‘We really need to make it ok to not be ok’
The first ever Headfest launched this week
By Sarah Ward
The first ever Headfest, a festival of mental health and wellbeing was launched in the county this week.
A weeklong series of workshops and talks, its mission is to to bring together all the services on offer in the county and act as a stepping stone for those who are in need of mental health support to find help.
The woman who made it happen
Having been a BBC Radio Northampton presenter for many years, Helen Blaby is a well known face and name in the county. But, in what may be a surprise to many, having listened to her upbeat voice over the airwaves, she has struggled with her mental health since childhood. She lives with anxiety, depression, an eating disorder and borderline personality disorder.
“Things came to a head just before the start of the pandemic when we were asked to choose the colour of a post-it note to write something on the board at work and I couldn’t. It was just too much. That afternoon I managed to present a programme for four hours before going home and getting into bed and sobbing my heart out, because it turns out that my bucket was full to overflowing. Suddenly, getting out of bed - it was just too much.”
After going to the doctor she was prescribed ant-depressants, something she says she had resisted for many years and now wishes she hadn’t, and things felt a little better.
“If you skip forward a couple of years I was at a cliff edge again and this time I got referred to the fantastic mental health services in Northampton and finally got a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, or as I prefer to call it emotionally unstable personality disorder, or spinal tap because everything in life is turned up to 11 for me. Something people may consider to be a minor inconvenience I consider to be dreadful, if you don’t reply to my message, you have abandoned me and found a better friend.
“Thankfully I’m now in dialetic behaviour therapy group and starting to learn the skill I need to cope with myself and my emotions.
“It was starting that therapy that made me realise, I am not special, at all. There are lots and lots of people like me who are already receiving help but many more who aren’t.
“After seeing the Ben Wishaw film Surge back in July, with my friend Jason, I realised that I had just seen myself on screen - I had such a visceral reaction that I almost threw up.
“I had three choices, really - over Jason (he’s a good bloke he doesn’t need that), in my pint of cider (it cost a fair bit) or do something about it, and so I chose the latter and Headfest was born.”