“We’re not bad people, we just have poor mental health."  

For some the prospect of living in a secure mental health hospital can be daunting, but one woman’s story highlights the life-changing and positive things, which happen each and every day here at St Andrew’s.

Welsh Star, who is in her 30s, was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and has been in services for more than 10 years. She’s had long issues with self-harm which started when she was a child:

 "When I was at my worst I self-harmed daily. From first thing in the morning to last thing at night, I was looking at opportunities to self-harm. It was the only focus I had, it was the only release I had -  my way of coping, my way of releasing, but also my way of punishing myself for the things I thought I’d done wrong in my life," she explains.

During her time at St Andrew’s she received therapy, and lots of opportunities, which she says aided her recovery, to the point that she has now been discharged to a rehab facility and is getting ready to start college.

“The opportunity [I’ve been given] is what’s really got me to a place where I feel ready to move on,” she explained, as she was preparing to leave St Andrew’s.

She said being involved with the staff-patient forum and recruitment panels have given her crucial life skills and more importantly a purpose for the future.

“I feel like I have hope, I have meaning in my life. I feel like I’ve found my place in the world and I have my identity. I can have fun, I can laugh and smile, and just the inner badness that I used to feel, is just almost all gone.”

While she’s come a long way in her journey, she thinks as a society there is still a lot of stigma attached to complex mental health and is now on a mission to speak up about it and share her experiences to educate others.

“I think it’s important to have a voice, to let people know exactly what it’s like living with mental health problems or living in a mental health hospital and sharing that. We’re not necessarily bad people or crazy people or have got something wrong with us, we’re just somebody with poor mental health conditions that anybody can get at any time of their life.”

Even though she’s been discharged from St Andrew’s, Welsh Star continues to blog. You can follow her recovery journey here