A Heartfelt Update and An Apology
This week I heard a statistic that really stopped me in my tracks.
Everyday, in the UK, 12 men under the age of 45 commit suicide!
That's 4,380 lives, over 4,380 families affected ...
I thought about that long and hard.
Those are real lives and all lost.
I started to question myself. Had I done things differently, had I got Ododow up and running sooner perhaps those people or their families would have been able to find the help and support they needed and perhaps that figure wouldn't have been 12, maybe it would have been 11, 10 or 9. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps ... ...
Then I started to think about other stories that have been on the news recently, from the increasing number of people who need to use food banks, to people being isolated or a hundred and one other things where people needed to find help yet couldn't and because of that their situations had been made worse and their lives had been negatively impacted.
Now follow that with the story of the lady who was sent home from work for not wearing high heels and she set up a petition that now has had over 120,000 people sign it (I think she has a valid point and I am not criticising it in any way at all).
People are motivated & taking action - taking the time to sign a petition about high heels because it has made headline news. No one died, no one went hungry, no one ...
I don't understand - what was it that made that story stand out, make the national news and get people to listen and take action?
All of this together 'hit me hard' and made me question myself and why I haven't managed to raise more awareness of the work we are doing. I haven't slept, I have cried, I have looked at the 'What if's?', the 'should haves' and 'could haves' and it has left me a bit of a wreck today!
Just for clarity - I'm not feeling sorry for myself . I am feeling frustrated for not having done a better job and confused as heck as to what are the next steps to take. I want to help and have been taking action. I want everyone to be able to find the help and support that is available to them through locally based charities and community projects - I don't want anyone to feel 'less than, not valued or that the only option for them is to take their own life'.
Being honest - we are nearly out of funding, I've already sold my home and at the same time I am not ready to give up - but I am so very tired.
And I still can't get over the fact that too often it is easier to find a hotel or restaurant on Google Maps than it is to find help and support!
Why it hit me so hard, Why it feels personal & Why I am apologising
For a number of years I have struggled with panic attacks, they are a remnant from being in an emotionally abusive and very controlled marriage. At times the panic attacks seem to come out of nowhere. They can literally take over my life & recently they've been a fairly regular unwanted visitor! The other day one was triggered by an online form! It sounds so silly when I put it here in black and white. However I'm dyslexic and I like to check, double check and triple check things before I click submit and on this form I couldn't see all of the text I was putting in as it only showed the first few words or the last few words. This form was incredibly important as it was about the social impact that our project could have and so I needed to be absolutely sure about what I was putting - but I couldn't! So, even though I knew I was being hard on myself, I started to blame and ridicule myself for what I struggled with - Those 'fights' in my head can become nasty and exhausting!
Another panic attack was triggered by going to do a 'pitch' for some funding (The whole journey there was an emotional battle with wanting to turn round and go home and yet knowing it would be selfish of me to do so - again it's exhausting) and yet another panic attack followed when I needed to tell people I hadn't been successful. Another was triggered by the fact that I couldn't see who to say Thank you to on a small crowdfunder we're doing. That one got to me so much that I have actually given into my panic and stopped promoting it because if I couldn't say Thank You it felt too wrong and against the integrity and values of the work we are doing.
Even as I am writing this I'm wondering if i'll have the courage to actually post it & share my vulnerability with you - my fear is that it will mean that people won't take me seriously and then the creation of Ododow will never happen.
Yet I know that I have to post it - because if I don't explain the struggles and at the same time ask for some help then that would be being selfish. I would be putting myself and my fears of looking stupid, weak or even a bit crazy before the benefits of what we are doing and have achieved so far. And that definitely wouldn't be the right thing to do.
Heck I used to tell my clients:
'Don't give up five minutes before the miracle'.
So I'm taking a risk and sharing. I need some help - this project is not about me or my ego. It is about creating a resource for everyone - to fill a huge gap that needs to be filled. It needs a small team of passionate people who are not driven by their egos to help us get the structure right. It needs a bit of help with funding to get us to the next stage and it needs charities & community projects to take the time to add their details to Ododow - to help create a truly valuable community resource - so that people can find the crucial help they need when they most need it.
Before I go - if it isn't the lives that would be saved that helps you to see the value of what we are doing then maybe it could be the money that could be saved across the country.
We put together a database of 434 local and regional councils across the country. If just one unemployed person from each of those areas was able to find help through Ododow and then move back into work it would save £6.8 million per year. It wouldn't be unreasonable to say 10 people per area - suddenly that is £68 million saved!
But it's not only the money - it is the value to people's lives, their confidence, self-esteem and more. The knock on effect to their families, there children ... ... the list is endless.
All of this started because one of my managers told me I could no longer work with some of my clients because they were 'No Hopers' perhaps I should have started a petition about that!
In Gratitude Always
For the record - My life is not all negative and full of panic - you see at the same time I can be fairly bright and articulate, that is how we have got this far with the project - along with the support of some amazing volunteers. The dyslexia (which was undiagnosed for many years) has actually given me some great tools & strategies to seek and find solutions to problems - because I didn't like looking foolish. I really listen to what people say and love making connections.
About the Author
Jaki is the founder of If Everyone Cares CIC. After meeting hundreds of people who had been unable to find help & support when they were facing a crisis she decided it was a 'problem she wanted to be part of solving'. She is now part of a, small but dedicated, team who are creating Ododow - The Interactive Community Map to pin-point the UK's 200,000+ Charities & Community Projects - Ododow.org.