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16 March 2017

How does one eat an elephant?

Admit it. You just scrunched up your face and said to yourself; you don’t eat an elephant…

That was exactly my reaction many years ago, when a counsellor said this to me. But please stay with me!

This little saying has stuck with me, maybe because it was different. But I like different; I am different. I’ve not had an easy life and it is not going to get better overnight. Yet I’m still here, and let me tell you why.

Those unexpected painful nights, the break ups, the seemingly impossible blows life sometimes throws. Any time I have felt stressed, hurt or even the few times I’ve felt like giving up. This saying, echoed in my ear.

“How do you eat an elephant Marie? …one little piece at a time.”

I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression since I was a teenager. I’m now a single mum bordering thirty and this has never seemed more relevant. Oh, and to add to the circus, I now study a bachelors degree in Psychology and counselling. It’s safe to say I often feel a tad overwhelmed. In fact, just last night, whilst fighting sleep deprived brain fog and the final cut off for a deadline looming, I crumbled.

I reached out to my best friend, crying as I struggled with the words. He as ever listened and talked softly. “I’m going to say this, breathe. You’re doing amazing and just remember, how do you eat an elephant?” Well, he said a lot but honestly, this got me laughing. This silly phrase has managed to work its way to anyone who knows me well. For something I brushed off as something a radical therapist said as to just break the ice was still making me laugh now. Simple, silly, memorable and effective.

The ‘elephant’ is, of course, something huge; you cannot tackle eating one whole, right? For someone who used to have panic attacks in public and anxiety made me breathless, I must always remember how far I’ve come. We can condition ourselves to believe something is out of reach. One or a few bad experiences can truly shake us up, believe me, I know. We can begin to underestimate ourselves, especially if those around you do.

I’m here to tell you, you shouldn’t.

I left school before completing my A levels as I spiralled a little out of control. I did not see the point in trying. I married young, which inevitably was to go wrong. In fact, for a long time it seemed everything was.

I now know that keeping this secret inside and pretending everything was fine, was slowly breaking my soul and making me unwell. The anxiety and depression triggered by this need to keep quiet. Until I simply couldn’t anymore. I won’t lie, it was not easy. However, just a few years later, I’m here, reclaiming my life. The man who stole what felt like everything from me is in jail. I have a new life to live for; my girl.

I’ve learned a lot over the years. I’ve learned to stop sometimes and simply breathe. To count my blessings, not my struggles. I’ve sadly learned that people can and will let you down. But I’ve also learned I’m much more capable than I ever thought possible. I’ve also met some truly beautiful souls who like me have found strength in their pain.

Everything I’ve been through just makes me more determined. I have this fire inside I once thought had been extinguished. I found my voice, and now I’m working my butt off to give others theirs back too. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes life is unfair. Sometimes we cry. I’m here to tell you, to give yourself a break. If you feel scared, say it. Talk it out.

Break that elephant up and take that bite. Fight. Nothing is ever as impossible as it initially feels.


-Marie Conaghan

By Chris Wood, 16 March 2017 – 1 comments

15 March 2017

I reckon we're ready for this!

So today Justine and Juliet headed off to conquer road running...

...setting off from Traybakes at Redhills and ending up 24 miles later in Keswick. It was a bit endless and probably more undulating than London, but it was sunny and we hadn't caught up for a while so we had a lot to chat about so all in all it was thoroughly enjoyable!

So in part, I reckon we are ready for this now!!... I have my road shoes now but look forward to swapping them again for my others.

A big thank you to the amazing Chris from Traybakes who came and picked us up and the lovely bar staff at the White Horse when we popped in for a drink midway through (a coke by the way!)

Please remember we aren't just doing this for the fun of it, if you are able to sponsor us we would be so grateful!

- Juliet Gray

To support Juliet text JULG17 £5 to 70070

To support Justine text JSTN17 £5 to 70070

By Chris Wood, 15 March 2017 – 0 comments

14 March 2017

Marc's grueling training schedule...

Marathon Plan by Alexa

Caption: Marathon Plan by Alexa

Like most things, training hasn't really been going to plan...

