We will use this page to share emails, comments or stories people have shared with us and they are happy to have posted on here either named or anonymously in the hope they will encourage others to share also help reduce the stigma related to this.

Dear Brighter Berkshire,

I had the pleasure of attending the Brighter Berkshire event at Green Park and wanted to send you my congratulations on your efforts, determination, compassion and kindness – all clearly coming across from your presence -, and express my support for the “Year of Mental Health 2017” initiative.

This is a cause that’s very close to me as I went through various periods of deep depression since I was 15, which completely turned my life upside-down and led me, a few times, to the very edge of the bottomless abyss of mental alienation and physical self-destruction.
I’m sorry to say that I felt, from the very onset, very little understanding and support from family, friends and professionals alike, and will only have made it through for such a long time mainly thanks to sheer resilience and, apparently, a great dose of deep innate wisdom.
As I’ve managed to return gradually to emotional terra firma over the last decade – working full-time (mainly) in the financial sector while (more recently) rekindling a lot of my creative skills, I have vowed to fight and help, to the best of my capabilities, individually and through campaigning, those undergoing similar situations to what I went through, especially as I’ve come to feel that those who have experienced some kind of adversity can much more easily put themselves in the shoes of others, as they anxiously feel around the dark walls of their intense despair for some kind of lifeline.
I believe most human beings have an extraordinary potential that is often, either destroyed or simply not allowed to develop. From my experience, this will be, in tandem with genetic predisposition and environmental conditions, the cause for most traumas and emotional imbalances people go through. This way, it was an enormous delight to see so many organisations and individuals – from such varied fields as health, the media, sports, arts, holistic therapies and many more – fighting together with the goal of making a big positive impact to the lives of scores affected by these issues.

Dear Brighter Berkshire

Seeing your recent posts fills me with hope for a bigger awareness that is in desperate need for mental health conditions, so thank you so much. I won’t go into to much detail but my daughter was diagnosed with BPD back in December. It’s been such a struggle for so many years so to finally have a diagnosis and some answers, especially for her has been a relief – in her words ‘that’s why I feel/act that way’. But now we are going through an even tougher stage- the progress with help & support is ridiculously slow and again I am finding myself fighting for my child and the support she needs! Not to mention us as a family, there doesn’t seem to be any support groups for families/siblings, it’s so frustrating!

 I just wanted to say thank you for making things happen, we need more people like the Brighter Berkshire team.

Dear Brighter Berkshire 

Having attended the conference in Newbury, I found myself both moved and inspired by the many voices expressing new ideas and making commitments towards developing better mental health prospects all round for everyone during 2017. I have myself suffered from mental illness for three decades although I no longer consider myself to have a mental health problem now. I am certainly anxious to get involved as much as I possibly can.

It’s difficult in a way – to know where to start; I find that because of the large doses of medicine that I take every day, that my concentration is blurred, which I reckon is an inevitable side effect of being relieved of depression which I no longer suffer from , at least compared to during the 1980’s and 1990’s. My very real fear however is that at nearly fifty the enormous amount of experience I have of suffering from mental illness and certainly the correspondingly vast amount of work i am motivated to put into doing something about mental health issues will be wasted. It is difficult to know how and when to start becoming more productive, even if I have a lot of ideas especially considering for the fact that my illness has left me without sufficient experience to interact and become part of teams in order to produce all the things that I feel I could contribute towards mental health in 2017. It’s a serious vicious circle but one which I am taking full responsibility to attempt to break.

My main area of expertise perhaps is in puzzle design and I have recently contributed to a huge puzzle book edited by former world champion puzzle designers and the other contributors include a professor emeritus, one of the leading names in computer programming and mathematicians including a discoverer of a Mersenne prime in 1979. I felt that there was an enormous surge of determination to create about a thousand puzzles over five years and the editors have included a number of these. The irony is that in 1985 I was criticised by nursing staff for having huge almost obsessive drives to create and write things. People thought I was very obsessive and trying to do too much even though it had been the pattern all the way through with me. I certainly needed medicine for the long term emotional upsets associated with being basically obsessive in nature but I do seriously believe that my endeavours to write and create and design should not be considered a symptom of neurosis. To put it simply after writing 5,350 poems approximately, and 400 short stories over the years as well as getting three A-levels i am frustrated by finding that for reasons which are difficult to clarify I find it hard to escape the trap of attending self-help groups.

I hope that if I ever can make an impact, I really would hope that there could be as much possibly done during 2017 and I would really like to use my energy that I have had in writing to deliver a really positive impact generally. I can’t do it alone and that is the source of the greatest frustration. I really do produce  a lot of work, I’m not idle, but I feel like I am a jigsaw puzzle piece in the wrong jigsaw and need to find a way into a much more proactive and energetic world than I find myself at at the moment by going to local therapy groups.

