There goes the fear…..


I’ve no doubt mentioned this before, but I don’t really drink anymore which means I don’t really go out-out anymore. I still go to gigs and stuff but my days of getting extremely drunk are well behind me thanks to the fact it plays havoc with my mental health and it takes far too long to get back on an even keel.

That said, there are odd occasions where I have the urge to go back to my old ways and have a night of debauchery – and this Friday was one of those nights. My friend Jema and I had it planned for quite a while and I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks. Bands, booze and a dance floor; the perfect night out. And because they don’t happen very often anymore, I really built it up in my head – one night of letting my hair down and just forgetting all my silly anxieties and worries was very much needed and I was determined to enjoy every second.

Thankfully, I did and it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time – special mention to the sublime Yala! Records lads for playing all my favourite indie classics and even allowing me to belt out a bit of Celine Dion. Jema and I pretty much spent the whole night on the dance floor flinging ourselves around in the most ungraceful manner and loved it.

As always I didn’t really adhere to my plan of not drinking too much – double vodkas seemed like the best idea and I dread to think how many we bought (the joys of contactless). The more I drank the more the old feelings of anxiety and lack of confidence came so of course the most sensible idea was to just drink more. I was admittedly very nervous before we got there – knowing it would be full of very effortlessly cool people, (who unlike me hadn’t taken four hours to get ready only to hate how they looked by the end of said effort) but I persevered and everyone was very friendly (of course I felt that I stuck out like a sore thumb all night, but hey what’s new there).

So yeah, alcohol. It’s a real shit. It lulls you in to this false sense of security where you feel more confident under its spell, then it stabs you in the back with a large dose of humiliation and self hatred and you spend the rest of the night tessellating between the two. Oh god did I say something stupid? Did I embarrass myself? Were people laughing at me? Etc. And if that wasn’t enough, it makes you drop your phone and smash the screen!

It’s taken me a couple of days to get over the hangover – both physically and emotionally. Yesterday was a bit of a void and I felt like I was standing on the precipice of  an existential crisis; but thankfully I pulled it back and didn’t completely fall to pieces.

I really did have so much fun and that’s the annoying part – the comedown afterwards. You spend months waiting for a night and then it’s gone and you feel like you’re never going to have fun again.



Peaks and Troughs


I had a shitty day yesterday but today is hopefully not going to be quite so shitty so I thought I would break my silence and write a blog.

The last few months have been tough. The disappointment of not finishing my charity walk hit me hard and has taken me a fair while to compute. Added to that it’s been a pretty intense and emotional time elsewhere in my life too; not to mention planning a wedding, changing jobs and moving house having all been thrown in to the mix too.

Life is full of ups and downs, there’s no denying that, but sometimes I feel like I have zero resilience and am unable to get through the tiniest amounts of stress and trauma whilst others seem to sail through them. I guess that’s where the problem is; comparing my reactions to others. It’s not particularly helpful.

My anxiety has been through the roof and manifesting itself in a much more physical way. Hot sweats, dizzy spells, nausea and palpitations have all made a return to daily life as has the social anxiety that has plagued me in the past. I go to bed and I awake with this fear that something terrible is going to happen. Every unexpected phone call is met with the sheer panic that it can only be bad news. It’s not a very nice way to live to be honest and pretty damn frustrating as I was starting to think I was over the worst of my mental health issues.

It felt that at 32 I was starting to become more resilient, more confident and more logical about my worries and anxieties. But of course, that’s not how mental health works – we have good times and we have bad times. We have times where we’re able to climb that mountain and times where we’re unable to leave the house. And of course life’s path takes its twists and turns as it does for everyone, and some of those periods take longer than others to pass.

I took the difficult decision of returning to my doctor to discuss the feelings I’ve been having. Not an easy decision as even after 7 years of seeing doctors about my anxiety and depression, I still feel this overwhelming sense of failure every time. I sat in the waiting room with sweaty palms, short of breath and wanting to flee. But I didn’t. I told him what had been going on, the various triggers I felt had contributed and against everything the little voice in my head was saying; asked for some help.

He decided that I had a lot going on which made me feel a little better (someone validating that it’s okay to feel the way you do is very powerful). Talking through the options, we decided that I would increase my tablets and have some form of counselling again. I knew before I went in there that this would be the likely offer given there is no magic wand, and off I trotted with my prescription.

