This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is all about loneliness, and ways to tackle it. We’re telling tales of Bluetits who have overcome loneliness, made friends, formed connections, and improved their lives through Bluetitting.
Today, we’re telling a Reading Bluetit’s tale, Naomi.
“Becoming a Bluetit has changed my life. I have wanted to be the kind of brave person that swam in chilly rivers, under waterfalls and had a wild life for a long time but I didn’t think I could be that person or that the opportunities to do those things existed near me. On holiday I would gingerly creep into a pond or lake, shivering in the cold and then I’d come home having loved the experience but thinking that I couldn’t do it again until the next trip away.
I’ve found the last couple of years during the pandemic really hard, the move to working from home, the huge change in routine, a close family member with a cancer diagnosis, massive changes at work with a very small team, it all felt like too much. I also felt very lonely, having been used to days in a busy office with colleagues I really liked, suddenly being on my own at home, just me, my husband and our rabbits was a big change and I really missed the laughs, jokes and chats.
On a day out last June I dipped in the sea, it made me feel great – relaxed and happy. I made a decision that this was something I wanted to do more of. I booked a guided swim with the lovely Dip Advisor, Ella, tried out a swim in a local lake and another guided swim and then, adding myself to swimming groups on Facebook, I stumbled on the Reading Bluetits. It’s one of the best things to happen to me.
Since last July when I had my first swim with the Bluetits I have swum 230 times. I’ve been in the water every week since then, including right through the winter. I’ve been to the Bluetits gatherings at Lake 32, swum in a tutu, silly hats, a santa costume, a bunny girl outfit, my birthday suit and nothing but a tiara. I’ve bobbed around on an inflatable, swooshed downriver with the winter current, swam in pouring rain, bright sunshine and stinging hail. Best of all though, I’ve found my flock. I have met the most wonderful, supportive, accepting, friendly, up for anything group of people that anyone could wish for. They are there to boost you up and cheer you on when something is going well, a friendly ear when you need a chat about something that’s bothering you as you swim, and people to check up on you on a bad day and make sure you are OK. There have been birthday parties, nights out, and lots and lots of laughs and fun in the river and local lakes. I don’t feel lonely anymore, there’s no time to, when the next swim and chance to have a chat and a laugh is always planned. Last weekend I went to London with a group of tit friends to swim in the ponds and Lido on Hampstead Heath, a wonderful way to kickstart a whole summer of Titty Adventures. We have full moon swims planned to celebrate a birthday, a day at the local lake trying out the aqua park and paddleboarding, plenty of fancy dress swim ideas and a whole shared bucket list of things we want to try from adult soft play to waterfall swims and a whole smorgasbord of fun in between.
I didn’t realise how much I had lost my spark but it’s back now and I am loving life. My Mum says she has never seen me so consistently happy. I’m finding it so much easier to shrug off the stresses of my job- slipping into the river with friends at the end of a long day is the perfect way to relax and unwind. I never thought I would be brave enough to swim in the Thames, but now I can’t imagine a week without it. Becoming a Bluetit has changed my life.”