In 2014 I moved down to Essex to live with my girlfriend and her family, I had a job and savings and was mentally well. By January of the next year I’d moved back home to South Shields to take care of my mam and was experiencing the beginnings of psychosis. 2015 was spent taking care of all of my mam’s physical and mental needs while my own were slipping. It took me until November of that year to finally force myself to go to the Drs and tell them I was hearing voices.
Thus began an ongoing recovery journey which has led me here today. I was put in touch with EIP (early intervention in psychosis) and was very quickly assigned a CPN and trialled many different medications to see what would help. It is a process of trial and error and it took me a fair few years and a few different medications before I felt like even a fraction of the person I was before. When I reached that point, though, I knew the rest was down to me to get myself back out there. Medication can only take you so far, you are the real trigger to change.
I recognised that socially I had suffered and needed to re-join the community, that’s where Moving Forward, Moving On Tyne and Wear, and IPS (individual placement support) came in. Firstly I was put in touch Beth, an amazing link worker from Moving Forward who worked very hard to seek out the things I wanted to do to improve myself. She introduced me to a snooker club, a walking group, a music appreciation group and even came on walks with me herself. These were just the first tiny steps I needed to take to regain control of my life. Through going to these groups and clubs I started to find my voice again; gaining confidence each time I left the house to attend a group and starting to believe again that I can be healthy and well. I attended these groups for at least a year before finally deciding that I was at the point where I’d like to have a job.
My CPN put me touch with Louise from IPS, a service within the mental health trust that helps service users find work. Louise worked extremely closely with me and identified things about myself that I never even realised. She told me about the peer supporter role and at first I thought “that’s well out of my league”. But Louise knew better than that and through encouragement and belief in me, I found it within myself to put in the application, do really well in the interview and eventually end up with the job. It took me a while to recognise that it was me who got me there, I put in the work and I put myself out there, and the energy was returned tenfold. I know I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the ongoing support of mental health services, but it’s important to recognise how much work we put into looking after ourselves.
Now I work full time and give some of time to the recovery college so I can share my story of hope and help other people regain their lives.