Members of the community mental health charity Quing have shared their experiences of the support it has given them and how it helped them to help themselves and others. All stories have been anonymised.
I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2004. In 2008 I fell into such a deep depression that at the time I felt the only way out was to take my own life. Thankfully I survived but only after being lucky enough to receive a liver transplant just 3 days after my attempt.
Following this, I continued on the rollercoaster of bipolar and eventually ended up out of work. As I had already destroyed my relationships, pushed my friends away, and now no longer had the connection with people that work brings, I isolated myself away from society for a number of years. During this time I was hospitalised four times in four years due to psychosis, so my mental health was deteriorating.
I sent a message to Graham as I was unsure that I would be able to do the course due to not having progressed much on my recovery and having only been out of hospital for a couple of months since my last psychotic episode. Graham said I would be very welcome on the course and luckily I only had a day to think about it before it started or I doubt I would have turned up.
The four-day course was the turning point in my journey. When the course started I often squeaked rather than spoke as I was so nervous that my words wouldn’t come out properly, but once I saw the courage of everyone else opening up I was able to open up a lot more too, this allowed a depth of bonding that I hadn’t experienced for years.
I have been under the care of community mental health the whole time. After my suicide attempt, I was allocated a key worker, but at that time I was never offered any psychological therapy and nobody ever asked the question of why I wanted to kill myself.
I was told by the psychiatrist that bipolar was a severe lifelong mental illness caused by imbalances in my brain chemistry, which seemed such a hopeless message of “you are flawed and there is nothing you can do about it.” I gave up, which is when I isolated myself from the world.
I believe this was the first baby step on my road to recovery as I got on really well with my support worker and her support involved taking me out for coffee, so she became much more like a friend than a professional. I really think meeting outside of an office made a difference as well as it was so much more informal.
As the Quing community grew I feel like I grew alongside it, all the opportunities that Quing provided always seemed to happen in perfect timing with how far I could push myself out of my comfort zone, and the discomfort was more than worth it eventually.
The next major transformation stage was doing the Peer Mentoring Level One, the knowledge that the course provided and the tools to develop my self-awareness and reflection skills were invaluable, and again the bonds that were made during the course were equally special
Since I have started at Quing I have had no psychotic episodes or hospital admissions, the impact that this alone has had on both myself and my family is incredible.