• The Centre for Inclusive Leadership

CHANTELLE DUSETTE ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH

“Monday morning, I survived the weekend”

Or, as one audience member quipped “Monday morning, I survived the play.”

Cancel the Sunshine was my first autobiographical show about what it can be like to live with anxiety and depression, in a fast-paced city, my hometown – London and the ways in which we, or I, tried to navigate my mental health, without the assistance of healthcare professionals.

I think my depression started at 10 years old. That young. I’d felt very much on the fringe of society as a child, having survived a house fire aged 5, leaving me with visible third degree burns on my face, arms and knees – just what every kid wants on P.E Day!

The root cause of this, I think was due to a lack of identity. My only frame of reference for who I was, was in relation to how I was treated by other people. It took me a lot of heartache and good therapy, to understand, that even though I was a good tax-payer, and using my right to vote to contribute to living in a democratic world, that actually, in reality I had virtual no agency in most areas of my life. That came as quite a surprise.

Thankfully we are much more open as a society about mental health and we must continue on that path.

According to the Office of National Statistics, with the arrival of the pandemic, one in five adults were likely to be experiencing some form of depression in 2020, that figure had doubled from the previous year, when it was reportedly one in ten people.

More and more organisations are having to demonstrate their wellbeing offer to employees, as it should; with firms arranging yoga and meditation classes.

None of us are above the need to take care of ourselves and that includes looking after our mental health. For me that looks like carving space out of my day for self-reflection, meditation and practising gratitude. I am by no means “fixed”, a work in progress I’ll always be but that personal investment, has led me far away from a desire to escape myself and instead begin to be more comfortable with who I am and all that, that entails.

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