Eileen’s story

Before I became unwell I was a very busy mum, working full time managing a school meals canteen as Cook in Charge and being a mum of three, all at secondary school.

Home life was also hectic, I was always on the go used to sleeping very little and not eating sensibly looking back now it was clear I couldn’t continue living at this faster than fast pace.

2005 was the beginning of a whole new me; someone I didn’t know. Life began to slow down, I found myself crying for no reason. I was unable to laugh, have fun and it even got to the stage where I was unable to get of bed. I was deemed unfit for work. I felt that I was beyond curing, if a doctor has said I am never going to work again what hope have I of becoming better again.

Things became so bad that I was admitted to Holywell hospital in January 2006, I was here for a total of four and half months. For me this was the end. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? My mood got lower and lower until I reached rock bottom, I felt I couldn’t live this life anymore and I attempted suicide, the first of many attempts. At the time I felt like a failure, my head was in such turmoil, I was unable to get myself out of this dark, dark hole it seemed as if there was no light at the end of the tunnel. I was fed up putting on a mask and trying to pretend all was well when actually things couldn’t have gotten any worse.

My confidence was in bits. I got to the stage that I wouldn’t leave the house. I couldn’t even drive my car for two years as I kept taking panic attacks. I stopped going to my place of worship or any public place for that matter for I felt people were staring at me and calling me the local nutter. I was no longer able to take my children to their classes or to any of their interests. I felt I couldn’t continue my role as a mother, that I had let them down and I was a bad mother and they would be better off without me. It`s unbelievable how insecure I had become, I even told my husband of 20 years that I was of no use to him and he would be better off getting someone who would not put him through what I was.

Thankfully my family held on to the hope that one day I would come back to my old self.

I attended a Day centre where I was encouraged to go for walks and I got to meet people who were going through the same as me. Through time I began to see that there was “HOPE” for me to recover. I completed several courses in mental health which helped me understand what was happing to me. I was found my confidence again so I started taking “CONTROL” of my life. With the help from counselling and my family and friends I was finding the meaning of life, only at a new pace and I was doing what was best for me to get better.

The various training courses I did opened up “OPPORTUNITIES” for me to become a volunteer, this led on to me setting up Client Consultation Groups. These groups were set up so as others who have problems the same as me were given a voice in how mental health services would develop and this also “EMPOWERED” me to represent service users at trust level and regional level. I have had a major part in writing papers which will help improve services. I have also trained to deliver training to staff and so far I have delivered six sessions which is very rewarding being able to let staff get a better understanding of what it is like to suffer from depression and anxiety.

Part of my journey was completing a W.R.A.P. course this is a plan to be able to see when things are starting to go wrong again and what I can do to prevent a crisis happening. While attending this course we were asked to write what our main goal in life was. I wrote “A JOB” at the time this seemed impossible because of all I had been through, but I never let go of my dream.

My journey has been a real rollercoaster with a lot of ups and downs, but thankfully I am well enough now, I haven’t been in hospital since 2011 and have been able to cut down on the tablets with the help of the community mental health team.

I am proud to say that my family and I are all happy and I have been looking for work within mental health and I can only wait and see where this new journey takes me. I am keeping my fingers crossed. I am much stronger now and my illness has made me change my lifestyle and my outlook on life.