We're Married!

When you get an Uber and you are alone, do you sit in the front or the back? That is my current level of social anxiety.  A few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to get in the car let alone survive that awkward “are you busy today?” chat. 

It is amazing how far to think I have come in the past few years and the last few weeks since our wedding has been the perfect time to reflect. The months leading up to the big day can be so stressful but it is important to have friends and family around to support you. Please, reach out, you are not alone.

The vast majority of your friends and family will be flattered or over the moon that you want their help or input into your special occasion so don’t be shy to ask.  I’m so glad we asked for help and I owe those nearest and dearest so much. Maybe it's asking for help setting up the favors on the table or even a special reading. It is the little personal touches, that you and your closest family bring to the day that makes it important, unique and memorable. 

Does anyone else have a pork pie in their wedding photos?
Who else had a big red bus for the closest family to ride?
Who else had a flash mob after their first dance?
 Just us. 
It might be a little 'out there'. But that's us. We're special. Unashamed.

We had a 'Mind' theme photobooth!
Could you support a charity important to you on your big day?
Since mental health has been such a huge part of our lives, we wanted it to be part of our huge day. In fact, I've written a blog for Mind which will hopefully appear soon on their website.
While 2015 was the worst year of my life, it was the catalyst for so many good things. Getting support and diagnosis on the NHS helped me get the right path to recovery and trying to stay healthy. For me, having a diagnosis of EUPD meant I had something to learn about and focus on; it wasn't a horrific shadow or even unknown.

Mind helped me to find a voice and to take ownership of my story – rather than letting my story or my mental health own me.

With the help of Mind, I’ve told my story on BBC News and to The Guardian. They also introduced me to the Mind Media Awards where I have helped shortlist entries for 3 years.

During this time, I also became reacquainted with a friend from school, Caroline. We had drifted apart, as you naturally do after school. Caroline had a difficult time and suffered her own frightening mental health issues at university. However, those experiences helped us see past each other’s flaws and into our future. We weren’t damaged or scarred. We’d survived and were starting to thrive on the adventure of a lifetime. Within a few months, I knew I could never be without her and on New Years Eve, I asked her to marry me.

We were married on 6th April 2019 at our local church where we both grew up and we are thrilled to share some photos with you here. We used Mind wedding favors, name cards with pins, on our tables. On the back of our order of service, we asked people to make donations to Mind via the website. We also had leaflets, flags, and donations around our photo booth.  

I don't know if we raised much, but it felt nice to have a positive story linked to mental health.

If you had asked me in 2015, I couldn’t see a future. Yet the right help has helped me on a path to where we are now. Mental health doesn't have to be a bad news story. Good things, like happy endings, can happen too.

Find out more about my story through my blog or browse the different interviews I've done at www.MattStreuli.uk
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Order of Service designed and produced by MattStreuli.uk

Scented Candles and #SelfCare

Human nature seems to like maintaining the status quo however when that is the routine deaths of 100,000 people each year linked to issues with mental health care, I can’t help feeling something can and should change.

Whilst the male suicide rate was at its lowest in 2017 (since 1981 when the Office for National Statistics started) it is still the biggest killer of men from their teens to the time they should get their bus pass. In 2017, 5,821 people ended their own lives. 4,382 (75.3%) of those were male.

There are many ways to tackle this and different organisations are taking different multi-pronged approaches. In fact this week sees the Mind Media Awards which does a fantastic job of promoting sensible and careful conversation of mental health in the press or on films and TV. It also rewards those programmes, journalists and producers who undertake this difficult conversation and encourage people to talk and seek help. I was very proud to be on the shortlisting panel for the awards for a third year running and as ever found it a rewarding, enlightening and humbling experience. You can watch the event live via the Mind website.

One of the prongs to tackle this killer is the idea of self-care. In the ever hectic world where stress is the biggest cause of absence at work, helping people make healthier decisions can not just save the NHS millions or decrease your waist size but actually steer people away from the edge. The image of having a relaxing bath, or sitting still for 5 minutes of calm with candle or wax melt can at first feel quite… ladylike. But why should there be anything wrong with looking after your mind if it’s OK to look after your body? 

