23rd July 2020
How does Thumbs Up help our own mental health?
Hi everyone again, welcome back to our next edition of our blog. I toyed with how this particular one would follow our first introductory offering, and I decided to link-in to our desire to offer support to staff/parents/carers, I thought I would firstly explain how Thumbs Up came about, and how - for the past few years, it has been so effective in aiding us with our own mental and emotional health.
So let me briefly rewind seven years, I had severe mental health issues as a result of a pretty bloomin' horrendous case of medical negligence following a breast cancer diagnosis and mastectomy. I entered therapy at our local cancer centre, and 'fought' (and I don't say use that word lightly), a physical and mental battle to regain any kind of my 'pre-cancer' self. I decided that throughout my therapy, not only would I work hard to get the my mental health back on an even keel, but I would take on the NHS myself (to ensure that this kind of negligence would never impact anyone else), get nurses reinstated here and support put in place there, and then - I'd qualify to become a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and I'd start a business and 'save the world' too, phew I was knackered and unsure if I ever gave myself enough time to 'grieve' I call it my 'superhero mode'! Little did I know just how exhausting it was taking on this role. But many life changing achievements happened as a result of this dreadful time in my life, but what I am most proud of, of course is Thumbs Up. Now the reason for this particular post, is that to let all you folk know, that what I have learnt through therapy and through my experience and qualifications, saves me - not every day, some days are very hard, but generally it bolsters me up, in turn I can bolster my staff up and consequently we bring that through to the work we do...we bolster, we care, we love what we do, and we trust our product and we know it works - after all, we are examples of this. I am not ashamed to say that my mental health has suffered during lockdown, as I am sure many people can relate to, and I have had to enter back into therapy to deal with the trauma of my case of negligence in order for me to look forward at some potential operations - I bear the physical and mental scars of my medical 'journey' (oh god I've used 'that' word!), however, I also recognise that without what happened to me...I wouldn't be here now, with Thumbs Up - doing what we do.
So...what happened next...?
So with a seed of any idea and very little way of resources or substance behind my first marketing exercise, I emailed five schools in our area; but two responded and LOVED the vision I had. So off I went - some weeks later, armed with what I can only describe as an oversized tuppaware box filled with pages of ground rules, name stickers, juggling balls, puppets and my session plans, and delivered my first few sessions to said two schools, and wow, it was a very quick success that led to more...and more schools booking our programme. I look back now and wonder how I had the courage to do it - on my own in those days, and yes, I am pretty proud of that. As the programme evolved from a four week programme to a five week programme, I felt that the next logical step was to bring another faciliator in; I was very aware that to have two sets of eyes on the children would give us a better chance of every single child feeling that they are involved and valued.
This enabled me to have someone to 'bounce-off' with ideas and plans, and gave me the much-needed kick up the proverbial butt to continue to market our programme further afield. Consequently we got schools wishing to book us for a morning/afternoon per week all school year round, we had requests for small group work targeting certain aspects of wellbeing and some individual sessions too. Thumbs Up grew...and grew, and now - six years later, we have delivered in over 50 schools, have worked throughout the North West, we have been named on two occasions in Government Health and Wellbeing papers and had a number of companies approach us looking at partnerships.
So bringing us into the 'now', what will follow in future editions of our blog will be some strategies, ideas, stories etc that we hope will provide you with some tools to call upon when you may need it. We will look at some of the ways we help children with certain aspects of their wellbeing that transfer very well to the adult too.
So leaving you with a 'nugget' for today:-
I would like you to imagine the 10 most important things in your life...you can write them down...examples of the usual answers to this question are:-
children, work, holidays, home, car, wine(!), pub, pets, activities, sleep and so on...and on....
But what/who is missing?
...have you got it?
If you continuously put 'YOU' to the bottom of your pile of priorities, 'YOU' will potentially drown under the weight of what you are trying to keep juggling and managing. One great suggestion that I sometimes do, is to put a diary entry in for every day, affording 'YOU' 10, 15, 30...minutes a day, the length of time isn't particularly relevant, it's just ensuring that 'YOU' put 'YOU' first at some point on any given day. Try it - stick to it - even for just a week, and gauge if it has made any difference to your sense of wellbeing. Now of course we appreciate this may not be easy if you have young children for instance, but it's certainly not impossible by accepting the kindness of others, rather than convincing those people that 'you're fine', 'I can cope'.
ALWAYS REMEMBER - IT IS NOT A WEAKNESS TO ADMIT YOU NEED HELP
Until next time...