(Read time: 5 mins)
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and we caught up with Julie, Chair of Melin Homes Board who has kindly shared her mental health journey.
Julie previously worked for the NHS in a very demanding role and describes herself having functional depression and always feeling very anxious. When she retired Julie recalls that suddenly everything just hit her, she didn’t want to leave the house and became very isolated.
One of her daughters works in mental health and would say when she left for work, “I am going to look after people more well than you!” Upon hearing this Julie realised it was time to act and she went to see her doctor after talking through her feelings with her daughter.”
Julie said: “The doctor prescribed medication in the form of a low dose of anti-depressants, which gave me enough headspace to go for cognitive analytic therapy.
“The biggest two things that helped me was admitting it to myself, family and friends how I felt, so they could understand why I behaved as I did. The second thing was keeping a notebook to write down how I felt, it helped me see the progress and improvement and I remember how I felt and how far I had come.
“My advice to others is please don’t feel alone, being open really helps and we shouldn’t feel embarrassed. Depression is an illness, it doesn’t define you.”
Julie talked about joining Melin’s Board and how this has helped her on her mental health journey.
She told us: “The culture of Melin supports good mental health. The whole ethos of Melin is giving something back and helping others and this gave me purpose. Melin’s culture should be replicated, it feels like family. During the initial lockdown back in 2020 our Chief Executive, Paula Kennedy shared openly how she struggled during the pandemic and that it was ok not to feel ok. That openness really makes a difference to staff.”
The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week this year is loneliness and Julie shared how even though you can be surrounded by people, if you can’t talk openly, you can feel mentally alone.
“Physical Loneliness can be more difficult, you must reach out to people and tell them, don’t be too proud. My friend would say she didn’t want to bother me, but I wanted to know how she felt and to be there and support her.
“We do have challenges ahead of us in society, I don’t think we have seen the full impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health yet. My advice is to always reach out to someone, please don’t suffer alone.
“My mental health journey continues; it doesn’t simply go away and you feel better. I manage it better now than in the past and talking openly about it helps me and I hope will help others and breakdown any stigma people may have.”
We would like to thank Julie for sharing such a powerful and personal story. We hope it inspires people to be more open and talk to others. If you need any further information or help and advice there is plenty of support available:
Julie Thomas, Chair of Melin Homes Board