I didn’t tell the doctor but I was devastated. Devastated that the hard work I had done the year before in halving my dose was now redundant. I’d failed yet again. It always feels like the easy option taking a tablet, even though I know it isn’t, but there’s something in me that feels weak relying on a tiny white pill every day. And the fact I was going to be even more dependent on them filled me with sheer anger and embarrassment. But of course I know that there’s limited treatments available and that short term it might help while I’m struggling. So I’m taking them and awaiting a counselling appointment…..although I’ve been told the waiting list is a year.

If I’m honest I can’t really say 6 weeks on that I’m feeling any better as such, all I can say is that I feel a bit numb and vacant. I can’t cry and that’s a problem for me because I am most definitely a cryer and sometimes a cry is what I need, but it eludes me so it’s is a really weird sensation. I guess I could say that they have surpassed my emotions a little in that I feel a bit less, again a weird sensation, and not one that I can really say I’m wholly comfortable with, given the long term implications. But for now, I have to give it a go. I have to do something. And this is something.

My other something is throwing myself in to wedding planning and organising a really great day for all our loved ones. Granted it has its ‘why can’t we just elope?’ moments but having it to look forward to is a real help as is knowing that everyone is looking forward to it. It’s a goal that I’m setting myself – being well for the wedding and being able to enjoy it without the fear of anxiety getting in the way.

An open letter to The Maccabees….


It’s not often you stumble across a band or an artist that from the moment you first hear them, they grab hold of your heart and cement themselves firmly in it for the rest of eternity. That’s how I felt when I first clapped eyes and ears on you guys.

I was living in Manchester at the time, in my first year of training to be a nurse. It wasn’t going well and I spent most of my nights at gigs desperately trying to make someone with a guitar notice me. You see that’s often how a love affair with a band starts for a girl; you fix eyes on the floppy haired blue eyed guitarist and that’s it. And admittedly that’s how it was – the fact you made exceptional music which seemed to speak to me in ways nothing ever had before was a bonus.

There were the typical nights after gigs where I’d drag my friends over to one of your DJ sets,  pluck up the courage to speak to you by sinking copious amounts of vodka and be bowled over by how down to earth and lovely you all were; taking the time to talk to a very awkward and shy girl.

One of said moments that particularly sticks out in my mind is at Jabez Clegg after your headline set at the Academy as part of the NME Tour. Boozed up, I bounded over to Orlando and proceeded to tell him that he totally mesmerised me and that I loved him, to which he very kindly gave me a hug and made me feel anything but a stupid drunken girl. And then there was a similar night in Liverpool at The Shipping Forecast, after the sweatfest that was Liverpool Academy. I repeatedly tried to engage in conversation despite not really being able to string a sentence together due to nerves. Felix and Hugo both took the time to chat despite the room being full of far more exciting and coherent people. It meant such a lot; so much so that it’s quite hard to put it in to words. But anyone who has loved a band and been lucky enough to have a conversation with them and not leave feeling like a complete fool will know. 

And that’s a knack that you’ve never lost; that ability to make each and every one of your fans feel special. Many bands would have called it a day by releasing a statement and that would have been it. Not you. You’ve gone out there and played the farewell gigs and said a proper personal goodbye. You’ve even painstakingly put together a programme with mementos from your 14 years, had a photography exhibition and played an intimate gig in aid of the MS Society. You didn’t have to, but you have and I know it’s been very much appreciated. You’ve made your fans feel like they matter and that they deserve one final show and that’s something quite special. Respect isn’t something that a band always offers its fans, but you’ve always shown it in bucketloads.

Music very quickly became even more important for me when I went through some dark times, struggling with my mental health. I no longer went out to lots of gigs and I no longer had any confidence whatsoever to speak to anyone. And whilst it wasn’t a happy time it did mean I saw you in a whole new light; you were no longer just the good looking boys who made my favourite type of music and I no longer felt the need to elbow my way to the front or throw myself at you every time I saw you.

The shift in my personal life and the loneliness I was feeling saw me become obsessed with lyrics and finding lyrics that conveyed how I was feeling when words escaped me. I found great affinity in so many of your songs and when the noise in my head became too much to bear I would turn to you. Your tours would give me something to look forward to when there was little else to live for. The thought of having one night of sheer happiness at one of your gigs could keep me going for months on end and that’s probably my biggest fear now you’re leaving; never feeling that sheer euphoria at a gig again. Even this weekend at 32 and very much now one of those people that stands at the back at gigs and nods their head; I was compelled to jump around like a crazed teenager. There’s always been something so empowering about being at one of your gigs, it’s like hanging out with your best friends, all sense of self consciousness goes because you know that everyone around you is equally impassioned.

