Stick by Me !

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During Mental Health Awareness Week May 2016  we asked our members “Who has helped you through dark times and how did they help you?”

“One of my colleagues at work was absolutely amazing.  She gave me time and space, and she backed me up when I couldn’t speak up for myself.  I hit such a low after my husband left and at times I just couldn’t face the day.  She would ring me up after work just to chat about what we were watching on telly and sometimes she would pop in ‘on her way home from shopping’.  She gave me time and space and we often just sat together without talking.  Her calm company eventually rubbed off on me and I could see that I still had much to live for.”

“To someone who has never experienced these depths of darkness I would like to say ‘Don’t try to understand, you can only fully understand if you have experienced it yourself but hopefully you never will.  It’s like telling someone who has lost a leg that you understand what it feels like while you are standing on both of yours.  It doesn’t work.’  Just being there for that person can be enough because that’s when you don’t feel quite so alone.  It is true, sometimes when you are sitting in your darkness you feel like you don’t want anyone there but in truth you do wish that somebody was there holding you.  I can look back and see that I have pushed people away in the past, and understandably not many did stay.  Don’t take it personally if you are pushed away.  You might not be the person to help but you can help them to find someone who does.  Let them know that you have not written them off with the occasional text, card or phone call, let them know that the door is still open when they’re ready.”

“No, it’s not easy to support someone who is stuck in a dark place, and it’s frightening for you as well as for them.  It starts putting your own mental health at risk because you are so worried they might harm themselves.  So I would strongly recommend to ask for help for them as well as for yourself.  This can be a neighbour, a colleague, a cousin, or a friend, it doesn’t have to be a health professional.  Yes of course you have to make sure you hit sympathetic ears but these days people are much more open about mental stress because life really isn’t easy for any of us, regardless of age or social background.”

“To the kind soul who helped one of our members into safety last Tuesday evening 20th September we would like to express our gratitude.  We cannot thank you enough !  Whoever you are – please know that because you spotted her in a desperate attempt to escape those toxic voices and visions she has now another chance to hopefully get the help she needs.  You saved a wonderful person who is a volunteer at Arty-Folks and supports with physical disabilities to achieve their best in art, a great artist in herself who can express through a powerful visual language what it is like to live with this complex condition, and simply a wonderful mate to be around who is always there when you need her.  We simply cannot thank you enough for sticking by her !”

“When you are supporting someone with mental ill health it can feel like no matter what you say or do they are never going to move on from their hurts. I understand how disheartening that can be for family or close friends. I was one of them.  I would like to say to you – stay, hold on, because eventually there will be a spark and from there something new can grow. But this spark will probably not come from you because you are too close.  It will come from peers who are travelling along a similar road.”

“The person who has helped me most and stuck by me is my mum.  She is always there for me and she doesn’t judge me.  She doesn’t live here but we talk every day on the phone and when I have to go to medical reviews she travels up to support me.  To anyone supporting a loved one going through a bad time I would like to say: encourage them to talk about their illness and just listen, that’s enough.  Having somebody to talk to openly and honestly is the biggest help you can possibly get.”

“My awesome partner has stuck by me through thick and thin, crazy and sane, psychosis and clarity, hallucinations and delusions.  She has embraced my mental health as simply one component of what makes me me.  I constantly hear voices; so when we are alone together she knows there are always others in my head.  She has supported me through my darkest times, my happier times, the loss of my job due to my head, my worsening physical disabilities, my near-constant suicidal ideation, through my realisation that my gender is not that which I was labelled at birth – but non-binary. She accepts me for me.  I know there are times that she finds me tough company. But no matter what my head throws at us, she has always been my rock.”

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