Towards the end of October 2012 I became seriously ill mentally. I was practically a recluse who, due to paranoia and anxiety shut myself off from friends and family. As each day passed and the depression increased suicide was looking like an increasingly good option. My self esteem, self worth and confidence was zero.
Then in early 2013 my CPN referred me to Action Mental Health in Antrim. This turned out to be the start of a journey down the road to getting well that is still continuing today. Action Mental health run several courses in their facilities in Antrim and the one that appealed to me the most was the cookery class. This gave me a reason to get out of bed in morning, a purpose and something to do. It also got me out amongst people again, which was good for my confidence. In this country unfortunately there is still a stigma attached to mental health problems and sometimes I can feel different to others, but on the course everyone else had problems, so I didn’t have to worry about being ‘different’ and no longer felt alone. It also was rewarding making things, we started off with eggs, flour etc but by the end of the day we would have a cake to show for it. Achieving something as simple as baking a cake made me think maybe there are things I can do and that I’m not completely useless. For many years I had wanted to get back into education and the cookery course gave me the confidence to give it a try. With the help of members of staff at Action Mental health I enrolled on an Access to University Course run by Belfast Met. The staff helped me by making phonecalls on my behalf to find out information on the course, how to pay for it etc. This might not sound like much but to me it was a big deal as at that stage I found it daunting and stressful having to speak to people either in person or on the phone.
Come May this year I will have finished the Access to University Course and I am on track to pass, this will enable me to advance to University. The other students on the course elected me class representative. Doing the Access Course has helped me in so many ways. Self worth, self confidence and and self esteem levels have all risen. Today I am nearly unrecognisable from the person I was back in October 2012, and a lot of it is down to Action Mental Health.