I left nursing and started working in music and spent lots of time interviewing bands and reviewing gigs and I quickly realised that the kindness and down-to-earthness you oozed wasn’t necessarily a common occurrence when it came to bands. I had the misfortune of interviewing some that left me feeling utterly worthless. And then I was given the opportunity to write about your tiny gig at Sound Control in Manchester in support of Given To The Wild. It was a special gig for many reasons, not least because it was such a small, intimate gig, the likes that never happened again as that album so rightly propelled you in to the next realm and bigger venues beckoned. The joy I felt getting to wax lyrical about you, my favourite band, for other people, was something else and one of my proudest moments still (despite the fact I’m pretty sure it was only ever my Dad who read it). I always hoped that one day I would get to interview you too, and would regularly bombard your PR (and get various editors to do the same) with begging requests every time you came up North but sadly it was never to be. My foray in to music journalism came just that bit too late as everyone was clambering to get a piece of you by this point and a regional entertainment website writer just wasn’t going to make the cut.

One of the many things I’ve admired about you has been the way you’ve done things your own way. It feels like everything you’ve ever done has been very organic and in no way contrived whatsoever, even down to your artwork and merch. You’ve never been the average indie guitar band complete with gobby frontman and outspoken views on everything. You’ve always been the nice guys, the guys who just let the music do the talking. And it’s telling that every single person I have ever spoken to and every single person I have ever heard talk about you, from guitar techs to friends to people who have toured with you, they have all said that you’re the nicest bunch. That sort of reputation doesn’t come from nothing. And being nice in an industry that doesn’t necessarily always appreciate it is why you have the legions of loyal fans you do. Fakeness doesn’t stand the test of time, humility does.

And while I of course wish you would continue making albums for years to come I feel like this is the perfect ending to your story. Going out on your own terms retaining all the poise, grace and love that you’ve always had and with a extraordinary back catalogue that will be revered for  years to come. We could never have asked for more.

You’ve seen me through some of the hardest times but you’ve also seen me through some of the happiest times and will continue to do so. I just hope that we too have been there for you in some small way along the journey. You inspired us and paved the way for so many bands, showing that it’s okay to be different and it’s okay to be nice. But most of all you’ve ensured that no-one ever forgets that Latchmere’s got a wave machine. 

Thank you for everything – these are tears of joy, not woe x

London To Brighton…or more truthfully….London to Bletchingley!


It would be completely remiss of me not to begin this post by talking about the horrific events that happened in Manchester last week – events which I’m still struggling to comprehend. I went to bed having seen the tweets about an incident at the Manchester Arena and subsequently read “eyewitness” accounts saying that it was just a blown speaker…it was just a load of helium balloons, and figured it was just Twitter scaremongering. The next think I knew, Tom was waking me up and telling me 19 people had died. I lay in bed feeling utterly sick to my stomach in complete shock, like many of you I’m sure.

Manchester was my home for most of my twenties and like anyone who has lived there will tell you; it really gets under your skin and you never lose that love and pride for the place. Coupled with the fact some of my happiest memories as a child were at that arena, I felt utterly consumed by sadness. My Dad has stood in the exact spot many of those parents were standing in, waiting for me to come out of concerts. I’ve felt that utter elation of seeing my favourite pop stars in the flesh in that arena, I’ve left feeling on top of the world after months and months of waiting for that one night and the thought of those youngsters feeling that way and never making it home is just utterly heart-breaking. I can’t begin to imagine how one would go about dealing with such a tragedy; the injustice, the barbarity and the senselessness of it.

I felt like nothing else mattered last week, that everything paled in comparison to the heartbreak Manchester was going through. I was scared and anxious about the world and didn’t want to get out of bed for fear of something terrible happening. I wasn’t in the best place. But I knew that I had to somehow bring myself out of that dark place and do my charity walk for CALM. I felt guilty posting on social media about it and asking people for money, I felt that people would think I was being selfish and insensitive but at the same time I didn’t want to let CALM down by not raising as much money as I possibly could for them.

I signed up for the walk almost a year ago and it all came down to that one day – Saturday, and despite trying to remain positive, I knew before I even started that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to walk 100KM, I was mentally exhausted and as anyone with mental health issues will tell you, it really affects you physically too.


