It’s a strange thing, mental health. It’s difficult to understand and the symptoms of poor mental health don’t always show on the outside but they are always felt, in every area of life. I was referred to AMH New Horizons over three years ago now, but have suffered from the poor state of my mental health for well over two decades.
When I came here I’d, well, lost hope to be honest. I was doing better than I ever had thanks to an understanding psychologist and the Ballymena Mental Health Team who referred me here, but was still mostly going through the motions expecting to fail and fall back into depression and anxiety as soon as I was done. I expected to spend two years doing things I couldn’t care less about and telling people what they wanted to hear until I could isolate myself again, and all mostly for the sake of my parents. They worried so much and I wanted them to have a little hope, false as it was to my mind.
My first day was stressful, as would be expected. I was in a room of people I didn’t know after all, something that caused my anxiety to spike at the very thought of it. But there was something different this time. These were people like me. People who spent every day with the same kind of struggles and problems I was used to minimising for the sake of my family. But cynicism held out, at least for a little while.
AMH New Horizons welcomed me with open arms, but it was also a place I felt my own needs and issues were being respected. They weren’t trying to change me,they were helping me be the best version of myself I could be. Giving me tools and education and letting me make my own way about it. Guiding me, but letting me make up my own mind. Giving suggestions, but letting me make my own choices, even if that took longer than for other people. I felt safe and seen and heard. And, over time, I opened up, relaxed, felt at home.
AMH New Horizons has given me hope again. Hope that I’m not going to fall or, if I do, I have the strength to get back up again. I have qualifications in areas I’ve found interesting, including currently doing an NVQ in Business and Administration, where I feel confident I’m doing well, and a range of creative courses that have boosted my mood and gotten me interested in hobbies again. The staff here have been wonderful – Understanding, patient and open. They let you know they are here to support you, without pushing or prodding.
I will forever be indebted to AMH New Horizons and the staff that work here. This organisation has changed my life so much for the better. They’ve given me hope, safety and a future. I can never thank them enough and I will never, ever forget any of them, or any of the friends I’ve made here.
Alexandria is a participant on AMH’s “Working It Out” Project which is part-funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy.