Share Your Story: Talking of Mental Health
Sharing: Verity Spott, Paul Ord, Shirley O'Toole and Caroline Jones.
****Tickets available on the door****
For May's SYS we have tied in with Mental Health Awareness Week to make space to hear people's real stories of their journeys with mental health.
We all strive towards good mental health, and yet we live in a society obsessed with – and primarily focused on - the health of the physical body.
So many of us struggle to find and maintain balance in our mental health – so we have invited four people to share their stories around this topic, bringing this crucial subject a little more into the light.
Ultimately at Share Your Story we are about living good stories and flourishing. That doesn't mean burying or ignoring these issues, but instead bringing them to the fore, journeying with them and addressing them honestly and openly.
Speaker bios can be found below.
Not been to a Share Your Story before? Here's a little info about how it works. Each speaker will have 15 minutes to share their story. They are encouraged to be open and vulnerable but can take their story in any direction they choose. Some decide to take a long view and talk about their whole journey, while others choose to focus on a particular snapshot of time, or project they worked on. By the end of the evening you'll have heard from speakers of different backgrounds and approaches, each with their own unique perspective, and we hope that you'll go away both encouraged and challenged and, ultimately, ready to live a good story yourself. Share Your Story is a social enterprise - all money made is re-invested back towards our goals of sharing real life stories and helping people live good stories themselves.
At May's event, Maria, a good friend and previous Share Your Story speaker, will be hosting an interactive exercise for those that want to take part, giving us a chance to reflect on our own wellbeing and mental health.
A bit about the speakers
Verity is a poet, musician, care worker and performer. She has written several books of poetry - most recently 'Click Away Close Door Say' (Contraband Books) which is a collection of writing documenting the daily life of work in institutional care. Verity plays cello with the free jazz / improvisation trio 'In Threads' alongside various other music and sound projects.
A passionate advocate of improved mental health care and support, Paul worked for several years as a volunteer mentor with ASpire, a local charity offering befriending and support services to those with with autism spectrum disorders. Diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 15, Paul has a broad personal experience of both talking therapies and medications, and is a strong advocate of physical and creative activity as a means of healing. Paul will address his personal journey with mental illness through self penned poetry and letters, encompassing issues such as self harm, addiction, sexual identity, and work related anxiety
Shirley O'Toole is the founder of local mental health advocacy charity Changes Ahead:
“25 years ago I never dreamed that I would challenge the psychiatric system even though I was often left bewildered and concerned throughout those years. Today, I see it as my right.
On the back of my own experiences, I made the decision that I would support families, friends, neighbours (the support systems for those struggling with poor mental health) on a voluntary basis, offering techniques and tools to help them stay in place. I felt us to be a maligned group, let down, left to fend for ourselves outside of the hierarchical system of psychiatry. And so Changes Ahead was born..."
Caroline’s recent memoir, ‘The Spaces in Between’, is the compelling story of her decade-long journey through the eating disorder, bulimia, in which she interweaves her experience with insights and reflections on what she learned in the extraordinary process of recovery.
At the age of sixteen, on arrival at boarding school from her home in East Africa, Caroline developed a secret life and a secret illness with a pattern of destructive behaviour which gradually grew out of her control.
Caroline’s story will resonate with anyone who has struggled with identity, escapism, growing up or rooting down. Its lessons on compassion, and our ability to change the track we find ourselves on, will speak to all of us.