My service user journey - Barbara

“It was such a comfort to realise that I wasn’t alone"

I had been feeling lost for a really long time. I didn’t understand what was happening to me, I was totally bewildered. Everything was a struggle, every part of life. Getting up, showering, everything was a huge effort. Everything, time and days, would just dwindle away. It was so hard because I just didn’t understand what it was and what was happening to me. I just know that I had given up.

All of my systems had shut down and I couldn’t even walk sometimes. I felt that other people couldn’t understand how I was feeling because I couldn’t understand it myself. I withdrew from my friends because I didn’t even like myself anymore and I didn’t want to foist my company on them. They would arrange things that I could cancel at the last minute. They kept trying.

I had been on anti-depressants for quite a long time and whilst I was visiting the GP she gave me a Health in Mind leaflet. She said that other patients had found the service helpful and that they might be able to help me. So I rang Health in Mind and I went on the Manage Your Mood six week course. The very best thing about the course was being in a group of other people who were all experiencing feelings like I was, and I realised that it wasn’t just me, that I was not alone. The group was full of ordinary people, all sorts of people, and they were all suffering like me.

It was such a comfort to realise that I wasn’t alone, at one point before that I did actually think that I was losing my mind. I found the group helpful, and interesting, but I still couldn’t always motivate myself to do the things that they were talking about. I still really wanted to understand what was happening to me and I was anxious about commandeering the group for myself. When it finished I had a phone call to check how I was feeling and I said that I felt that I still needed more. I was put on the Building Self Esteem Group but, although it was interesting, it was not right for me.

Throughout my time with Health in Mind they had said there was other help available so I was allocated a therapist to do one to one work with me in person. The work with my therapist was my time and I didn’t have to share it with anyone else. It was all about me. As soon as I met my therapist it was great, she is really lovely and I think she works magic on me. She is amazing and really gets me to talk about things and feelings. It was like a cork came out of a bottle and she would be writing reams of notes. When I said things she would say ‘oh yes, we can help with that’, and it was so reassuring.

I do try to keep up with my homework but if I fall behind she says ‘that’s ok, you’ve done that bit’, and usually I have actually done more than I realised. She is so positive and encouraging. Because the groups were only six sessions I was concerned we might only have six sessions, but we have had more and that is really helpful. I also know that I can come back in the future, if I need to, and that is really comforting too. It is really reassuring to know that there is help.

I already feel so much better. I have a life! I feel positive now and I had felt negative for such a long time. Even before the spring came I could already feel myself being brighter. I had felt hopeless but now I don’t. I am starting to do little tasks, and little something’s now. I realise that the lots of little something’s add up and it is easier for me than taking on big tasks. As the new note on my fridge reminds me, all or nothing is unrealistic but something is fine. I have been doing small things in the garden and I know that I can achieve something. I have also been going out with my friends. They didn’t give up on me and now I’m back!

I have also realised that I was waiting to get back to normal, to my old self before this happened, but I realise that a long time, years, has passed. It has dawned on me that I would have changed in all those years anyway and that my old self would be different now. So I am comfortable to know that I can’t expect to do as much as quickly anymore, and I have come to terms with that.

Health in Mind is a wonderful service. From the very start I have been treated kindly and guided to the best option for me. I have been encouraged to look for, recognise and appreciate even the slightest improvement. As they say ‘every journey begins with the first step’, so contact them and good luck!