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I want to make mental health real and ok to talk about. Friday February 6, 2015

Today's blog is written by Fliss Baker who had a great experience training and learning with the MHFA. Here's her story:

Receiving a diagnosis for a mental health illness is a life changing experience. You feel relieved to know 'you're not going mad' but at the same time confused, fearful and alone. After a lengthy period of stress due to relationship breakdowns, work and attempting to cope through an eating disorder and drug bingeing, I lost the ability to cope and was diagnosed with bipolar in 2008. After a lengthy hospital admission I felt lost. Where did I start? My confidence was shot but I wanted to help others. Volunteering with a mental health charity gave me the opportunity to share my story during some Mental Health First Aid courses.

I can't put into words what attending the first MHFA training course felt like. I was shaking with fear and my medication made me anxious. However, I received amazing feedback and felt a sense of achievement. I also learnt things I never expected to.

Statistics showed me I wasn't alone and the reinforcement of symptoms relieved my anxiety - I wasn't the instigator of my challenging struggles! Primarily, I learnt I could recover. I could access professional support and use cognitive behaviour techniques recognising how my thoughts impacted by feelings and actions. In addition I could call helpful numbers, talk to family and friends and try to rediscover things I enjoyed. Finding stability started to give me a purpose. I was spurred on to continue sharing my story and four years on I have assisted in changing the attitudes of thousands of people.

I now talk to undergraduate mental health nurses and I write about mental health issues. I owe much of my personal development to increased learning and understanding from MHFA England. Pre-diagnosis I lived in a world where mental health was hidden and only for the weak minded but I fight this stigma now. My life isn't easy and I have had a hospital admission since then but with acceptance, understanding, using coping strategies and accessing support I know however hard it gets, there is hope and MHFA helped me to understand that.

Fliss Baker

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Hopeful One Fri, Feb 6th 2015 @ 7:45am

Hi Fliss - it takes courage to write what you have and I congratulate you for that.I am not a bipolar so I have to imagine your world of unpredictable highs and equally unpredictable lows.But there are words and ideas you write about that encourage me to think you have a strategy to manage your condition.Words such as acceptance,understanding,using coping strategies.Thank you for your blog and telling us about MFHA. What else can I say but to wish you well on your journey. xx

Anonymous Fri, Feb 6th 2015 @ 9:36am

Fab blog entry today *saves for future reference*

Anonymous Fri, Feb 6th 2015 @ 10:47am

thank you!
this blog entry comes right in time as i was wondering today whether or not i should try if a support group would help me.
i called the woman to ask about the details and still unsure i read your text and i am going tonight :)

Anonymous Fri, Feb 6th 2015 @ 10:53am

Fliss, you have turned your illness into a source for good and i know you are well on your way to helping many, many other people. What a vibrant spirit you are. And your website is fabulous. Go well, be well. And thank you. susan xx

Mary Blackhurst Hill Fri, Feb 6th 2015 @ 11:34am

Brilliant, Fliss. Great attitude. I too blog here on the basis that when life hands you lemons...

Anonymous Fri, Feb 6th 2015 @ 12:12pm

The word that stuck with me is acceptance. My partner was diagnosed with BP three years ago and has been hospitalised 3 times since. I have come to believe it's the lack of acceptance, both his and our family, that has made his struggle so difficult. I am heartened to see that Fliss has made so much progress and has her life on track. It gives me hope for my partner.

Anonymous Fri, Feb 6th 2015 @ 2:23pm

As others have said, well done, Fliss , for bringing the MHFA and your bipolar state of mind to us. You do show great courage and hopefully others who read your blog may be able to show the same courage too. Bestest wishes, Karen :)

Anonymous Fri, Feb 6th 2015 @ 3:00pm


Anonymous Fri, Feb 6th 2015 @ 4:30pm

Good luck Anon 10.47; hope it goes well for you

Anonymous Fri, Feb 6th 2015 @ 6:13pm

Fantastic work Fliss! Love ratg x.

Anonymous Fri, Feb 6th 2015 @ 6:19pm make lemon drizzle cake, or just cake! Karen x

Laura Fri, Feb 6th 2015 @ 8:09pm

That's funny, I don't recall seeing the word "acceptance" in the text! But I do know, from experiences with both mental illness and addictions (not to mention life in general) that once you start accepting your situation and stop fighting it, life becomes livable again.

Eliz Fri, Feb 6th 2015 @ 8:29pm

Fliss, you stated that you attended a MHFA course. I looked it up and it said it was for care givers only. Did you learn to cope with your illness on one of these courses?

Eliz Fri, Feb 6th 2015 @ 8:39pm

Hello again Fliss, I have just read your blog, and it both terrified me and comforted me at the same time. I felt like I was reading something I could write about myself. But having taken 5 mins to calm down I felt ready to come back to you, and say thank you for writing your blog on moodscope and sharing your experience and knowledge. Your courage gives me hope. xx

Julia Sat, Feb 7th 2015 @ 9:09am

Hi Laura. "Acceptance" is in the last paragraph.

Fliss Baker Wed, Feb 11th 2015 @ 3:06pm

Can I just say how genuinely touched I am by all the comments. When I write I sit behind a laptop and although I'm confident in sharing my story it is genuinely amazing every time someone appreciates or relates. It spurs me on. Every time I speak to someone they can share a story in relation to mental health - we are the majority not the minority and people are starting to sit up and listen. I'm currently writing a new article on how mental health can touch anyone to break down the barriers of 'us' and 'them'. Thank you for the support and again, it is really appreciated. It makes some of my experiences feel less painful and more of a reason to at least try to make a difference! x

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