Lived Experience: talk to someone

What were you experiencing when you first came to the Cellar Trust?

I was in the midst of the worst breakdown of my mental health I had ever experienced in my whole life. I was in a deep crisis and needed urgent help. As soon as I entered Cellar Trust doors with my Dad, that first time, I knew they were going to help me because they were all so lovely and welcoming. It had a homely feel and atmosphere, the type of place you wanna be when you’re in that scenario. They made you feel at home as soon as you came in, the people everywhere I mean, even in the cafe. They would go out of their way for you and that stood out for me from day one, that’s what sticks with me about cellar trust.

 

What impact was that having on your life? 

I was deteriorating in my health fairly quickly, both physically and mentally. Looking back it was a really scary part of my life that I had to go through, the consequences were huge, so the help I needed had to be right. I was trapped in my Anxiety and OCD to depths that were unimaginable and in that cycle on a daily basis, it had overtaken my complete life in extremely detrimental ways. It was a very deep and dark place that felt never ending and I wanted to end it all.

 

How did the Cellar Trust help? Who did you work with?

When I first came in, I saw Will and then John, those guys man they were fantastic the way they make people feel so re-assured and at ease. They explained everything to me in depth and helped me on my journey towards recovery by getting me back into work. Also the team at Haven, I think I saw a few people from the first response crisis team a few times too, can’t remember all of them but they were all so empathetic and understanding towards me. I remember Lisa and Ken, who were great at listening to me. What cellar trust did well the most for me, was they really did play a vital part within my steps towards recovery throughout those first few months after being discharged. I needed that helping hand the most to keep me on the right road at that point in my life and cellar trust was there for me. You just never forget the people who have helped you when you were at rock bottom like that. I will never forget that!

 

How has your life changed? What are you looking forward to in the future?

My life has changed in many extraordinary ways. Things have happened that I could never imagine in my wildest dreams! Now I’ve got my health back and my mental health is becoming stronger and stronger every day. After being discharged my entire life changed. I’ve my own house, live independently, I work, I’ve been in the local media with my story, I’ve been mentored and getting therapy again. I’ve also just re-launched my music career again after five whole years so that’s really special too to be back doing what I love the most! I’m becoming a well known DJ in my local area and I want it to lead to national exposure and in the future become a successful music artist, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do and right now that dream is more alive than ever! Music has always helped me through my battles and continues to do so till this very day and I’m loving the journey towards success that I’m on with it, because now I’m in the right headspace to reach my goals- thanks to people like cellar trust helping me along the way! I also hope my story will inspire others to pull themselves out from it all. I’m looking forward to the re-launch of my music career and promoting my new single “Mind Body & Soul’ as much as possible.

 

What would you say to someone who is struggling right now with their mental health?

Talk to someone. There are lots of helplines and support available nowadays, sometimes people just aren’t aware or just too distracted or busy to look into it. But it’s there and readily available. You could ring samaritans, guide-line or first response. If you need a chat in person they will even invite you in for a face to face at the sanctuary or haven. They will listen to you and even guide you in the right direction. That first step isn’t easy but if I can do it, then you can do it too. If things are getting out of control and affecting your everyday life, then you should take a family member or friend with you to the doctors and tell them what’s going on. They will give you an assessment and refer you to your local mental health services. Don’t ever give up, because I never thought I would make it out but I did and that’s testament to anyone else who suffers mental illness, that you will get through, if you get help just work at it like I did and along the way keep believing in yourself and stay strong.

The Link Between Diet and Wellbeing

The Link Between Diet and Wellbeing

By Ken, Haven

Like many of us, I’ve tried various diets to help improve my energy levels, maintain physical health and shed a few pounds, yet it’s only more recently that I’ve started paying attention to nutrition and its potential impact on my mental health and wellbeing.

Much research is focused on the gut microbiome, which is a term for the trillions of micro-organisms that dwell in the murky depths of our digestive systems – we are truly never alone! It’s thought that over a thousand different types of bacteria, many beneficial to our systems, live in the gut but scientists are only beginning to understand their effects on our mental and physical health. If you also consider that every person potentially reacts differently to them, it becomes a hugely complex puzzle.