I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t do as much training as I should have. I had great intentions as I always do, but in reality they didn’t materialise to much. Yes I got in some good long walks and had physio on my failing ankle but I didn’t do enough strengthening or conditioning. Really, I should have never signed up to do 100KM, because quite frankly it was an impossible task for someone who isn’t exactly built for endurance. But of course, in classic Michelle style, I felt that I had to sign up to something that people would be impressed by, something that felt it would justify asking people for their money. Turns out, people who sponsored me didn’t give me the money because they wanted to see me walk 100KM, they gave me the money because they wanted to support the charity and would have probably given me the money for 10KM.

You’ve heard people say “all the gear and no idea” right? Well that was me. I spent a lot of money on things for this walk; trying to kid myself that with all the regalia 100KM would be easy peasy. Nah-uh. Turns out the more unnecessary stuff you have in your bag, the harder it is to walk as your poor shoulders just get weighed down.

Despite not feeling great I arrived at Richmond Park feeling a bit more positive – the adrenaline started to kick in a bit once we were faced with hundreds of other walkers and Queen blasting out on the speakers. However, that positivity was to be short lived…..

I went to the toilet to put my hat on – you know, just to check it looked okay, as you do. There was no mirror in the Port A Loo so I turned my phone on selfie mode, as you do. Nature called, as it does and I placed my phone on the side of the toilet, as only a complete idiot would do. As if in slow motion, my phone disappeared from view. Initially I thought it would have just fallen on the grass underneath the loo. Nah-uh. You probably don’t need me to tell you where it had fallen and you probably don’t need me to tell you what I had to do next…..let’s just say I was extremely grateful for having packed the hand sanitizer.

So, I embarked on the walk with no working phone and was utterly devastated. You see, I had saved lots of messages and videos on there to watch when the going got tough, I’d compiled special playlists and I’d promised to inundate my social media channels with inane selfies along the way. I’m one of those people that needs positive encouragement when I’m feeling like I can’t do something and the thought of having to do this walk without speaking to Tom, my parents and my brothers really upset me, so I think that was the beginning of the end physiologically for me.

I won’t bore you with a KM by KM account of the walk, but it was tough, really tough. I think I first cried at the 5KM mark when a lady on the street noticed we were walking for CALM and wished us luck saying she supported the charity. And I then spent most of the 40KM I managed to complete just generally crying. Crying because I was in pain from the hellish blisters on the tips of my toes (so annoyed as I had none in training), crying because I knew I wasn’t going to get to Brighton and I was going to let people down, crying because I couldn’t speak to anyone and crying because I wanted to prove myself wrong but I couldn’t.

I bowed out at the 40KM mark as I knew I couldn’t go on with the blisters and under the advice of the medics. I was heartbroken. I felt like the biggest failure and still do despite everyone telling me otherwise. You see the thing is, whilst I signed up for this challenge to benefit CALM and raise money for them to help them continue their amazing work, as anyone who does anything for charity will tell you (if they’re completely honest), there’s always a bit of a selfish reason behind it too. For me, it’s wanting to seek people’s validation, it’s wanting people to be proud of me and see me as strong. And because on this occasion I had to admit by quitting that I wasn’t strong, it felt like I was letting everyone down. I don’t like failing at things, and always give everything 110% because of that and I feel I didn’t and I’m annoyed with myself.

There will be many people reading this, who will be very annoyed with me saying all this as everyone has been telling me all week that I did fantastically and that I shouldn’t be disappointed in myself. But, we can’t help how we feel and I feel utterly disappointed in myself and somewhat humiliated after spending months and months telling everyone how I was going to do it. The fact the company running the walk made you feel like scum for not finishing it didn’t help either.

BUT and this is a big but, I raised over £2,000 for a charity that means a lot to me and that’s what I am trying to focus on. I know that money is going to go on to help so many people and potentially save lives and for that reason I should be proud. I desperately wanted to do something to help; the fact 12 men take their own life in the UK every day just horrifies me and I hope in some small way I have helped. I’m sure in time I will look back on last weekend and find the whole thing less painful and learn from the experience. I will continue to raise money for the charity and do my best to help, I’m just going to make sure that I do it more sensibly and not hurt myself in the process because that doesn’t benefit anyone in the long run.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my friend Nathalie, who did the walk with me. I pretty much bullied her in to it all those months ago and she was a star throughout. Together we raised over £3,700 for CALM and I know I speak for both of us when I say that everyone’s generosity has meant a lot.

My JustGiving page is still open for anyone who would still like to donate


Mental Health Awareness Week


I haven’t written a blog for a while; mainly because I’ve been busy fundraising ahead of my walk for CALM in a couple of weeks time (there’s still time to sponsor me, see here!). Well that and taking 5 million pictures of my beautiful new niece, more of which later.

