My local Mind gave me my life back
Posted Saturday 19 May 2012
Even before I moved back to Aberystwyth I was involved with the local Mind services here in a way. My mum, ever supportive and wanting to make sure I managed okay, went to the drop in and had a chat with one of the staff there about what they offer.
In Mind Aberystwyth you can go to art classes on Monday and Tuesdays, drop in for tea, coffee and a healthy lunch on Wednesdays and Fridays, and yoga on Thursdays. You can also make appointments with staff, who help with all sorts of things.
I didn't have any friends when I moved back home, my support system was my mum, who has arthritis, and my sister, who has two kids of her own to deal with. I had only just met my doctor and was still in the process of getting support from the local NHS mental health services.
Going to the first drop in was a terrifying experience. As well as borderline personality disorder I suffer with anxiety. It's the one problem that really prevails, so going somewhere new, with new people was, well, terrifying.
It took a while to convince me to go in fact. I wasn't entirely looking forward to it, and wouldn't have gone if I hadn't promised my mum and GP.
But I did go, and was greeted at the door by a volunteer. I bought a cup of tea and was introduced to some of the other service users and the staff. It wasn't scary as I had thought it would. It was nice. And I ate my first healthy meal in about six weeks (I was living off pizza and whatever soups my mum brought over). I drank a lot of tea and chatted a little bit, then went back home.
I went to the drop in once a week at first, on Fridays, then decided to risk going to one of the art groups. I had really enjoyed the art part of art therapy and wanted to carry on with it, regardless of my lack of skill. It's two hours long, costs a quid, and you get a cup of tea.
I quickly found that it was as much a support group as it was an art group. I could just sit quietly and draw or just sit and talk, either worked. I loved the art groups and went on both Mondays and Tuesdays, meeting different people each time.
And instead of just being this hermit, I had a life again. I spoke to people everyday, which was hard for me even though I had been in a full time therapy programme before I'd moved back to Wales. The volunteers understood me, helped me when I was really anxious or panicky. Some days I would arrive still shaking from my morning panic attacks, some days I would bounce in hyper as anything and they accepted it all.
More importantly I made friends, people who I met during art, or during the drop in sessions. These became people I met up with outside of Mind, became part of my life even though I now don't even use the local services that much.
Now I'm too busy to go to Mind, but I still have the friends I met there. Because of the people I met I'm now back at university part time. Because of the confidence I got from going every week, from getting out of the house and talking to people almost every day, university really isn't the terrifying prospect it could've been. When I get married in July, the friends I met at Mind will be there with me.
And I know I can go back any time I need or want to.
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