Me, a Mental Health First Aider?!
To be honest I knew very little about the role of a Mental Health First Aider. When the role first started to appear I assumed they were just people who were labelled as caring, like a pastoral role. Basically, they were the person who when they asked 'how are you?' was actually interested in the answer.
My ego told me I had no use for such a qualification due to my years of lived experience. What I didn't know wasn't worth knowing! However friends and connections on LinkedIn advised me that this could be the next step in sharing my story and helping others. To be honest I was not convinced.
After some thought and deliberation I decided I would take a 2 day Mental Health First Aid course through a the fantastic Jordan Legacy charity. I booked and paid for my place and then eagerly awaited the pre-course instructions. There would be a fair bit of homework which I was looking forward to. I like getting stuck into something new!
The day of the course loomed and I was surprised that I was actually quite nervous as well as excited. I worried a wee bit about my broadband connection being strong enough and whether or not I would actually understand any of the material. Gradually we all joined the online session and introduced ourselves.
The first part of the day was about us as individuals and our own experiences. Later in the day we were talking about suicide.
As you will know from my passed blogs I am not afraid or ashamed to talk about the times in my life when I thought and planned ending my life. I could feel the apprehension building as we all shared our experiences and at one point my emotions overwhelmed me and the tears came.
What surprised me was how I reacted when I changed my thoughts. Yes, I was recalling the hopelessness and the pain I felt but then I remembered the passion, the fire in my belly that has moved me to create content for others who are suffering. The commitment I felt, to reach those who are frightened, confused and alone. (You see I can get lost in emotion with great ease, especially since hitting perimenopause: both happy and sad things can make my eyes leak and my heart feel like bursting.) The intensity of emotion changed within a second. I forgot the suicidal me and felt the warrior rise up from my gut and take over my mind. This has happened before but usually over a period of time. Like I needed time to heal. This time I didn't! I was 'back in the room' and on track, able to follow the discussion again.
I see this as a huge step in my healing and growth. I was rebuilding self-trust. Often afraid my emotions would overwhelm me, I had very little trust in my self-control. These feeling are still raw all these years later but I am learning to control the fear of them. Gold Star for me!
Did I get what I wanted from the course?
Yes and some! Not only did I meet some amazing people but I gained what I most wanted from the course. You see, just because I have been suicidal doesn't mean I would know what to say to someone who felt that way. I assumed I would but then I realised that I had no real structure as to how I would go about it. I had many questions for the tutor:- can I ask someone if they are thinking of ending their life? Can I use the word suicide? What would I say if they said yes? There were many, many more and all were answered.
In an earlier blog I talk about how people believe that talking about suicide makes it more likely to happen and it is simply not true.
From my own experience being able to voice those thoughts and plans in my head actually helped me to create some clarity and feel less shame. I was almost as afraid of admitting how I felt as I was of the thoughts and feelings themselves.
I am so glad I took this course. It is not directly linked to my place of work or a group because I funded it myself. I still want to give to others the best support I can.
Did I Pass?
Yes, I did!
So, what's next? Well.......I shall keep blogging when I can. I shall create more content on Tiktok and share on Facebook and Instagram. Who knows where this journey will take me but I know I'm not done yet!