Mind member Alice writes about her mental health journey, using her words to make a difference, and how being a member of Mind makes her feel like “part of a legacy of change”.
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“My lungs want to live but my brain wants to die”. Words I wrote in a journal in 2019, the year I had to fight for my life. We usually use that expression to describe battling cancer or infection, but why don’t we use it for battling severe depression and suicidal urges? Because it was a fight, a fight I did not think I would win, but I did - I survived.
My brain is an organ like any other. When it gives up, the body can’t live then either. There was no miraculous change when things got better, but eventually I stopped thinking about dying every day, some will in me gradually was rekindled. I’m afraid every day of it coming back, because depression has come for me before. There are parts of my brain that would force me to wallow in this. Parts that if I listened to, I would never get up again. But there are other parts which want to fight, and part of fighting for me is speaking up and using my words to make a difference.
So, at the end of 2019, trying to find something to bring me back from the brink, I decided to get involved in the work of Mind. I signed up to volunteer for my local Mind and I joined Mind’s membership. I didn’t know why I needed to do it, I just did. It was something with no end goal, no further purpose than this is something I want to do, so I’ll do it. We don’t do that enough in this fast-paced world of ours. In helping Mind, I realised things about myself that I had lost. Things that I had always known but had forgotten in depths of mental ill health. I had power. I am a person. I can share my experiences. I can write. So I sat down and I wrote. And the crazy thing was people cared about what I wrote. They related to it, they learnt something, or it reached something in them.
It also was doing the very opposite of what my brain, my depression, told me to do: hide away, withdraw, and never mention what goes on in your head. Speaking up gave me the power over my depression.
Being a Mind member means being part of a legacy of change. It means learning from others and ourselves. Getting help was not easy. Negotiating the mental health system when you are extremely unwell is almost impossible without people fighting in your corner. This needs to change. I want to be part of the change and with Mind I feel I can.