The big day had arrived; the final day of the local Crown Green Bowling Club’s doubles tournament. The weather was set fine (or at least dry) and a small crowd had gathered (I did not count but I estimated at least 24 people).
My partner and I had won our games in the previous rounds and found ourselves surprisingly in the semi finals.
The previous week I thought this was the perfect opportunity to thank my fellow club bowlers for their comradeship. My mind then started to gradually compile a short speech. Giving a public speech even to people you know is a task not to be undertaken lightly. I had previous experience in my career and with various social clubs, but those were all before my mental meltdown over 3 years ago. So it was with some trepidation that my mind continued its deliberations.
With about 24 hours to go I had a pretty good outline of this speech in my mind. Before the matches started I asked the organiser if I could have a few minutes at the end of the competition to say a few words to everybody and he agreed. I was committed!
Final matches played, presentations completed and I was introduced. With plenty of adrenaline pumping this is a synopsis of what I said (it is not verbatim as I made no notes):
When I first came to this club just over 2 years ago I was in a very bad place. Several months earlier my mental health had hit rock bottom. I was scared to leave the house and I was unable to read a book or drive a car
After visiting the club a few times I realised each occasion was like a therapy session for me. I thought about this a little more and realised something significant. Although I enjoyed learning the game of bowls and competing in bowls matches, the most important aspect was socialising with everyone.
So I want to thank you for your friendliness and welcome I have received from you all. I hope you realise what you have here is something special and you must treasure and preserve it.
The post speech reaction was interesting. After the applause several people either shook my hand or hugged me and said how brave and honest I had been. One gentleman said “I have been a practicing psychotherapist for 30 years and I agree with everything you said”. I felt very humbled and a little shocked.
What can we learn from what happened? Firstly, mental health needs more air time; people need to feel comfortable discussing it. Secondly, you are not alone; take a risk and be honest and vulnerable. You may receive a good reaction.
A Moodscope member
PS. In case you were wondering, we lost in the semis but I still thoroughly enjoyed the whole day.