Why I am an Ambassador

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I got involved with the ‘Time For Change’ campaign because I know how soul- destroying the isolation is – the isolation of feeling so separate from the world outside your head. That isolation and shame is part of my depression and if you are not able to let anyone know you are suffering then your ability to get help, or believe that you deserve help, is badly compromised.

My depression started when I gave birth to my son. I’d never come across depression or any mental illness, I just thought it was my fault and that was how my life was going to be from now on. My son was two before I got any help. I had tried before that but my health visitor had just said I was ‘still a bit low’. I’ve been suffering for 20 years now and manage with psychotherapy and medication though it affects me every day.

So when I saw the advertisement asking for ambassadors, I thought it was so important to try and help because the thought of anyone else not being heard, suffering in silence, makes me feel sick with fury at the unfairness of it. I feel passionately that people who do not suffer, are educated to understand more about how dreadful it can be to live with it and just because the pain and struggle cannot be seen, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Shame comes with depression, as does worthlessness, but it is not fair to heap more shame on top by others judging us or, through lack of education, not wanting to talk to us.

During the last year or so, I’ve been working hard to get myself out into the world more and engage with people, which I still find tremendously difficult. I really wanted to find a volunteer role I could manage that would make me feel useful and where I could really contribute. I’m so glad I’ve got involved in the ambassador role.

There are lots of roles that I would not be able to do and being an ambassador is extremely challenging for me but there is lots of support there and if any conversation is getting too much for me, I only have to put up my hand or involve one of the MIND Sevenoaks staff who look after us ambassadors and they will come and either take over or just help out – so I feel safe – I feel supported – I feel understood and , best of all, I do not feel alone – and that is all the things I want for anyone suffering from a mental illness.

So I have been able to have conversations with many different people about mental illness which have all been fascinating, intense, in different ways. I really do feel that each and every one has been important and that I get just as much from the conversations as those attending.

I have a lot of trouble feeling that I belong anywhere, but feeling that I contribute is a very important part of that, as is the tremendous amount of understanding and support that is given to ambassadors.

I would encourage anyone to give it a go because there is no pressure, if you are having a bad day and feel unable to carry out your conversations that time, the MIND staff understand.

I hope to carry on volunteering with MIND to help raise awareness of mental health issues, maybe through the Mental Health Awareness workshops run by Sevenoaks Area MIND. I’ll take it one step at a time but am very encouraged by the Skiffle For Change events and the difference I believe they are making.


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