07/02/13 Imagine

Just imagine losing the job that you’d always wanted because of something that felt out of your control.

Being diagnosed with an illness that’s well described…but poorly understood…

Imagine those meetings – service managers, human resources and occupational health…people speaking in hushed tones…gentle smiles and nods…then leaving.

Imagine applying for benefits…the shame…the embarrassment…the endless filling out of forms and meetings…determined to demonstrate to the world you are worthy, that you have something to contribute at the same time trying to persuade these strangers that you are ill…crying uncontrollably as they take notes…

Imagine meeting some of your old colleagues…experiencing alienation instead of friendship…you’re no longer one of us – you’re one of them…

Imagine not knowing who you are…screaming…self harming…feeling desperately isolated …hoping against hope that someone will understand…

Imagine waiting a year for treatment – being told by a psychiatrist to stay away from others like you because they are very ill…

And then….slowly and surely the supertanker began to turn…

A voluntary agency wanted me to speak about mental health…

Someone showed me unconditional love – even with all my warts…

Twice weekly group psychotherapy with well chosen folk…two and a half years of hard work and reflection…

A gradual realisation that there is a future, there’s hope….

Then the idea – borne out of the name of a Scottish mental health charity – Penumbra – why not walk around the edge of the UK to highlight the experiences of others? Perhaps contribute to breaking the taboo?

Friends getting me to read ‘No destination’ by Satish Kumar – a Jain monk who walked through Asia, Europe and, ultimately, the States with no money and a story of peace…

Imagine believing,”Well, if he can do it…”?

Imagine having faith in the folk of Scotland?

Walking with no money – and people getting it from day 1.

Imagine kindness, generosity, compassion, hospitality and trust from strangers?

Time after time, day after day…

Faith growing all the time – thanks to the beautiful – and I mean BEAUTIFUL – I’ve met complimenting the beauty of the landscape, the animals, the journey…

Imagine thinking “Bloody Hell, I’m right…” ?

Doubts, fears gradually dissipating…people really have a sense of empathy – they really want to reach out to me – more importantly to each other…

People are every bit as wonderful as I’d believed.

Imagine?

I mean….imagine?

You couldn’t make this up…

Thank you Scotland – thank you for everything – and thanks to the walk a milers – above and beyond my wildest dreams….

And those English and Welsh folk poised to take up the mantle…just you watch…

Walk a mile

Chris

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