Tag Archives: mental health

Your Own Priceless And Unique Treasure

Have you ever watched one of those swashbuckling films featuring the quest for an immensely priceless treasure?

Well…have you thought about compiling a treasure chest to hoard, collect, safeguard precious memories of happy times with people who have made life wonderful? Are you aware or your personal treasure – priceless memories that have made you the person you are and perhaps have provided direction in your life, goals to aspire to, fundamental lessons and inspiration. Have you taken steps to preserve those memories and to retain to access them when times are tough?

For the past few weeks, I have been unpacking my own personal first aid kit, and today I am going to share the last element of it. These were the other ingredients that make up a resource I can turn to when challenges overwhelm me and my outlook begins to darken (only a fool thinks they won’t face times like this):

The final part of my MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT is scrapbooks or a journals containing both positive thoughts and some of the positive experiences I have enjoyed. Although memories can be relived within your mind, having a record of them can trigger powerful reminders.

I have a few physical scrapbooks or journals. One is full of the life-changing experiences I had out in West Africa. It is so thrilling to read and look at all the little souvenirs I collected there. I ought to prepare a post giving you a closer look at it actually. It is quite a treasure in itself. When I look through it, I recall the extraordinary people I met, including refugees from Liberia we met in Accra. People who had lost everything in the most barbaric way and yet were full of faith and courage, with their eyes firmly fixed on the future.

Something else I have (and please don’t laugh at me!!) is a book of all the text messages I sent and received to and from Goldfinch. My old phone would no longer charge, and I realized I was going to lose all those conversations. So….I wrote them all down before my phone died completely. And….I truly truly treasure them. I am so deeply grateful that Goldfinch came into my life and I put a high value on how much he helped me at such a difficult time. Goldfinch provided me with an array of memories I prize.

After I experienced a miscarriage, I wrote some poetic ditties. They were not very good, but they are special to me. They provide such a powerful reminder of an event that I never want to forget (because it was monumental to me), that I preserved them and published them:

I also consider my blog a little bit like a scrapbook full of happy memories. It has definitely made me smile to go back over some of my past posts, especially those sharing the people and experiences I treasure most in my life. I started publishing on WordPress back in the spring of 2018, and my posts provide an extraordinary reminder of the journey Jack and I have traversed. What an epic adventure our relationship has been!

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For almost two years, there were so many posts about my feelings regarding the estrangement with a man I had been inspired by and admired so greatly. I recorded the events that came as a surprise – a phone-call that came completely out of the blue – agreeing to meet him so we could talk…and all that has happened since. I love that I can go back over our journey and recall the highs and lows. It deepens my appreciation for the exquisite treasure I have amassed.

How about you? Do you have a treasure chest full of memories and experiences? Collecting gems of happiness may prove to be more valuable that you could ever imagine, especially during a mental health emergency.

Gems In My Mental Health First Aid Kit

I keep thinking about own my Mental Health First Aid Kit and it’s contents. Checking that it is up to date and effective is so important.

The next suggestion on the list of items you may want to include in your MENTAL FIRST AID KIT is mementos to remind you of people who love you. Physical mementos can be important because they can seem so real, something physical that you can touch and hold. I like to think of these as gems that I can pick up and admire, allowing the light to shine on them and dazzle me.

I don’t possess many mementos that have sentimental value. I am not one for clutter. My favourite possessions are generally dresses. I have never really been the type to get attached to “things”. There is one thing that has become important to me though – my engagement ring. In this case, it literally involves a gem!

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It was too hard to write about it at first, but I lost the first engagement ring that Jack gave me. I know – terrible! I have never been good with jewellery. Rings are especially problematic. My fingers start itching…so I take a ring off…and I put it in my pocket, or in my purse..or somewhere I think it is safe. When I lost my first engagement ring, I was actually mortified. I was much too upset to be able to write about it. Jack and I had lots of words about it. Since then, I have been wearing a less expensive engagement ring…and Jack has been asking me to get used to keeping it on…getting past that itch that prompts the urge to get rid of it. I still take it off some days, and I always feel a bit of a failure when I do that. He calls this “training” for the beautiful wedding ring he is going to be slipping onto my finger. He does not want me to lose that!

