Helen's story

It started in January 2014 when I contacted the Barnet Crisis Team after getting the number from Adult Social Services. I was on my knees and didn’t know who to turn to. I’ve suffered with chronic depression for 25 years. I have suffered with periods of suicidal thoughts with feelings of absolutely no self-worth.

The main reason for this was that I suffered childhood trauma. I also suffer with chronic pain and a lung condition. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror and I couldn’t see through the black fog in my head.                                                                                        

I have two children who have suffered with me, as whatever I went through in the 25 years....so did my children!

I have had two failed marriages, but this is because maybe I have attracted the wrong type of person. Perhaps I thought that I didn’t deserve the right type of relationship… I’m sure you’ve heard of self-sabotage. I desperately needed help.

The Crisis Team came to my house where I begged them to admit me to a mental health ward. They said that they felt that this was not what I needed. I was angry with them, but I decided to go to my dad’s down in Bournemouth. Meanwhile, they had referred me to the Complex Care Team in Barnet.

Soon after I got back, I received an appointment from The Complex Care Team at Dennis Scott Unit where I saw a psychologist, Lisa Shavin. Lisa was understanding and extremely helpful. I saw Lisa for about six sessions, and I started group therapy. Unfortunately I only went for one session – I just wasn’t comfortable at the Dennis Scott Unit with the fear that my narcissistic husband would see me there. Safe-guarding was then put in place to protect me from bumping into him.

Lisa mentioned The Network in Barnet - a partnership between BEH and Barnet Council - and the next stage of my enablement journey began…

I met with Deryn Howard and immediately felt comfortable. Here was this blubbering woman – no make-up, greasy hair, sitting in front of her – but somehow she made me feel safe! We had about four sessions on our own when she mentioned the dreaded ‘group therapy’. Everybody hates group therapy at first, but I attended New Steps with Deryn and Sophie Brown. All the women in the group connected. In fact, most of us are still in contact. New Steps provided tools for us to move forward from our biggest hurdles, but the biggest thing I learnt was about life roles – I am a mother, daughter, sister, grandmother (that’s my favourite), photographer… you get the gist!

Next came WRAP and Skills for Living…

The group sessions were a real eye opener, and they made me look at my life with different eyes and enabled me to make changes. Slowly but surely I started to see cracks in that black fog. I started to smile, laugh and take care myself. More importantly, I found that I could finally look at myself in the mirror! I still have a lot of bad days but when these occur I tend to get out my folder and go over the documents from the sessions – these are a big help for my continued recovery. I now volunteer at Childline, helping other children with their fears and problems hopefully before it ruins the rest of their lives. I will also be attending a photography course in the New Year. These are two things I had only ever dreamt about doing.

Every step of my journey with Barnet Mental Health Service has been massively difficult but so, so worth it.

I want to thank the Crisis Team for not admitting me even when I was begging them to do so. I’ll let you into a little secret....they were right!

I want to thank Dennis Scott Unit for helping me to actually leave the house.

And finally, I want to thank The Network for the final part of my enablement journey as I honestly don’t know where I would be right now without their input. My daughter reminds me that I’m the one who changed (at one point, my kids thought they would lose me altogether) and she’s correct… I did it – I finally became the person I am today all because of the little bits that I’ve taken from that innocent nine year old child, from my ex- husbands, from the let downs, the lies and deceit.

I am a survivor. But I survived with the help of all of the services working together.