Monday, 20 August 2012

All You Need is... Twitter

I’m sure if all four members of the ‘Fab Four’ were alive today, they wouldn’t mind me altering one of their iconic songs to make my point!  I have found music to be a great help to me in the past and whilst I was in hospital, I would quite often listen to music to try and get away from my situation.  With regards to The Beatles, my all-time favourite feel good song by them has got to be ‘Hey Jude’ and I have found one of the lines to have a myriad of meanings:

“Take a sad song and make it better”

I’m sure all who know the song well and have really looked into it will have their own beliefs as to the meaning of this line.  I know there’s a lot of controversy as to the meaning of the song as a whole and regardless of what the song means, I believe that this is one of the most powerful yet under-appreciated song line ever!

My belief into this line is that the author is telling the listener to take someone who is ‘sad’ and to make them ‘better’.  I wish I could verbalise my feelings around this line better but it is one of those things that I just can’t explain in words!  I do believe that this song was written for Julian Lennon (John’s son) to cheer him up during his parents’ divorce and if I am right then it is a song of encouragement and ‘making a sad song better’ in my eyes means helping someone.

In this day and age, large distances can be travelled relatively quickly and communicating with a person on the other side of the world can be done instantly.  On Twitter alone, I communicate with people from America, Germany and even Singapore and messages can be sent and received in a matter of seconds!  In the 2 and a half weeks that I’ve been on Twitter, I have ‘met’ some amazing people who will provide encouragement and support at a second’s notice, doing their bit to make a sad song better!

I have found that there are several charities trying to unite Mental Health sufferers both online and in person but I have found SANE to be the most inspiring with their Black Dog Campaign.  When they reach their £5,000 target, they will create a Black Dog statue, transport it around the country and hopefully educate the youngest generations about Mental Health.  I think that this is a fantastic idea and education is the best weapon in the fight against stigma!  If you haven’t already, then I would strongly recommend checking out ways of helping their campaign, whether it’s by donating, writing or designing a coat for the statue.  All the information can be found on their website and for details of how to help their campaign follow this link:

The contact from individuals and organisations on Twitter has impacted on my life already!  I have discovered valuable websites, excellent articles and most importantly, like minded people who are just as determined to break the stigma surrounding Mental Health Illnesses!  There are several people I have met on Twitter that I would love to meet up with in real life... if only I had the confidence to!

I am working on my confidence and social anxiety, but it is a slow process!  Being diagnosed with Schizophrenia, I worry that the diagnosis is somehow written all over me and that people will shun me for it.  It’s the reason that I remain anonymous despite feeling so inspired by the brave ones who are open with their Mental Illnesses!

The first person I knew who was open with their diagnosis of schizophrenia was the author, Louise Gillett.  I read her excellent book on her journey with schizophrenia and then contacted her through this Blogging website.  She suggested that I should write down my own experiences into something that I could publish if I chose to.  I started working on my story and shortly afterwards started writing my blog.  I found it empowering to write down my experiences where others could see them and I wish I had the courage to reveal my identity!  I know that opening up about myself is a big step and it isn’t something I’ll do without real consideration so it may be a while yet before I take that step!

I have also found that helping others over Twitter and my Blog to be such a positive experience and I am really enjoying the social contact I now have.  Since I left school 8 years ago, I have never had a regular social life and quite often I don’t have contact with anyone outside of my family for days or even weeks at a time.  Now though, I have daily contact with people that I get on well with who have similar diagnoses to myself and thanks to SANE, I have rediscovered a love for writing that I had suppressed.  I am hoping to finish my book by the end of the year and if it wasn’t for the likes of SANE and authors Louise Gillett and Garry Williams, I probably would have stopped writing long ago.

If there is anyone who is reading this and wondering what they can do to help themselves through a difficult phase, then I would recommend writing!  Pick up a pen or switch on a computer and start writing about whatever is troubling.  I have found it to be a lifesaver in many situations and when I pluck up the courage, I will go through my notebooks and deal with whatever I find in them.  Hopefully I’ll be able to write about the contents and help a person realise that they are not alone in their experiences.  I know that finding a person with similar experiences can be a massive relief and if I can be one person’s relief then I know that all the hard work that has gone and will go into my book has been worth it.

My book is not about earning potential.  I have said all along that if I write a book then all proceeds will go to a charity.  I haven’t decided which one yet but I am not going to keep any profits I may make.  The book is about helping others and maybe even saving a life or two.  If I can play a part in ending Mental Health stigma too then I’ll rate my book a success but it is being written solely to help others.  I was inspired by the authors Louise Gillett and Garry Williams and I hope that one day, I can read an article by someone in my shoes who will use my name in an article like this.  To earn money is nice but it cannot compare to the amazing feeling of knowing that you have helped someone and potentially saved their life.  This is the motivation I have and I hope that if you are struggling, you have found seeds of hope in this article and that by becoming more technologically sociable, these seeds will grow into the trees of recovery.


  1. Thanks, as ever. You are right - I am proud that I am off benefits and earning money at last, mainly because I always wanted to be a writer, but the most important thing in all of this is to start conversations about mental health and so to reduce stigma. Time to Change, the charity, did me a huge favour by helping me to find the courage to stand up and be counted. I am so pleased that you are finding writing and helping others so therapeutic. If we all keep on, we can change the world we live in.

    1. I'm hoping to reduce stigma too! I'm always scared when out and about in case my diagnosis is somehow visible to others and am scared in case I'll be judged or criticised for it. I've just written another post for the Welsh branch of Time to Change and I'm just waiting to see if they will use it. If they do it'll be all over Twitter and here!

      I'm hoping to be a part of the group that banishes stigma for good and I'm hoping that SANE's black dog charity really will work! I'm not just saying this because SANE have used a few of my posts, I really think their education into Mental Health is a fantastic idea and I hope it works! - Seriously, check it out!!

    2. PS, just found out that Time to Change Wales is using the piece I sent to them in a few weeks time!! Yay!!!

  2. There is no way other people could guess your diagnosis by looking at you! You need more confidence - and you deserve to have some, so work at it. For starters, you can repeat to yourself on a regular basis (plenty of times throughout the day) at least three good things about yourself - eg, 'I am kind, I am clever, I am worthwhile...' Eventually it will all seep in. A lot of confidence comes with age - you just stop caring what others think of you. It's really liberating.

    But you don't have to be old to get it - think of the confidence that emanates from those who have been through the mental health system. They learned it - it was instilled in them when they were young, through their schooling.

    I'll look out for your Time to Change piece - well done!

  3. I rationally know that no-one could know my diagnosis from looking at me but I still worry!

    Being bullied through high school and then when I did my apprenticeship followed by 5 years of hearing a voice telling me all sorts of horrible things about myself has pretty much pulverised away any confidence I had in myself so building confidence after these last 11 years will be tricky!! I've been more confident than I was when I was a teenager but as I say, 11 years of little to no confidence is tricky to work on!