Chrissy’s Story: Mind and Sole & Mind Dippers

I set up Mind and Sole on the 17th of March 2017, it was a decision I made to help people struggling with their own Mental health illness. 

I was first diagnosed with low self-esteem and paranoia at the age of 35, before this I had struggled with all kinds of feels? Trying to understand why I felt the way I did. I was particularly good at hiding my feeling and putting on a brave face.

It was not until I attempt suicide that I knew that I needed to get help. The doctor I went to was amazing, very understanding and sent me straight to a counsellor, but it took me so long to finally open up to her, it was the end of the session, as they were telling me I had made progress and I was now cured! I couldn’t of felt more ill, I just thought “this is me…. I cannot be fixed!” so after another major dip I reached out again to the same doctor, changed my tablets and sent me to another counsellor, she was so amazing but sadly the counsellor I saw was very poorly and the sessions had to end after 6 weeks. So off I went again, and another dip happened and before I knew I was sitting in front of the same doctor explaining the same story again. Again, the doctor sent me to another counsellor, it took me a long time to even start to open up, I thought there was no point because I would be chased soon and that will be another boxed tick to say I was cured. But somehow, this time, Chris understood, he put tools in place, he taught me it is okay to have a bad day.  I took up exercise, walking/running/swimming and got myself hooked on open water swimming. I loved the way it made me feel better, I was able to take the feeling in my stomach and the pain in my chest away.  I was encouraged by the counsellor to continue to the exercise. Sadly because of my paranoia, joining in a group made it really hard, I had convinced myself that no one wanted me there, I was too slow, too fat and I certainly didn’t feel that my coach was approachable, and no one would understand the way I was think or feeling. I was not able to drop my guard because they would not understand, and I was tired of putting on a face or an act.

I looked around for groups that were open for people who were struggling with a mental health illness or someone who found it hard to interact because people wouldn’t understand the way they were thinking or feeling, The nearest group to me was Cramlington and I really wasn’t well enough in myself to travel that far for an exercise group, so I made one….Mind and Sole was created to help people come along regardless of age/sex/fitness ability/health. I want Mind and Sole to be a group that says “I understand” to be able to offer that support to people, who do not need to be fixed but just need to have an ear to sound off too.

I want exercise to be open for everyone regardless of their fitness ability or age. Exercise does not have to be for the fittest of the fittest, it can be a gentle walk, it can be a bob in the sea and once people try it, in a safe environment people can feel the benefits from it and we see the smile come back on people’s faces.

A lot of people leaving counselling find it hard to cope and adjust to life and putting the tools in place. By coming along to a Mind and Sole group you have other people with lived experience and can give you the peer-to-peer support. But its not all about Mental Health its about looking after our Mental Well being and keeping us well.

If I hold your hand and you hold my hand, together we can get through this and we can climb this hill.

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