All too frequently i was told as a child that my school days would be the best of my life, and i wanted to believe that, but it seemed to only be true for what i call the future loser, we all know one, it was the person at school who used to make fun of 1 kid and then as an adult end up working for them and it was only then that he realised his fall from his school throne had been a hard one.
I wouldn’t say my school days were the best days of my life but they were certainly memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. When i started primary school i was just like any kid, nervous and scared, but that didn’t last long, I quickly made friends and settled into my new environment, a few weeks passed and everything was great, not only did i have friends but i had also been given the highly sought after job of being the child who rings the school bell to indicate that it was break and dinner times and also the end of our day. The first time i realised i may be heading for problems was when i was walking along the school playground and suddenly went flying forward as if i had taken off, i heard the sound of raucous laughter and when i looked up there was a boy surrounded by his army of goons, i was told that if i sat in his seat again i would get even worse than what i had just received. What made things worse was, i wasn’t sure which was his seat, so every lesson i would wait for him to choose his chair before i sat down.
The next few years went without a hitch, apart from the odd telling off from the teachers for answering their written comments in my workbooks with my own scrawlings. And so primary school came to an end, This was not what i wanted to happen, the carefree days of running around like a lunatic and being able to get away with it had gone by so quickly it was almost like i was being forced to grow up, I was going to secondary school and i had to act responsible.
During the six week holiday i had prepared myself for what i thought was coming, it couldn’t be all bad, i mean surely all my friends would be going to the same school. Secondary School was nothing like i had imagined, i was used to having the same teacher for most of my lessons, but not only did i have different teachers for every lesson i had to go to different classrooms.
Secondary School was nothing like i expected, all the groups and friendship hierarchy had already been put into place and i wasn’t accepted into the lion’s den with open arms as i had hoped, i didn't seem to fit into any group. You could see the social divide, there was the popular kids, a group i most definitely was never going to be part of, The sporty kids which i would loved to be a part of but due to a medical condition it made it highly unlikely that i would be accepted into that clan, there was the technology geeks, now i thought that particular group would be where i was right at home, it turns out i didn't know enough about quad core terra thingies and binary doo-dahs to be one of the gang, there was also the science gang who expected me to know the whole of the periodic table before i was allowed to interact with them, safe to say my asking to join was the first and last time i spoke to them as i thought the periodic table was a table you was only allowed to sit at during certain times of the day.
so that left 2 groups, one was a group of 12 other students who like me, didn't think they would find a friend and the cheerleaders and as much as i like the idea of jumping up and down and shaking my pom poms, i don't think there is enough therapy available through the NHS for me to even contemplate it, so i joined the 12 other students and finally started to form solid friendships.
Apart from my merry band of misfits as we had started calling ourselves, there was one other person that i had no choice but to get on with, my sister Mandy, she was something of a guardian angel to me and always seemed to be there at the right time, it was like she has this super sense and could detect when i was in trouble, most of the times she got in trouble was because she was sticking up for me, I remember one time i went home complaining i was hungry because a girl named Melissa was stealing my food at lunch time, so the next day as i sat down in the cafeteria Melissa approached me she was just about to take a handful of my chips when her head suddenly snapped back, Melissa screamed and i heard my sister shout “get your own fucking chips”. Melissa never bothered me from that day on, all because of my sister.
My sister was ahead of me by 2 years, so it was only a matter of time before i was all alone in school, and when she left that became evident. The name calling became more frequent as did the fights, i am not much of a fighter, and i am not ashamed to say that out of all the fights i have had at school i have never won any of them, partly because my opponent has always been nearly a foot taller than me and partly because i had no interest in fighting.
I started to skip lessons, and sometimes just not turn up to school at all, or there was the few occasions when i would turn up for registration and then disappear until lunchtime then when i had had my fill i quietly slipped off again. And for the remaining 3 years of school i became what was considered a problem child, frequent trips to the head teacher's office and being sent to the isolation unit were becoming a common occurrence, it was during one of my trips to isolation that i found my second school guardian angel, this time in the form of a 6 foot 2 Jamaican teaching assistant called Paul-James or JP for short, JP would sit with me in isolation and we formed something of a bond and i felt i could talk to him, i explained that i didn’t like coming to school because of the bullying and constant name calling, how i felt targeted and singled out and how on most days i didn’t want to be alive.
JP started coming to my lessons with me, and i knew the reason for this was two-fold, to make sure i was not being bullied and also to make sure i actually turned up to my lessons.
JP helped me study for my GCSE exams and because i was described as a struggling student i was allowed to do my exams in the isolation unit, and although he wasn’t supposed to he came across and helped me with a few answers.
I was glad when i left secondary school, on the last day i was treated like any student, mainly because we was all covering each other in eggs and flour, and signing the shirts of people we had hardly even looked at let alone spoken to, But i was glad because the bullying would finally stop, i had college to look forward to, and surely college was totally different to school, wasn’t it I supposed i will just have to wait and see.
