AskNowSaveLives: ‘Untangled’ Podcast

Jenny Ardagh and Izzy Boardman are the hosts of a mental health podcast called Untangled, where they tackle a different mental health topic in every episode. Jenny is a mental health practitioner and trainee cognitive behavioural therapist, and Izzy is a researcher and assistant producer at a media company in London.

Untangled allows Izzy and Jenny to share their own experiences, interview people, share coping strategies and discuss ‘the strange tangled mess’ that’s in their minds. The purpose of the podcast is to open up a discussion around the everyday struggles they find themselves facing as people who suffer from mental health problems themselves, and by doing so normalise these topics for their listeners, helping them manage it better.

How are you feeling today?

Jenny: I am feeling fairly tired. It’s Monday morning, so I’m feeling a bit apprehensive about the week going forward.

Izzy: Today I am feeling very happy and positive, which are two things that are pretty great to be feeling in a lockdown, and that’s because I went for a run this morning which is always good to get some fresh air, and I’ve also spoken to some of my family which always helps me to feel level and centred.

What can you see from your window?

Jenny: Mainly car parks unfortunately, and cars. I can also see a pub, which at the moment isn’t quite as exciting as it is outside of lockdown. Also a line of trees covering the rail track, and I guess that’s the best bit because if I’m sitting here and I’m working from home, I can look out and see the birds in the trees, and I can also hear them singing in the morning which is nice.

What makes you happy?

Jenny: Sitting on the sofa with some fluffy socks on in my pyjamas, put a blanket on me, have the heating cranked up, give me a massive bowl of salted popcorn and shove a Disney film on and I’ll be happy for hours.

Izzy: I would say that what makes me happy is being with the people that I’m very close to, that I feel comfortable with, so my friends and my family. Recently what also makes me happy is being active and looking after myself, which are things that perhaps I didn’t do as well in the past.

We all need support sometimes – where do you get yours?

Jenny: Mainly from my friends and family, I’m really lucky that I have my family quite close by, they all live in a close proximity to me which has been really helpful over lockdown, particularly because I’ve become an auntie over lockdown. I feel like I have people who I can go to who have been with me throughout my journey, understand me and won’t judge me for anything I say. That’s really important to me because I feel that if I don’t talk about things or share what’s happening with me, it tends to build up in my head so in order to stay well, I feel I have to talk to people I trust and who will listen as well.

Izzy: We do all need support sometimes and I’m very fortunate to have a very good group of friends and very close family that are always there for me and always look out for me, so my support comes from them a lot of the time, but sometimes I also have had external support in the form of counselling and therapy. For a time until quite recently, I was on antidepressants so I think that I’ve learnt that it’s never a bad thing to ask for help and I know that if I keep checking in with the people that I love and they keep checking in with me, that I am very fortunate to have a very good support group around me.

“We can all start on that really small step towards preventing suicide by just asking the question.”

Why is preventing suicide important to you?

Jenny: Because I have worked in mental health for around four years now, in that time I’ve had a lot of experience and close encounters with people who are currently experiencing really distressing emotions that lead them often to the conclusion of wanting to end their life. I want to do as much as possible to stop people from getting to the point where they feel so desperate and so backed into a corner that they feel they have to end their life. I, myself have experienced depression which I talk about on the podcast a lot, and within that I have also experienced suicidal thoughts myself. I fortunately never got to a point where those thoughts became a plan or became an intention of mine, but some people aren’t that lucky.

Izzy: I do worry very much that in this country we’re not good at opening up or sharing how we feel, and this can of course lead to catastrophic consequences. I never got to the point where I was going to take my own life, however I’ve definitely suffered with prolonged suicidal thoughts in the past and I know how scary it can feel when you don’t see a way out and you don’t see a future for yourself, so I’m incredibly passionate about doing anything I can to prevent suicide. It’s one of the reasons that Jenny and I started our podcast, because we really wanted to provide a space where we were able to share our own experiences with the view to helping anyone else who may find it hard to open up and share their feelings.

“I think it’s more important than ever that we check in with the people around us.”

Why should I join the Ask Now Save Lives campaign?

Jenny: It’s asking something of all of us that actually, we can all do. We can all start on that really small step towards preventing suicide by just asking the question. I think it’s really underestimated, the idea of asking somebody whether they are considering suicide. I think when people are faced with the idea of stopping suicide and preventing it, they have perhaps an overwhelming idea in their head of what that means, and of course it doesn’t mean that you need to save everyone around you or become an expert, it’s actually quite the opposite of that. Everyone can be an expert at preventing suicide by just doing something really small but very significant, which is to ask somebody if they’re considering suicide, ask how they’re feeling. It might be that you know people, or know friends of friends who have those thoughts themselves, perhaps have attempted themselves, or even have those plans in their mind currently, and you won’t know until you ask. Once you ask and you know, you can help them to get the support that they need.

Izzy: I think it’s particularly important at the moment, when we are going through such a strange and unprecedented time where people’s mental health is suffering and we are in the middle of a mental health crisis. There are a lot of people that perhaps don’t get the support they need and are going through a very lonely time. I think it’s more important than ever that we check in with the people around us and really make sure that they are getting any support and help that they might need during these difficult times, so I think joining this kind of campaign is very important for raising that awareness that it is okay to talk about your feelings.