I was going to write in introductory blog post, but those are always so awkward for me, so I’m just jumping right in.
At some point this july, I will be shaving my head to raise money for MIND, the mental health charity. There are a couple of reasons for this, so I’m going to break them down here.
First up, mental health is incredibly important, and yet we still live in a society in which it is still stigmatised and misunderstood. It’s not that I feel we need to raise awareness of mental health, but help people struggling to realise that they are unwell and can ask for help. On a similar note, there are so many misunderstandings about mental illnesses, and this leads to misinformation. Just because you enjoy having a tidy desk or hate it when light switches don’t match, that doesn’t mean you have OCD, mental illnesses are complex and varied, no two cases are the same. MIND have a fantastic page on their website that gives information about most types of illness (it’s a seriously fantastic resource), so check that out. I’ve not gone down the whole list, but from what I can see there’s a Family and Friends tab for people who want to better understand how to help their loved ones, which is pretty neat. Essentially, I want to live in a world where we can have open and healthy discussions about mental health and where people can get the help they need to get better.
The reason I’ve chosen to shave my head is because I’ve wanted to do it for a while now. I’m not really certain where this desire came from, but I can fully cite this article, by Ruby Tandoh as a major motivating factor for me to actually do it. I’ve always felt defined by my hair, so many of the stories of my childhood centre around it (my favourite being about the time when I was fairly small and my nan had to give me a haircut because there was something unidentifiable in my hair and lopping it of was the easiest solution) and because of my relationship with it. I have a history of alopecia areata, which was caused by stress, and the worst case occurred when I was eleven, just before starting secondary school. My hair is a source of pride and anxiety, and in a way I want to take control of that and do something radical with it.
I always said that, if I were to do it, back in the days when it was purely hypothetical, I’d use it as an opportunity to raise money for a charity, but for a while I wasn’t sure which one. It’s hard to find a singular cause at the moment, what with so much going on globally. I decided on MIND partly because my mother is a mental health OT, and partly because, back in February Kate Nash was touring the UK and on that tour was raising awareness and money for MIND. I was actually lucky enough to meet her, and she was great, real and human and wonderful and bold. So thanks Kate, here I am, emotionally preparing myself to shave my head.