Mental Health is one of the hardest things to talk about, and yet it’s probably one of the most important things that we NEED to talk about. So when the Mental Health Foundation of NZ got in touch with me, and asked me to share about their charity places for the New York Marathon – I decided it was also time to talk a bit more about my story.
Firstly – let’s talk about the NY Marathon! Running this event is firmly at the top of my bucket list (having run Paris, and London…it would be rude not to add NYC to my medals right?) and I have always dreamed of it being my third marathon. Alas, with a little one, and a limited income – the time isn’t quite right for me right now (and I did think for many many days about this opportunity) – but it could be right for you!
The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand has secured TEN places for New Zealand charity runners. You need to pay for your entry, accommodation, and flights – and commit to raising $6,000NZD for MHFNZ. It sounds like a lot, but they will help you with fundraising ideas and give you plenty of support to hit the smaller targets (3 x $2,000) along the way. You’ll be provided with training plans, support and motivation to get you across the finish line. Plus, and probably most importantly – you will have raised vital funds to help New Zealanders get the essential information they need to enjoy positive mental health and wellbeing.
Interested? Find out more here.
Secondly – a little bit about my story. Right now I’m dealing with a really BIG mental health issue. It’s not me that’s been diagnosed though, it’s my little brother. I do hope that one day, if he reads this (unlikely!), that he won’t be angry at me for sharing this – my intention is not to embarrass or place any stigma on him, instead, it’s to create a wider understanding. And while he isn’t in a good place right now, my family are also going through a tough time, learning how to walk this journey along side him and best support him. Blogging about it is one way that I deal with things.
My little brother had a manic episode eight weeks ago, and was sectioned under the mental health act. He was admitted to an acute mental health facility and diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. It’s been a huge shock for us – seeing him at absolute crisis point and not knowing how to help, dealing with the fear of the unknown for his health and wellbeing, and a steep learning curve about what Bipolar is and what it means for him.
After a couple of weeks in the acute ward, my brother was discharged and has been living at home and adjusting to his medication. Unfortunately, 10 days ago, he relapsed into a manic state and is back in the mental health unit again. My parents and I have realised that while he needs help, these events have placed a lot of strain on us and we also need help too. Thankfully we have found some fantastic organisations to help us through this time – Supporting Families, Pathways and Mind and Body.
It’s going to be a long road ahead – both for my brother and his acceptance of his illness, and his recovery – and also for my family. The future is uncertain, these relapses may happen again, but we are learning every day how to cope and manage things. And most importantly – we are learning how to love wholeheartedly and unconditionally, even at the absolute worst of times.
I have never had any personal experiences with mental health issues before – but the more I talk about my brother, the more common I realise it is. Support and understanding are coming from the most surprising places, but I am only receiving that by speaking out about our experience. If you, or someone close to you, is going through a similar thing – please continue to talk, talk talk.
WHERE TO GET HELP
Need to talk? 1737: free call or text 1737 anytime for support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Youthline: 0800 376 633 free text 234 or email email@example.com
Samaritans: 0800 726 666
Healthline: 0800 611 116
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 or free text 4202 or www.depression.org.nz
The Lowdown: www.thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626
SPARX.org.nz: online e-therapy tool
Note: all helplines are available 24/7. For further information about supports available to you, contact the Mental Health Foundation’s free resource and information service (09 623 4812 or firstname.lastname@example.org) during business hours.