We post this story with many thanks to the inspiring service user who reached out for help and who works to inspire others to do the same.
I self-referred to MIND because I was suffering from anxiety and clinical depression. Something I have suffered with for over 15 years, but only diagnosed by a doctors shortly after my Mother passed away some 12 years ago. I have recently heard the saying “there are many faces to anxiety and depression”. What does yours look like to you?
I was working two jobs. I had previously received counselling from another charity for historical sexual abuse, and I had got to a good place. But once again when life got hard I would crumble. All my life, I had put a beaming smile on and created the character of bubbly outgoing me. But I was so painfully shy as a child, symptoms of anxiety were showing, but had gone undetected. Inside I was crying out for help, tortured by the neglect, child abuse and self-loathing. Only now do I know that the symptoms of depression and anxiety, acts of self-sabotage, self-abuse, assaults and toxic relationships which I fell victim to; continued through-out my life and were the direct results of the traumas I had suffered as a child.
There is still such a stigma around people reaching out to the mental health services. Even though I had reached out to MIND, I was still ashamed and embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to know I was receiving counselling. I used to think I was reaching out for something to be fixed. I felt that there was something inherently wrong with me. My counsellor showed me kindness, compassion and listened without judgement. She held space for me to reveal my darkest secrets. With her help I learnt new skills and techniques to challenge my own thoughts. My counsellor taught me self-care techniques to be able to look after my emotional needs, and show myself kindness, compassion and helped me find my way back from a very dark and scary place. During my time with MIND, I faced some very emotionally proving situations, which without their support I could have quite easily crumbled and not been able to face my life, as I was frequently having suicidal thoughts and feelings.
I have learnt that everybody has mental health. You do not have to have come from an unstable background to be effected by mental health issues. It can affect anybody at any time! My journey with MIND was not an easy ride by far. But I quickly learnt to put my trust in my counsellor and myself, to be open and trust in the process to help me heal. By the end of my journey I was a completely different person. I had released a lot of emotions I was holding on to. I was equipped with a new bag of tricks to help me cope with life when the waves started to get rough again. I left feeling confident in myself.
I used to think, “if I could just fix this part of me, I would be happy”, or “if this other part of me was fixed then I would be emotionally stable and I could start living my life”. In my opinion counselling is not about fixing yourself and expecting yourself not to fall down again. Reaching out to Mental Health Services is a way to keep good mental health practices and is about self-growth. I finished my sessions with MIND knowing that if and when in the future I wanted to access their services again I would be able to, and be welcomed with open arms.
I have recently reached out to MIND again for support. I have learnt that waiting until I am at breaking point to ask for help is a self-sabotaging behaviour. All the signs were there but my pride was holding me back, thinking that I could cope on my own, that I could handle whatever was being thrown at me. The truth is everyone needs a little help from time to time, regardless of their circumstances. It’s the bravest and most commendable step anyone can take to admit they need a little help and reach out for it. Working with MIND really helped me to start to believe in myself.