This blog article comes from Sandra, a peer support volunteer at Meridian Wellbeing. We share the personal story and empowerment of those who have struggled with their mental health.
My first experience with depression was in 2004 following the death of my mother. No-one can describe the feeling adequately and you will not understand fully until you experience it for yourself, but I will try to explain.
I chose to keep working. I needed a sense of some kind of normal, routine in my life, everything else felt like chaos. Thoughts in my head (not voices) were so loud I could hardly hear anything else, let alone concentrate on my work. Adrenalin was pumping through my body, which was brought on by anxiety. I lost two stone in weight and I could not sleep, day or night. I could not cry. I felt that if I did cry, I would lose what little control I had over my life. However, amidst this turmoil, I did understand that if I turned to alcohol, things would be worse. My GP referred me to a day hospital in Barnet, which was for people with mental health difficulties. I had no expectations of what I might find. I was welcomed by other service users. Who made me a cup of tea and brought me biscuits. My feelings almost overwhelmed me and I never forgot their kindness.
My second experience with depression left me in a much darker place. It was again caused by loss. This time it was the loss of a business I was trying to create for myself. It left me in complete despair. I felt there was no hope. For what are we in life if we don’t have hope?. I spent a month in Chase Farm Mental Hospital. For the first two weeks I was not even allowed out into the hospital grounds. My mobile phone lead was taken from me. This was only given back to me when I was sent to the recover house for another month. Being in hospital was the worst experience of my life. I felt no different upon coming home. I suffered from flashbacks, which lessened over the years and now has almost completely gone.
When I recovered from this illness I wanted to give back to those who had given to me and I needed a focus.
In January 2015, with the help of my two friends, Jonathan and Peter, we formed the Mind & Mood Talk & Support Group which is run by ex-service users, for service users, their carers, families and supporters. It does not matter what your “diagnosis” is, but what you are prepared to do about it. We have now been running for over 6 years. Our support group has been run online since the start of the pandemic. We hope to run them face-to-face as soon as the building re-opens. Sadly Jonathan is no longer with us.
I also began to focus on my creative writing, which I have always enjoyed. My passion for writing began at primary school. I inherited this from my father, who was an imaginative story-teller. I attended HGSI Institute in N.W, London, where I met an amazing creative writing tutor who guided me & helped me to develop my ideas into stories. Feedback from fellow students was invaluable in helping me to finish my first novel, a fantasy/adventure.
I now run my own creative writing workshops for adults (18+) and 10-14 year olds so have come full circle. I have also edited a book of short stories for children and a music review. I am visually impaired & passionate about raising sight-loss awareness. In May 2018 I became a published author - I had a book of short stories published titled “11 Stories on the Go” which are tales of unrequited love; A haunted House; A Defiant old Man; Temptation; An unwelcome return; Mistaken identity; A Love Triangle; Forgiveness; Poetic Justice; A Stolen Talisman; A Glimpse of Sepia.
I believe that we are the key holders of our own destiny. Never give up on your dreams, no matter how rocky the road or how old you are! My dreams combined with my experience of depression and recovery, are the reason I’m where I am today. Sandra Turner.
Available on Amazon in paperback & ebook.
Please contact me for further information on any of the above or to find out more about our Mind and Mood Support Group:
Image Credit: www.unsplash.com