Learning the hard way

Hi everyone.

It’s been just over a week since I posted on social media that I was taking a break from Making Minds. Well, I’m feeling a bit more human but realise that I hit my limit recently and that I shouldn’t attempt to function at the level that I had been for a number of months.

I’m getting used to some new meds at the moment and last night, for the first time in a while, I genuinely felt good. When I feel good, I often get a rush-like sensation and a pounding in my chest. It’s part anxiety, part euphoria. It doesn’t last long and is usually followed by some sort of dip in mood, but it’s better to feel that than incredibly low all the time.

Over Christmas I had a couple of trips to my local crisis team. I wanted to quit everything and hide in a cottage in West Wales for a few weeks or months. Essentially, I had been doing too much for too long again. It’s a hard lesson to learn and I’ll probably do it again in future, I just hope it’s not for a while.

As much as I wanted, and still want, to develop Making Minds, I simply cannot do it to the level that I had been before Christmas. My passion, you could say, got the better of me. I already have a full-time job and other commitments outside of work, so trying to develop Making Minds in what spare time I had left was proving difficult. It was frustrating because I was making some excellent progress, making good contacts, identifying opportunities for funding, projects and collaboration that could make a difference.

I had over-committed and over-stretched myself. I only realised that after the bubble burst a couple of weeks ago. It came at the worst time and the best time. The worst time, because I was working on a funding bid, about to start working on Making Minds out of the Journeys offices in Cardiff and about to enter into meetings that could have paved the way for some real pilot projects – but all of that can be revisited. It came at the best time, because it reminded me that I’m not superhuman. It reminded me that I needed to be true to myself. When I started developing the idea for Making Minds, about six months ago, I promised myself that I wouldn’t get ill as a result of it. Ok, you could say I have already broken that promise but at least I was able to realise something was wrong, pull myself back from the brink and reassess the situation. Nothing is worth sacrificing your health for.

I can only work to my limits. If you post something on Facebook or Twitter, send me an e-mail or text, and I don’t respond for a few days please don’t take it personally. I’m either busy or recharging the batteries and being kind to myself.

Nothing motivates me more than mental health issues. I have a lot to learn and many more contacts to make. Someone asked me over Christmas why I was developing Making Minds. Whether it was the state of mind I was in at the time or not, I don’t know, but I couldn’t really think of what to say. I don’t class myself as an artist and have never sought to develop something like Making Minds before. You could say it was an epiphany. The idea just came to me. I can’t explain it. I’m not even a huge consumer of the arts, but I know what I like and I know how art and creativity can play a part in the wider mental health agenda…and surely that’s all that matters.

Mark

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4 thoughts on “Learning the hard way

  1. Hi Mark
    A great post and honest post. It is very difficult to be open about mental illness discussing the ups, downs and all that goes with it. I learnt about Making Minds form a friend and was gutted when I thought it was being put on hold. However, I didn’t realise you were embarking on this as a one man band, or that you already held a full time job. That is truly amazing and dedicated to give of your free time.
    Do take care and look after yourself, that is your number one priority. Maybe Making Minds needs some volunteer to assist.

    • Thanks Jane. Jacqui and Tony at Journeys have been particularly supportive, as have a number of others. Some people have expressed an interest in volunteering and getting involved in other ways. I need to put on a get together of some sort, perhaps more informal than I was considering, just to see what’s possible and whether people want to be actively involved. Partnership working is the only way to go these days.

  2. Hi Mark.
    Glad you’re feeling better. I’m right in the middle of an episode right now so I’m feeling pretty rubbish. I would be interested in meeting other ‘hatters’ and hearing your ideas for Making Minds. Speak to you soon.
    Siani

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