Wednesday 8 July 2020

SpeakUp4MentalHealth: My Interview with Amy Gamble

Last week I joined motivational speaker and mental health trainer Amy Gamble on her Speak Up 4 Mental Health podcast. We talked about my friendship with Fran, our book High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder, and a number of other mental health topics. You can watch the interview here. Amy’s podcasts are also shown on West Liberty University Television (WLU-TV 14).

Amy and I first connected in 2017 and she guested on our blog shortly afterwards. Her interviews normally go out live at 11:30 am EST (4:30 pm here in the UK) but she kindly agreed to a time more convenient for me (6 pm EST, my 11 pm). We connected on Zoom twenty minutes ahead of time to check everything was working. We’d never spoken before but Amy immediately put me at my ease as we discussed how the interview would go. There was a short pause as she connected us to her Facebook group — then we were live!

After introducing me to the audience Amy invited me to share how Fran and I first met. I talked about how we found ourselves in May 2011 on the Facebook page of a mutual acquaintance who was feeling suicidal. You can read more about our meeting in this excerpt from our book:

I could have clicked away to another page and put [this lady] out of my mind, but I chose to stay. We were not friends, but I knew something of her situation. I felt involved, but what could I possibly contribute that would be meaningful to her, if indeed she was there to read it?

Finally I posted something: “Flooding light and love into your world.”

The words sounded trite and inadequate, but they were the best I could manage. Someone by the name of Fran Houston responded almost immediately: “Sometimes even too much love can be overwhelming.”

My friendship with Fran begain in that moment. Amy observed that with all the social media and online contact we have these days it’s not unlikely to find ourselves in a chat room or Facebook group and realise someone is really struggling. She suggested that not everyone would have reached out as I did. That might be true but there’s an irony there. If I’d posted something more appropriate to the situation Fran would have felt no need to respond and we might never have met.

Amy asked if there had ever been a time when Fran was in crisis and I had to intervene. The question took me back to 2013 when Fran was travelling in Europe and we — jointly — invoked her wellness plan and contacted her professional support team back home. Amy and I briefly discussed WRAPs (Wellness Recovery Action Plans). You can discover more about WRAP plans here and read my personal Wellness Recovery Action Plan on our blog.

About twenty-five minutes into the interview Amy mentioned that someone called Aimee Wilson had commented on the Facebook feed:

Just wanted to say hi! I’m one of Martin’s best friends and I think it’s amazing that you’re shedding light on the incredible work he does!

I was delighted she was watching! Aimee is a dear friend and a very successful mental health blogger in her own right (check out her blog I’m NOT Disordered). I gave her a little shout-out as my “blogging bestie.” It’s fair to say she loved being mentioned!

Amy was interested to know about the UK anti-stigma campaign Time to Change. I described how I’d first connected with the organisation (shout-out to another dear friend, Angela Slater, who at the time was regional community equalities coordinator for Time to Change) and a few of the occasions I’ve volunteered with them, including for Newcastle Mental Health Day and at Northern Pride. We talked a little about the Time to Change Employer Pledge and my role in the mental health and wellbeing team at BPDTS Ltd.

All too soon we were out of time. Thirty minutes had passed so quickly, but Amy suggested the possibility of a further interview in the future, either on my own or with Fran.

It’s no secret that at times I doubt myself and my place on the wider mental health stage, but as the interview ended I felt included. Amy reminded me I have a voice and something of value to share. That means a great deal and it’s something I’ll carry with me against times when the doubts return, as they do from time to time.

You can watch our interview on Amy’s Facebook page. Contact Amy Gamble on her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.


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