#VirtuallyMinded Blog #1
One of our young project members shares his journey so far…
“I originally joined the YMCA with the Young Carers group. I started off with very little confidence, always thinking I was being judged and looked at all the time, wanting to just stay back in case someone was looking and laughing at me. Later on, I got to know more people within this group and found out they were a lot like me; little confidence, not really wanting to socialise.
My confidence grew when I was invited to go on a trip to Cornwall. I met the Triple A team and soon got to know a lot of them, they spoke to me and made me feel welcome within their friendship group. However, I was still always that kid that kinda just waited for people to come and talk to me. I would sit inside and just eat some food or chill on my phone until someone would come and say “hey”. I always felt awkward introducing myself to people or going up randomly and joining people, especially because I didn’t know them at all. I just felt like I was judged with everything I did.
After the Cornwall trip, I started going to the Triple A youth club on Tuesdays and soon got to know everyone in there. Triple A is honestly the only reason why my confidence has been boosted so much. I used to suffer from so much anxiety, I never wanted to socialise because I’m scared of meeting new people. I was never even able to order a cheeseburger from McDonalds without having an anxiety attack or something. I still have difficulties socialising. I still hate trying new things unless I know at least one person in the room so I don’t look awkward walking round and just talking to myself.
The Staff at the YMCA have played a very big part in my life, they’re always there to talk to, they will never judge you or make fun of you. If you are feeling like you can’t handle something on your own, they won’t let it go unnoticed. I was feeling very stressed at one point and just felt like there was no point in me even being on Earth. Someone had obviously noticed that and asked to talk to me. I told them what was going on, why I’m stressed, and it helped a lot; opening up that is. That’s the biggest lesson I learnt. If you ever need to talk to someone then never keep your stress to yourself because it won’t help. If there’s someone you feel comfortable talking to, then just ask to talk them. Never keep it held back there to grow bigger and destroy you slowly because it will get worse.
If you are a young male like me, suffering from depression, anxiety, any mental health matter, then the biggest advice I can give is to definitely try and talk to someone. It doesn’t matter who, as long you feel comfortable talking to them. Trust me it will help a lot.“
#VirtuallyMinded Blog #2
Connor, age 11, attends our Virtually Minded male metal health project and bravely shares his mental health story including his battle with depression and suicide…
“I have been coming to the YMCA Youth Club in Bandywood since it opened nearly two years ago. I love going to club as I get to meet up with my friends and take part in activities that I never thought I would be able to.
When the Virtually Minded project first started, I knew it was something that I wanted to get involved with because my Mom suffered a lot with poor mental health years ago and it is a topic that I have always wanted to learn more about. At the start of the five week training, I was happy to talk about my Mom’s mental health battle but scared to talk about my own. By talking to the Virtually Minded staff each week, I realised that by talking about my own story, I could become a virtual hero and help other boys like me; I began to feel more comfortable and started to open up more.
I told staff that when my Grandad died 2 years ago, I was battling with my own suicidal thoughts. The main role model who used to be in my life, had now gone and I felt like a small 10 year old boy in the big wide world. I was also being bullied at school which added to the pressure and my Grandad, my main protector in life, couldn’t give me advice or help me. I had to fight my own battles. At the time, just being with my Grandad just seemed like the easiest option.
I overheard my Mom having a conversation and telling her friend that ‘her kids were the reason she asked for help with her own mental health problem.’ That’s when I realised that even though suicide seemed like an easy option, I would be hurting my friends and family.
By attending the Virtually Minded sessions, staff have helped me to use coping strategies when I’m feeling low with my own mental health. Virtually Minded is definitely a ‘safe space’ where I feel as though I can talk about any of my problems. I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I’m now able to talk about my ‘suicidal secret’.”