Mind Member Experience

‘I was diagnosed with social phobia (also called social anxiety disorder) and depression in my early twenties, after being verbally bullied and very unhappy at school and then dropping out of three of the A level courses I started and also university. I then left the first and only job I’ve had after a few weeks, because I could not cope.

I struggled hugely with talking to people and looking at them in the eye, including close family and even watching the TV I often didn’t look at people’s eyes. Sometimes at school I didn’t even answer the register. I had very low self-esteem and self-confidence and had no hope for the future and no belief that I would manage to hold down a job or live an independent life, and did not want to live anymore. For several years I barely left the house and if so only with family. I also suffered from anaemia and so did not have the strength to do anything at all.

Over the last four years or so I have gradually improved by having CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) at LIFT Psychology and going to TWIGS and Phoenix Enterprises, but during this time I only did things on one or two days a week and never went anywhere or socialised with anyone other than my parents or aunts or uncles. The therapy and TWIGS in particular were very helpful but I did not know where to go next to progress further. When I started at Swindon Mind a year ago, I had improved a lot but was still very reliant on my parents. By going on the walking group I have socialised, both on the walks and on some evenings when the walk leader has arranged for us to go to the cinema or a restaurant as a group.

This has been the first time I have managed to do that since I was at school (which is fifteen years ago), and I now use the buses regularly with the group and on my own, when I previously had only used them with my parents. The walking group and paper crafting group at Mind have helped me to get used to talking to others and being in a group. Through Mind I attend a supported volunteer group at Volunteer Centre Swindon where a group of us help them with a variety of tasks. I have also gone there on my own to help with some data entry on the computers. With the confidence from this and encouragement from my Wellbeing Coordinator and others at Mind I then attended a Volunteer Recruitment Fair at the Central Library and from that gained a voluntary placement at the charity Change, Grow, Live (CGL) as an admin volunteer.

A year ago I did not think I would be doing two days a week of voluntary work this soon, and have only been able to cope with it thanks to the staff and volunteers and other service users at Mind and the confidence I have gained from the activities I have done there. I now have some hope for the future and belief that I could get a job, even though everything is still very scary. I now am busy with voluntary work or other activities for four days a week which is a big step up from what I was doing last year.

I definitely would have not achieved so much in the past year without Mind, in fact I have no idea what I’d be doing if I hadn’t gone there.’

Poem written by a member:

‘Try and express what depression and stress is to someone who doesn’t understand. It’s like being in a boat, trying to stay afloat when water is rushing in. You scream and shout but there’s no one about. ‘Til one day you hear, “Come over here , We may have a plan, A helping hand to get you back on dry land”

– Richard Goodman