Today is World Mental Health Day and a person who uses our services wanted to share their story with us, to highlight mental health.
Since I was a child, I have suffered with obsessive thoughts which got progressively worse in my teenage years. These thoughts would swirl around my head which I couldn’t cope with, so I resorted to self-harming as a way of releasing these obsessive thoughts out of me as I couldn’t talk to anyone. I was too scared and didn’t trust anyone enough for them to hear my darkest thoughts. I can remember having a designated toilet in school to self-harm in too.
My Eating Disorder also started at 15 where I got pleasure from not eating. I would not eat breakfast, or lunch in school and only having a bottle of Panda Pops coke and trying to skip meals in the evening.
At the age of 17, I was referred to mental health services where I was assessed and diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder where I was put on medication. EUPD is a mental illness that can affect how you cope with life, manage relationships, and feel emotion. I find that my beliefs and ways of dealing with day-to-day life are different from others. I find it difficult to change them. I find my emotions confusing, tiring, and hard to control. This can be distressing for me and others. Because it is distressing, I find that I have developed other mental health problems like depression, OCD, Anorexia and Bulimia I also do other things such as drink heavily, use drugs, or self-harm.
In my early twenties, I was diagnosed with Anorexia and Bulimia as I went thorough a tough time with starving myself, binge eating, making myself sick and abusing laxatives. I hated my body and abused myself because these obsessive thoughts swirled around and around, not giving me a break.
I have attempted suicide on many occasions but have pulled through in the end which has resulted in spending time in a mental health unit. I also abused alcohol and had so many binges which would end in chaos. I also drank less in the grips of my eating disorder due to all the calories I would consume.
I attended a day in hospital for my eating disorder in the mental health unit and attended there for 2 years for supervised meals and group therapy.
In 2010 aged 24, my eating disorder was fading and I gained the weight I needed to get healthy but my alcohol binges came back with a vengeance.
I had just moved into a new area at 24 and became close to someone who I met in the mental health unit and we both used to drink heavily together in my flat. This lead me down a dark path of self – destruction.
While under the influence of alcohol, I often committed crimes which would lead me to often being arrested and attending court on multiple occasions. I also spent countless days and nights in and out of police cells, kicking and screaming to be let out too and also regretting being arrested having to face constant police interviews and having to face a judge in court.
In August 2011, I was in court crying in the dock when the judge had served with 16 weeks imprisonment which is where I served 2 months in Holloway Prison. When I was released from Prison, I had to attend court to be served with an anti – social behaviour order (ASBO for short). It would last 3 years.
I thought this would be my wake – up call but I relapsed soon after being released and my offending behaviour started again. I was always being arrested for breaching my ASBO and was back in court several times. I was sentenced 12 weeks suspended for 18 months with an alcohol and mental health treatment order.
Due to my anti-social behaviour, I was also at risk of being evicted and losing my property and action was being taken to start the eviction process which scared the hell out of me, so I decided to take my own action and sort myself out. I went cold turkey and poured all my alcohol down the kitchen sink too. It was a rough week but I got through it as I knew I had to go through with the withdrawals to get through to the other side.
I finished my own detox and lost touch with this friend I made and was stable for a year and a half with only a few minor lapses when in 2014, this friend I had came back into my life but this time was introduced to crack and heroin and found the feeling they gave me AMAZING and enjoyed that buzz by taking these drugs. Then another dark path to self-destruction started and this time even worse.
I was in a very dark place mentally and very unhappy with where I was living and was getting harassed and bullied on a daily basis. I was mentally, physically and financially abused by being manipulating me into doing things I didn’t want to do, people pretending to be my friend and abusing me and I got to a crisis point in 2017 where I couldn’t cope anymore and was standing over bridges wanting to jump and walking along motorways in a mess and the police detaining me on a section 136, 3 times in the space of 2 weeks. This is when people started to realise I was unwell and needed help.
Two guardian angels came into my life and I was really honest with what was going on. I can remember even going to see this person in my pyjamas when I was discharged from the mental health unit.