According to microbial ecologist, Professor Ley: “One person’s healthy microbiome might not be healthy in another context – it’s a tricky concept”. Research is in its infancy and while some 15,000 people have provided microbiome samples for study, this pales into insignificance compared to the 30 million who have had their human genomes sequenced. Some research suggests stressors such as psychological issues, disturbed sleep patterns and environmental factors can all have a negative impact on the microbiome.

An article in the British Medical Journal suggests that the classic Mediterranean diet can have a positive effect on wellbeing, especially when compared to our unhealthy Western diet, which tends to be high in sugar, salt and refined carbs. Good gut ‘flora’ can be boosted by probiotic yogurt drinks, available in most supermarkets and by regular use of probiotic supplements, available online (I’m always sure to check customer reviews) and in health shops. The good guys of the bacteria world help expel the bad, break down fibre and produce vitamins. They’ve also been shown to increase our ability to fight off infections and other ailments.

Personally, maintaining my physical and mental health has been a case of figuring out through trial-and-error what works best for me. While I’m not keen on a large breakfast, others in the office simply can’t function without one. Some don’t bother with lunch or prefer to snack throughout the day. One thing I’ve noticed for sure, is that if I wolf down an unhealthy snack for lunch (e.g. crisps and sandwich) I often feel my energy and mood crash shortly after. The same goes for chocolate, which offers a quick high followed by the inevitable crash. But everyone’s different and what works for me might not work for you.

For me, a daily routine of meditation, reading self-help books, listening to YouTube talks by positive people, plus being mindful of my diet, work most of the time. After all – we are what we eat!

**Please note that any radical changes in diet need to be discussed with medical professionals, particularly if you have underlying medical conditions.

On taking a step back when you need it most

When Simone Biles, the American gymnast, took a step back during the Tokyo Olympics this summer citing that she needed to focus on her mental health, I listened carefully. She wasn’t the first sports person to hint at the crushing pressures that being at the top of your game can bring. But it came in the middle of the most celebrated, anticipated and prepared-for sporting event. Athletes are expected to be at their very best physically and mentally so that they can achieve their dreams of an Olympic medal. The idea of winning at all costs suddenly didn’t sound so enticing with the backdrop of mental health. So, to me it was telling, so very insightful, that even with all the preparation in the world, an athlete was struggling with her mental health. There’s no medal for breaking your spirit or crushing your soul and I think Simone Biles realised that.

I don’t think I have heard the words ‘mental health’ pop up in the press as much as it has in recent months. Perhaps because everyone was faced with mental health challenges of their own in those dark days of spring 2020 and the many that followed, when there was no end in sight. People reported low mood, lack of sleep, feeling isolated and lonely.

There’s a lot to be said about a shared experience. Hearing another person express the same or similar challenges makes us feel that little bit less alone. And let’s face it mental health or ill health can be very isolating. So, it stands to reason that when we see a successful athlete share her mental health challenge it had an impact and a welcome one at that. Mental health challenges can affect us all at any time and in any number of ways. Being able to address it, express it and not be seen as ‘other’ or ‘different’ has to be one of the few positives that came out of a terrible year.

I think we have all learned over the last year that strength is not just about powering through the tough times. It’s in knowing when to take a step back and evaluate what’s important. Accepting that we can’t control everything and we don’t have to pretend to either. That giving yourself permission to slow down and take your time could be the best thing for you.

It raised an uncomfortable question for me though. We aren’t all on an Olympic team. When someone is dealing with crushing mental health issues are employers in a position to support their staff? What would happen if you took a step back to recover? Would it be accepted and supported or would you fear for your job? Are we using our shared experience of the last year to try to better understand  and address the mental health challenges that people face all around us?

I hope that the debate continues. That people continue to stand up and talk about mental health in all areas of life. That we will always be able to open up in the way we have recently.