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Why I'm hosting a Crafternoon

Friday, 19 July 2019 Gabby

Gabby blogs about her mental health journey, and how it lead her to want to fundraise with Crafternoon.

Gabby loves finding creative ways to express herself and improve her mental health, whether that’s creating art or going on adventures.

I first came across Crafternoon after I saw Zoe Sugg post about hers on Instagram. I went onto the Mind website and looked further into it, to get a clearer idea of what it entailed. I knew as soon as I made myself familiar with Crafternoon and its aims, I immediately wanted to host one myself. I have a very personal connection to Mind as I suffer from depression and anxiety. I would say I am now at my most well since being diagnosed, which is why I am so eager to organise a Crafternoon to fundraise for an incredible cause. A few months ago I wouldn’t have imagined being in this place right now, I wouldn’t have considered organising something like this and probably would have to take some time to think about it. Going from not leaving my bedroom for days, and being scared of walking to the shop or putting out the bins, to organising a Crafternoon and even writing a blog about my experience has been a tough journey. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the resources we have available and the incredible support from loved ones.

"I eventually had a wake-up call."

I first became aware of the challenges that people face when it comes to mental health when I was at university. I studied Creative Expressive Therapies and it changed my life forever. It focuses on using creative arts to support people's mental health, wellbeing, improve communication, build confidence, express themselves - and the list goes on. So I had a vague understanding of what people went through when dealing with a mental health problem from workshops, meeting people and research. I eventually had a wake-up call when I experienced it for the first time myself.

At first I believed what I was feeling was just ‘how people feel’ when having down days. I kept telling myself I was ok and I can deal with this on my own. I would walk into work with a smile on my face, I would show people who I loved and cared about that I was fine because that is what I thought they wanted to see. I didn’t want to burden them with my issues, I was just sad.

"I didn’t want to burden them with my issues."

Until one day at work I couldn’t hide any more, I had a panic attack. My first thought was “I'm dying, I'm going to die”. I had no idea what was happening to me, and I knew I needed to seek help. I saw nurses, I saw doctors and I referred myself to the IAPT (Improved Access to Psychological Therapies) service, which provides therapies for people with anxiety and depression. I felt a sense of relief, I had been having these feelings for about six months and I ignored them. I had a meeting with my local GP and she was incredibly supportive. I had my assessment with a therapist through the IAPT service, and she told me my score confirmed that I was severely depressed. I was silent, where on earth do I go from here?

Everything that I have written above is a very small sense of what I went through, those six months were grueling. It took me some time to get up and find help, in the back of my mind I would be thinking that all of this will go away and I won't need to seek help. I was wrong, and eventually I was sick and tired of being unhappy. My breakthrough was talking to my friends, boyfriend and family. I would always think that I would be burdening them with my ‘problems’, but in reality it was the opposite: they welcomed me with open arms, they made time for me to talk and to open up. No matter how hard it was for them to hear they were there for me and I couldn’t have asked for a more positive response. I am welling up writing this, I am so grateful for the support I have received and I now understand how hard dealing with these feelings can be. How hard it is asking for help and how hard it is to open up. I am now getting the help I need, the one thing I want to get back into is my art. I am not great at talking but I talk through my art very well. I want to help make people more aware of more creative ways to support mental health.

"I want others’ to have access to all the support I have and more."

This is when I heard about Mind’s Crafternoon. I am so excited to be a part of this and I'm finding it very easy to plan. This is the first time I have felt positive about something in a very long time! I spent hours, I mean hours researching and talking to friends about organising a Crafternoon, thinking about different craft ideas as well as how to incorporate baking and music. I bake a lot and I couldn’t think of anything better to add to this crafty experience. I am moving to the beautiful city of Belfast and felt holding a Crafternoon would be a very good way to make new friends, and I'm already thinking about a Christmas Crafternoon later in the year. I want to create a safe space in my home for people to open up and get creative. To provide an environment for positivity, bravery and expression! I hope my own experience with my mental health, my degree and my journey will allow me to help and support others, and raise awareness of mental health. As I have shared, I have had a variety of recourses available to me and I know how much the money raised will continue to aid those suffering with mental health problems. I want others’ to have access to all the support I have and more, it is so vital to send these messages out there and campaign with Mind who provide amazing services for an incredible cause.

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