Hi everyone, it’s Lyndsey again. Martin is super busy with work and his GSL duties so he’s given me free-reign to talk about anything I want. So, this post is going to be talking about mental health, I’m sure by now you’ve heard it a few times from your unit leaders or at briefing weekends however this is different. It’s personal and hopefully relatable.
For those of you who don’t know me I come across as happy as Larry (side note, who is Larry and why is he so happy? I’ve often wondered) but I do have depression, I can be quite anxious about things and definitely like to be in control (I have a list to organise my lists, I wish I were kidding). So this blog is from my experiences, it is in no way written to given actual medical mental health advice, if you need help please reach out and don’t suffer in silence!
This post contains some stories of where I’ve done things right and where I’ve gone wrong, it’s aim is to help you to help yourselves and others but again it’s personal experiences and not ‘official’ or medical advice.
Story one – At the world scout moot in Canada I got far too wrapped up in doing absolutely everything staying up late and going on every adventure I could I completely burned myself out, the night before we were due to go the campsite I had a Huge freak out about how I couldn’t do it, I panicked that I didn’t know who would be in my international patrol, would they like me, would I even be able to communicate with them? What was the site like and hundreds of other questions added to my very overtired and jet-lagged state of mind I began to sob, then to hyperventilate. I phoned my mum (because that’s what you do when you’re a grown up that can handle everything) and I wanted a flight home. I went to the bathroom in the university accommodation to get some hankies when I bumped into some random UK scouts who I had seen around but not spoken to. They saw I was upset and took the time to calm me down, they asked what what wrong and listen to my incoherently babble about my anxiety. One scout in particular had travelled before and answered all my fears, he told me where he was camping and I could come and find him if I needed to before sending me off to bed (after phoning my mum to say I was calm again). The next day was the opening ceremony and he came and found me to check I was doing okay. Throughout the moot every time I saw this Scout he made sure to ask me if I was ok.
Lesson learned? For me I learned to tell people when I was struggling, they can only help you if they know you need help! But it also taught me that other people can answer your questions and alay your fears I’d you let them. For you? Maybe the Same applies but if not, be other Scout in this story, if someone is bawling their eyes out at 3am check they’re ok, or even if they just don’t seem themselves. He was a stranger to me that night, but he was a Scout and that’s what mattered, please, please check on each other.
Story two- following on from story one (conveniently) I’d obviously had very little sleep that day and the opening ceremony was just a tad hectic then we marched off though the city to meet our patrols and get the delightful yellow school busses to the main site, obviously we chatted and sang and got to know one another, then we got to site, registered, reclaimed our bags and set up camp. This is when I totally crashed out I climbed in my tent to lay out my sleeping bag and the next thing I know the opening ceremony is on so I rush down to the arena and watch the last bit from the back only for it to finish about 8 seconds later
Lesson learned? If I had looked out for myself and tried to do everything I wouldn’t have missed something I really wanted to see. For you? Learn your limits, push them, but not to breaking point. Keep and eye on others too, having a early night one day means you’re recharged for the next (read my (FOMO post for more of this)
Story three- World Scout Jamboree in 2015 in Japan, it was hot and sticky and we’d been working super hard out in the sun all day. I could feel myself getting narky and my anxiety was rising so high by the night of the closing ceremony, all my friends had decided to get ready and walk down but I knew it was going to be super crowded so I made my excuses and went off to my tent just so you know I wasn’t working the closing ceremony) I went and 5 minutes chill to myself before grabbing a shower before heading down just as it began. I did watch the closing ceremony with my friends who had told me where they were and saved me a space, but those few minutes to myself and a nice cold shower were needed.
Lesson learned? Well sometimes the jamboree site is hectic and you need a few minutes to yourself (although I don’t advocate running and hiding – tell people your plans) and it’s totally ok to need a little space to take it all in (a good shower is best because you get clean at the same time)
I hope my ramblings have made sense and sharing my difficulties can help you to manage your own, or make others better.
don’t be afraid to tell someone how you feel.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Don’t be afraid to get some space (after telling people your plan)
But most importantly, look out for each other, offer a kind word, be someone others can talk to.
The following charities can provide assistance, whether just someone to talk to or to point you in the direction of help for yourselves or someone you are concerned about. It’s sometimes easier to bare your soul to a stranger than family or friends. From personal experience, if you are worried for yourself or someone you know, please speak up. It can be the hardest thing in the world, but things will get better. Sometimes simply just sharing your worries can be enough to help you.
For Young People – Childline offer services for anyone up to the age of 19. They have a freephone number 0800 1111 available 24/7.
They offer 1-2-1 online messaging on their website if writing is easier than talking. Likewise you can contact them by email. Everything is treated as absolutely confidential, unless the counsellor has a fear for your immediate safety. You don’t even have to give your name. Further details are available on their website: https://www.childline.org.uk/
For Everyone – The Samaritans offer a 24/7 freephone service on 116 123.
Likewise if writing is easier than talking, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if you’d rather see someone in person, they have a number of local branches you can pop into. These are more prevalent in England but it appears that every city has at least one branch.