From Mental Breakdown To Recovery

My advice

Don't drink!

My recommendations

Mind day centres

I experienced years of mood swings, drug taking and alcohol abuse in my late teens. My mum had observed my poor mental health, but I was reluctant to get help.

My mental health finally caught up with me when I went on holiday to Greece with my family. I abandoned them at the airport because they were arguing. My mood was elevated, and I couldn’t handle the stress. I wandered around the resort for days, not eating and barely sleeping, experiencing psychosis. I was eventually picked up by a holiday rep and went into a hospital in Greece. The Doctor there told me not to drink. My Dad rescued me, and when we got home back in the UK, I went into my local mental health hospital.

That’s when, aged 21, I was diagnosed with bi-polar affective disorder.

I was put on medication which didn’t particularly suit me, and I carried on drinking. I was in a terrible relationship with someone which didn’t help, particularly when complying with medication and drinking alcohol. His mother latched on to me – she was an alcoholic and I began feeling hopeless.

The turning point came when I had my son. I was moved to a hospital in another city. I gave up drinking because I wanted to see my son and I had psychology to talk about previous traumas. My medication was altered. I didn’t feel depressed anymore. I moved to a new city for a fresh start and started to engage more and became more proactive in looking for new and interesting employment and volunteering opportunities (including with My Pickle!).

Giving up alcohol, having a positive change in medication and moving away from a town that was full of bad memories for me helped me to progress away from service user to mentor. I know it isn’t always possible to get away from difficult places but giving up alcohol and talking to your psychiatrist about medication options can make a big difference to your recovery.

Wrangling with mental health took a long time to get the help I really needed. I felt like I wasn’t listened to and that was difficult. Eventually, however, I got the much-needed support I needed. Don’t give up and take advantage of places like Mind Day Centres, where you’ll meet like-minded people, going through similar issues.

My psychiatrist now thinks I have schizophrenia because of the way I presented during a previous episode. The people I have met with schizophrenia are lovely so it’s not bad thing and I’m not afraid.

Don’t give up – it’s a long journey but you’ll get to a point of relative peace eventually.