Notes into the future from my past self

I just had the kind of day that, in the power thrusting 80’s when I was at school, I assumed that in my 40’s I would be having on a regular basis. Sitting in the hairdressers getting a blow dry this morning, I looked at myself and the day ahead and thought, is this really happening to me? And beneath my 40-something skin I could just about discern my 18 year old self, who thought that I would be taking all this in my stride. And I wondered, did it feel how I was expecting it to feel?

So the blow dry was a coincidence, but a happy one. I’d booked a haircut because I was talking at the Design in Mental Health conference the following day, and decided I looked a bit scruffy. But as it turned out I was able to ask Maisie, who did it for me, to make it extra curly, so that in exactly 3 hours it would look just right for the photoshoot I was having that afternoon with the Evening Standard features section. We’ve entered Mental Snapp in the Virgin Business Awards, Voom, and need public votes to get selected through to the next round. It was a last minute decision, prompted by a couple of days away with our funders and mentors, UnLtd, and a late night conversation with Tex, my husband and business partner, about the need to do succession planning for Mental Snapp to make sure that we have legs to continue beyond prototype stage. I’d looked at it, and thought that I didn’t have time to run a social media campaign on top of the conference, a co design panel session, and planning and executing our son’s 6th birthday party. But, off the back of a late night Friday conversation and the refresher break with UnLtd, filled with bravado, I filled in the Virgin application at 2am and emailed Jonny, our fantastic and reliable cameraman, who came around the next morning to film our taster video. He came round at 11.30 on the Saturday, and we squeaked in the filming before a couple of our neighbour’s kids came round for a play date at 12.30. Literally we were saying cut when the doorbell rang. Thank the Lord.

So then I spent the following week, that was supposed to be an easy week getting ready for Samuel’s party, contacting every single person I know and asking for their vote. This is the link to vote for us if you haven’t already: I should imagine, if you’re reading this, that you probably have. But just in case. We need 400 more votes to get in the top 80 I reckon. At the moment we’re about 200th from the top. But but but. I’m going to speak at this conference and will plug it there, and the Evening Standard are running a feature on us on Thursday.

So, I’m looking at myself in the mirror and thinking about the fact that I’m getting a blow dry for my photo shoot, as it turns out. The Standard contacted us on Friday and said they wanted to run a piece. It’s all through networks of course, and I’m immensely grateful to the journalist who passed us on. And then, I was thinking as I looked at myself and Maisie doing my blow dry, after a trip to Kensington for my photo shoot and interview, it’s back to Charlton to pick up my son Samuel, have a quick supper with my adoring and supportive husband and business partner Tex, and my lovely son, nip to Euston, get the train to Birmingham, speak at a conference the next day, black tie dinner that evening, home the next day, couple of days prep and buy a new MacBook as the other one bust, family lunch on Saturday, Samuel’s 6th birthday and a house full of kids and a magician on Sunday. All in a day’s work, right?

So, the reality of this feels a little different from the 18 year old self projection. The reality of this is that I have to take it moment by moment, otherwise it’s overwhelming. I have been intensely pleased to get back in touch with a whole load of people as a result of telling every single person I know on social media about the Voom campaign and Mental Snapp. But it has to be said that contacting every single person you know – literally I must’ve contacted about 1000 people by now – and having your phone Bing every other minute as a result, is exactly the kind of thing you do when you’re going manic. And on Sunday I had to take the whole day off and take Rescue Remedy and rest and sleep. I feel better as a result. If we don’t get selected for Voom, well, we tried – it’s been immensely productive doing it, and all our contacts know now what we’re doing, which has got to be a good thing. I’ve had a good few connections pop up who will I’m sure be involved at a later stage, both from past lives and from new connections. So, awesome.

Another good thing that has come out of it is that I got to road test Mental Snapp – or at least the process of making a video diary – when feeling close to the edge. Would it be a good thing to record now, I thought, with some trepidation, at 12pm on Saturday night. I held the phone up, feeling strangely calm and close to crisis at the same time, told the camera I had a mouth ulcer, was feeling dodgy, that all was well and that I was worried all at the same time, and that I was going to bed now. It would’ve taken me half an hour to write it all down, but having my face there means that it is a memory jolt for me and me alone. But I knew I had ‘lodged’ it. It was in the bank. And that made me feel better.

Someone said in the co design panel on Wednesday, having done some of the guided exercises, that recording video diaries in a Mental Snapp type way is like going to the gym for your mind. That sounds good to me. I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling that the exercise of telling your story in short manageable chunks is therapeutic and valuable. Weirdly, recording that video, thinking back on it now, it made me realise I’m not alone. Maybe it’s because, by lodging something, you are leaving it for all your future selves. At any rate, it’s in the bank.

So, going back to the start of the day, now that I’m nearly at its end, it’s been an interesting one, this dream day. To my 18 year old self, who was trying to peep out from behind my 40 something face when I looked in the mirror this morning, I’d say, you are not alone. It won’t feel like you expected it to, being 40, whether you’re en route to the Evening Standard, or a conference in Birmingham, or wherever. But now, as I’m on the train, watching the countryside flash by as the summer evening draws in, I think it will feel better than you thought it would. Moment by moment.

Don’t forget for vote for us – wish me luck at the conference – and enjoy yourself and those you love, wherever you are.

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