A right royal knees up

LITERALLY.

How many social media channels can I share this news on?! I’ll be spamming other people’s blog sites next

(I wont).

Anyway, apologies if you’ve already seen this on Twitter, Facebook, Workplace or LinkedIn, but those bloody lovely people at Time to Change only went and got me an invite to Buckingham bloody Palace on World Mental Health Day!

A few weeks ago, Ellie from the Time to Change media team told me she had a Heads Together invite for me. I was like, nice one, cool, sounds good. Of course, I was expecting an invite to something far different…

However, she greeted me at Storycamp last month with a rather plush envelope and an invite to a reception hosted by the three young royals.

And despite having very little sleep due to a long late night trek from London to Newcastle, I am still buzzing.

Here’s my own version of Hello magazine.

Hello….mental health royalty you bloody brilliant bunch of stigma busters. But before moving on to the pics, massive shout out to the London cab driver who donated half my fare to Anxious Minds North East following our chat about mental health – what a fella!

Photo credits – In-Press Photography (if they’ good – if they’re not, they’re from the iPhones of us lot).

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Us lot! The Time to Change team. Full of royal anticipation.

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A sneaky group selfie taken by the inspirational Sue Baker OBE!

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No caption needed, really. The royal young ‘uns with the big hearts and an even bigger passion for mental health awareness. Working the room to chat to their guests.

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The KING of my favourite childhood telly programmes (got to love Melchett), the quite interesting facts and, of course, the mental health campaigners. A truly inspirational speech from Mr Fry. My new mate Dee was openly blubbing. (In-Press Photography)

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The soiree. Favourite moment? Had to be Dee asking if the champers was cava. Response – ‘We don’t serve cava here’. (In-Press Photography)

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Me and my new friend Dee making new friends from the Department of Health and a mental health charity. I also met some amazing people from Rethink who have a great approach to involvement (In-Press Photography).

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The guy on the left is Steve. He almost made me cry within minutes of me meeting him. He’s been through so, so much. And has since spoken at the House of Lords, he lectures at Northumbria University and he has just had an amazing reunion with long last family. Amazing guy! (In-Press Photography)

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The two Jos – on the left, Jo the Time to Change Head of Comms (and my new kindred spirit) and on the right, Jo the joint director (with Sue Baker). I could chat to these two all day. I’m not sure how they’d cope, mind. (In-Press Photography).

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I became star struck with these two. The fabulous Paul Farmer of Mind and the amazing Bryony Gordon. I fan-girled her so bad she may be concerned that she has a stalker. Sorry Bryony (note the familiarity there as if we’re bezzie mates? I read her book, therefore I KNOW her. Joke.)

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Joss’ crew with me, Jodie, Jo and erm….Prof Green. I’m not cool. In fact, sharing the group picture with me makes Professor Green look more kids’ TV presenter than edgy urban rapper (even just me saying the words ‘crew’, ‘Prof Green’ and ‘edgy urban rapper’ ruins his, and everyone else’s, street cred. Even saying ‘street cred’. Sorry. OLD.

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Me and Jo. Totally need to share another glass with this one.

And to finish off a perfect day (other than my Co-Op tights falling down and my totally awks expectation that Alastair Campbell and Ruby Wax would remember retweeting me once) we managed to bump Steve and Angela (TTC regional co-ordinator) up to First Class (which I had got cheap – early birds and all that). So THANK YOU Virgin Trains – who, like my employer, have also signed the Time to Change pledge. Phew.

Right. Off to bed.

Good morning Storycampers!

I can barely believe it’s been a whole year since I slept in, bodged my eyeliner and didn’t have time to wash my hair before dashing to the train station and winging my way to London for the Time to Change storycamp event.

But it has. A whole year. And in that year so much has happened. Needless to say, Time to Change and all the fabulous peeps there have played a big part in my life.

So I was seriously chuffed to be asked to speak this year alongside Andrea, Shea and Jodie (I love the blummin’ lot of them).

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In my corner

When the madness kicks in and you’re about to fall off life’s little raft again, it’s a seriously lonely place to be. In fact, when you get to that point you’re no longer paddling, you’re fiercely bobbing under the waves, gasping for breath and swallowing a shit load of toxic water.

Anxiety is a bitch.

I’ve never been shy about it, but I have felt ashamed of it. It confuses reality with fear. Fear of what could become reality. You doubt your mind, your ability, your reality. And you start to wonder if the one thing you should fear is actually yourself.

Combining anxiety with real life problems is more than a bitch. It’s an evil wailing banshee with medusa’s hairstyle and Cruella de Vil’s painted talons scraping loudly down a blackboard.

The noise and commotion becomes so much that you can’t separate the two.

Until, that is, somebody pulls you back onto your life raft, points you away from the storm and gives you the chance to look at the horizon with a clearer perspective.

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It REALLY couldn’t happen to a nicer….Political Strategist

Today’s instalment in Standard Issue Magazine discussing psychosis and stigma with Alastair Campbell.

The year 2016 is drawing to a close. And you could say it’s been one hell of a rollercoaster ride in terms of politics.

Well, I say rollercoaster: it’s actually been a one-way, never-ending log flume plunging us into the murky waters of toxic hate. Mind you, we all bought the bloody tickets, didn’t we (this year also marks the first time I ever questioned my belief in democracy).

So, you could say it’s been a remarkable year. Some might say it’s been a batshit crazy kind of year. In fact, there’s a boatload of tweets from people suggesting that two key players in the stranger-than-fiction events of 2016 must have serious mental health conditions:

“Is there any reason why Nigel Farage isn’t locked up in a mental institution?”

“@RealDonaldTrump…you may have some form of mental disease where you see the opposite of reality.”

“@RealDonaldTrump…maybe too late but I insist this man is seen for a mental evaluation.”

Now I have no idea about the mental health status of these two outspoken, loved-up buffoons, but come on Twitterers! Don’t use mental illness as an excuse to justify hatred, arrogance and serious PR failings.

Read the full article here

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A series of unfortunate stereotypes

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My post for World Mental Health Day and Time to Change, written for the fabulous Standard Issue Magazine – ‘a smart and witty online magazine for women by women’ founded by the fabulous Sarah Millican.

A series of unfortunate stereotypes

Lemony Snicket’s Aunt Josephine is terrified of everything. Estate agents, leeches, the telephone, Count Olaf. And then, when faced with her fear, the Count pushes her into the water where the leeches devour her to her very death…

I love that film. But my God, that’s no motivation for someone who lives with anxiety. I’m no fan of those cheesy self-help books made popular thanks to Bridget Jones in the early noughties, but you do have to take action upon feeling the fear…

Read the full post here on Standard Issue

Weak? Scary? Violent?

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I wrote the following article for the Journal. Published 08.10.16.

It’s World Mental Health Day on Monday. But why should we care?

I have a mental health disorder. You can often find me on Northumberland Street, shaking like a leaf, muttering to myself and pushing eighteen cats in a pram.

That, of course, is a big fat lie.

If you bumped into me on Northumberland Street tomorrow, you wouldn’t even notice me. Sadly, I’m just not that interesting.

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