On a daily basis people go about their daily lives whilst relying on technology to get them through the day, whether this be a mobile phone, Ipod, or MP3 player. People seem to rely on technology all to much. But how much does technology affect our mental health.
Technology has got its pro's and con's and can be positive whilst also being detrimental to mental health and well being. Growing up in the late 80's there wasn't a great deal of technology that was readily available for public use, unless like me you enjoyed making a hedgehog run at hyper speed and collecting rings and emeralds. Then in 1991 something called the internet happened, you could now turn on your computer and connect to something called the world wide web and access a whole plethora of information.
Having Mental health issues can make social interaction very difficult, People suffering from anxiety may get too nervous to make face-to-face conversation, and in some cases sufferers may feel too scared to leave the house. Many Mental Health sufferers don't have the energy to go out and socialise, and can often struggle to form and maintain friendships and relationships and can feel very alone.
This is where social sites such as Facebook can help as people can stay in contact with friends and family without leaving the house, whilst still maintaining a level of social interaction. There is also a little known social media site dedicated for people suffering with mental health issues (www.mydepressionteam.co.uk).
On the negative side, if people are not getting out of the house and are relying on Facebook and Twitter they are not allowing themselves the whole range of social activities that will not only improve well being but have a positive affect on their mental health.
But along with the websites that offer help, advice and support, there are also websites that can hinder peoples mental health. The internet has become host to a whole list of websites with information on how to commit suicide (If only i had known this before my 7 attempts).
Technology can offer a lot of support but can also offer isolation, maintaining a balance of social interaction via social media and face-to-face interaction will be more beneficial to mental health.
Technology is taken for granted, people use technology to communicate on a daily basis via email, text, and video calling. This in itself can pose a problem as with email and text you cannot get across the true emotion that you are wanting to display and feelings could be unintentionally hurt which could also have a negative affect on mental health.
For me technology is great as i use it for a wide range of things, but every now and then it is good to put down my laptop, turn off my phone and have a good old fashioned conversation.
From as far back as i can remember i was brought up by my mum with the help of my granddad, My Granddad is my hero, he always had the right thing to say in the right situation. He had a sense of humour to rival the greatest comedians of our time, and he was never far away with his next prank. He was my best friend, no matter happened he was always there.
We would do everything together, from trips in to the city, to walking the dogs in the woods, and during those times the laughs were a plenty and the conversations would never stop. We would talk about everything, from what we thought about the television programme we had watched to whether aliens existed, but one of my favourite conversations was when i had asked him how lesbians "did it". after a few minutes of getting over the shock of what i had asked he told me how they lay down find their "special place" and "rub like hell". As a 10 year old i was left amused, slightly disturbed and wishing i had never asked.
We would go on family holidays where the laughs would continue, like the time we had gone to Wales, while climbing a mountain we come across a locked gate, in my granddads stubbornness he was adamant the way to the summit was through the gate, one by one my sister, mum and myself followed by my granddad would climb over the fence, only to be climbing back over 2 minutes later with a dog snapping at our heels, with my granddad exclaiming, "that's not the bloody way".
One day whilst sitting watching television i asked granddad a question i had always wanted to know the answer to Why are we alive?
Without fail he switched of the television, looked at me and started speaking.
"Everyone has different ideas as to why we are alive, everyone has a purpose, a meaning in life, we are all here for a reason. When we die its because we have fulfilled the reason why we are on the planet. My purpose is to make sure you are fed, clothed and looked after, to make sure you have fun, i have taught you to have manners, to respect your elders and treat people how you want to be treated. All of those things are what is expected of a parent or guardian, those are mandatory, but the main reason i am on this planet is to love you, just like when you grow up and have a family your will love your family."
My granddad did everything he said............ and more, so on the fateful day when he passed away i was inconsolable, it was like Batman had lost his Robin, Del Boy had lost his Rodney. I had lost my best friend, my right hand man.
But the values he has instilled in me has made me the person i am today, its because of that conversation that i truly know what it means to love some one.
My granddad may not be around anymore but he will always be alive..........In my heart.
For 2 years i lived across the road from an old church, i would frequently see youths congregating outside and hear the pounding of drums and screeching voices coming from inside the church. As this was no interest to me i avoided the place like the plague and convinced myself it was a dwelling for people who liked skateboards, energy drinks and very loud music.
After a few months of my curiosity growing i finally got my reason to visit the old church, i had also found out it wasn't called the old church but x-church on account of it being.....you guessed it.....an ex church. i had been told of a Mental Health Support Group that ran at x-church on wednesday afternoon, and seeing as i didn't have much of a social life i saw this as my opportunity to get out of the house and meet new people.
I started attending the support group that is held in the cafe and quickly found people i could connect with and talk comfortably with, i had found "my kind of people". People like Donna the x-church cafe manager who has a brilliant sense of humor but also a death stare that could kill a man in seconds, or Kirsty, a fellow member of Stepping Stone again a fantastic sense of humour and my partner in crime.
