EYMH Activist Lysiane, from France, shares their experience as co-host and participant in EYMH’s I Feel, You Feel event that took place for World Mental Health Day this 2020.
“Why am I feeling like this?”, “ Why am I like this?” are questions that cross my mind pretty much daily and I have a feeling that they might cross yours too from time to time. These questions are what also feed my quest for understanding mental health and finding a community in the field. But before I go any further, let me break the fourth wall and introduce myself to you. My name is Lysiane and I am a 31 years old awkward French being living in Belgium. My life had been rhythmed by high-functioning depression, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder alongside a family rocked by ill mental health. Quite the tall order, I know.
However, I should get bonus points for summarizing over a literal decade of suffering in two sentences. Over time and encounters with open-minded loved ones and professionals, I have learned to (sometimes) turn my feelings into words, into thoughts and discussions. Which is what we aimed to do on October 9th with “I feel, you feel”, Euro Youth Mental Health’s first ever European Youth Mental Health Event.
As a volunteer, I had the opportunity to work both behind and on the scenes for that day. Before by posting on Twitter and Facebook to engage with participants and on the day by being one of the two event Co-Hosts.
What I expected to be fascinating but high-pressure, turned out to be indeed fascinating but very understanding of all parties involved and community based. For someone with high anxiety, there was nothing better than to not only talk about mental health but practice it. The mix of both private workshops and public discussions were therefore very representative of what I envisage mental health to be like. Some introspective moments, some periods of listening and interpreting through our own experience, some learning experiences and some honest discussion.
Encouraging the practice of drama therapy was a fun and friendly atmosphere where I almost forgot I was co-hosting and not just hanging out with friends. Approaching a very sensitive topic such as suicide prevention was scary to me but while I stood back and just listened, I was comforted by the advice, respect and tools given by Nick. What I feared to be triggering, turned out as a healing moment where I felt supported.
Discussing video games and mental health with Leya George was a new way to reconsider games as potential mental health helpers rather than foes. And finally engaging with an adolescent therapist and a youth expert by experience to think about mental health support in times of pandemic was an eye opener, creating questions alongside recommendations that I would never have thought of before meeting them.
Jumping into different aspects and experiences of mental health throughout the day was an incredible human and facilitator experience. It is so easy to question ourselves, our thoughts, our feelings, pull ourselves down because who we are doesn’t match what we’re told we’re supposed to be. Breaking the stigma around mental health is vital as it helps every single one of us realise that there’s no right or wrong way to exist. That we are not alone and together we can grow. Events such as “I feel, you feel”, meeting volunteers, guests, participants who are willing to help kick that wall down is a vital part in this goal and I am thrilled to be part of the work.
Until my next ramblings and with love,
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