of it (50,000 words!) but my very kind editor has extended the deadline for it so I can write everything I need too, whilst also doing my day job and wedding planning (!). I am really excited to see a printed copy and to promote it later this year- the hard work will be worth it I hope. I also hope you enjoy reading it and thank you all for your ongoing support.
So, wedding planning, we are 5 weeks away now until I marry Rob, my fiance. It has come round so fast especially as we have had a year and few month’s engagement, I am counting down the days until I am under the Chuppah (Jewish marriage canopy) and we are officially married in presence of those we love! This week I had my final dress fitting and it was super emotional. I still can’t believe its happening. Rob’s dad is recovering slowly at home but his condition is still serious as he has cancer.
Naturally, you will be wondering- how am I staying sane with my bipolar with everything going on and with Robs dad not being well? Firstly, as we know, stressors can make bipolar worse and trigger episodes. At the moment, my main mood stabiliser Lithium keeps me very grounded and stable. Despite the stress, I am not dipping down into deep depression as I would have done in the past. Yes- there are times when I might feel stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted or tired and just want to sit in my pyjamas watching Made in Chelsea or First Dates. There are also times when I am too tired to cook or do laundry and need support with those. I am lucky to have a very supportive family who look out for me too.
My work colleagues have been super supportive when I have been overwhelmed or anxious and I am finding the flexibility of my work helpful too. I am having less anxious days now I am working too due to exposure therapy and going out a little more (taking the bus and cabs and talking to new people).
For me, I really need self care time, time to switch off and unplug. As we go into Shabbat now is the perfect time to read and be quiet, come off my phone and computer and just be. I really promote looking after you and taking time to sleep and rest for optimum mental health and to feel better again. Sometimes it can help to let others know how you’re feeling too.
I have two weeks to give in my first book manuscript and five til my wedding day. These are dreams I have had for years and I can’t quite believe they’re happening. Staying sane while planning a wedding without a planner can be hard but we have worked as a team. Having a good cry has really helped also at times, when things get too much! But generally happy, wonderful things so not to complain. Everything at once can get a lot for anyone. Life at the moment is hectic but I am pacing myself as much as possible.
Thanks for being there for me and for supporting my work too. I hope we end the stigma against mental health by talking, sharing and explaining.
(image: Trigger Publishing and Annie Belasco)
I only tend to review books that make an impact on me and that really touch my heart.
I ordered Annie’s book ‘Love and Remission’ , about her life recovering from breast cancer in her twenties and finding the love of her life. Annie and I have been connected on Twitter and she is signed to the same publisher as me so I was super excited to read her inspirational story.
When reading, I found a person of immense strength and an amazing sense of humour. Annie was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer aged just 25 years old. Her entire life was falling apart but she found a way through treatment, through the chemotherapy and radiotherapy-to put it back together. She describes what it was like for her to lose her hair and buy wigs, and to go through a masectomy and trying to feel womanly again- which she succeeded in doing. She was scared that the treatment wouldn’t work but she is now incredibly, in remission.
Annie also had mental health issues due to the trauma but talks about how she slowly overcame her anxiety to live again.
The ‘love’ part in the title refers to her now husband, who she met while undergoing treatment and who stood by her against all the odds.
I don’t want to reveal any more than that- but this book was so inspiring, so moving, so well written that I read it in just two days!
I really recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about cancer and mental health whilst being a young woman. Annies story truly blew me away- with her strength, courage and unique take on life- she is so fun loving- and really loves her friends and family.
I was so touched by this book and her story. Thank you for writing it.
(You can buy the book now by Trigger on Amazon and in bookstores).
I can’t fully believe that I am typing this as its a dream I have had for my entire life. I had been asking God for this to happen when I was ready and for me to be able to write to share and help others.
At my lowest ebb, I dreamt that if I survived the depression and mania that I would like to help others in similar places. Writing has become my therapy and I hope it helps others too.
So… the secret is out…
I am going to be an author and my life story with bipolar disorder and anxiety and how I have overcome adversity will be told in a book written by me for Trigger Publishing.
Trigger ‘the voice of mental health’ are an independent publisher whose work I have followed for some time now,. They are the publishing arm of mental health charity The Shaw Mind Foundation.
