Mental Health Awareness Work

The ‘Year of no Fear’ project was born out of the work I did for a collection of stories called The Silent Scream, for which there is more information on the related page above.  Maria, who curated the anthology, said the initial outline/motavation she had for the project was as follows:

“In this age, where we are more connected than we have ever been, our feelings of isolation and disconnection couldn’t be any higher; we have become disconnected with ourselves, our feelings, our needs and desires and essentially the truth about who we are. We hide effortlessly behind the façade of a social media profile and buy into the fake reality of others, perpetuating the cycle of inauthentic expression. We put our energy into concealing our shame, projecting only the parts of us which we deem acceptable.
  

But when we cannot find a way of telling our story, our story begins to tell us. We develop symptoms, habits, addictions and behaviours that we do not understand, the truth of our pain working its way to the surface through any means possible, giving expression to the silent scream inside…This new book is a collation of our silent screams. .” http://www.mariaalfieri.com/

I offered my own stories in the aspiration that they would provide hope to someone out there reading them that they are not alone in their experiences, that the idea of feeling ‘normal’ and a ‘normal’ life is a societal creation that simply doesn’t exist in reality, and that as a work the anthology would contribute to some of the shame and stigma surrounding mental health issues-which is a huge barrier to people seeking help and support.  I had been working for a while myself already on becoming more authentic and open, so it seemed to fit.

However, I initially asked to submit my first piece of writing, on the suicide of a family member, anonymously.  As I thought more and more on my reasons for doing so, it became apparent I was still holding back many things which would be essential to express if I wanted to be the most true, open, authentic version of myself.  It didn’t make sense to contribute anonymously to such a project, which was all about speaking out and ending stigma, and when I examined why I was reluctant to put my name to it I found the reason was essentially fear.  Fear of judgment, rejection and vulnerability-which have always been big things for me.

So pretty much totally on the spur of the moment on the 31st of December 2018, with all of this in mind, I conceived of my ‘Year of No Fear’ project.  Initially I was looking at spending the year on personal day to day exploration of the fears outlined above, which I would write about on my blog.  It gradually escalated into an awareness and fundraising project, for which I’ll raise money for mental health charity MIND.  As incentive for people to donate, I decided to do a series of 12 ‘big’ monthly challenges, confronting a range of common fear and phobias along the way.  So the ‘Year of No Fear’ was born, and you can visit the fundraising page here:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/yearofnofear

I wanted to provide also some links and information on where to access mental health advice and support of various kinds, and as and when I discover more I will continue to add/update this page:

Firstly, we have MIND, the mental health charity at  https://www.mind.org.uk/

There is also SAMH, the mental health charity for Scotland at https://www.samh.org.uk/

The Mental Health Foundation at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/

For anyone who urgently needs to talk:

Breathing Space at https://breathingspace.scot/

The Samaritans at https://www.samaritans.org/?nation=scotland

Abuse and Addiction:

Women’s Aid at https://www.womensaid.org.uk/

Narcotics Anonymous at http://ukna.org/

Alcoholics Anonymous at https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/