Rock bottom happened in 2004 during my first year at Manchester University when I was admitted to Clatterbridge Hospital suffering with what I later realised was psychosis. It was a horrible experience, one which I wouldn’t wish on anyone – it was all very confusing and frightening. A year and a half later whilst on my year abroad in France I was taken ill again and had to come home and saw the psychiatrist again. Both episodes of illness were difficult, I’d even say traumatic. I struggled on and finished university in 2007.
Back then things felt negative and with hindsight I believe I was suffering with low self esteem and self confidence and I had a negative self image. I think I was ill due to teenage bullying – put downs and criticisms that I took on board and believed. I think if you get told enough negatives you can believe them.
After I left university in 2007 I became involved with Wirral MIND and discovered some very useful tools that I believe are worth sharing :
Firstly there are 5 Recovery Principles :
Hopefulness – there are many ways to improve our quality of life, improve our self-esteem and just get on with our lives, even if we continue to have distressing experiences.
Personal Responsibility – each of us is an expert by our own experience and can take greater control of our journey from now on.
Learning – gaining knowledge about our distress, our conditions and ways in which we can cope, thrive and grow is vital.
Self Advocacy – getting the confidence and learning the skills of how to tell others what we want is important.
Support – we all need the support of others to get better and we all have ideas, wisdom and support to offer to others ourselves. Supporting one another is a key foundation for Recovery.
Over the years since university I’ve tried to follow these principles in my own efforts to get better. Personally I would call it a journey of discovery which is very much still on-going.
Something I’ve found very useful and has given me much greater confidence in getting better and managing my mental health is WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan.)
Developed by Mary Ellen Copeland, more information can be found at :
I first became aware of this self-management tool in 2007 and have been part of both a WRAP support group at Wirral MIND and also have done a 2 day training course. It’s really made me think about wellness and how to stay well. It can be very much on-going as you think of more wellness tools and develop your folder over the course of time. Speaking to other people certainly has helped me to develop further ideas about what will help keep me well.
I’ve done many courses at Wirral MIND from 2008 onwards and have found them to be very inspirational. The variety of courses has been great and has ranged from medication to NLP to confidence to meditation. The main focus through many of the courses has been developing wellness tools and the chance to learn with other people is great. I personally believe that bringing people together to learn about mental health is great as people support each other and can gain insights from each other as well as the tutor. You end the day richer in terms of experience and knowledge than you did at the start and most importantly with tools that you can take away and use to develop yourself which I think is vital.
I think that the message of hope in mental health is really important. Getting better is definitely possible. In terms of my own journey I believe I have made progress over time and in general my mental health is better than it was. I’ve tried to do things to gain a greater understanding of mental health by reading and attending courses and have also attended support groups over the last few years. At present I would say I feel optimistic. There may be setbacks in the future, I don’t know, but I’ve done things to gain a greater insight into mental health and what can keep me well or make me unwell and have a greater awareness of when I am becoming unwell and what measures I can take to improve things. That’s important I think. Recovering from a mental health problem is not an overnight process in my view, but it definitely is possible and YOU can recover and go on to lead a meaningful life.