As we are often told, congenital heart disease is a lifelong condition that requires long-term specialised care. This is often taken to mean care of our anatomical issues and physical symptoms. I have found that acknowledgment of attention to the mental side of CHD to be equally significant. As my heart disease evolves over time, so will the mental health issues associated with it. New issues will make themselves known and old ones will likely pop back to mind from time to time. My ability to live and thrive with CHD will continue. – Derek Baas

Derek Baas; who has been a friend of Somerville Heart Foundation for years; speaks about how he copes with mental health and provides some tips that work for him:

In an attempt to continue to live life well and avoiding (where possible) transmitting my stress to the people around me, I have been drawing upon multiple resources developed and cultivated in the past.

• General awareness of mindfulness principles has turned into an hour a day of formal practice. It’s boring but it helps

• I have re-engaged with a counsellor. It’s great to be able to talk to someone familiar with the full context of my life

• I am continuing to plan pleasant things – a trip to watch my son swim in a university-level competition and a plane trip. I am not willing just to sit in the park as the world goes by

• Even as I take on some challenges, I am trying to keep other stresses at bay. For example, I have given up motorway driving for a while. I just feel too vulnerable doing that particular activity

• I am, however, spending extra energy to talk myself through apprehension re: physical activity and socialising outside the home. The benefits greatly outweigh the costs and getting out, gets me out of my head and fits well into to my life principle that the best antidote to a negative experience is to generate multiple positive experiences.

Derek lives in Canada and will be writing a article for our September newsletter following on from his post COVID travels and the topic of mental health.

Men’s Mental Health Week is on from 13 – 19 June 2022. Share your mental health story with us by emailing info@sfhearts.org.uk.