Life Testimony:

A Retired mental health community recovery worker

If someone takes the time to listen to you, it makes you feel so much better.

The Experience

This is going back quite some time now, when the children were quite young, there was four of them under the age of 12. I had a small business a shop, a newsagent, a confectioner, a little grocery store, which I put all my money, all my redundancy pay from my printing work that I had done, into the shop. But I opened it at the wrong time, just, just in the recession. And the shop was very near a supermarket, and they just started selling newspapers on a Sunday, which took all my trade away, and all the cut price of cigarettes. But, to cut a long story short, I went bust. You know, I was, I was, they were threatening to repossess my house and everything like that, and I very worried about my wife and four children and what was gonna happen? Yeah. And I just I, I just couldn’t stand … couldn’t carry on one day … I just, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s horrible thinking back to it sometimes. I was so, so, so, so very depressed. One day that the bailiffs came into the shop and, and, demanded my keys. They said, you, you, got to leave, they said it’s done. I went home in a daze, not knowing what’s going to happen, and then, of course, it all starts it. My mental health started to deteriorate at a rapid pace.

Fortunately, my wife had got us a rental accommodation which we moved into. I had to go for an interview with the Official Receiver. He had a nice, long list of stuff in front of him, which I’d had to supply, and he said, okay, we’ll have that, we’ll have that, and he was ticking it off, we’ll have that. He said, oh we’ll have the car. I said, no, you won’t, because I need that car, because I’ve got a disabled daughter, she wasn’t dreadfully disabled, just partially disabled, but she still needs transport, and he reluctantly agreed to that. And then to top it all, I found fame at last in my with my name in the paper, because it was published in bankruptcy. But that didn’t really bother on me.

On the way to recovery

My wife, she was upset, but she never once had a bad word or nagged me or anything. She did nag me when I thought oh, I’m gonna lie in bed, I’m not going to get up, nothing to get up for. I stopped looking after myself, stop showering. She did buy me a dog, a black Labrador. She said that’s your job to look after this dog, to brush it, groom it, to feed it, to exercise it, and that was the best thing she could have done, because I love dogs and I willingly looked after him, brushed him, too him out walking.

My wife had got house and a rented house we were together, and we were getting back to being a family again.

But the best thing that happened to me was, I was referred to resource and therapy centre in South End, where everyone who was who was there, every service user who was there was recovering from a mental illness of some kind. There’s lots of different people that we had, there was people there like me with depression, they had terrible mood swings, we had bi-polar, they everything there. And the beauty was you could speak freely to anyone there, I made so many friends.

New opportunities

When I began to recover, I got involved … I had such good treatment through [unnamed] Hospital. And there I met Professor [unnamed] and she ran a little research group called [unnamed] and she was based at Anglia Ruskin and I got talking to her about her mental illness. And she said, why don’t you join come and join our focus group, our focus and research group?

Joining with [unnamed] as a community and community worker, and meeting others like me that, like I had been, I could help them, I felt like I could be some used to them. I started off as a volunteer and then they offered me a job because I go on so well as a volunteer. Then suddenly to be doing what I love doing, and getting paid for it, was fantastic. That was a good time as well. That was good, a good job meeting people and helping people.

I suppose once again I must’ve been very lucky because I have had nothing but fantastic support nearly all the way. My GP very good, my second psychiatrist, she was very good, the mental health team in general. The staff at the resource centre were always very ready to listen to you any time.