Why Having Something to Look Forward to is Important

I spoke before about my targets for 2013 here and one of them was paying it forward to help other people.

With that in mind I have volunteered to attend the Time To Change Stereo Hype festival taking place in 2 weeks. I have been assigned to speak to people attending about mental health and it is something I am both excited and nervous about in equal measure!

Here is what I have in store..

Volunteer at the event

Getting African and Caribbean communities talking about mental health.

Stereo-Hype will take place at London’s Stratford Circus on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 January 2013. We’re looking for volunteers with lived experience of mental health problems to help us!

This two-day festival of performance, talks and creative arts is being run with and for people from African and Caribbean communities, and aims to start conversations about mental health and wellbeing. We particularly want people from African and Caribbean communities in east London to join us.

Volunteers will help us to encourage new understanding and challenge stereotypes around mental illness by talking to people about their experiences of mental health problems. There will be a range of roles for you to choose from, including a limited number helping us manage the event. Also roles speaking about your personal experience of mental health problems.  Full training will be provided.


obviously I am not African-Caribbean but this is by the by, it is an opportunity for me to speak to people about mental health and this is all part of the year of the Moose in helping others.

I am fortunate in the sense that I am comfortable speaking to people in most situations (usually shutting me up is the problem), I am happy to talk about my depression around people because I hope it gives other people the courage to do the same. Imagine if I spoke to one person, they spoke to another and so on – this is my motivation.

The big thing for me though is that I have something planned for the future, I will be going out and helping others as well as myself. I find that having something to look forward to works wonders for my depression.

Knowing I HAVE to go out and attend the event because I was selected as a volunteer gives me something to look forward to. It gives me a chance for 2 days of getting out instead of staring at the same four walls everyday and the days merging into another.

Every day brings a different challenge with depression so having a date in my diary gives me the chance to stay positive and aim for something!

This is vital when battling depression, knowing that something different is happening or going to happy, breaking the monotony of each day. Speaking from my own experience I know how much my mood improves just by going out and meeting people. As hard as it is to fight the urges to cancel, pull out at the last minute or no show it really is something I recommend to anyone with depression.

I’m even meeting a good Facebook buddy of mine in February so I am working hard to get out and about! And as we know how hard it is for me with my IBS issues to leave the house if I can do it then what is stopping you?

Naturally, what works for me is not going to work for others but have you at least given it a try? Hell I’m only on the end of the central line if you want to give it a try!

Get out, even for a few hours and it has the chance to make improvements in mood. Yet even if that fails at least you can say you have got out of the house and attempted something different!


Atos/DWP Update

So two weeks after my medical to determine how ill I really am I have finally received a letter from the DWP regarding the medical.

Read here for more about my dealing with Atos, despite all the negative publicity about them I can only speak based on my experience with them and my advice to anyone due to have a medical would be to ignore everything you read because it will only make you ill from stress! Go into the medical with an open mind and be 100% honest about how you feel and how your illness affects your daily life.  Don’t assume anything will count for or against you just reveal everything!

It is also vital that your GP is kept fully up to date of any conditions you have that you may not have mentioned to them. For example it was 4 months after my depression diagnosis that I finally revealed the extent of my IBS condition and this was vital to my medical.

The good news is that I passed my medical which means that I am officially recognised as being too ill to be forced to work. The relief of this is immense because the stress of appealing, living on 0 benefits etc was making me sick with anxiety.

The lady who did my medical was true to her word and for that I am grateful because until you get it in writing and confirmed your mind plays tricks on you! She actually told me on the day “You have passed your medical based on your conditions and I will recommend they give you the time to deal with your mental health problems”

It also provides me with vindication that I am ill and a long way from recovery and this does inspire me to one day rejoin the rat race once I am better.

Strange as it seems to have passed a medical to make you unfit for work it really does make a difference to know that others can see that you are not faking anything, that its not in your head.

For now it gives me some breathing space to work through my issues without the stress of being forced to look for work, and worrying about keeping a roof over my head.

They even told me I am entitled to a Christmas bonus payment of £10 woot woot.

So for all the negative posts out there about Atos I hope the fact that my experience was a positive one will at least cause some hope to others. Remember sometimes it is easier to write about the bad things and forget to praise the good and I found the whole Atos experience pleasantly surprising! That is not to say any future dealings will be the same but for now I have nothing bad to say about them.