Monetary value means nothing to me. But sadly, some women do place a high value on the financial cost of a ring. Even though the engagement ring I am wearing right now is a much lower cost than my first ring, to me it is precious. It is precious because it is a reminder every day that I am going to marry the man who seems to be my match, my ideal counterpart, the man I am happy to view as my head. That ring does have a powerful impact on me when I think about everything it symbolizes.

There are a couple of possessions that make me smile because of the memories that they stir. One is my glass frog:


Aaaah….my glass frog has been with me for over twenty years now. Considering it is so small and delicate, it is remarkable that it has survived. It brings back memories of my trip to France with Mumma and our trip to the mountain village of Èze while we were touring the French Riviera.

The mountain village of Èze on the French Riviera

My glass frog is one of the very few possessions I have taken with me whenever I have moved. It brings back wonderfully happy memories, and it is also just incredible cute!


I am not, absolutely not, one for cuddly toys. However….I guess I make an exception for the teddy that Goldfinch hid inside my suitcase. Isn’t he a sweetie! I love all of my memories with Goldfinch.

He came into my life at a time I was still reeling from the challenges I had face. I was trying to start over in London, trying to just be me, to focus on the work I was doing. I was still finding it distressing that people who knew me saw me just could not making a remark to me about Jack. (They could have no idea how much that hurt.) Back at the end of 2017 (when I met Goldfinch) it was almost two and a half years since I had spoken to Jack, and of course it was also almost two and a half years since I was attacked. Meeting Goldfinch was a wonder for me…and he came along at a time I needed something wonderful in my life. Goldfinch proved to be that something, someone wonderful.

10100 miles distance is a very grievous challenge at times. Although normally, I do not want cuddly toys in my life, in my home…I absolutely make the exception for a ted that Goldfinch sent me home with.

So these are my sentimental possessions that can lift my spirits because they remind me of people so dear to my heart. They are a sweet part of my MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT, and they do make me smile even on a cloudy day.

Comfort From Our Creator

I have been exploring the ingredients in my own Mental Health First Aid Kit in recent weeks. Over the past three weeks I looked at these three ingredients on my own kit:

The next item I am going to share is for me one of the most important. Now not everyone will choose to put comforting and upbuilding scriptures in their MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT. It’s up to you what you put in your kit remember, it’s supposed to help you in a mental health emergency. If you don’t find the scriptures comforting, well, I imagine you would not think to add them to your mental health first aid kit. But for me personally, the scriptures have had an enormous impact on my decisions in life and have been a powerful impetus to me whenever I faced challenges.

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Beliefs are personal, yet at the same time they have a knock-on effect to those around us. I have sometimes found certain beliefs unpalatable when it comes to attitudes towards the suffering of others. When I hear people voice notions such as “it’s karma repaying them” or “they must have done something to deserve this” or “this is divine punishment”…I am baffled. Whilst our decisions and habits have consequences, some of the tragedies we encounter have no link at all to any action of ours and are certainly not deliberately arranged by our Creator.

Perhaps just as harmful are comments directed towards someone who is enveloped in pain or grief such as “your faith is weak”. It’s like saying to someone who has been in a major traffic accident and whose bones are broken and shattered “you need to go for a run every morning to get the endorphins flowing and then you will feel better”. There are too many well-meaning advisors who end up trivialising a mental health breakdown by voicing a belief that shows up as inaccurate, unloving, and without a solid foundation.

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

I am so glad I was able to have some time to recover from my trauma, shielded from people who could say anything like that to me when I was in the midst of the painful challenges that wreaked havoc on my life. Throughout that time, I found more than ever it was important to listen directly to my Creator, and not to people who think they know Him, but actually unwittingly contribute to spreading slanderous lies about Him.