Incidentally I have made a start in looking at poetry therapy. My ideal work would be looking at ways in which music and poetry and creative arts generally could be therapeutic. They have helped me vastly for many decades, and I find it staggering to think of how much music there is which could be helpful to people with mental illness. I feel that I want to do so much but feel with my own concentration increasingly blurred and out of focus by not being able to get involved – that alas it looks all too likely that a brain which could potentially do such a lot of things as soon as it can reach out and be seen, might actually rot – I’m terrified of this happening.

It will mean that all the knowledge, the music the literature i have read, if I cannot use what I have learned to do help and get involved – it will be like having received the million pound bank note and not having the chance to either spend it or change it!!!

I hope that there is some way I can keep in touch with what is going on and Brighter Berkshire developments . I really am very interested indeed.

Dear Brighter Berkshire

I wish to be an ambassador for Brighter Berkshire as I have experienced mental health issues in the past. I also own Berkshire’s only Floatation Therapy centre where we help people manage stress, depression and anxiety. Throughout my life I suffered bouts of depression and anxiety, I found it difficult to reach out to friends, family and those in the medical profession. There were times that I couldn’t be in a group environment without having a panic attack, this was mainly down to low self esteem.

At the time I was working with young people with social, emotional & ; behavioural difficulties as well so managing them was also having an impact on my life. I had to stay strong for them as they were in a very fragile state themselves and needed my support. It was at this point that I decided to get help, there were a number of things I did that helped me to manage and eventually banish my depression and anxiety.

Firstly I contacted my GP and requested to see a counsellor, I had a few sessions of CBT to help me break the cycle of my anxiety in groups. This worked well and helped me identify triggers, I was able to manage my anxiety better.

During this time I also met my amazing wife who supported me, by doing activities together such as going to gigs, the theatre and other interesting events it allowed me to enjoy interests I had lost. Sharing our interests and building a strong relationship helped a great deal. During this time I felt I was in a better place to study, so I decided to study a Certificate of Higher Education in Psychodynamic Counselling and Organisational Dynamics. This gave me a greater understanding of specific mental health issues and how to manage my emotions and those of others going through difficult times. In addition to doing more with my spare time I also started Floating at a Floatation Centre in London Bridge, my first Float session had a huge impact on me as it gave me a private space to let go of everything. I came out feeling lighter, happier and very positive, as if the weight of the world had been removed from my shoulders.

As soon as I had had my first Float I knew I was going to open a centre in the future. I started Floating once a month and five and a half years later I opened Floating Point Float Centre in Pangbourne. I still Float once a week as running a business can be stressful at times and it helps me to disconnect from the outside world and reconnect with myself, I can choose to be reflective in the Float Pod if I choose or just let everything go. Floating had a huge impact on my life and I wanted to bring the benefits of Floating to the people of Berkshire, to date we have had over 1200 people Float with us.

We have a range of clients that suffer with stress, depression and/or anxiety, this is down to pressures of work, managing chronic pain issues or other stressful situations that have cropped up in their lives. We strive to help people as best as we can at the centre, we have recommendations from the pain clinic at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and have supported the Reading Fibromyalgia support group with pain management. We also have clients travel up to 2 hrs just to see us. There is plenty of research that shows Floatation reduces anxiety, stress and PTSD. In recent preliminary studies in the US it was noted that during a Float session the amygdala basically shuts off during a Float session and quietens post Float. We are going to be conducting research in the UK with the Stress Management Society focusing on stress management, we will also be looking at conducting research into Floating and anxiety in the near future.

Being able to offer a unique service that has helped hundreds of people including myself has been fantastic. It would be great to raise awareness of mental health in Berkshire. I also have a hall space at the centre so I am able to give talks and presentations there as well.

Dear Brighter Berkshire

I am a single mum of two, a transgender girl to boy of 14 with additional mental health problems and a daughter of 10. Along with that I have had Bi Polar 1 since I was 14, ( I am 46 now) and have a great amount of knowledge of that and other mental illnesses due to my time spent as a residential patient in clinics. I have wanted to get involved and help others especially since my daughter/ son came out as transgender and would love to get involved in helping people and have considered writing a blog or something to make people more aware but I am not really very aware of the best way to go about this, I am not even sure what a blog is or if this is the best tool to do this. My mum sent me this link for a possible help to me but if I can be of any help to this group I would love to contribute. I would love it if someone could contact me and let me know how I can contribute I would really appreciate it. I am not sure if this is the right option to contact you regarding this. I would love someone at your organisation to contact me to point me in the right direction to help and volunteer my time to you. I am currently not working so have a lot of free time.

Dear Brighter Berkshire

I saw Richard Benyon’s, 2016 annual summary and I saw 2017 was Berkshire year to push awareness of mental health.

I have had recent exposure to mental health. Where by spending 6 weeks in hospital with manic episode with signs of psychosis.

I am now pushing through the recovery well with the supporting service already available.

I would love to add to your scheme in 2017, whether that’s behind the scenes or speaking out to groups of people.

Do you have a story you want to share?

Brighter Berkshire

Year of Mental Health 2017

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