I stopped leaving my house, dropped out of my circle of friends, gave up my voluntary job and quit university and became very paranoid, especially about my mother. My family didn’t really understand what was happening to me. They could see I was changing and acting strange, out of character. They prayed for me but that didn’t have an impact on the dark place I was in at the time.
After an incident at home I was diagnosed with depression and psychosis and became an inpatient at the North London Forensic Service.
I was put on medication which helped me a lot and I had therapy sessions where I could express what I was going through.
Staff also ran various activities throughout the day – I started off doing art, pottery and going to the gym. I felt like these activities helped to me to have a purpose, it meant I wouldn’t spend all day in bed. Since then I have been so in tune with my fitness and health. I exercise regularly, it helps my physical and mental wellbeing.
In the past I’ve used exercise to elevate my mood, it helped me sleep better and I became more health conscious but it was too easy to put it off. Due to the support I’ve had on the ward I really feel like I’ve had a lifestyle change in the past two years. I’m more health conscious too – I think about what I am eating and my diet too. I have learnt what works for me while I was here and I feel healthier, physically and mentally.
Enablement outlines my whole experience here. The staff help me set up housing and they help teach me life skills for when I’m back in the community. For example, I’m being taught how to budget so I’ll be able to make ends meet when I’m discharged from the wards. I keep track of what I spend and I’m encouraged to save, I never used to do that before. I would spend everything I earned. These are the kinds of skills which I’ll need when I’m living by myself – I’m conscious of the fact that I’ll have food to buy and bills to pay and I want to make sure I get this right so it doesn’t get too much.
It’s not just that, my relationships with my family have improved too. At one point I wasn’t even on speaking terms with my mum, now we’re in touch and we’re working on our relationship. I think things have got much better with my sister too. Everything is out in the open now - they know a lot more about me and can understand some of what I was going through.
It’s encouraging to know there will be support for me even after I am discharged. I’ll have help with finding a job and applying for benefits.
Before I came here I was at university. I have a degree in sociology and criminology but I want to go back and do a masters. I need to think about maintaining everything I have learnt during my time here and ensure that I don’t put too much pressure on myself, but at some point I’d quite like to go back to university.