While they were supporting me, I took a very brave step in getting clean and sober to show how much I wanted recovery and I knew I had to sort myself out again so I did what I did the last time round and off I went cold turkey again pouring 8 cans of beer down the sink.
I’ll always remember the song ‘can’t stop the feeling’ by Justin Timberlake as I can remember listening to that song thinking that I couldn’t wait for my two guardian angels to see how well I was doing and have successfully detoxed myself of alcohol so everytime I hear that song now, I can remember that time of being in my bed with music on feeling excited to show people that I had detoxed myself.
These guardian angels helped me move to a new area and was so excited when this person came to my flat with an envelope with an offer of a new property. I successfully moved and I will always forever grateful for them for listening to me and helping me to get where I am now.
I attended ‘Breaking the Cycle’ with Synergy and I also started counselling with an amazing counsellor and I FINALLY spoke openly without judgement, my obsessive thoughts that has played me around my whole life. I completed counselling and will also be forever grateful to my counsellor and helped me understand that it’s OK to have these thoughts and I started to know how to handle them more.
In 2017, I was referred to Futures -In-Mind, an organisation that supports people with a mental illness and addiction issues and was allocated a befriender who I met on a weekly basis where we would go to the park or go for a coffee and a chat which really helped me interact with someone too.
My Psychiatrist recommend more therapy after I had finished counselling and started receiving DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy)
DBT helps you understand your emotions and how to deal with times in distress. I learnt Radical Acceptance in accepting reality in situations, identified my emotions and using problem solving skills, opposite action as ways to deal with self – destructive urges.
I also learnt about making a pleasant events list to help you and have a crisis box with things that I like to feel or touch. Using Mindfulness techniques have also been useful to relax your mind. When my thoughts go down a dark path, I yell ‘STOP’ and try to get myself in the present moment whatever that is.
I did a year and a half of DBT which has been useful in staying in recovery. I still have these particular obsessive thoughts but I accept they are there and can deal with them so much better.
My advice to anyone suffering with a mental illness or addiction problems is to get clean and sober first, before you go into therapy. You then have a clear mind to actually deal with the root causes of your self-destructing behaviour.
I completed DBT and have now been in my flat and clean and sober for 4 and a half years. I still struggle sometimes and want to self-destruct with alcohol especially throughout this coronavirus pandemic but I have persevered and am still in recovery. Thinking of the consequences and the dark path it leads to helps me along a positive path in recovery.
Throughout the pandemic I was in touch with my befriender from Futures In Mind over the phone which I found really helpful. I started attending one of their ‘Welcome Cafes’ once restrictions eased and it was great to get out again and mix with people after being in lockdown.
Futures In Mind also developed an online timetable of online groups on Microsoft Teams and I attended and still attend a tea/coffee chat group where we would just chat and talk about what you have been up to or watching on telly. There were also other groups such as TV and movie recommendation and a quiz group. These groups were really helpful in making me feel less lonely and there was connection with people which was very helpful too.
I’m now happy, stable on my medication and attending college and volunteering, so if anyone can take something from my story is, RECOVERY IS DEFINELTY WORTH IT but it does take time and effort in therapy to get through to the other end of the tunnel which is where happiness and stability is.
Excellent Voyage! We arrived around 12am Sunday at Plymouth, met the skipper Mark and his aft watch then we were equipped with life jackets and wet weather gear.
Then we loaded up two trolleys and headed for the marina to board the motor boat that took us out to the Donald Searle a 75 ft, the biggest boat I have sailed on.
We had a quick briefing from Skip about being in two watches port and starboard, plus a briefing on how sea toilets work using the stop cocks and which way to turn them without sinking the boat. I was in starboard watch this meant we alternated on crewing and cooking duties. After Cornish pasties with baked beans, we set off downriver to the sea under motor and I helmed the last half.
On reaching the sea we went to mid channel where skip took bearing for Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. Most of us thought we were to sail up to Norfolk never having heard of Isle of Wight, Yarmouth !
Good weather for that passage, avoiding other shipping especially the many ferries that go to the Isle of Wight .