In 2016, The Shaw Mind Foundation set up Trigger, a global trade publishing house devoted to opening conversations about mental health. They say ‘We tell the stories of people who have suffered from mental illnesses and recovered, so that others may learn from them.’
In order to get my book published, I had to write three chapters and work with an editorial team. I had admired many of their books, especially those by Hope Virgo, Karen Manton and Terri Cox about their lives with mental illnesses and how they overcame them. I knew Trigger was the right place to share my story of recovery.
My book may not be out til late 2019/ early 2020 but I will keep you all updated. The title will also be revealed at a later stage.
With thanks to the incredible people at Trigger: Stephanie, Katie and James for believing in me and for Hannah for all your help!
Now I just have to get writing! I will write further blogs (or share vlogs) to update on how writing is going.
My name is Tony Weekes. I feel honoured to have been invited to post on Be Ur Own Light. I have witnessed at first-hand the mental suffering of close family members. In trying to ease their suffering, I have tried, sometimes succeeded, other times failed, to surmount the problems – which they have faced – caused by the current care system’s serious lack of funding and the resulting lack of cohesion.
I am not a professional in the field of mental health but I could not sit back and do nothing. So, I founded Unity MHS, a grassroots movement to revolutionise mental health care in the United Kingdom through education, recognition and intervention.
As a not-for-profit Company limited by guarantee (not a charity), Unity has no shareholders. Therefore, our driving force is the commitment we maintain on our mission rather than personal or financial gain. Our mission is two-fold:
- To challenge the way society views mental health.
- To facilitate vast improvement in access to ongoing care and socio-economic empowerment for those suffering with any kind of mental ill health.
I strongly believe that when mental health is viewed with the same level of importance as physical health, the funding necessary for the care system to operate as one unified force will be made available in an instant. Additionally, considering the component parts of the current system, I believe that most of the logistics required for UK mental health care to shine already exist. It is the consistent lack of investment which has allowed the system to show great strain under the pressure it faces.
The general-public are only now becoming aware of the possible mental health crisis we face as a country, or even as a planet. The conversations are becoming increasingly more open. However, it is only a widespread shift in public opinion, which will give the greatest burden of illness in the UK the priority status and corresponding national investment it desperately needs.
Hence, I set-off on my mission by writing In my right mind – a book which seeks to tackle this crisis from angles which may never have been considered in the public domain – to instigate that shift in the public’s perception of mental health.
Moving onto the second part of our mission, we aim to facilitate improvements through ongoing education, recognition and intervention in mental health. How can this be achieved?
There are two social entities which represent what should be the front line on a proactive approach to mental health. These are our schools and our families. The teachers at the school which my children attend actively promote working in educational partnership with parents. We believe this should and will also be the case with their mental well-being. Schools and parents will be given the tools they need to build resilience and notice signs of mental distress in youngsters at home and in the classroom. This will also give us all the knowledge to observe and act accordingly in the case of adolescents or even adults showing the signs of mental illness.
At Unity, we have developed a program with this aim and are in talks with a number of schools about implementation.
The earlier that the possibility of any form of illness is recognised, the sooner it can be diagnosed and the more effectively it can be treated before it gets more serious. The importance of early- recognition for the whole system, cannot be over-estimated. Once we have the knowledge required to notice what may be the early signs in any setting, with a good treatment plan in place then arguably any form of mental illness can be managed over time with persistence.
In many instances, in-patient care will be necessary. Arguably, this is the area where the current system is showing the greatest signs of strain as there are simply not enough beds available. This results in patients sometimes being discharged before they have received the level of care needed or in other instances, people being admitted for care hundreds of miles from home, away from their all-important support network.
For any form of serious illness, varying degrees of rehabilitation are needed to ensure that recovery from the illness can be sustained once a patient is discharged. Our greatest challenge is to generate all the resources necessary for these beds and the other resources necessary, to be made available sustainably. With the right treatment, for the right amount of time, followed by ongoing care and support in the community, social and economic empowerment would make positive long-term recovery more likely and hopefully minimise the risk of relapse.
The NHS is a world leader, Unity will also make mental health care here world renowned.
Tony Weekes is a mental health activist and founder of grassroots movement Unity MHS and author of the book, ‘In My Right Mind’. He campaigns for better mental health and can be found at www.unity-mhs.org and his book at www.unity-mhs.org/book. Tony can be contacted at email@example.com