After I was assaulted and left for dead…, and then taken to hospital for urgent medical treatment, I was at the same time bombarded with questions from police and hospital staff. It was awful. Absolutely awful. At the time, I was alone (well apart from the professionals buzzing around me) and I did not know who I could call. I have already mentioned in a previous post that my closest friends and sister were not available when I had wanted to talk to them the day before. Now I had this extra horrific challenge, I felt so desperately alone.


But something rather strange happened to me. The mind is a funny old thing. Sometimes, we are plagued by unwanted thoughts. But when I was in one of the most intensely stressful situations of my life, feeling desperately alone, not knowing who I could turn to for support…my mind began to recall words that were penned three thousand years ago.

I could recall every word of Psalm 139 – every single word. It was as if a voice, not actually my voice, was reciting those beautiful words to me. I particularly remember the power that certain parts of Psalm 139 imparted.

Verses 15,16 reminded me that I was not alone, and there was somebody who knew me better than anybody else, than any other friend. He had known me since before my mumma knew I even existed. He had watched me developing hidden away, as just a few cells multiplying miraculously.

Verse 12 told me that even though this seemed like the darkest day of my life, and even though the stress over the past two years centered around Jack and the bullying, harassment, slander and trolling from all these thoughtless people had darkened my outlook and made me feel despair….well, to my Creator, the darkness that that had encaged me was not too much for Him. He could banish the darkness. He could see clearly, as clear as daylight, how to bring me through this trial.

I also remember receiving a card from a colleague who shared with me some very sweet thoughts of her own, and a scripture that she said had comforted her. In fact, I thought about that word “crushed” a lot. I had been crushed by the oppressive effect of slander and malicious gossip, cruelty and coldness from people I thought were my friends. My colleague shared a scripture in Psalm 34:18 which spoke to my heart. I knew that when I was in one of the worst situations imaginable – laying in a hospital bed after a brutal crime committed against me, I had felt my Creator was extraordinarily close. I felt as if I was wrapped up in His arms.

Since that astonishingly trying and traumatic period of my life, I have added more scriptures to my own personal MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT. But I mentioned those above, because they were the ones that flooded into my mind when I was on my darkest day, and the ones that meant the most as I recovered.

If you find the scriptures comfort you, then collect some of the verses that touch you most deeply and add them to your Mental Health First Aid Kit. But interestingly, when you are actually in the midst of a challenge, you may be surprised at which words from your Creator come to mind. It’s as if His power in action, His Holy Spirit, has searched for the words your eyes may have read years ago and are hidden away in your mind, and then when needed, our Creator can bring those words back to the fore of your thoughts and help you to focus on His words, comfort penned thousands ago by men inspired by their Creator to record what we would need whilst facing momentous challenges in these trialsome times.

People, even well-meaning people who have a faith, can sometimes voice words that crush you…so you may find like I did, that for a while you just need to allow your Creator to gently comfort you as you heal and recover from trauma.

The Sound Track For My Blue Days

Every day this week, I am exploring my MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT with you. Today is all about songs that are positive or uplifting….or in my own case, songs that I can cope with on a day when I feel I am close to cracking up. I love music, especially uplifting music (top of the list Whitney Huston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”). But on a really rain day, there is other music that would be more effective at soothing me.

I am a human – that means I am capable of a whole range of emotions. I do not live on Cloud Nine all the time. I enjoy very happy days, but I get tired too, especially after being on my feet for twelve hours and dealing with demanding patients at work. I can be a little grumpy. I can also have times when traumatic memories cloud my mind and create challenges for me.

Although I am secure and confident, every now and then flash of anxiety will run through my mind – what if I lose someone I love? what if I made a serious mistake at work and lost my job? what if my little nest was flooded? Those flashes don’t last long, because I know only too well that it is not worthwhile worrying about things that have not happened yet or may never happen at all.

