Breaking The Silence - Helen Poulter / by Richard Bentley

Helen is a BA student doing a dissertation on the therapeutic benefits of mindfulness at SOAS. She volunteers for ThinkWell and is really enthusiastic about their work in the destigmatisation of mental health. Helen has experienced depression, anxiety and disordered eating and is passionate about helping others note the value of self-care when it comes to mental health.

My name is Helen and I’m a volunteer at Thinkwell. I am passionate about young people’s mental health and giving them a voice in order to find the help that they might need.

At school I was bullied for being overweight and quiet. I felt like there was no one I could turn to who would listen non-judgmentally, and in order to try and cope with my intense feelings of anxiety and depression I began to self-harm at 15. It wasn’t until I got to university three years later that I began to get help and started on the road to recovery.

Since then I have met so many supportive people who are understanding and open to talking about mental health and have discovered how very common these issues really are. It shocked me that so many people are suffering in silence when really the only thing stopping them from getting help is the unwillingness to talk about these issues. Honestly, there were times when I was younger when I couldn’t see a way out of the invisible pain that I was feeling. However, since I started getting help I have learned how to really live again- I can appreciate that, although some days I might suffer from panic attacks, the world is not necessarily such a scary place and that there are so many good things for me to experience, however small.

I am certain that having a project such as Thinkwell when I was in school would have helped me enormously and am delighted that such facilities are available to young people now. We are all human, and I am so proud of the fact that I have come from not knowing how I would get through the next day, to nearing completion of my undergraduate degree with a predicted first. Recovery is a long process, filled with many ups and downs, but it is one that is so exciting; the glimpses of joy or peace or just being ok and feeling like ‘you’ again are so worth the initial misplaced embarrassment of telling someone you are suffering. My favourite quote from Chuck Close that has encapsulated my recovery is: ‘A quilt may take a year, but if you just keep doing it, you get a quilt.’ I’m gonna built myself a damn magnificent quilt.

Join the conversation on Twitter #weareallhuman @Pixel_Learning