We arrived just as there was still daylight. Then Skip called the harbour master who assigned us a space in the marina. Then all the sails and sheets were stowed in their correct places we also learnt the correct procedure for tying onto a pontoon with OXO knots using a fore and aft rope, then ropes that stop the yawing so the fenders are not pushed out of position.
Once safely moored up we had supper prepared by the port watch. We all ate heartedly as working a boat makes one very hungry.
During the night, wind and rain came up strong, at one stage the boat was healing over with the force of wind just on the masts!
In the morning, we are woken early at 6.30 am when I was told off for snoring? Apparently, I sounded like a Walrus I was not the only snoring crew as we had been snoring in unison, still the future equipment will include ear plugs.
Breakfast was a full English with sausage, egg and bacon and filtered coffee ably assisted by Margie, one of the volunteer crew. Starboard watch was on cooking duties so the port watch was up on deck readying boat for sea.
Forecasted weather was not at all good, Skip spent a while deciding on a new course as he had originally planned on going around the needles and back, now he decided to ship for COWES, a place I had heard of as the summer haven for racing, my own cousin usually has his boat there.
We sailed back up the Solent tacking most of the way then arrived at COWES marina. Here, we all made for the showers in the Yacht Club which were excellent and very welcoming.
We had a great supper of roast lamb with all the trimmings followed by strawberry bread and butter pudding, very yummy.
The next day, Tuesday morning, was blowing a wholly so we could not go down to the needles as Skip had planned the day before. So, no early start. I was on food duty but most of us woke up at about 6am so I started making the coffee and teas.
We left Cowes around 9am then due to a heading wind tacked up the Solent until we eventually arrived back at home, port of Plymouth Marina and it was here that the crew kindly made us food for the return trip to Chelmsford of Panis.
I arrived back in Chelmsford and was met by Mel, who said she is definitely going next year.
I then got on train to Manningtree and my taxi then arrived home around 5pm, I was knackered having had a very enjoyable trip!!!
Definitely need to lose weight as I was the least agile of all the crew. What with my ankles, legs and knees hurting a great deal, still I could get up and down the ladder but not very quickly so had to wait usually for a gap in traffic, all the crew were very sympathetic but one did stand on my foot and did that hurt!
Domestic Violence Awareness Month has been created to bring domestic violence to the forefront of peoples minds and to unify both men and women across the world who have been victims of domestic violence.
Domestic Violence can happen at any age, to any gender, sexual orientation and race.
< Respect (mens helpline) – 0808 8010327 & email@example.com
< National Centre for Domestic Violence – 0800 970 2070 or Text NCDV 60777
< Women’s Aid – Live Chat & Local Support
< Refuge – 0808 2000 247 & Live Chat
< The Dash Charity – 01753 549 865
< Galop (LGBTIQ+) – 0800 999 5428 & firstname.lastname@example.org
< Rise UK (BAME) – Specialist Black and Minoritised Domestic Abuse Organisations
FREE online awareness training on domestic and sexual violence – IDAS
Our projects and what they mean to us!
Futures in Mind have Allotment Projects on 5 sites across Essex all at various levels of development. This article gives an insight into what they do and what it means to the people who “make them happen”. At Colchester we have Mercer’s Farm site which consists of two plots, both of which have slightly different characteristics with regard to what will grow on them! We encourage our people to grow their own ideas, whether this be actual vegetables or something that will help this to happen.
Being part of something has enabled our teams to Connect, not only to produce our crops but also to each other either on site or outside the group activity in order to enhance the therapeutic part of being involved.
“I feel part of something good, belonging to a group of like minded people is the best feeling I’ve had in years” Vicky.
The Colchester Allotment group is probably the most diverse team of people in Essex! It is a classic illustration that addiction/mental health issues know no boundaries whether they be social, intellectual, racial you name it! One thing however is that no matter where one is with their recovery, being part of this project will enhance it. Sometimes just being there is enough.