I asked on twitter: When was the last time you did nothing? Just focused on a raindrop, sat still, silently noticing the world around and what your senses' sense?

Every vote was either 'Rarely' or 'Never'.

One of the ways I practise self-care is to sit still and practise some simplified mindfulness with a wax melt or a candle to focus on. How does it smell? Can you see the flicker of the flame or the wisps of fragrance raise from the pool? Taking 5 minutes to notice these things allows your body and mind to reset from the chaos that is your pinging emails, buzzing text messages and banging of children or telephones. 

Below is a video review for Pick N Melt who reached out to me and given the nature of my blog and social media wanted my view on their products. The Mrs-to-be and I adore a Yankee Candle so went in with high hopes. It would be nice to spend some money on craft-made UK candles and wax melts? 

I have been blown away by the beautiful scents available and how well the fragrance remains. I've used big brand wax melts before and ended up with 'scent-less' wax lining my bin after a few hours but the 'Seville Orange' has been going for almost 35 hours now and it still smells like we've zested our own fruits right there. It's not overpowering but it is strong and lasts really well. I'm really impressed with the value of money their monthly subscription pack provides - a perfect gift for Christmas or for you to share with your friends and promote a bit of #selfcare.  #BeTheMateYoudWant.

Thanks for reading! Please share, subscribe and comment. Why not have a look at some past popular posts I've linked below!?

Remembering Family at Weddings: I Don't Really Want To...

This is a question I've been avoiding for a while.
On paper, it seems a nice idea to have a candle or a sign - perhaps even some photographs - of loved ones who have died and so are unable to attend your wedding day. My problem is that I don't particularly love my alcoholic Mother who drank herself to death when I was 13.

WedMagazine.co.uk is one of the many sites that have heartfelt articles on remembering your deceased family members and I think the idea of honouring someone close, especially when they have helped shaped who you are today, is a lovely tribute.  This particular article talks about mentioning them in the order of service, using their favourite flowers or piece of jewellery. The only proposition suitable for my dead mum is raising a glass to her but I'm not sure saying "Cheers" to so someone so dependent to booze it cost them their marriage, dignity and life is something worth writing home about. 

Part of writing my blog is to help me understand and process how I feel and what I think about certain issues or situations. It is also a great opportunity to hear your honest feedback through social media and the comments below. I guess what might seem alien is that even though she finally died in 2003, I don't think I have forgiven her. In fact, I'm still quite annoyed with her. It's not the anger I felt when I was a teenager - time has mellowed this pain to that of a mild itch.

I remember sitting on the hospital bed in which my Mum died and holding her hand.  I told her that despite everything that had happened, I forgave her. I didn't really forgive her and I still don't but I couldn't let her die thinking her only Son hated her. I was 13.

I was on BBC's Victoria Derbyshire - Click for more

We've already decided that at our wedding there will be 'nods' and elements highlighting mental health; so important to the journey that the bride and I have made to reach this day. Just in case you haven't seen my mug on TV, heard my effeminate voice on radio or my trotters on the stage: my story starts as a carer for an alcoholic Mother and leads into mental health as a teen and adult suffering workplace discrimination culminating in a suicide attempt in 2015.

Given that my Mother played a key role in creating a dysfunction home of my childhood which in turn warped the cogs of my mind and altered my programming - should I be thanking her? As an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, I know forgiveness and learning to love again is key. However, I will never really know the what and the whys that drove my mum to find relief in her dry white wine.       Continues Below...

All of this brings me back to the idea of remembering that lost loved one. They helped shape who you are today. There can be no doubt that the actions and inactions of my Mother were a huge influence in the avenues my life has travelled. Perhaps rather than raising a glass, I could raise a middle finger? Despite everything, look how far I've come and look how far I will go.

What would you do?  Do you have a loved one you're not entirely sure you want to remember? Do you just ignore them and gloss over it? Or should I stop my whining and do a small tribute so I'm not being such a monster? Leave a comment below or my Facebook page.

After everything, she is my Mother.