But on days when I do feel downhearted or fed up, music can be a very powerful way to lift my spirits. I think generally speaking….when my spirits are low, I prefer to listen to music that is fairly calm and reflective, but infuses something very heartwarming to me. I am going to give you some examples of songs that I would turn to to lift me and make me feel a renewed sense of purpose. (These songs work for me…but they are unlikely not work for you. You will find songs that reach you on a personal level – and stash those tracks for rainy days! But are there songs that will lift your heart?)

I have found that the song “Yours” by Ella Henderson reminds me so much of the blessings I have in my life right now. Actually, the simplicity of this arrangement and these lyrics – they make tears stream down my eyes…which I love sometimes. I know it may sound silly, but it makes me feel better.

When I am feeling fragile, I actually draw some comfort from being reminded that I am not the only one. I love this track “Unsteady” from X Ambassadors because it captures that feeling of “I know I am not really ok right now, and I need some reassurance from someone who knows me”.

Another song that captures a low patch so well for me is “Numb” from Max Jury. I love this acoustic version because sometimes when feeling low, I feel so feeble, I cannot cope with anything too intense. This is so mellow and sedate, it suits me when I am so exhausted I feel ready to curl up in a little ball and hibernate until spring.

I have one more to mention. I love the track “Not Today” from Imagine Dragons, and I found am animated video that has a tree with a love heart with J&M carved on it – which could be Jack and Melody, don’t you think?

But there are also upbeat, positive tunes that help me too. In fact, I prepared a post all about some of the upbeat tunes that make me want to jump up and start dancing! This is the post – with examples of music that makes my spirits soar!!


Who Would You Call In A Mental Health Crisis?

Last week, I republished an article originally published back in 2021 on the subject of preparing a MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT:

I promised that I would unpack my own MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT with you. Today I am going to look closely at to me one of the most important parts of a MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT :

Contact information of reliable people to call when you feel down

I thought I had this in the bag….I really thought that if I was ever in a stressful predicament and I needed to talk to someone I trusted, I knew who I would call. But this is what happened when I was in a mental health emergency….

I have heard some say that when it comes to friendships or relationships – no matter how many people you know, or are acquainted with, really there will likely be only two or three that you feel you could really trust with anything – friends so close you can depend on them in any situation.

For me….right at the top of that list I would put my youngest sister Milly. I have always felt especially close to her, for many years she was my reason to be the best version of me. She is my darling. She knew I was having great challenges because people were targeting me over my connection with Jack.

A close second is my bestie Marta. I was able to share accommodation with Marta when I first moved to London. I worked l closely with her. I grew to respect and admire her greatly. She is a talented, zealous, intelligent and articulate woman. She is a psychologist – and a very good one – and I felt I could discuss anything with her at all. She was aware of the challenges I had been facing in connection with Jack.

I had two other friends – a married couple who I was very close to. He had known my mum when she was in her twenties. They had already given me a huge amount of advice and support. They also had a lot of influence, due to a career which has made them famous. They were aware of the stress I was under and had promised I could call them anytime I needed to talk.

But when was in a mental health emergency – what happened?

Milly was in a remote part of Africa, and I could not get through to her. Marta was also overseas and I could not get through to her. The couple I was close to….his phone was switched off because he was in important meetings, she had just changed her number and had not yet shared her new number.

I saw hundreds of people everyday – colleagues, neighbours, people in my social circle, people I thought were close friends but who turned out not to be prepared to get involved in a complex situation – I did not know who I could trust with revealing the depths of my despair. I felt incredibly alone. I think people around me were detecting that I was starting to unravel. But how could I even begin to explain to them the scale of the challenges that I was facing ever since I had met Jack. I did not want to blame Jack, but neither did I trust him, yet I did not want to drag him down. I felt cornered, pushed, pushed, pushed to the edge. Of course…in the eye of the storm, I made a foolish decision…I did not go home….I went to a park and sat and lingered in my pain. I just could not bear the possibility of seeing Jack again that day.

…as you may know if you have read my past posts…later than night, I was seriously in the wrong place at the wrong time. The following morning, I was found by a security guard who called an ambulance. Just over a week later, I had fled London and was hiding away with family in a different part of the country, miles away from my life and work and home and friends – so that I could recover from my injuries and the trauma of what occurred that night. But I was more plagued by the intense stress of the previous two years than I was the events of that night.

