Monday 19 September 2016

The Power of Friends with Stripes - how a zebra aided my mental health

Hello hello.

Today, I have a guest post over at my local branch of the mental health charity Mind, and guess which story I decided to share ...

If you've been visiting me here for a long time then you'll probably already know the backstory of the unlikely bond I made with a plastic zebra. If you're newer to me you might just have thought I have a  zebra collection because I like stripes. Which I do ... but there' more to it than that.

I'm always, always, keen to have the story - and indeed little companion zebras - reach and help more people so I leapt at the chance to share it with the Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind blog readers.

Here's how the story begins ...

"Depression can be a lonely place; one where, as well as battling with ourselves, we might also struggle to explain to others how we’re feeling. [...] 

But what if we had a secret back-up to help us approach those moments with a little added confidence? What if we could find a calm, constant, non-judgemental companion who wouldn’t leave our sides, who could help us concentrate when things got a bit wobbly, who could reassure us that no, we aren’t going to die, we’re going to breathe slowly, get through this, and then get home for tea and biscuits unharmed. 

 What if that someone, that calming friend, could fit in our bag or pocket so no one around would know they were there? And what if that someone wasn’t a someone at all … but rather a plastic zoo animal?" 


If you know someone:

  • struggling with their mental health right now;
  • or who needs a little confidence boost;
  • or who is anxious about starting a new venture (maybe someone heading to University for the first time);
... and you feel like there's nothing you can do ... please know that there is, even if it feels like a tiny gesture.

Share my zebra story from the Mind blog today with them and maybe even find them a striped supporter of their own.

Or - if you are that person - get one for yourself, or print one out, or draw one ... whatever helps. (In an ideal world I'd buy up the world's supply of plastic zebras and hand them out to anyone who needed one!

Zebras don't solve our problems for us ... but they do make excellent companions while we work on the rest. (Now there's a sentence you don't expect to hear very often).

If you do join in the stripey army, whenever, do let me know. But for now ... make sure to read the full story here ... so that everything else begins to make sense!



  1. It was a tiny teddy my mum once made to fit in my pocket. She was, and is a great believer in the power of a small friend. I know this story and I've always loved it and now I'm admiring its retelling. Stripe On.

  2. This is a fabulous and inspiring story and it takes a certain kind of bravery to share it with the world. So many aspects of your story resonate with me for various reasons, I honestly think that a lot of children at school would benefit from hearing you tell your story to them. Everyone puts on a big brave face that they are coping well, but I believe there are more people than we imagine who could really do with a zebra of their own.

  3. While my secret support is not a Zebra, I do know about needing that extra support during the dark days. In this part of the world, depression is often referred to as fighting the dragon, so I have a small silver sword that I carry with me at all times because I just never know when I will need to fight the dragon. Like Sian & Deb, I admire you sharing the story. Thank you.

  4. Beautifully written, both here and over there at Mind. Hoping it will en-courage others too :).


Thanks for leaving me a comment, asking me a question, sharing your own story or just randomly saying hello.