Why being a Human Book is awesome…

Yep, you read correctly. And, as someone who loves reading, this was a fantastic opportunity.

The premise behind the Human Library movement is to break down stigma and prejudices in society. It’s about finding out more about people from different cultures, minorities and backgrounds and, not to judging a book by its cover.

21463383_512345352443020_4272420174031099634_n

So, being a Human Book means you get to tell your story… And choose your book title. For someone like me who’s obsessed with books and reading, being surrounded by books and buying books, this was such an amazing opportunity. My title was ‘Living on the edge…of my seat’, all about turning my mental health from a negative to a positive and what that’s helped me to achieve. There were some amazing books available for talking to including ‘Seeing the funny side’, ‘Thriving not Surviving’ and ‘The Singing Pensioner’! The lovely singing gentleman just filled so many people with smiles and serenaded someone whenever he got the chance.

For me, talking to lots of people I don’t know from 12-4pm was pretty easy and pretty awesome. It also highlighted going from speaking to no one anywhere for fear of rejection years ago, to talking to anyone. My self esteem crept in once we were all seated and I thought ‘Well, I don’t think anyone will come and talk to me but that’s ok. I can go and listen to the other books.’ Oh how wrong I was.

HB

It was incredible. From 12pm when it started until 4pm when I left, people wanted to speak to me. And I really enjoyed speaking to them and finding out more about their experiences. It was definitely overwhelming but in the best kind of way. People from all different cultures, backgrounds, ways of life and experience came and sat with me. We chatted about everything we could in the 30mins we were allocated.

This amazing gentleman was from Syria and had only just started learning to speak English. He spoke to me for about 40mins and it was incredible. His life story and passion to do well in the UK was inspiring. I kept telling him how well he was doing and how his English ability was fantastic. (In this photo, he was showing me how young he looked without a beard!)

Untitled

It was interesting having lots of different conversations but also talking about mental health, how people felt about it’s representation and how they were coping with the stresses and anxieties in their lives. There were some inspirational stories about overcoming depression for family, accepting who you are and people trying to improve their lives with smiles on their faces.

Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone writes their own stories and create them day-by-day. The difference between you and a paperback book is that you can create your own future. You can escape from what makes life miserable because you, are amazing. You have the power. And you can totally nail being a Human Book.

Find out more about Human Library Cardiff and Human Books UK.

Take Pride, be proud

Happy Tuesday lovely people. If you’re a UK resident, I hope you enjoyed the long Bank Holiday weekend. I put mine to good use.

As a Time to Change Champion, part of the volunteer role is go out and share your story with others in the hope of encouraging more people to talk about their mental health. A really important and relevant topic at the moment. Because I work full-time, I tend to miss out on going out to businesses and presenting so I embrace any opportunity to help the charity open-heartedly!

This weekend, I was lucky enough to go along and support the Time to Change team at Pride Cymru. This celebration of people was so heart-warming and so amazing to see. Cardiff looks to have opened its arms to so many different people and, despite being straight, I was so proud to be part of the celebrations on the weekend. There were rainbows everywhere you looked, hundreds taking part in the parade through the city centre and families enjoying a day out.

My friend Becky and I got all kinds of involved with Dust and Dance glitter on our faces…

Becky and me

You can’t beat a cheeky bit of glitter!

We spent the day talking to lots of people about mental health, hearing their stories and admiring their bravery. One teenage girl told me that she’d come along to Pride with her friends but had that morning come out to her Mum. I couldn’t believe how amazing she was. I can’t imagine how scary it must’ve been for her. But here she was, all dressed up and celebrating with her friends. She said she’d struggled with her mental health but was feeling like a weight had been lifted by embracing who she was.

We met older people, teenagers and families who were all getting in the spirit. It was great to see families with small children, showing them that it’s OK to be yourself, no matter who that is.

TTCW Pride

Plenty of local businesses were getting involved including Coffee#1, South Wales Police and the Principality Building Society.

We missed the lovely Anya (one of the faces of Time to Change and whose blog Me, Myself and Eyes is one to follow) but were extremely happy to see the lovely Beth appear, despite her being really poorly….

Squad

All in all, this awesome event let everyone be themselves and brighter. We were out in force talking mental health while everyone else was promoting equality in a similar fashion. This was my first event and it was amazing hearing the stories, meeting the people and putting faces to a charity that campaigns for ending mental health stigma.

How do you feel about sharing your mental health story? Do you think it helps others to see what you’re going through? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!