My own experience has taught me that keeping my MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT up-to-date at all times is important. I thought that if I was ever in a stressful predicament, I could turn to one of my closest and most trusted companions. Yet when I was in a mental health emergency, I found that I could not get through to any of the people I was desperate to talk to.

So now….well…now I have an up-to-date list. My list is also longer!

I think most of us learn as we grow that sometimes the people we find fun and enjoy the company of are really not reliable in a stressful challenge or a crisis. We realize that we need mature and balanced people in our lives – they may not be available to socialize with regularly, but they have the empathy, experience and practical wisdom to be reliable when we are in a desperate situation.

Since I have experienced a traumatic and heartbreaking challenge, I have learnt that I have a lot of mature friends whom I can trust to listen and understand and not overreact. More of my friends than I realized have been through similar experiences. It was because we have been more willing to have conversations about mental health that I was able to learn just how much empathy and understanding some of my friends really did have. Some of them have been through mental health emergencies and they understand that in a desperate moment of despair – hearing the voice of someone who cares deeply about you is so important.

How about your MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT – who would you call if you are feeling down or overwhelmed with stress? Are the people on your list in the country? Are they likely to be tied up with work or meetings and perhaps have their phones switched off? Have they recently changed their number?

Please do make sure that you have an up-to-date list of the phone numbers of friends who you could turn to in a mental health emergency. If your phone might run out of battery…make sure that list is also written down in a diary of a piece of paper in your purse or wallet. You really do not know when you may need it!

Start This Year By Preparing A Mental Health First Aid Kit

I am re-publishing a post that originally appeared on my blog in November 2021. As many of you know, I am working for the NHS again and it has been clear to me this past month how tough this time of year can be. So it seems timely to start a conversation about how to be prepared for a challenge that may effect you or someone you care about at any time.

Plush Teddy Bear, Bear, Injury, Disease

Before I start, I just want to mention this post is not really about when you fall over and scrape your knee, or when you burn your hand on a hot stove. However, I do have a question for you to set the scene for this post:

Do you have a FIRST AID KIT at home?

(it turns out you can only see the polls if you visit my website – sorry about that, it turns out the polls block is a little pants after all!)

I am very much looking forward to seeing your answers.

Did you know that you are supposed to check the contents of a first aid kit regularly to check they are clean, in good order, within the use-by-dates, and to replace anything so that you can rely on your first aid box in an emergency?

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

You do not need me to point out the obvious, but mental health is a big subject, and we are all different. But just as many will want to take steps to preserve their physical health and be prepared for an emergency, we ought to give just as much attention if not more to caring for our mental and emotional health and being prepared for situation that overwhelms us.

I have another question for you:


According to “statistics” one in four of us will experience a mental health illness at some point….although my bestie Marta, who was a psychologist claimed that actually everyone would have a mental health crisis if they met their personal breaking point when it came to the load of stress they were able to bear.

Stress is different for all of us. Some have displayed astonishing resilience in situations that others find hard to imagine being able to cope with. Think a little about some of the situations that can potentially break our hearts:

Have you experienced any of the following?

I truly believe that all of us may experience a mental health emergency or crisis at any age, at any stage of our life. While some may feel as if they have to push on alone, supressing their pain and sadness, carrying on with daily routine without imposing on anyone else – many of us realize that is very dangerous.

That is why many are concerned with bringing mental health into daily conversations with family, friends, colleagues, rather than contributing to a hazardous trend where people have felt isolated with the kind of stress that can push people closer to despair.

no more.jpg

There are more and more supportive agencies who are experienced in assisting those facing a crisis. But whether you think you need help from “professionals” or not….Caramelody highly recommends that you make sure that you have your own personal MENTAL FIRST AID KIT. If you have already assembled one, then it is tine to check that it is up-to-date, that it is still effective and that it is handy when you need it.

