Checkpoint 20/21

April has long been a time of reflection and planning for me – years of working in an organisation where performance review, business planning and financial year end were all jumbled together. I don’t have a boss any more to make me do it so indulge me while I naval gaze for a moment. It is as good a time as any to reflect on the year gone by, and set out hopes for the new. .

And what a year we have to reflect on.

My prayers are with those we have lost, and my love to those who bear this bereavement most closely. Many of us have faced significant stress and hardship in this last year, I hope that we find the days to come brighter and easier.

This time last year I had no idea what the future held. I only knew that all my work had been cancelled and I didn’t have any savings. But I had my health and the sun was shining so I tried to count my blessings and hope for the best.

Thankfully I was able to adapt, and gradually make the shift to online training – working with a variety of organisations over the year, qualifying to deliver new courses, learning new skills & platforms, trying to push myself to use some new tools and take up new opportunities. It hasn’t been easy and there were big chunks of time where things were very uncertain (and no doubt there will be more to come) – but to say that I managed to help 485 people learn to understand mental health in a variety of ways over the past year is astounding.

My enormous thanks to MHFA England for the work they have done to set up the online learning platform and adapt courses for online delivery. Also for the variety of opportunities to feed back and communicate with them, and other trainers in a similar position – which has been an enormous improvement on previous years and provided emotional support which has really helped get me through. And I know I’m not alone in thinking that.

I’ve learnt a lot in this unusual year, about my abilities, preferences, priorities. I think many of us have. With my fingers firmly crossed that this current roadmap does lead us back to a safe and open future – I hope we hold on to that learning. Recognise what we are capable of in a crisis. Appreciate what we liked or enjoyed about the last year – and try not to let it go. And of course relish being able to return to those things that we have missed, sooner or later. Not take them for granted again too soon either.

I am nervous about it. My anxiety took a back seat for a good while last year – my introverted, neurodivergent self is quite well suited to lockdown life. But it found ways to re-emerge. I have been lonely, but find some of the wonderful efforts of ongoing community and connection that I have seen to be even more isolating. Seeing others connect when you don’t is saddening. I will continue to be anxious about my health, and others’ – I had health anxiety before the pandemic, 150,000 deaths has done little to assuage that. But all I can do is take precautions. Be careful. Weigh up the risks against the benefits of each action. The early part of 2021 was difficult, I have had some moments where depression has reared its head and with it old urges to respond to my distress in a variety of unhelpful or unhealthy ways. But with the love of my husband I shake it off, mostly.

Anyway. What are my personal positive and negatives? Achievements or regrets. And what do I hope for the year to come.

Positives

Online training – love the new course format
Great feedback from delegates
Meeting and getting to know other trainers
Going on the radio
Doing a podcast
Doing some Facebook video/lives
Exploring new online content options
Completing the Science of Happiness course
Learning something new every day (J’apprends le francais avec Duo…)
Making myself paint
Delivering 56 courses, reaching 485 people
Qualifying to deliver 2 new courses
Volunteering with SHOUT to offer support via text to people in crisis (Text SHOUT to 85258)
No lugging heavy suitcases hundreds of miles on trains
Spending more time with my husband and cats
Vaccine
New pen pal

Negatives

Not seeing family & friends
Cancellation of work with organisations I like working with
Cancellation of open courses due to lack of bookings
No face to face training conversations
Eating too many biscuits
Financial insecurity
Not getting enough exercise
Health anxiety
Forgetting how to interact with others
Worrying about societal divisions
Worrying about splits in my community
Worrying for others who are more at risk than I (health or finance wise)
Too much time on screen – bad for eyes and RSI

Plans for future
Go back to doing more audio / video
Podcast?
Developing new courses / training options
> Wellbeing course
> Mental Health Masterclass for Employers
Return to some face to face training?
Continuing with online training.
Making new connections with clients
Get my garden in hand
Writing more.
Keep learning
Keep painting
Get prints done and set up art sales.
More exercise!
Seeing Parents and Friends!
Visiting the seaside.
Supporting local shops, pubs, restaurants and venues where I can
Pursue Coaching & Mentoring training
Get therapy.

What are your take-aways from this year? What are your plans for the future? It may take a while to get there, but that just gives us more time to plan and prepare.

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