Sarah, one of Oxfordshire Mind’s Expert by Experience, talks about her journey with mental health.
I had always been susceptible to poor mental health and addiction, but it all imploded after my father and brother died within a year of each other.
It was a traumatic time for our family, and it still affects us, even after sixteen years. My brother’s suicide was a total shock.
He’d spent the last weekend of his life with me, helping me put the finishing touches to my new classroom.
Initially, I stayed strong after their deaths, I don’t know how. Yet after the heartbreak of a relationship ending, I became broken.
“Extreme depression, anxiety and grief were a heady mix, and I eventually had a full breakdown.”
I was so lost, confused, bewildered, and overwhelmed.
It was at that point I came across Oxfordshire Mind through a friend, and I can’t tell you how much they helped me with their excellent bereavement counselling.
The journey to rebuild.
You know, the simple things such as getting out of bed, showering, and cleaning your teeth seem impossible when you’re in the situation I had found myself in, but with Oxfordshire Mind’s therapy sessions I eventually managed.
And it sounds silly, but it felt like such a huge achievement just being able to get dressed.
If you’re suffering from anxiety, then breathing exercises work great too and learning to be in touch with your five senses can really help. All of this I’ve learned from the team at Oxfordshire Mind.
Sixteen years on and I’m slowly building a new life. I have found reading books or listening to podcasts that focus on mental health, addiction, and grief very helpful, and it’s a comfort knowing that other people have gone through similar stuff.
When you’re in deep it’s easy to think you’re the only one.
Working with Oxfordshire Mind
I’ve also recently taken on three roles with Oxfordshire Mind, as an Expert by Experience, an Involvement Champion, and a Lived Experience Interviewer.
The aim of all of these is that my voice and my various actions will raise awareness and help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.
I’ve also started volunteering in a charity shop. Even thought about dating again.
“What I’m trying to say is that there IS hope after a mental health crisis. But for me, I wouldn’t have arrived at this point without Oxfordshire Mind. ”
Hope is a very powerful word, and I choose to hope for today and tomorrow, for me and for you too.