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Posted on Mar 2 2022 by Fiona Bailey

A former patient and prominent blogger called Welsh Star who talks about her lived experience with mental health has made a return to writing, having taken a year's break.

Here. she talks about what she has been up to in the last 12 months, how St Andrew's continues to support her recovery and how she has overcome feelings of isolation. 

"It feels so much of my life has changed in just 12 short months which I would like to share with you.

Firstly, my apologies for being absent for this last year, I know I have many dedicated followers who have been part of my journey from the very beginning in 2019 and please know I appreciate you all so very much.

Continued support

I also appreciate the continued support from St Andrew's, I know a lot has changed within the charity, yet their support towards my recovery has consistently been there and I thank them for the opportunity to continue blogging with them.

Let’s go back a little… a year ago I was living in Northampton following my transition into supported accommodation at the very start of the pandemic. Don’t get me wrong, life was treating me well compared to my previous years in services, but inside I was still battling.

The restrictions of COVID regarding this new chapter of my life threw all my plans out of the window. This was regarding work, meeting new people and establishing myself in a new area. I started to feel trapped, isolated from my friends and family and my Mental Health team, who were still based in Wales. I was falling back into those dark thinking patterns that have so often led me to harming and sabotaging myself and my life.

I understand that I wasn’t unique in feeling the depths of isolation, and continuing to think this way at the time hindered me from asking for help or acknowledging just how low I was getting. I was desperately searching for that ‘door’ or ‘opportunity’ that I could cling onto, but it never came, or I was becoming too unwell to even see.

I thought that admitting how much I was struggling meant I was a failure, although I am now aware that that was my own inner critic that I was putting onto others. I was also scared that if my team could see I was struggling, then they would think I couldn’t cope and after years of losing my freedom there was no way I was going to put myself anywhere near becoming an inpatient again.

In hindsight. and what I didn’t realise then, was that actually by avoiding and hiding as I was doing (and continued to do so) I was getting myself into such a bad place that actually going back into services became closer.

Serious situation

It was in April last year that whilst at my flat I seriously self-harmed requiring surgery and a stay in general hospital. Due to the seriousness of the situation and effects it had upon the support staff at the flat, I learnt on the Friday that I had lost my accommodation.

I was absolutely devastated; I hadn’t told any of my family or friends that I had been in hospital or had been struggling and now I had to as I had nowhere to live.

They were hugely shocked because they thought I was doing great, for years I had hidden what was going on for me from those closest until it was too late and here I had done it again. I felt embarrassed, even ashamed and that I had lost everything as I collected the essentials from my flat and did the three-hour drive back home to Wales.

This really hit me hard and was the lowest than I had been in a long time. Over the next month or two things really weren’t great, I was seeing my Mental Health team more regularly, but was still getting to those points of harming myself.

The tip of the iceberg was after being in hospital for an infection in my leg, I left the ward and headed to the multi-story roof. It was raining with a heavy storm, and I was lost, desperate and just couldn’t possibly see another way.

I sat on the edge overwhelmed by emotion and completely out of control, but I was one of the lucky ones… through a distraction technique used by the emergency services I was pulled down and as I sat there in the rain, at last I felt I could breathe.

I knew I needed help, I knew I couldn’t continue like this and even though the fact that I was taken for an emergency mental health assessment where I was absolutely petrified they were going to admit me, I spoke openly about where my head was at.

Fortunately, I wasn’t admitted and after further treatment for the infection I was given the opportunity of an emergency placement flat.

Just being in my own place rather than with family, I felt more grounded, I focused on making it homely even though it wasn’t going to be long term. I got back into my hobbies of walking, being creative and making arrangements to see the special people in my life. Unfortunately, the ‘inner’ me still wasn’t great, I was continuing to struggle massively with my trauma symptoms of nightmares and panic attacks until I made a serious attempt on my life. I almost died.

Somehow this gave me the ‘wake-up’ I needed, not so much on how it affected me but I how I affected so many of those special people to me. Each of them know exactly who they are, and I will be forever sorry. What I realised however, was the only way to not hurt these people again was to not hurt myself and so the next chapter begins.

Embracing life

The following months I’ve gone from strength to strength and now writing this, I am in a place of fully embracing life. There have been many changes that have allowed me to do this from starting new medication that had helped to regulate my thoughts and emotions, to helping out with a family business which has given me routine and motivation. I’ve also moved into a permanent house which I spend lots of time in making it feel like a real home.

In November I did my first solo travel by going to Iceland for my birthday. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had and I felt truly empowered.

I met some amazing people have very quickly become very special. I also looked at my relationships and made changes in how I relate to those so that they can be positive on both sides. This was probably the hardest step as letting go of those you love hurts and in some ways it still does but I know I’ve made the right decisions for myself and them.

And then saving the best news till last, a new man came into my life in December. A gorgeous cavapoochon puppy that I’ve named Buddy. Heseriously is now my best buddy and I wouldn’t be without him. He’s five months old now and we have so much fun together, from long walks on the beach to doggy cafes and the best snuggles in the world. I really feel like he came into my life at the right time, and he completes me in so many ways.

This year has given me so much to hope and I'm now so excited for my future. I have completed a Mental Health First Aid course and also the ASIST Suicide Prevention course which has given me the zest and buzz that I needed.

I am now hoping to become an ASIST trainer by completing the five-day residential programme in the summer. I’m also throwing around idea’s with my cousin that we are planning to approach Business Wales with so watch this space.

So, to capture this last year, the biggest message I’d like to share is that there is always hope in those darkest times and to never give up.

The expectation on coming out of hospital (that we mostly put on ourselves) is that we are ‘fixed’, but recovery is very much a continuum, and it may not all come together straight away. Stop, take a breath and even if you lapse in your recovery, that’s ok!

Reach out to those who can help, have belief in yourself and know that although your journey is your own, you are not alone, and many others also go through the highs & lows of life.

Please know, I have built a great kindness community on Twitter and my DM’s are ALWAYS open to be a shoulder to chat, vent, share and support

And, I promise to not leave it another year until I post again."

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