“When ‘I’ is replaced by ‘we’, illness becomes WELLNESS”

Have you ever been cruising along a busy motorway and suddenly had a puncture?

That’s what happened to me, metaphorically anyway.

There I was, cruising along in my forties, married, kids, steady job and then BANG!

Suddenly I found myself in a very unfamiliar place, where nothing was making the same sense as it was before. I couldn’t shake things off and get back to ‘normal’.

I was ill. Not so much physically, but mentally.

With the benefit of hindsight, I can rewrite the start of this.

I wasn’t so much cruising down the road with brand new tyres.

My forty plus years of driving had pretty much worn off all the rubber on my tyres and that puncture; it was more of a blowout.

So, that blowout was hard to control on such a busy motorway.

My whole life seemed to be turning upside down in super slow motion as I was rooted to a rollercoaster ride by my seatbelt, only able to watch and not able to control it.

We; us, you and me, the royal we……


turned out to be extremely important in my metaphorical circumstances.

I was mentally unwell. I didn’t know what to do.

I was introduced to Action Mental Health at AMH New Horizons in Newtownards.

I’d heard of them, but didn’t really think about it before.

I was invited down to have a look around. So, I went with my wife, my anxieties, my depression and all.

One of the first things that caught my eyes was a black and white picture with a quote on it –

Never give up on someone with a mental illness. When “I” is replaced by “we”, illness becomes WELLNESS. Shannon L Alder

That struck me to my core. It made sense. It highlighted to me, that to try to recover on my own was like trying to navigate the motorway in the fog with no lights to turn on.

Suddenly, walking around AMH rooms made sense – AMH are a big part of the WE!

Art classes, computer classes, creative classes, all sorts of leisure classes to accredited classes; all designed to help people at their own pace and in relaxed surroundings with supportive and understanding ‘teachers’.

The classes aren’t like school. The teachers certainly aren’t like school.

The other pupils – well, they’re a true reflection of what 1 in 4 of the adult population is.

Why 1 in 4 of the adult population? That’s because, statistically, 1 in 4 people will experience mental health difficulties in their lifetime!

Think of your surroundings – work, friends, family or your social circle – how many people do you know could potentially be a ‘1 in 4’?

I am. I never thought I could be, but I am now.

Without  WE (Action Mental Health Newtownards) I couldn’t have completed my European Computer Driving License, my Art (levels 1 & 2), my Beginner Photography (and photography levels 1 & 2) etc!

Never have I understood myself better than having been in Mandy Hanna’s programmes. Never have I gained so many warm people in my social circle before. Never have I had so much enjoyment while being unwell. Never have I been so encouraged by a teacher before Pauline Matthew. Never have I felt intelligent with IT before Nichola Feenan. Never have I felt supported until Clive Armstrong and Selwyn Johnston.

Never again will I underestimate the value of “we”!

Thank you to Neil Finlay, who has just completed his AMH training programme at AMH New Horizons North Down & Ards. Neil took part in our”Working it Out” Project which is part-funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy.

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Step inside Action Mental Health and you'll find talented people working together to improve the lives of everyone living with mental health needs.

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