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Ian’s story

“It won’t always be dark at 6!”

I recall this being said to me during a very dark and turbulent time when I felt incredibly lost, desperate and alone.

I felt frustrated too because of this horrid cycle I’d found myself in because I felt trapped. For long enough, I’d struggled with my mental health whether it’s through eating and weight or through isolating myself and feeling so depressed that even getting out of bed and functioning would at times, become really difficult. I felt like I was losing hope as I just couldn’t find a way forwards. This mass fog that hung over me made it really difficult to make a decision.

But I did have hope. Somewhere deep down, I did have hope. I must have had because through such frustration, I’d hoped Mind could help. Could they help? How could they help? Unsure of what to expect and unsure if I was actually doing the right thing, I found myself at Mind in Bradford.

I’d actually attended the charity a few years ago when Mind was held at a different location within Bradford and my experiences of that back then wasn’t as good. But having learned that Mind had moved to a new location at Kenburgh House, even though I still had my reservations, I went along as the anxiety and feeling alone was so strong at the time that I needed to do something and so here I was, at Mind in Bradford.

I remember that as soon as I walked into the building and onto the third floor of Kenburgh House, I remember comparing it to the previous building and this one felt light, open and warm. There were a few faces I’d met at the old building now here at Kenburgh House, so seeing these friendly faces did help me to feel less nervous but there were far more new faces, strangers, both staff and service users, who filled the room. Intimidating for sure. But there were reassuring smiles and glancing coming back at me. I felt welcomed. I actually felt relaxed!

Things will brighten up so stay with us!

I still didn’t quite know what help I needed but with hope I stayed.

As I was now a newbie attending Mind in Bradford’s wellbeing programme, I had to attend a welcome group. This was different – I didn’t recall a welcome group at the old place. Actually, the welcome group felt good and empowering too because I wasn’t alone.

There were people here, within this very group, who had come for the first time. We were given welcome packs and various contact numbers for services such as Guide-Line and Sanctuary as well as a wellbeing timetable. We also filled in a wheel which encouraged us to mark how we felt; what our social connections were like, how our mental health was, what was our physical health like. Each question had a number with 0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Unsurprisingly, I was circling a lot of 1s and 2s for each one. I was being true to myself – this is how I really felt. But despite feeling depressed, anxious and unsure, I was game. I needed to get out of this chaotic mess and the wheel itself provided me with both wanting and needing to take responsibility and better care of my mental health. I really wanted to be someone who could happily be circling 9s and 10s on this wheel. But it felt too much of a steep hill and I didn’t believe I could, nor would.

Doubting Thomas

That voice in my head: “You’re not good enough. It’s a waste of time”, and that feeling of ‘I can’t be bothered’ or ‘I don’t know what to say or how to say it’ were very strong.

Indecisiveness, catastrophising and procrastination had become far too familiar. On the really bad days, I couldn’t go to work. I wouldn’t even leave the house but on the better days, I became the smiling depressive. I’d become so used to smiling at everyone around me that whenever people in the street, friends or family asked me if I was okay I’d be saying: “Yes I’m fine. How are you?”. In truth, I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. I didn’t want to be a burden or to come across as weak, stupid or lazy. I didn’t know how to explain it to myself, never mind to others, so I thought say nothing, roll your sleeves up and just get on with it.

But no! It doesn’t work like that! I guess this was the thing I quickly found with Mind in Bradford. So many people could just understand. I could and did go to several drop-ins at Mind and felt like I didn’t want to talk or I could talk if I wanted to. I wasn’t alone. People understood, be it staff and/or service users – I felt supported. This kept me going. It kept me coming back because I could just be. And that felt so liberating. The environment felt therapeutic and because of that, it felt as though I could open up.

You are worth it and you do matter!

The wellbeing timetable that Mind in Bradford offers has a range of things so that there really is something for everyone. If/when you’re feeling lonely, Mind offers that social connection. There are many staff as well as volunteers who made me feel welcome straight away by introducing me to other people, people who I now call great friends.

Kenburgh House has two floors for Mind in Bradford to occupy. The first floor (on floor 3) is Mind’s main reception and is the heart of some of the groups. People can sit in a group gathering around and chatting while having a cup of tea or coffee. Sometimes you may well feel you don’t wish to join in with chatter or banter and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. On some nights, people opt to play pool or a game of some kind. There is the main seating area where people can gather as one big group or there are smaller areas and a one -to-one area. The structured wellbeing programme offers a men’s zone on Tuesday evenings and on Friday afternoons a women’s zone. Then on a Thursday evening, there is a mixed zone.

But it doesn’t stop there. Every day, Monday to Friday, there are group activities and/or discussion groups that can pinpoint those difficult areas within one’s life and help to encourage that recovery process. These range from mindfulness and meditation to cooking classes, creative writing and peer support. Several of these classes are drop-ins so you can literally just drop in at the slotted time of the group commencement. But then there are groups that do require you to book such as assertiveness and confidence building. So if singing is your thing to express yourself then great, or if tribal drumming may just be your thing to drown out those looping thoughts then we’ll see you on a Tuesday evening!

May you find your hope again

Then there are those groups that can really go deeper. These groups have included anxiety support, trauma recovery, hearing voices and the one that I really connected with – WRAP. This stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan, which is a worldwide-known programme that runs for 12 weeks. I found WRAP to be excellent because at last, I found something that could educate me enough and see me taking control of and responsibility for my mental health. I didn’t find it easy but I found it very worthwhile because this course hones in on those trigger points.It makes you think about the things you do enjoy doing so you’ve got a list of tools you can utilise which can help to distract you from that bad day becoming a day from hell. The very one thing about WRAP that struck a chord with me is early warning signs – those little things you can learn to look for which in turn can help you.

You will get there – just give it time!

In order to keep things from going stagnant, the wellbeing programme is reviewed and updated. I think most of us dislike change but some groups do work better during the winter months, such as group discussions like Mind Your Mind whereas in the summer months you may find a walking group added to the mix. It’s also a good thing changing the programme as such changes can inspire independence instead of co-dependence.

So you never know! If you happen to be someone who is struggling or even suffering from an ill mental health then it’s worth you at least taking a look and seeing what Mind in Bradford has to offer.

I hope to see you there x

Ian Lamb

 

 

 

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