The secret work of Mind
Posted Thursday 8 December 2011
Two weeks after my 23rd birthday my breakdown really hit. I was more confused about my feelings than I ever had been. I would cry at nothing, get angry at anyone who said one word to me and I developed this fascination with throwing full cups of tea at the wall. Needless to say, I ran out of cups fast.
I struggled on, feeling as though I had no one to turn to for help. I was on and off antidepressants, in and out of depression. I lost friendships and relationships as they didn't understand what was going on with me. How could I explain my feelings to others, when I didn't understand them myself?
I never knew of Mind before my GP sent me to a local Mind, but I had never met anyone so kind, supportive and non-judgemental that genuinely wanted to help me. There was little they could do to help at this time, but their kind words left a huge imprint on my world.
One thing led to another and I found myself a homeless heroin addict. The heroin acted as a form of escapism. It put me in a protective little bubble that no one from the outside could enter, including my abusive boyfriend. There seemed no stresses and strains of everyday life anymore. They were on another world, not my happy, homeless world.
Things started were getting worse when the auditory hallucinations developed into visual ones too. I knew something was wrong. For the first time in years I contemplated suicide. I couldn’t go through with it, so I chose to go to prison. Chose? Yeah! I had a suspended sentence over my head, so getting into prison wasn't going to be a problem.
This was the first time that I accepted my illness was part of me and it wasn't going anywhere fast. While I was inside, I detoxed off the heroin. I knew life was going to be hard once I was released, but prison had given me the skills needed to survive. No, they didn't teach me how to hot wire a car.
I knew what I needed when I was released and sought it out. Over the next two years, I got myself a community psychiatric nurse (CPN), a psychiatrist and a support Worker. I even went to learn counselling skills at my local college.
Just as I thought I was in control my psychiatrist broke news to me that secretly I had wanted to hear for many years. He told me that I was Cyclothymic. Better than that, it was rapid cycling - that explained everything. Unfortunately, I was not allowed mood stabilisers because my mood swings were too rapid and self-medicating in the past. I had to find my own way of coping. I felt let down, pushed away, shunned, by the one person I thought was going to help me most of all.
Luckily, I found something called Mindfulness which allowed me to be in control of my moods, voices and better still, my life. It brought peace and quiet to very active mind. Who would have thought housework could be enjoyable with Mindfulness??
I starting working for a local Mind and soon I was asked to take lead administration of the Quality Management in Mind (QMiM) process, Mind’s way of assessing the service quality of local Minds. Then my manager gave me the folder – thud! I never knew they made folders that thick. After a long process we passed. It felt great to have achieved something that meant so much for the service users of my local Mind.
Mind had taught me so much, that I had the skills and abilities to make something of myself. That all the doubts of ability and that lack of confidence was something of the past. I applied for a post on the Mind Quality Team and was appointed as a Peer Reviewer. I travel to other local Minds, with a Quality Staff Reviewer, and assess how they work, how they run their services and see the recovery of service users from all over the country. I’m able to see the work of Mind, from not only a Peer Reviewer perspective, but as an employee, as a volunteer and as a service user.
But what next? I can’t stop now. I’ve caught a bug that will take me down the path to become a psychiatrist myself. It’s a long dedicated slog of being in education for the next ten or so years. Though with the support I’ve received and still receive from Mind, my dreams will come true.
One thing I have learnt on my journey that will stay with me forever is that I am a Mind girl at heart, and I always will be.
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