But none of what happens at x-church would be possible without Marcus, Marcus owns x-church and deserves every bit of credit he recieves, he has taken a beautiful building and made it an important part of the community, he has made not only a place for the "crazies" to meet up but a place where bands can practice, youths can stay out of trouble, and laughter can be spread.
I have since started volunteering at the x-church cafe, where the days are filled with laughter, fun and pranks (sorry Donna) and i love every minute of it.
It's true that x-church is frequented by skateboard lovers, loud music players and energy drinkers, but each and every one of the guys that go to x-church are far from what i expected..........They are better.
And it just goes to show........You can't judge a church by its congregation!!!
December 2015, i was stood on a bridge ready to jump, I had decided that was my day to die. Instead of jumping i decided i was going to become an actor.
January 2016, i walked into The Trinity Arts Centre, Gainsborough with apprehension and a little bit of fear. I was looking for Bill Rodgers, i had previously had a long telephone conversation with Bill. Bill runs a theatre company for people who either suffer with, have suffered with, care for someone or anyone connected to mental health.
We had spoke for nearly 2 hours, about different aspects of my mental health, my favorite actors and films, what sort of comedy i liked and my favorite comedians. Bill told me about his long career on television and his Canadian wife Kate who is a comedian (and as i would later find out and absolute delight and fantastic lady). During the conversation and for the first time in a long time i felt comfortable.
Back to 5th January 2015, I had walked through the door and was met by a thick Yorkshire accent “ey up lad you must be Jamie”, it was Bill, he introduced me to his wife Kate who for some reason i took an instant liking to, she has a warm and friendly personality, the kind that could warm up a freezing room just by walking through the door, we walked through into the theatre and after some more hello’s and hi’s to the rest of the cast i sat and listened to some of the material written by the guys and i was blown away.
Inspired by what i had heard, i dived head first into rehearsal and worked as hard as i could, and within a matter of weeks i was an official member of Stepping Stone Theatre for Mental Health. Rehearsing week after week i finally felt i had found friends i could feel comfortable with. I attended different meetings and social events with Bill and even publicised the show on BBC Radio Lincolnshire along with Bill and another cast member Jared (Bill nicknamed us the queens). With Jared everything was funny, every comment became a sexual innuendo and i had a really good laugh.
On 12th March 2016 i stood on stage in front of 140 people at Trinity Arts Centre along with the 12 other members of Stepping Stone and performed my heart out in our first groundbreaking show “Confessions of Me”, an experience i wouldn’t have thought i could have done without the guidance and support of Bill and Kate.
Since then i have gone on to perform again with Stepping Stone in their second show “In a Nutshell” which was a bigger success than Confessions Of Me.
Cast members have come and gone, some have gone on to do better things, others because it wasn’t for them. New members have joined and become part of Stepping Stone and i have made so many friends and over time those friends have turned into family, these are people i trust which i never thought i could do, they motivate, encourage and inspire me to do things i never thought i could do.
Bill and Kate Have done so much for me and i would like to say a MASSIVE thank you, but also to the rest of the cast for making me feel part of the family that is Stepping Stone Theatre for Mental Health.
For more information on Stepping Stone Theatre contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I don’t need you, i never have, and quite frankly i am pissed off that it has taken me so long to figure it out.
You have never helped me, or been there for me in fact it is you that has caused all the problems, you see before you came into my life i was happy, before you came into my life the only i cried was when i watched E.T, but since you have been in my life my mental health has gone down quicker than a lead balloon.
But it's not just me that you have affected, my family hate you, and with good reason, you are going to hear these things eventually so i am just gonna say it as it is. It is you that has stopped me from going to family parties, and you know what if you are not comfortable with how many people are there, i don’t care anymore….i am not going to let you hold me back.
my friends despise you. But they are all to polite to say anything, all those times they asked me to go out…...where was you, behind me reminding me that i wouldn’t enjoy myself i am safer in the house with you. Well you were wrong, it doesn’t matter where i am, i know i will be safe because i know the same friends that want me to go out have got my back and won’t let anything happen to me…….because that is what friends do.
But the person that hates you the most, is ME……...I hate the way you make me feel, i hate the way you make me act, you even control how i think, you tell me what to do, and for so long i did it.
Well not anymore, it's over!!!!! We are finished, i don’t want you here any more, i have waited so long to say that, and it feels good.
So you can leave anytime you like, and don’t expect to change my mind, i control that now.
Before you go i want you to hear what i have been hearing from you, and how you have made me feel for all these years.
So here it goes
You are Pathetic
You are weak
You are useless
You are unloved
You are not wanted
You are a waste of time
You don’t deserve to be here
But the main one you said to me
It's all your fault.
And you know what, your right, it is YOUR fault
So there, you can go now, i don't want you anymore…….after all who does want depression!!