This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year the focus is on relationships. We have asked people to tell us about relationships that are important to them, and how good relationships can help with mental health. Marie and Dawn from Grampian Opportunities have shared their story with us, telling us about their friendship and how they have supported each other throughout the years.


Dawn’s Storymarie and dawn
Marie and I first met at an event held in Aberdeenshire by Outside the Box (OTBDS).This was back in May 2012 so Marie and I have been friends for 4 years now. We both had started volunteering at Grampian Opportunities as a way of doing something for others and with the intention of trying to meet new people and do different things for our own wellbeing.

We started talking and realised we were both really interested in the potential of Self Directed Support in helping people to plan their lives. We attended some more events held by OTBDS around this subject and were part of a project called “Getting There” which we really enjoyed and both felt included.
Marie and I started going out for meals together and chatting about our lives but we also had been asked to be involved in a new project being run by Grampian Opportunities called “Strike Out”. This was a project to design a training course around Self-Directed Support and Support Planning.

Once we had designed and trialled the Strike Out course together, Marie and I were asked down to Stirling to deliver training to Stirling Users Network (STUN). We really enjoyed our time away, staying overnight in the hotel and chatting to each other about life in general, confiding in each other and supporting each other. Neither of us would have been able to provide training on our own but together we became a great work team and friends along the way.

It would be naive to say that we didn’t have our ups and downs but our friendship helped us to support each other and grow as individuals. I certainly wouldn’t have felt as self confident as I feel now and both of us had experienced our down days. It helps to have someone on the end of the phone or to text or Facebook when you need them. Marie and I both agree on this form of contact to support each other.

Last year I nearly died and Marie was one of the first people (after my family) who I asked to see before my operation. She was there in a flash and came and saw me throughout my convalescence. Our friendship has become very important to me and I feel like she is almost family to me now. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her.

When we were asked to be involved in OTBDS’ work for Mental Health Week, it gave us both the chance to refocus on our friendship and realise how we have grown and flourished as a result of the journey we have been on together (and on all the little journey’s along the way). We needed that – so thank you OTBDS.


Marie’s Story
Dawn has been a true and great friend to me over the past 4 years when we first met each other through an OTBDS meeting for the ‘Getting There’ project. We both became friends at that meeting and from there our friendship grew together. At times we have had our ups and downs but from these our relationship has grown stronger together.
Dawn as a friend to me you are a STAR! You have been there for me on so many occasions, days and nights when my mental health has been severely bad, when I have been in distress, when I have been ill, and at times which have tested our relationship and friendship to the brink and back again.

Dawn your friendship to me has been stronger to me than family, you love and care for me more than words can speak. You see the hidden sadness behind my smile, know when I am hurting and are always there to make me laugh and cheer me up. You have been there when I have felt so alone and just been there when I didn’t want to be around anyone. You have listened and respected me and been a wonderful support to me even when I didn’t deserve you.
Your illness last year was really hard for me to cope with but even then you were still there caring for me with kind words and actions.

So thank you so much to everyone who has supported us and let our relationship grow into such a great friendship. The friendship started as a result of OTBDS and has become a lasting legacy so thank you.


If you would like to share your story with us, talk to Ciara at Outside the Box:

0141 419 0451

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