My First Mental Health Blog Entry

My First Mental Health Blog Entry

Well here I sit in the Grand Hotel in Torquay looking out at sea writing my first ever blog. You may be asking why have I chosen such a venue? Well the answer is that I just happen to be visiting friends locally and it looked a good place to sit and have a coffee. It is a touch ironic though to be in a Torquay hotel on the day that Manuel passed away!!

Anyway, welcome to the first of many blogs. I have been encouraged for years to write a book because apparently so many things only ever happen to me. Well I still don’t think they do, I just think I am prepared to share everything that happens in my life however silly it makes me look. In my talks about mental health I do encourage people not to ‘hold on to stuff’……okay maybe I take that too far with some of my personal stories but please don’t expect me to change!

One of the stories I am sharing very regularly now is why I often have bouncy balls in my pockets. I tell it because it helps explain how you develop coping mechanisms to both deal with and hide a mental health issue. Well it dates back to when I was working for EMAP, a newspaper group in the East Midlands in the early 90’s. I was attending a Conference called ‘Out of your Box’ and we were warned that we may be asked to present a creative idea in under two minutes to lots of other people. The very thought of not having something prepared for that forced me to stuff my pockets with at least 50 very bouncy balls. I thought that they’d be so amused with me bouncing my balls everywhere that I could get away with only saying a few words. Anyway, as only 8 attendees at the conference out of 300 were going to be pulled out of a hat to ‘present’ I knew I was fairly safe anyway!

Little did I know that I would refer to this Conference as one of the defining moments of my career. This is because I thought the moment had arrived I had always feared. The moment that I was exposed to over 300 people with a mental health issue. The moment that I had a huge panic attack and could not even breathe. Well thankfully getting my bouncy balls out didn’t just save my career, the Beeney and his balls brand were created in a flash and launched in spectacular style.

What actually happened was that the Chairman of the Conference asked for a volunteer to come on to the stage to give some feedback immediately following some dull session. He pointed at the table I was sitting at and my group all volunteered (bullied) me to go up. I had no choice and as I walked towards the stage the room fell silent. I was already in trouble, my lungs were devoid of air and I walked very slowly like someone who was about to walk off the edge of a cliff. Suddenly, it came to me…..don’t do what you’ve been asked to do, get your balls out instead. So that’s exactly what I did and the rest is history as they say!!

I’ve just realised that you may still be wondering the relevance of having lots of balls in my pockets. Well, that bit was quite simply really. I wanted to give everyone a fun suggestion to improve their resilience. So I simply suggested that when they were next having a tough day they should drop one of these balls on to the ground and watch what happens. They then say to themselves “Now I am going to bounce back just like my ball”. Sounds crazy looking back now but it got me a huge ovation and years later people would still come up to me and say ‘I will never forget the day you got your balls out at a conference’. Who would have thought I’d take 25 years to explain why?

In my next blog I will reveal why Mr.Fish has played such a big part in my career….

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