Anyway, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week so I thought it was a fitting time to get back into this blog malarky. Now, every week in my mind should be Mental Health Awareness Week but it’s very refreshing to see so many people sharing their stories this week and the media paying particular attention to it. It’s also great that it comes off the back of the London Marathon and the sterling work Wills, Kate and Harry did with the Heads Together campaign. It really feels like there’s some momentum with talking about our mental health problems becoming far more “normal”, I just hope it’s not a fad and the great work continues.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, I’m currently in the throws of fundraising for CALM, a charity specifically aimed at fighting the stigma surrounding male mental health and reducing the number of male suicides in the UK. You don’t need me to tell you that there’s still massive strides that need to be made to allow men to feel comfortable talking about the intricacies of their emotions and feelings. It’s been hugely encouraging to see the likes of Rio Ferdinand talk so publically about the subject, especially given Rio in many ways is a stereotypical man’s man and one of the last people you’d expect to be so vocal about his struggles with bereavement.

Whilst I applaud anyone who speaks openly about their mental health, it always feels that bit more thought provoking when it’s a man as historically we’re told men don’t talk about these things. And yesterday I read a piece by award winning Dad blogger Jamie Day on his blog A Day In The Life Dad that felt utterly compelling. Not only is it frank and honest but it’s helpful; offering up advice to those who might be in a similar situation. So often you read pieces and they’re harrowing, but they offer little hope, which can be dangerous when you’re already feeling completely hopeless. It also felt that bit special as I follow Jamie and his beautiful wife on Instagram; they have the cutest children and a picturesque life in the country and he’s one of the last people I would have expected to have struggled with their mental health. Of course it’s important to remember that what we see isn’t always the full picture and anyone can, at any time in their life, be affected by mental health problems and it’s not a sign of weakness speaking up about it. So thank you Jamie for being so open.

In the spirit of openness, here’s little gambit on where I’m at with my mental health at the moment. Because I’ve been so busy recently, I’ve not really had much time to feel anxious or down but as it did last year, my birthday this weekend, was something of a catalyst for something of an emotional breakdown.

I recently became an aunty for the first time to the most gorgeous little monkey called Cara. And it’s safe to say that I’m utterly in love. I didn’t think it possible to love such a tiny little thing so much. I’ve been home a lot recently to spend time with her and every time I leave it feels like my heart breaks in two. Dramatic I know but there’s this physical feeling of sadness that engulfs me and lasts for a couple of days whilst I get back in to London life. It’s hideous. I cry my eyes out and my mind is just filled with her face  and it feels much like those all  encompassing feelings of grief when you’ve lost someone. And of course that’s ridiculous because I’m going to see her again in 6 weeks time, but it’s a very real, visceral feeling. I’ve always hated saying goodbye to anyone and often get tearful when I’ve had a lovely time and it’s over but those feelings I have after being home for a few days and return to reality are the worst. I feel everything all at once.


Tom described it perfectly as he was wiping my tears away on the train; and it somehow helped me rationalise it a little. He said that I feel things more deeply than most – when I’m happy, I’m delirious, but when I’m sad, I’m deeply sad. And that seems to be a good way of looking at it; a way of looking at it that makes me think that I’m not completely stir crazy. I’m just overflowing with emotions.

Wedding Woes


Being engaged is wonderful, it really is. Every time I look down at my hand I get a warm feeling inside, as there was a time in my life where I believed no-one would ever want to marry me. But, planning a wedding, it has to be said, is quite bloody stressful and we’re only a few months in!

After the haze of being newly-engaged, the plethora of cards and fridge full of Prosecco settled, we sat down and looked at the reality of being able to get married within the following year. We quickly realised, given our shared priority of having everyone there we wanted and the fact neither of us make a fortune, 2018 was a sensible timeframe. So with nearly 2 years to go, we decided there was no pressure to do any real planning just yet.

How wrong we were.

Thankfully I’m an impatient Taurus and when I have an idea (as soon as Tom was down on one knee, I was planning the flowers) I like to get cracking. I started researching venues (I won’t say where as y’know SPOILERS) and fell in love with one. Thankfully Tom felt the same so we decided to get in touch and see what their availability was like in 2018. Bearing in mind it was September 2016, we assumed we’d have the pick of dates. Nah-uh. They were fully booked; but we could get married on a Tuesday in October if we liked. Given my fatalistic nature, I thought the wedding was ruined; we were never going to find anywhere as perfect and as in budget.

