My name is Craig Eldridge, I moved to Dorset in 2014. Between the years of 2017 and 2010 I had an eating disorder. I was scared that food would make me ill, so I tried to avoid it anyway I could. Over the years I had highs and lows of getting over it. Today I’m in a really good place, I have my mental health under control. I know what triggers me, what I can do to prevent these triggers, but also ways to deal with them if they ever happen. Its been a long and tough journey, but I’m glad I stuck with it every day.
What are your interests/passions?
One of my hobbies is dancing, I have been a salsa instructor since 2004. Dancing is a great way for me to exercise and clear my head when it wont switch off.
I also love cycling; I have a few different bikes. However, my favourite one is my custom lowrider. I ride out every Wednesday evening along the sea front with a group of like-minded people who have custom bikes. Cruising along the prom is a great way to disconnect from your thoughts. The sun, sand, sea and a spot of music to switch you off from the world.
How did you come to Dorset Mind?
I found out from Dorset Mind back in 2017 when I did a presentation at a networking evening. I ended up chatting to Dan Willis (another Dorset Mind Ambassador). He told me I should offer to share my story to help people and see if there was anyway I could help the charity. Now, here I am.
Has anything changed in your life since becoming an ambassador?
Since becoming an ambassador I realise that everyone has mental health, but we all have different threshold levels and coping strategies. Not everyone is open to talking about things. Thankfully for me I don’t shut up, so I’m happy to spread the word about Dorset Mind and Mental Health Awareness.
Has Dorset Mind helped you in any way, if so how?
Back in 2018 I took that year out from work, because things got really bad for me mentally. So I attended a few Dorset Mind Wellbeing groups. I found these were helpful at pushing myself to get out the house, but to also see you aren’t alone. You didn’t need to speak if you didn’t want to, but to get out and gets some advice was key for me.
Since being an ambassador I have been fortunate enough to attend all of Dorset Mind’s groups (minus Women in Mind, for obvious reasons). Each one is different yet all have a purpose in helping people. There is a group for every type of person needing help.
What do you hope to achieve in your role, in your life, what’s driving you?
I would love to get on to a TedX stage talking about Mental Health, having it recorded so that anyone in the world could see it and hopefully help change their lives. I don’t want people to get into the dark place I did, this is why I do what I do. I don’t want people to suffer like I have, life is worth living.
When I speak at events, I don’t want to change everyone’s life. If I touch one person and hopefully help change them, or inspire them to help others, that is what its all about for me. Presenting also help me, it builds my confidence and make me feel good helping others.
If you had one piece of advice you could tell someone about how to improve their mental health, what would it be?
If I could give one piece of advice. I would say, don’t be scared to find professional help. You aren’t weak for getting help, you are trying to remain strong. Remind yourself that. If you have found someone and it doesn’t feel like its helping, don’t be afraid to leave them and find another professional person. They must be right for you, don’t settle.