Speaking About Mental Health.

The path to achieving my goals is constantly moving, and it’s a journey fraught with challenges, barriers and frustrations.  I constantly feel like I am not getting anywhere, and that I’m drowning in an endless storm.

Having said this, there may be some calmer waters ahead….. or at least a boat to help ride the waves.

Last year I did a talk about the basics of anxiety at a local school, and I really enjoyed it; I hoped that I could do more, but nothing seemed to materialise, and to be honest, I didn’t really know how to move forward with it; so it ended up being added to the pile of  what I class as ‘failures’.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a friend, Martha English, and she happened to mention that she was working with a guy called Nick Elston, who was helping her be more confident with public speaking; my attention was fully aroused when she mentioned that Nick is a professional speaker who talks about his lived experience with mental health problems, in particular anxiety.

My confidence has taken a bit of a battering recently, so I was apprehensive about contacting Nick, however if anyone would be able to understand me, and possibly offer some advice, he could.

So, keeping my expectations low, I sent Nick an e-mail…..  Boy am I glad I did.

In a short space of time, Nick has helped me to get clarity on what it is I want to do, and he has given me some really great advice on how to go about starting my speaking journey; all of this from a 30 minute chat, and from his ‘Forging People – Speaking Academy’ that I attended on-line, last Friday.

I have a habit of overcomplicating things, and looking too far ahead, so Nick has helped me to reel in my ambitions (not lose sight of them), and take the small steps I need in order to get started.

First steps - Photo by Nathan McBride on Unsplash

In order to do this, I have to try and manage two of my biggest anxious triggers, which are self generated pressures of a lack of TIME and MONEY. 

The fact that I am 40 and starting from scratch makes me panic that I don’t have enough time; it’s silly I know (Colonel Sanders and KFC, blah, blah, blah), but it is a real fear for me because I feel I have sort of wasted the last 20 odd years doing work that I never really enjoyed.

Money wise, I am desperate to relieve some of the pressure on Kim, plus I am fed up with not having any money, and having to ask Kim whenever I need to get something; it makes me feel like a child again.

I am also terrified that people won’t be interested, I’ll put a talk out there and no one will be there to listen.

Nick responded brilliantly to my sharing these fears with him:

“In terms of putting it out there – the approach I took initially is that it didn’t matter, it was for me, it was my therapy – but people will be interested – but keep that as a secondary goal – this is YOUR time.”

So, this is my time, and I’m going to be brave and put it out there, for ME.

Another great piece of advice Nick gave me was to see about signing up for a Mental Health First Aid course, which I have done, and starts in July.  If I am going to talk about a subject that has a lot of emotions linked to it, for both me and for those listening, then it will be really useful to have this training so I can spot the signs, and take action to offer help and support if needed.

Because of Coronavirus, the course is on-line, which really helps me, so I don’t have the added stress of going anywhere.

Before getting paid to speak, I will need to do lots of free talks, so I’ve created a list of organisations that may be interested, including the local Women’s Institute, Rotary and sports clubs.

Lastly, and most important of all, is to create my 60 minute keynote.  I am thinking of focusing on anxiety, and some of the basic neuroscience behind the causes and responses, such as panic attacks; basically what I write about in my blog.

Brain - Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

I figure that I can combine some of my own lived experience, along with the science, to show how this knowledge helped me go from someone who thought something had snapped in his brain, to where I am now; someone who has a good understanding of what is happening up there, and why it doesn’t always make logical sense.

This knowledge can have the power to heal, or simply help you manage on a day to day basis; depending on how bad your anxiety is.

That’s about it for now; I’ll let you know how this journey progresses; in the mean time, if you want to find out more about Nick, here is the link to his website.


Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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