Olwyn's story

I began having bad thoughts and hallucinations. I saw people who were going to hurt me and became paranoid about the people around me. I slowly stopped caring about my interests, hobbies, and eventually, my life altogether. That’s when I wound up in Leicester contemplating my existence… 

I ended up in a secure unit for my safety before being transferred to St Ann’s Hospital. Life on the wards was quite difficult at first but it was a safe place where I could build my confidence. Looking back on it now I know the doctors were there to help me, but I was often suspicious of the staff around me, just as I had been about my family. What I didn’t realise at the time was that it was the nature of my illness.

I remember the nurses on the ward were kind. I had activities throughout the day and was fully cared for. Meals were cooked for me and I had the time to do sessions like music therapy, where we had the opportunity to play the piano and drums. Family and friends came to see me to support me through my recovery too which gave me a boost.

Key to my recovery were some of the activities I was doing. Shortly after my time in hospital I began working with Barnet college doing Community link and Broaden your Horizons Course which helped me gain the right skills to help me get back on my feet.  It also gave me the chance to make some new friends, some of whom I am still close to and found I have a lot in common with.

I was doing really well until my brother passed away in 2013, almost a year later my mum. Things took a bad turn but I got counselling for bereavement which helped me through before I was put in touch with the Recovery and Enablement Track Team. The team looked at aspects of my life which weren’t necessarily directly a consequence of my mental health problems and helped me to become more confident and resilient.

They helped me think about what I wanted in my life and how I could get those things. I set these goals with my care coordinator - I wanted to get a flat, rebuild some relationships which broke down when I was unwell, and get a job.

My environment has a lot to do with my recovery and I know that there were certain things I needed. The teams help teach me to negotiate and think about how I can emphasise the importance of certain aspects.

I became quite reclusive when I was unwell and lost people I was close to. They also helped me to develop friendships, encouraging me to socialise more and be vocal about the things that are important to me.

For the first time in 10 years I was able to find a job for myself. Although there were some situations which I found difficult to manage the team were there to help me problem solve some of the situations I was facing at work.

And, there were a number of groups I attended which taught me skills I could use in daily living and better understand and manage my condition. These included Self-Esteem Group, Healthy Living Group, Relaxation and others! I still attend some of these now and they’re part of my weekly routine. 

I’m in a much better place now with all the skills they have given me.