If you asked me to tell you what I got for Christmas last year; I wouldn't have a clue. Having said that; I can remember the day I was first sectioned fairly clearly, and that was nearly 20 years ago. I was naked; talking to a light bulb; believing that I would be beamed up too heaven at any moment. My father, my sister, my sister's husband and his friend all witnessed this breakdown. I was told later that I had been acting weird for weeks. I had lost a lot of weight very rapidly; I was not sleeping, and I would continually go missing.
In this sometimes chaotic, fast moving world we all live in, I hear so many times from people, many of who I mix with, that 1in 4 people suffer sometime in their lives with mental health problems. I am 57 year old woman and just one of the many women that have mental health problems. I live independently alone, not necessarily lonely. My home is a flat within a building of five flats. My neighbours see me as I see them: as a friend, I can talk and listen, chat and laugh, help one another in any way which we need to.
I first came out 28 years ago. My coming out promotional message was that I was happy, sane and well. I was a happy, sane and well lesbian. The coming out process was remarkably simple and painless but it was the era of Greenham Common and second wave feminism. Three years ago I had to work out a new coming out strategy to accompany the onset of what was to become a severe mental illness.
My first campaign was to do with a rehabilitation training centre called Wiseworks in Harrow near where I live. I myself spent one and a half years there when I was recovering. I had become unwell and there was not a single penny coming in. I was used to being in a business world and being very successful, then all of a sudden I had no income, it was devastating. The first week I went to rehabilitation training, I was offered three pounds at the end of the week for my work. Those three pounds for me meant three thousand pounds - it was just that feeling that I was taking something home.
Footprints in the Sand never started life as any sort of crusade, it was simply a personal experience woven in to some lyrical ideas I'd come up with. But there is a story to be told and I am only too happy to tell it and hopefully inspire others in the future.