Long story short, Tom being the problem solver he is, gave them a ring to see whether a deal could be struck and by a stroke of sheer luck they had just had a cancellation for a Summer Saturday and it was ours if we wanted it and if we could pay the deposit right away. We did, and we got it, thanks to my very generous future mother in law and her adept online banking skills. Panic over. We have a venue, now we can just relax we thought.

Hmmm maybe not. I had no idea how expensive and how quickly things get booked up/how far in advance you have to book things. It was a steep learning curve. There were a few weeks of utter panic trying to make big decisions on things that we hadn’t even thought about yet, scrambling deposits together and making reservations. Thankfully we agreed on most things but there were a few battles…..namely Tom not allowing me to have the service officiated by my dog!

And then there’s other stuff; stuff that seems really shallow to admit but stuff that really gets me where it hurts and plays on my real insecurities.

Like most girls, despite telling myself I wouldn’t think about my dress until far nearer the time, I made the mistake of spending a lot of time pinning dresses to my Pinterest board and becoming a tad obsessed with finding “the one”. Also like most girls, I plan to lose some weight and shape up before the wedding. As I’ve mentioned before I don’t like the way I look and I’d really like to feel good about myself on my wedding day, and look back on the photos and smile rather than berate myself about the size of my thighs or my bingo wings. And with that in mind, it would make sense to wait a bit before trying dresses on. I didn’t though and jumped straight in, and whilst it was fun as I was with my best friend, it left me feeling even worse about my body and how I’m going to look on our wedding day.

No-one tells you before you go that wedding dresses come in small and that you’ll probably have to go up a size or two. And of course this isn’t the end of the world, but when you struggle with your size already, it’s quite disheartening and takes the sheen off the whole experience. Although not quite as disheartening as when you put on a dress and they try and hoist you in and it just won’t budge over your fat arse and you’re seconds away from ripping  it! I left feeling that I might just walk down the aisle in a bin bag. I really might.

And then there’s the wedding show. I had the most fabulous time this weekend with two friends sipping champagne and soaking up all the ideas, but the catwalk show added another level of self resentment. I can’t say for sure but I would bet a million pounds that none of the girls modelling the dresses were over a size 6. They were tiny; absolutely beautiful, but tiny. Each of the dresses looked exquisite with their perfect décolletages and honed backs, and I left longing to look like that on my wedding day. Of course I won’t as I have hips, a bum, and nothing remotely chiselled but the feeling that this is the ideal and that I compare myself to it, makes me sad. I know that beautiful comes in all shapes and sizes, but it’s hard to remember that when you’re constantly faced with gazelle-like, deep tanned beauties! So I vow to not go near another dress for at least another 6 months when I’ll hopefully feel better about my body and be in a better mindset to not scrutinise every single detail of my shape.

Watch this space…..and if any of you have any tips for planning a wedding (specifically for anxious/self hating people!) I’d love to hear them, please do get in touch.



I haven’t written anything on here for a long time but I thought as today is Time To Talk day that it would be rather fitting to erm…talk!

It really is wonderful to see how many people now get behind #timetotalk; my social media feeds have been full of encouraging messages urging people to speak out and talk about their personal mental health issues or just mental health in general.

Whilst talking feels like one of the most natural things in the world – talking about your mental health really isn’t all that easy. As much as we are lead to believe that the tide is changing and the stigma surrounding it is disappearing; struggling with mental health is still a very lonely place to be. It’s important to remember that a tweet or a Facebook status pledging your allegiance to help fight the stigma is pretty redundant if you don’t actually DO something. And when I say ‘do something’ I don’t necessarily mean campaign, start a petition or join a march (although if you want to, please do!), I mean reach out to someone and have a conversation. It doesn’t have to be a conversation directly about mental health; take it from someone who knows, it can be quite off-putting when someone you barely know comes up to you and says “I didn’t know you were mentally ill”! But it can be as simple as a “how you doing?” or “fancy a coffee?”. The mere act of engaging with someone who might be struggling and showing them you are thinking about them and more importantly that you’re there, really could help make someone’s day so much better and give them that ounce of hope they’ve been searching for.

I’ve lost count of the times where a small act of kindness from someone has changed a really dark day into a really hopeful one. Kindness really is the greatest gift you can give someone, along with your time. Time is so precious these days with the fast pace of life , there’s never enough of it; so when you spend some of your valuable time on someone it really can mean the world to them.

And if you’d like to know more about how you can help support someone who is going through mental health problems there’s some handy info on the Time to Change website, Mind‘s website and on the Rethink Mental Illness website.