2016 was the most painful year of my life. I was suicidal three times - I’m ashamed to admit I was going to give up on everything.
I spent a number of months on the wards at BEH for schizoaffective disorder.
I worked closely with mental health team and they provided therapy over a period of weeks which helped my recovery. I had my ups and downs throughout this time but in June 2015 I was back in the community. Now, I’m in a much better place than I was.
My journey started years ago. I was left traumatised by my uncle’s suicide when I was11 years old. The event left me becoming increasingly detached and I isolated myself from other people. I also had a fairly difficult relationship with my father. He’s older now, and it’s so much better than it used to be – but it didn’t help.
It wasn’t until I was 21 and I got my first job that I could sense something wasn’t quite right. I had a severe nervous breakdown which manifested itself in hallucinations, hearing voices and paranoia. It was then that I was admitted to Napsbury - what was a major psychiatric hospital in the 80s. My family were scared and didn’t really understand what was happening to me.
But, I’ve seen progression in mental health care since then. There is so much more information out there and although there is more work to be done the stigma isn’t like it used to be. There has also been so much improvement in the actual care you receive, staff take a holistic approach which is essential to recovery - BEH’s enablement programme goes to show just that.
People who have been in hospital for a couple of months, or longer, have social issues and anxiety when they’re back in the community. Projects like enablement help people to understand how real recovery, a sustainable recovery, works.
People like me are getting more involved in projects where I can share my lived experience and help others understand. Peer support initiatives are kicking off in the NHS - it’s because of this I now have a job to look forward to!
I got an invite to come to an information session with Twining Enterprise around October 2015. I wanted get my life sorted for myself and for my children – that was my motivation. Twinging provide Employment Specialists who give one-to-one support to help you get a job and one of the most unique things about this process is that there is ongoing provision for a couple of months once you’re working to ensure you’re able to cope with the additional pressures. I’m delighted to say that soon I’ll be joining Surrey and Borders NHS as a peer support worker!
I’m excited more than I am nervous. I’ll be working in the recovery café, there will be people I meet who have come out of crisis that I’ll be having one to one sessions with. The main emphasis is to prevent them from returning to hospital. I’ll still have a key worker at BEH until I am discharged which is very reassuring. I’m looking forward to my future!