Solutions for mental health sufferers and carers, introducing Beautiful Minds Magazine...

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I’ve shared the intimate reasons behind why I do what I do, so you can just imagine how excited I was to find out about Beautiful Minds Magazine. I chatted to their founder and editor Nicole Woodward who is working tirelessly to raise awareness of the different forms of mental health issues and relieve the stigma surrounding them.

What was your impetus for starting the magazine?

It was a few things all coming together at the same time really - my own diagnosis with depression and OCD, my friends suffer from various forms of anxiety and mental health issues, coupled with the fact that there didn’t seem to be any title in the marketplace that really covered all of the various sorts, let alone try and convey the articles with a forward thinking, solution based edge to them. 

Brilliant - so the articles are helping people to live with their condition?

Yes, definitely. We want to show that being diagnosed is not the end of the road, it’s the beginning of the journey to recovery. And, very importantly, we’re also including advice for closed loved ones and friends on how to care for someone who has been diagnosed, what to expect and how to understand their thought patterns to try and instil a sense of calm support all round.

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How did it make you feel to be diagnosed?

Actually it was a massive relief, to know that I wasn’t going crazy, to know that someone understood me and then could help me was a weight off my shoulders. Being able to give my condition a name made me able to rationalise it in a different way - suddenly I felt able to deal with it and begin to beat it as an entity in its own right. I want to encourage others who are living with these messages in their minds every day to seek help because you don’t have to live like that, life can get better.

When did you really start to notice the issue arising in your mind?

It was around Easter time in my first year at college, while I was studying a childcare BTEC course. My mum became poorly and I was also struggling with loneliness/ bullying at the time. I didn’t cope very well, instead of dealing with it in a productive manner, I became obsessed with cleanliness and this is where the OCD started to take hold.

'Every article is written by people who suffer or care for someone that does so they are personal and factual.'

How so?

I would be washing my hands up to 50 times a day, which quickly turned into scrubbing my hands relentlessly with bleach, up to five times a day. I thought that because I’d been outside or had touched something inside that there would be germs on my hands which I’d transfer to my parents and make them ill. The thoughts compounded to the point where I was struggling to leave the house.

How did you find the process to get help?

Ridiculously long. The waiting list for an appointment was six months long.

Six months?

Yes and I considered myself to be one of the lucky ones - some people wait nearly a year.

That’s horrific. How were your family in that time?

Initially they didn’t know how to react, so for example I was washing my hands hundreds of times a day and my parents thought that if they hid the soap the problem would go away. Which of course it didn’t, I just turned to other things. When they realised the severity of the matter they backtracked and took a different approach. I couldn’t have got through this without them and my support network of friends, they’ve all been amazing.

Do you think that it’s good to hear that more people are talking about mental health issues today than ever before…

Yes absolutely. The more we talk, the more it helps to reduce the stigma associated with it. And also for people who aren’t necessarily suffering with a mental health issue themselves, but are caring for someone that is. There isn’t much advice for the carers, who are often friends and family, and that’s one thing that we are addressing in most of the articles within Beautiful Minds.

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How so?

Every article is written by people who suffer or care for someone that does so they are personal and factual. But our editorial mantra is to ensure that there is a positive end to each article so we’re including tips for how to recognise symptoms, the procedures for getting help and how cope on a daily basis to make life a lot more bearable until help comes through. Because the wait for help can be a long one.

So how many people have made the magazine come to life?

Well it’s me and twenty of my friends have all come together to do the writing for this, and one talented designer who’s created the magazine and the artwork for each piece. We all believe in the need for the title; it’s bi-annual at the moment but we’d love to get it to quarterly next year.

Many charities state that they’re raising awareness about mental health issues, is there a specific part of the issue that you’re hoping to raise awareness of?

Definitely - we want to raise awareness of the many different types of mental illnesses - most people think of depression or anxiety, but what about clinical OCD, bipolar, agoraphobia, social anxiety… 

And how can people read it?

Anyone can download it from our etsy shop

Thank you so much for sharing your journey and future plans with us, we’re excited to support your magazine and look forward to reading the next edition!