Heavy snow stopped me getting out and getting some great shots when I was in Eindhoven a few weeks ago. I've been just been keeping on top of my fitness on the treadmill when I can, usually every other day doing 800m intervals. 800m at 8mph, 800m at 5mph, 800m at 8mph and so on. Mainly because my treadmill stops without warning at around 40-50 mins and I end up in crumpled heap! I should really get a new one, but it’s a great way to build stamina and keep on top of things and I'm feeling great.

With 40 days to go I'm going to be getting in the road miles, which was always the plan. 25 miles this week, 28 next week, then 35, then 40! I'll be taking it easy the week before the marathon, finishing with 15 on the Thursday.

My youngest, Alexa, has done me a plan so if she asks, that’s what I'm doing!! :-)

- Marc Lewthwaite

To support mark visit his fundraising page or text MARC17 £10 to 70070.

By Chris Wood, 14 March 2017 – 0 comments

07 March 2017

2016 in Review: Business as usual for core services

2016 has continued a period of consolidation for us and for several of our services it has been business as usual.

Advocacy – We continue to provide vital advocacy support to people who have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act and we have supported Cumbria in becoming one of the first areas in the country to introduce full auto-referral to an advocacy service for people who have been sectioned. This has led to us managing an increase in referrals from 450 to over 800 per annum over the previous year.

Our Children and Young Peoples Advocacy service, now in its fifth year, continues to provide school-based support to 11-18 year olds experiencing mental distress. Advocacy enables young people to have their voice heard, to find solutions to their situations and to access the services they are entitled too. In 2016 we supported over 120 young people in Carlisle and Eden.

We continue to provide valuable supported volunteering opportunities to people in recovery. We know that developing a mental health problem and having a time away from employment can present significant challenges when returning to the workplace. We provide supportive placements that enable people in recovery to take their first steps back into work or volunteering at their own pace and among peers who understand their situation. Last year we supported over 80 volunteers through our shops, office base and services.

-Chris Wood, Business Development Manager

By Chris Wood, 07 March 2017 – 0 comments

02 March 2017

By day 31, mentally – I was on fire!

Cathy had no idea what an effect R.E.D January would have on her life when her friend signed her up...

Joining R.E.D January was the idea of my running buddy Keira. I’d never heard of it and when she suggested we should run everyday, I hadn’t realised it was a sponsored event – I just agreed to do it as a fun way of losing some Christmas wobbly bits. Although, I have to confess that it took until the third of January to publicly admit I was doing it, not because of the running but rather that with family, work and a commitment to support a friend running an ultra in the middle of the month I genuinely didn’t know if I would be able to get out and find the time to run for 31 consecutive days.

This did, of course, prove to be the hardest part BUT what I did discover was that it was a whole lot easier logistically than marathon training as I only ever run a maximum of an hour and a half on the days when I fancied a long run and on the days which proved difficult I simply shuffled along in the dark for 25 minutes.

Physically, I got progressively more tired as the month wore on with a stack of old injuries vying for attention by day 31, however, mentally – I was on fire! I achieved a tremendous amount throughout the month just because I had to be more organised and I never once spent a day staring wistfully out of the window thinking “I should really go for a run.” I just went.

The bonus runs were with my running buddy Keira where an unspoken rule meant that we both brought homebaking for an after snack which, combined with our “natter pace”, meant for a thoroughly uplifting hour of laughter and mental wellbeing. Our runs usually started with a resigned sigh, tying our laces, starting Strava and then complaining for the first few kilometres about how shattered we were before hooting with laughter as we missed another path junction due to talking too much or grimacing across an unplanned river crossing while failing to take a selfie due to stiff middle aged fingers.

I thoroughly enjoyed running every day in January (I still can’t believe that I can say that!) and while it wasn’t easy, like everything that is very hard work it was immensely rewarding. If you are thinking of signing up and giving it a go; stop thinking and just do it. You never know what you can achieve until you try……

- Cathy Casey, R.E.D. January 2017

To read Cathy's entertaining account of the month in full, click here.

By Chris Wood, 02 March 2017 – 0 comments


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