I’m sat here 48 hours after having a ball at my leaving party with my MHFA England family and I’m reflecting on my week. What a week it has been…
Monday was the bank holiday a beautiful sunny spring breeze in the air and I sat at the top of my garden with 60 post cards, my favourite pen and a bunch of thoughts. I was intent on writing a message to everyone in my team but where do I start? What do I say to people I have spent more time with in the last 10 years then I have my own family? Many of whom I now consider my family. How do I thank people I have respected, learnt to live from and grown with? How do I begin to express how positive they have been for my mental health and how grateful I am that they were there when I was swimming through troubled waters?
As I started to write the first postcard I discover it was in fact very easy to say all those things, because it’s easy to tell the truth. I realised that it wasn’t the words I was worried about it was the fact that I am going to miss my MHFA family that I was troubled by. Penning each card reminded me of a memory that made me smile and I felt lucky to have been part of something that is this tough to leave.
Tuesday we had a full team strategy day and as I watched the morning unfold starting with our vision and objectives, followed by our new strategy I felt pride and I felt excited about the journey ahead for MHFA England…momentarily I also felt a pang of loss. I heard myself think ‘who could I possibly be if I am not the CEO of MHFA England?’ I felt a little scared about my journey ahead.
Wednesday I met a friend for dinner he is one of London’s famous workplace mental health advocates and he was really keen to tell me a story. He was at the Co-op on Essex Road near Popham Council Estate and there were two young mums with pushchairs and two little ones. They were talking about mental health so he couldn’t help but listen in. One friend was saying to the other ‘I went on this course this week it’s called mental health first aid and it is brilliant you should do it. I learnt loads.’ I was moved by this recounted story as I felt like I had just had the biggest accolade of my career. There are people out there that will not experience the stigma, confusion and shame of mental ill health in the same way I did. My efforts of the last decade has played a small part in changing some people’s lives. I had paid my good fortune forward.
So when Thursday my secret leaving party day arrived I was standing tall (in my heels) ready to be with my team for one huge night out. The MHFA crew did not disappoint; they wrote me a poem (too funny to share), created a book of memories, presented me Rosey’s to encourage me to indulge in my garden, a Jamdani saree from my favourite designer Bibi Russell, we had personalised chocolate cake and they even made up a word to describe me ‘yes-ability’! The event was impeccably planned and delivered with heart – in true MHFA form. Laughter was the theme (with a few tears) and we rocked another evening and made some more memories.
Thank you everyone!