“I find being on the Allotment very therapeutic and also rewarding when we get vegetables!” Stuart
“If I hadn’t been on this I’d be dead in a ditch somewhere!” Brian
Would your family or a family you’re working with benefit from joining in with some fun, healthy activities?
The Active Families Together Team (AFT) can meet with families and support them to take part in sessions built around things they enjoy.
The AFT project is for any family that lives in Essex (apart from Thurrock/Southend unitary areas). A group can be all or just some of the family members.
Age and ability are not a barrier! AFT are experienced in working with a wide range of mental, emotional, and physical diversities.
Contact to book on for the summer
Get in touch with Richard or Kurt for bookings and more information:
Richard: 07730 911569 – email@example.com
Kurt: 07850 501151 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours: 22.5 hours per week
Salary: £15,000 – £16,200 per annum (£25,000 – £27,000 per annum FTE)
Contract: Fixed Term until 31/03/2023
The Futures in Mind partnership works with service users as active collaborators in the design, development, delivery, and improvement of our provision of integrated support, advice and mentoring in Essex. Futures in Mind deliver an outward-facing, flexible community service to enable us to support the maximum number of Service Users across the full Essex locality.
We are looking for an individual who has experience in supporting adults in the community, working as part of a wider multi-disciplinary team, with a knowledge of the local services and the support available. Experience of working within Mental Health Services is an advantage as is management experience.
Closing Date: 19/07/2021
Interview Date: 27/07/2021
Apply for this role here.
At Futures in Mind, we are passionate about the environment and so too are our partners Phoenix Futures. As part of Phoenix Futures environmental and sustainability strategy we want to reduce waste within our service. Together, we can make strides for a better future and little things can make a big difference! This is why, as a team, we want to take a pledge to pick.
The Great British Spring Clean runs from 28 May to 13 June, to keep Britain tidy and clear litter from our streets, parks and beaches ensuring our outdoor spaces are clear for everyone to enjoy. As an organisation, Futures in Mind, is pledging 10 hours of litter picking and this will be turned into miles with the hope that come summer, we can all enjoy a cleaner, greener and litter-free environment.
To make this litter pick a bit more interesting we will be setting up a leader board so we can see who has undertaken more hours to the Phoenix Futures pledge.
If you’re a service user or volunteer and would like to get involved, there are a few groups around Essex who will be undertaking the pledge as part of their group activities please ask your service coordinator for more information.
UK SAYS NO MORE seeks to unite and strengthen a diverse community of members and organisations nationwide to actively take a stand against domestic abuse and sexual violence under one powerful, visual symbol. The campaign provides open-source tools and resources for individuals and organisations to take action and get involved in making a difference. Together we can challenge the myths and misconceptions around these issues, share resources and information, and ultimately work together to make real positive change.
SAFE SPACES: People experiencing domestic abuse will be able to access an untraceable Online Safe Space via the Royal Mail website, where they will be able to access information on helplines and specialist support. Online Safe Spaces can be accessed via the Royal Mail website by clicking the Safe Spaces logo. Online Safe Spaces aims to increase the number of opportunities for victims of domestic abuse to safely access support while carrying out daily online tasks such as tracking a delivery. Learn more about Online Safe Spaces here.
BRIGHT SKY: FREE Bright Sky app, which provides support and information to anyone who is concerned that a friend, family member, colleague or neighbour is experiencing domestic abuse. Download Bright Sky onto a device you feel safe using, and that only you have access to. Download the app here.
Jim our Recovery through Nature lead as well as some of our service users from Langdon Hills will be attending a Facebook Live over on page on Friday 30th April @ 12pm to discuss how Futures in Mind and our RtN groups have been an integral part of their recovery.
What’s Kennedy Street?
Kennedy street offer support and signposting to people interested in addiction recovery. If you are looking for recovery support or treatment, for yourself, a friend, family or work member, Kennedy Street can help.
Start your recovery journey now, call: 02034 163 643
Or visit the website; www.kennedystreetcio.org
Watch live on Kennedy Street’s Facebook: https://facebook.com/KennedyStCiO/?tsid=0.9971675344501205&source=result