When you live with a mental illness, you almost become two (or sometimes more than two) people. You have you and the illness, one that strips you of confidence day by day. It robs you of the connections that used to mean something. A creature which you trap away and you pretend ‘it’s all good’, until one day you can’t keep the monster contained and then Bang! The world explodes ….
The other people you become are the faces which you show people. A hard facade which may crack but will not break. It’s also the face you show your family so they don’t worry about you or at worst won’t care ….
The hardest part of living with a mental illness is that the one face you want everyone to see is hidden so deeply inside and is no more than a voice in the dark screaming ‘Help Me!’ You get angry if people see the mask slip, not because they have seen it but because you feel a failure. You should be stronger and better than this, you tell yourself.
There are also times when that voice gets so loud that you have to let others see the monster in the box but this then begins a whole new obstacle course. If you have a support team, your Care coordinator will be your first option and they will arrange all you need. But what happens once that support is removed due to funding cuts?
Well, you could call a crisis line but anyone who has used them finds them less than useless in most cases. You know what they are going to tell you to do, so you do all the things (self care) beforehand but unless you are about to take your own life, you are fobbed off. You can call Samaritans and they are very good. They give you the freedom to talk your feelings out with them. They listen without judgement and you don’t need to be suicidal to call them for a chat.
You could call your GP or Mental Health nurse but you know, in the back of your mind, that this is no more than triage. A ‘sticking plaster’ to get you over the bump and to give you the strength to put the monster back in the box.
Those with mental illness need a support network because mental illness does not vanish, it is something you live with all your life. For a lucky few they may have an episode (or two) and they do not ever experience something which triggers their mental illness again.
As we are dealing with Covid 19 and the lockdown and social isolation as well as extra mental issues, many of those affected with diagnosed and undiagnosed illness will need support above and beyond what is currently available.
I am personally fighting to support my group, Trowbridge Service Users Group. I live with a mental illness and the view above is my own personal one. This is because not having any professional support, this group keeps me going. I don’t do this out of duty to keep a “business”. In the last 2 and a bit years it has been running, I have begun to feel part of the community. People say Hello and want to talk to me. I have people in my life I now care about who don’t cause me issues.
I have a support network that I trust, one that understands what it is like to have a bad day. I can be honest and say what I want to without judgement. I have people that ‘pop’ around and have a coffee and I am not alone as much. I can also reach out online and say Hi and I get several back.
I really struggle living my life with Borderline Personality disorder and I wear my mask well and it fits perfectly. At Trowbridge Service Users Group I have let the guys see sides of me I would never show the world because I feel safe.
I do hope that you will understand that this group needs your support to provide mental health support and friendship to those living in and around Trowbridge. If you need one reason to support us, the NHS and those charities that work under funding models need to provide metrics for funding, they are limited by their funding requirements.
Trowbridge Service Users Group is a self-referral service. You don’t have to wait for a diagnosis. We are not ‘Therapy’ but it is therapeutic. We are a peer led service which means that our focus is ‘lived experience’.
Lived experience often means that we have better insights into what may be needed. Professionals, in most cases, are trained by a book, based on other books but they don’t have real experience other than ‘anecdotal experience’. If you have gone through therapy and or counselling, you gain insight and those that have this can make adaptations to change their lives, this is lived experience.
So, by getting together a group with lived experience, sharing ideas has a better result than the usual test, experiment and trial new ideas. Psychologists and psychiatrists know that lived experience is the best model for mental health support and resilience. So, please support us and donate via our go fund me page gf.me/u/x4pymx or donation button.