What is a MENTAL FIRST AID KIT? You may have heard of them before, but essentially it is practical aids that can be incredibly helpful if you face an emotional emergency:

The kit (which can be adjusted as you see fit) may contain the following:

  • Contact information of people to call when you feel down
  • Favourite songs that are positive and upbuilding
  • Inspirational sayings and encouraging articles
  • Comforting and upbuilding scriptures
  • Mementos to remind you of people who love you
  • A journal or scrapbook containing your positive thoughts as well as positive experiences you have enjoyed

So….over the next few weeks….I am going to unpack my own personal MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT with you! I am going to look at a different part of my MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT, share the details and how they have been useful for me.

I ask you to do something for me – please check yours too – is it up-to-date? Please do not wait for a rainy date to prepare yourself for a mental health emergency!

Woman, Girl, Rain, Water, Umbrella, Wet

I Shared An Insight Into My Heart

Do you know…I am still thrilled with my poem “River”. I wrote it over twenty years ago, and it still deeply registers with me. It is one of the few times in my life when I found the right words to convey how I was feeling in a poetic style, and I did it as a teenager! Normally, poetry is not natural to me at all. So that poem means so much.

In “River”…it all came out, and it came out with such creative flare, such lyricism. I am still astonished at myself. If I never manage to write anther meaningful poem again, it matters not. “River” is my poetic statement, my message to the world.

Photo by Eric Smart on Pexels.com

A Cloud Followed Me Around All Day

I do not know what happened to me yesterday (I mean Monday). I woke up feeling just fine, but some how, my spirits plummeted. I think there were a combination of factors:

  • Jack is going to be away for almost six weeks and I am already sulky without him
  • I am applying for just about any part-time job I can because I feel as if I have reached a dead-end in my current role
  • I am trying to keep the garden here alive while my landlords are away by collecting my shower water in a big plastic box (I ought to photos this) and catching all the waste water I use in my washing up bowl and lugging it up to throw on the flowerbeds – and it is exhausting in the heat
  • I miss my family
  • I am worrying about people who have to decide: eat or heat?
  • I have nowhere near enough time to do everything I need to, let alone the things I would like to do
  • Goldfinch is in my thoughts all the time

Some of it is just silliness. But by the end of the day, I just felt so tearful. I had woken up just fine, so I was not expecting all of that to effect me. But then TOM (time of the month) arrived and that sort of explained how from absolutely nowhere I went from being happy and carefree to gloomy and fretful.

I do need more early nights. I do also need to make sure that I fight for the time to do the things that make me feel alive and full of life. I simply am not getting enough of creation and adventure. I need to do something about that. I cannot just be a hamster on a wheel until Jack comes back and lifts my spirits.

Photo by Alex Azabache on Pexels.com

Little One Run Free

I had cause to use one of my favourite bombshell phrases at work today. I describe it as a “bombshell phrase” because when I voice it, there is always a reaction. Some people look blank at me thinking I am some kind of scary revolutionary. Others look at me as if I am some kind of inspired prophet and speak sacred truths and wise proverbs.

The “bombshell phrase” I voiced was “WE ARE NOT BATTERY CHICKENS”.

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Both the person I addressed that phrase to, and those around me all seemed to marvel and be comforted by this.

But not long afterwards I was back at my desk and receiving cold glares because I had been absent for longer than it takes to make a coffee or use the bathroom.

I arrive at my work early every single day and stay late every single day. I never take my full lunch hour. I sit at my desk and work solidly. I don’t have my personal phone with me, I just work. I know I am doing a lot of work. I have a very good reason for not being at my desk for half an hour. A very good reason. If my colleagues were interested, they could find out the full story from HR about how I just happened to be in the right place at the right time when a colleague was in need of some human kindness.

I am not going to worry. I know something that not everyone appreciates – when you do what is right, when you do what is kind, when you do what is good – it is noticed. It is always noticed, even when you don’t think anyone does see.

What kind of people do you think will live on this earth forever?