Updated: Sep 18
We explain why we have created a non profit platform for Mental Health.
To look after our mental well-being as much as we do with our bodies.
To create an environment that allows people to talk about their mental health and illnesses without judgement either openly or anonymously. Showing others that are not alone in their situations both writing and reading the blogs and creating resources and coping mechanisms with a positive encouraging place to give the power back to ourselves to get the most of every single day.
My family, as do many, has a very real relationship with mental illness. I have a mental illness that has affected my life since the age of ten. I couldn’t explain it to doctors but the way I felt was that my default setting was no longer happy. The performers smile went from the stage to everyday life and I learnt to do my best with the additional dark shadow that followed me around all day.
However, it wasn’t until eight years ago that mental illness became too real that my whole world completely and forever changed. My cousin, Chris Aubrey, aged 30, went missing. I was teaching dance and I could see a discussion going on and eyes were on me. My friend told me he hadn’t been seen, but I thought it was just a heavy night with a large hangover. As the days went on, the worry grew, we went around to venues with posters, we went searching in his old haunts with another one of my cousin’s (his older brother) but none of it felt real. Surely, he was just going to turn up.
Forward to the Tuesday night and my Grandad had been in surgery that day and as we pulled onto the drive my dad came out to meet us. Strange we thought, why would you do that? He asked us to come inside, my mum thought it was her dad, something had happened in surgery. We stood in the hallway in a circle of three, arms wrapped around each other. Mum shouted at dad just to tell us what had happened. Dad’s words “They’ve found Chris…..it’s not good news”. My knees buckled from under me and I collapsed to the floor in just absolute disbelief and a broken feeling that I just cannot describe. He’d been found on the edge of the woods, by his favourite golf hole (He was an amazing green keeper at the Hinckley Golf Club.) and he’d taken his own life.
Why am I telling you this? This moment plays over in my head regularly, the tears still come like it was yesterday. This moment changed my life forever.
I’ve never felt so unbelievably overwhelmed by sadness and so completely empty at the same time. How did I let this happen? My family are my whole world. Being one of the two youngest grandchildren, everyone had been there for our whole life. Every family memory had everyone in. Our first Disney trip to America, the sports day in our grandparent’s garden, the nativity play in the lounge, Chris as a shepherd with a tea towel on his head. It was a constant, it just was, it’s just how it was, how it was always going to be.
How did we not know he was in that place? Racking our brains to our last big get together for the Queen’s jubilee, we asked the usual questions; “how are you doing?”, “Have you got a girlfriend yet?”. Oh god was it the wrong thing to say, over and over again. Just a feeling of huge guilt that we didn’t save him. We left a family member behind. We just didn’t realise.
After a lot of terrible nightmares, terrors, sleep paralysis, exploding head syndrome, I searched for answers in seeing a lot of psychics and therapy. I remember my Auntie Janice (Chris’ Mum) giving me a hug and saying, ‘you feel full again’.
To honour Chris, I got a tattoo of his name, so he carries on being present at family events, I got a colourful eye tattoo on #mentalhealthawarenessday to remind myself and others to see the colour in a dark world. So, what can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen again in our family? I made bags of happiness and delivered them to everyone, so they knew they are loved. I messaged them if I saw anything that makes me think they’re not in a good place. Would this work? Well I know I’d never reached out to anyone when I felt low so why would they reach out to me?
Social media can be a nightmare, we compare our everyday behind the scenes to each others showreels. However, there is another side. We can say things that we might not be able to say if it was face to face. I mean being open, honest and vulnerable. By saying our truth of suffering with a mental illness it not only empowers us but also enables others to see they are not struggling alone. The smiley persona is a mask to cover the dark shadow. It can be taken off and we can relate to each other, we can empathise, we can offer our help and support, we can be there for each other and reach out to these people who might understand our own struggles because we can see they go through it too.
So, this is why the Happy Thoughts Academy exists. To keep the conversation on mental health going and to become a part of everyday life. You may not suffer from a mental illness, but everyone has to keep on top of their mental health. The more proactive we can be about the importance of working and talking about our mental health as a society and encouraging it from a young age, we can stop more cases of poor mental health turning into more mental illnesses.
Will this eradicate mental illness? No, it won’t. I’m on tablets to deal with the chemical imbalances in my brain, but this gives me the energy to put more time into the activities and training sides of positive mental health. Everything added together keeps us going, we can all be a part of the solution.
What I’m trying to say is that we all go fall on the mental health spectrum and that place can be different from day to day, week to week, hour to hour. We our surrounded by people who love us and would be devastated to know that we are suffering, so start the conversation. Use our images to get it going if you can’t find the words.
Do it for Chris, do it for your family, do it for your friends, do it for society. Don’t wish for a conversation when it’s too late.
Please share this blog with anyone you feel may be suffering, know you are loved and know that the world wants to help.
Sending you all so much love and the biggest of (socially distanced) hugs.