The self-obsessed narcissist within me, started writing this post with an intention to try and promote my Bird Therapy talks to a wider audience. However, at the third attempt at sitting down to write it – I have had plenty of time to reflect on my first local talk and I’ve realised that it isn’t about me and my talks anymore and that’s what is so very important now.
Back on the 14th of September, I gave a Bird Therapy talk at Cley Marshes NWT. What better place to talk about the therapeutic benefits of birdwatching than one of Norfolk’s flagship nature reserves. As I set-up inside the glass-fronted education room, my eyes followed down the watercolour-like wash of the scrapes and reedbeds all the way along to the shingle ridge and the sea. Stunning.
Only three of the twenty-one people that came to the talk identified themselves as birders. The majority were genuinely interested in the wellbeing benefits of birdwatching and my own mental health experiences. I realised that I had become obsessed with promoting Bird Therapy in birding circles and neglected the other sphere it operates in – mental health. In-fact, during a Bird Therapy talk, I openly discuss: depression, anxiety, OCD, medication, self-medication and suicide. Obviously birdwatching is the running theme throughout, but mental health is THE key theme.
Several people approached me afterwards to talk privately, and all of them thanked me for talking plainly and openly about my own mental health. It was a privilege to be provided a platform to discuss such pertinent topics and I was struck by the power of talking about and sharing experiences with other people. I no longer feel a desire to push my talks in the way I had thought I should. They are a powerful way of raising mental health awareness and sharing what has worked for me. The time and platform to talk will hopefully come.
In the meantime, I have written an article for Birdwatch magazine this month, on my five ways to well-birding. https://www.birdguides.com/store/latest-issue/birdwatch
I also have some writing in the beautiful publication ‘The Curlew’. http://www.the-curlew.com/store/product/4-populus-special-price
The Countryman magazine also has a small feature on Bird Therapy in their October issue – http://www.countrymanmagazine.co.uk/the-benefits-of-birdwatching/
Finally, I still have a load of Bird Therapy t-shirts available. Black tees with a white Bird Therapy logo. Message me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in one.