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A large leafless tree on the banks of a canal with the reflection in the water. It is a sunny day with blue sky in the background.
Image by Peter Fullagar

Some of you reading this may know what has been happening lately, others may not. Here is not the place to go into full detail, but I have been struggling, severely struggling, with mental health, confidence and general well-being. This has been the result of a few things and has had an effect on both my personal and professional life. There have been individuals and companies who have been thoroughly supportive through this time - you know who you are and you receive my appreciation and thanks.

For those of you who see my Facebook page (which probably isn't very many because I'm trying to keep it personal rather than professional - apologies if I don't accept a request but the main reason I'm keeping FB at the moment is so my mum can see my photos) will have noticed that I'm outside a lot of the time. A little while ago now, I took an introductory class to Nordic walking, which I enjoyed. Initially, I thought it would help me lose weight, and that was my original goal. I ordered some poles and then went away to the New Forest for a few days on my own.

Forest trees in autumn colours with the sun shining through the trunks.
Image by Peter Fullagar

I went out on a few social walks with my local WALX group and it's been very helpful. Occasionally, I want to be out on my own and that's fine too.

Since I've been struggling, I've found being out of the flat is vital when both of you work from home. I've discovered that I need to do this because it's unbelievable for my mental health and mood. It now seems unusual if I don't go out on a daily basis, usually in the morning. I can't tell you in sufficient words what it does for me. The first week of doing this most days of the week, I found that I had walked 18 miles through the week. To some of you, this may seem a lot, to others, a mere drop in the ocean - but that's fine - it doesn't matter. This is mine to claim and I claim it as a victory.

On my walk today (which, incidentally is when I took that second photo above), I felt grateful to those I've been able to talk to, whether in a professional capacity or not. And I thought, where is there a space for freelancers, or indeed anyone connected to ELT and publishing, to be able to talk freely, honestly and openly about their mental health? Surely it is time to break the stigma and feel confident enough to be able to share.

So, my thinking is this. How about if I set up some kind of group - I haven't decided whether to do this on Facebook or another platform where people can share their mental health stories, or share however much they are comfortable with, ask for advice or a friendly ear or be that friendly ear. It would be open to any freelancer, but especially in ELT and employees in ELT. I'd be interested to know your thoughts and whether something like this is needed or not.

A close-up shot of Peter Fullagar - he is bald with a ginger and white beard. He is outside in front of a canal and the sun is shining.
Image by and of Peter Fullagar

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