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“It hit me like a wave” – A Recovery Story

The following was written by Jon, who has accessed our service.

When did things start to change?

After losing a job due to a mistake I had made and breaking up with my girlfriend after a difficult relationship, I started to feel quite down. I didn’t have much to do, so I spent a lot of time dwelling on things. Because of how I was feeling, I stopped doing the things I used to enjoy, like playing on my Xbox, playing football and seeing my family. I was sleeping a lot. I felt pressured by the people around me to get another job, sometimes I felt like nothing was ever good enough.

My mum picked up that my mood had dropped and she would point it out to me, but I didn’t believe her. It was really hard as I didn’t have an understanding of what was going on, so we argued about it quite a lot. My body didn’t feel the same, I couldn’t recognise myself in the mirror, and I was hearing voices and noises when there was no one around. The arguing got worse as I was drinking alcohol as it made me feel more confident to manage what I was feeling.

What happened next?

My mum and my sister went to see my GP and they made me an appointment. At the time, I felt like they stuck their noses in, which really annoyed me. I felt like I didn’t need any help, I hadn’t felt anything change and they seemed to be more concerned than I was. It was tough.

I went to see my GP who I told about what had been going on for me recently. My GP said that he was going to refer me to the Early Intervention Team.

First Early Intervention Team appointment

Two people from the team came to my house to visit me. I didn’t really know what to think at the time as I was quite wrapped up in the situation. They came to visit me weekly and we began to talk about what had been going on and how I had been feeling. Things were quite extreme, and it got worse when I started talking about it as it all felt more real. The voices got louder and I felt worse in myself for a while; I hadn’t expected anything like this to happen at my age. But gradually we started to figure out what had been going on.

Education

The team would have a chat with me about my interests and hobbies and about the way I was feeling. They would bring information from other people who have experienced similar things, like anxiety and hearing voices, and we would talk through it. I started to feel a lot better about the way I had been feeling, as I realised that it wasn’t just me. Lots of people experience things like this. We talked about things like schizophrenia, as seeing it mentioned on the TV made me think that I had it and I might be dangerous and mad. But I started to realise that I had been quite stressed for a long time with the things that had been going on, and my difficulties made sense.

Small Steps

We worked at my pace, as I wasn’t ready to start making changes at first. We talked about tools and things I could do to cope with how I was feeling, like breathing exercises, Mindfulness and questioning my thoughts. Then the team helped me to think about my interests and what I would like to do, so I started attending the football group with support. After a few times I was able to go there on my own using the bus, which was something I didn’t think I would be able to do a few months before.

Moving on

Having positive activities like football gave me something to focus on, which made my problems feel lighter. I started to feel more confident. I was using techniques to manage when I felt anxious, and I started to feel more in control when I heard voices when I was alone. They felt more like echoes of my past that I had a choice over. I started volunteering and eventually got a paid job, which was a big goal of mine. Rushing things only made things harder or just stay the same, I found that I was encouraged to go at my own pace which really helped.

Things that help me

I wouldn’t recommend drinking even if you think it helps as it only amplified what I was feeling at the time. When I feel overwhelmed, like on buses, I find music helps to distract me. Mindfulness is very helpful as it helps me to be in the present moment rather than thinking or focusing on the voices. Positive activities really help me to focus on something good, so I would recommend doing whatever you enjoy. And understanding what I was experiencing really helped me to see the steps that I needed to take.

Recovery

I would say that recovery involves learning that what you experience will always be a part of you – you learn from it and grow as a person. If you don’t understand what you’re dealing with, it’s hard to get past. Researching it is important as it can teach you ways to counter-act or manage it. Small steps at your own pace are very important, as initially when I was told about it by my GP and I thought about it things got worse. But stick with it. Sometimes when I tried to cope, like trying breathing exercises, it didn’t work at first but with time it did. Once you start getting help, carry on with it even it’s hard because it gets better.

It’s your mind and it will recover how you want it to.

© 2013 Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
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