Archive for DLYG Zimbabwe

Don’t Lose Your Grip Zimbabwe

Don’t Lose Your Grip has been around for the last 2 years. For Chrisselle and myself, it was a way of honouring our friends memory and coping with her suicide. Along the way we made some amazing friends and helped a few people open up about their mental health. This has been great but in 2013 we decided that we needed to take it to the next level.

On the UK front Chrisselle has been raising money for local charities with her Cupcake & Tea events in Livingston. This has also been a great place for people to find support in their local community while being able to open up about the mental health issues that are so often swept under the rug. Along with the fundraising teas, she is working on setting up local therapy & support groups and planning a charity benefit later this year. All in all, things are moving forward quite swimmingly.

We still have our weekly #TopicsToDiscuss about mental health on Monday’s and eating disorders on Tuesdays to raise awareness and remind people that it is ok not to be ok… Opening up about these serious issues are key in the fight against judgment and stigmas. And of course we still have our #InspirationalSongOfTheDay competitions because the way we see it, whatever you’re going through, someone else has also been there… and they probably wrote a song about it. Music can get through to us when ordinary words seem futile. Reminding each and every person suffering in silence out there that they are not alone is just one of the benefits of our twitter account.

On the Zimbabwe front things are just getting started… We have set up a Zim twitter account so that we can targert Zim specific stigmas and challenges regarding mental health. Every Thursday at 8pm we’ll be having a stigma-busting discussion on twitter called  #TTDzim (Topics To Discuss Zimbabwe) and hopefully every conversation will bring us one step closer to understanding and a judgement free country. We’re also urging our followers to kick off their tweeting day with a #ReasonToSmile and posting something positive about their day or something they are looking forward to on their page on a daily bases. We are currently in talks with a few professionals to help us set up a support line – someone you can call when you are feeling depressed or worried about a friend or need help getting in touch with a medical professional. Help is available, sometimes t is just hard to find… We want to do everything in our power to make support more accessible. And once we have our network of professionals set up, we want to set up a support group in every town.

No one should be judged for the way they feel and everyone should have the oppertunity to get help. Our world isn’t perfect and there is still a long way to go before we reach our Utophia but that doesn’t mean we should give up or stop trying to get there. The power is in our hands and we’re tired of waiting for someone else to be the change that we can be but we can’t do it alone, so join us on twitter or like us on facebook and let’s save some lives one conversation at a time…

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Autism Awareness

April is Autism awareness month. Usually I see these kinds of awareness campaigns as a little bit of fun for a good cause and hopefully somewhere along the line one or two people will be reached and that would be a successful campaign. This time around I pushed for a fairly simple project at work supporting the global call to ‘Go Blue for Autism’.

A simple process where all of our staff wear blue every Friday this month and we hand out flyers (which I also translated into Shona with some interesting results) and we educated our staff. I had a lot of conversations with idividual staff members about what exactly Autism is and what they can do to help. I was really amazed by how little all of them knew!! Sometimes I take my experience and education for granted.

So 13days into Autism Awareness month and it’s amazing how involved all of them are. They want to know more and they want to share it with their friends and families and they actually love being more informed. The biggest thing with Autism in Africa (and most mental health issues) is that no one talks about it. No one really seem to know much about it and more often than not, the person suffering is written off by their families and locked away; kept as a prisoner in their own home, simply because no one knows how to ‘handle them’. No has bothered to educate future parents on the very real possibility that their child will not be like every other child… that their child might be different. And by different I do not just mean have Autism or any other mental illness, I also mean that their boy mightlike playing withdolls and that their daughter might grow up not wanting to marry a guy… There is still a lot of forced rules placed on everyone and if your child or your family do not fit this mold perfectly, you must be ashamed? What kind of a world do we live in where a father might hate his own daughter for being gay or a mother writing off her baby because he does not respond like other kids? An uneducated one!

Awareness campaigns are so common right now that it’s easy to start thinking that they are just a way to kill time or make yourself seem more worldly but we forget that these campaigns exist not for those of us who are aware but for those who have never been informed. For all of those mothers who spent days crying because they could not bond with their child. For those kids who were abandoned because no one saw the potential behind their disorder. For everyone who has been made to feel worthless simply because they were not like everyone else.

So do yourself a favour and get involved! Talk about it! Share your experiences and be not afraid to teach others what you have learned…

PS: if you live in Southern Africa join us on twitter at DLYGzimbabwe where we are starting a campaign to talk about mental health instead of just allowing each other to suffer in silence