You only realise the support a community can provide when you’ve hit that all time low.
Post having my son I needed all the support I could get, but I tried so hard to pretend that it wasn’t required. Ultimately it meant I struggled to bond with my baby and it took me a long time to deal with becoming a mum and having a child.
I look back at the time I had Little London and the memories are very hazy. Emotionally I can still feel how lost I was.
Luckily that time was a blip for me. And with any further children I know I need to be more open and honest from the start to make sure I’m in a good place mentally.
But for those that suffer from ongoing mental health issues having a low period isn’t always just a blip. Which is why Mind is such an important charity.
I was lucky enough to be invited to their Hillingdon branch to see how this charity is making a difference to the community, after they won a competition held by Cif who launched a community clean project.
Community centres across the country were able to be nominated to receive a sparkling community clean from the Cif clean squad.
It was there that I met Eva, who actually was the one that nominated Aston House; the Hillingdon community centre.
Now a volunteer at the centre, Eva first went to Aston House for support and finally felt like she was amongst peers. She felt able to be herself and understood by others who also suffered from mental health issues.
By feeling accepted and no longer isolated, she was able to grow and understand her illness. And through the centre she has found music in particular is a skill that helps her when she feels low, and therefore she volunteers those skills and heads a music group.
With NHS funding being cut, there has been a greater influx of people requiring the need for community centres like Aston House and Eva felt a nice uplift would go far to improve the feelings of wellbeing for those seeking support.
Which is why she decided to enter the community clean project by Cif.
It was one of five centres that won, and for an extra treat Olympic medalist Louis Smith MBE was also on hand to show his support for the clean up project.
Louis Smith knows the importance of community centres because had it not been for his local one he may not be the Olympic medalist we know today.
He gave an honest portrayal of his feelings and his mental frame of mind at the Olympics, and talked us through the decisions he made that influenced his performance at the Brazil Olympics, where he won a silver medal.
One thing that really stood out was that he owns his talent. He knows he’s one of the best. But he also acknowledges that it’s down to him and his hard work.
He never goes into the arena thinking he’ll walk away with the gold. He just hopes he does the best he can, because if he does he knows he’s in the running for that gold.
When a young boy asked him during the Q&A who his hero was, Louis replied “when I was your age I would have said Muhammad Ali. Now that I’m older I know I owe everything to my mum.”
What’s apparent is that whether or not you have mental issues, support is needed throughout our lives in various forms.
For Louis Smith, suffering from ADHD may have contributed to his outstanding ability to perform gymnastics.
For him, it was the one discipline that he never got bored of because there was always something new to learn or a different way to improve. Something that his mother fully supported and actively encouraged once she saw his enthusiasm for it when she took him to his first class aged 4.
We all need that guidance from someone. Whether it’s a person or it’s a community centre. Everyone deserves to have that belief and understanding in them.
And with a thorough clean by Cif, the Aston House community centre can continue to provide support to the individuals that openly require their help. As the saying goes “clean house, clean mind.”
(Disclosure: In collaboration with Cif)