Last year I became aware of a local support offering in Wales. A combined service between NHS Wales and the Charity Mind. Having now used the service for a few weeks I thought it may be helpful to provide an overview. Perhaps there is someone out there that has been contemplating using the service but are undecided and this summary will help.
While this is specifically about a service in Wales, if you feel your mental health could be better then look in your area. There are lots of support options out there. You don’t need to do it alone and you should never accept continuous down or anxious days as the norm.
Why did I engage in the service?
For me like most of us lockdown and Covid have definitely taken a toll. As you may know from flowing my blog I have been fighting a battle with Aniexty and PTSD for a couple of years now. But I am doing really well and winning the fight.
At the start of winter last year I noticed something new. I was starting to feel really down. There would be days where I just felt flat, wasn’t interested in doing the things I normally do and felt like I was just motioning through the day to reach it’s end.
I didn’t feel suicidal although at moments I noticed very old thoughts of self harm creeping in. (Self harm is another massive difficult subject I covered it in my previous blog in more detail.) https://alisonaderyn.com/2021/01/11/self-harm-why-people-do-it-why-you-should-stop/
I decided I wasn’t going to accept these new feelings were part of my normal and so looked for a suitable approach to channel or improve my wellbeing. I had come across the Mind offering previously and after some deliberation I decided to try it.
It took me a couple of weeks to convince myself I should reach out. I questioned if I really needed it or if I could use my tools to work it through on my own. I worried that I would be taking away the service from someone that needed it more. Ultimately I decided if writing about mental health and reaching out for help when you need it, I should lead by example.
What was the process.
Step 1 – Fill in some brief information about yourself. Quick easy and all fairly standard stuff.
Step 2 – A few weeks later I received a short phone call from Jo. He explained briefly how it would work, weekly scheduled calls where he would walk me through some questions and he would offer some support or guidance. It was very informal and friendly. There was no pressure to answer anything. We scheduled the first session for the following week.
Step 3 – I was bit nervous about what questions he would ask but they were all really factual and I didn’t have to answer any I wasn’t comfortable with. They were questions around how I was feeling, how frequently those feelings occurred. There weren’t any I didn’t mind answering. None about my past or my wider circumstances now.
Step 4 – Jo explained there were a number of paths we could progress down. Seven in all covering;
- Feeling alone
- Managing anger
- Grief and loss
Jo explained that from the questions I answered anxiety may have been an appropriate path however the choice was mine and given I felt in control and improving in the the anxiety space I opted for depression. I was hoping for some new tools and felt this would be the best path to find them.
Step 5 – Weekly sessions that lasted about twenty minutes at an agreed time. (I couldn’t make one week but that wasn’t a problem). Following each session Jo would send me “homework” sometimes information to read or things to try. Jo adapted what he would send based on our discussions.
Step 6 – We identified one particular area causing issues which was sleep. Jo sent through some really useful material lots of which I already knew (though the reminder was great) and a few new ideas. One of the changes I implemented was to stop eating sweet things after 4pm and I have definitely noticed a difference. If I wake up in the night I find it easier to get back off to sleep.
Where am I now?
I have not yet finished the course but I am already feeling the benefits. As usual I have been reading other approaches and since Christmas time have started a few new habits not recommended by the course along with things recommended by Jo. I am certainly Loads happier again. Back to my normal overly optimistic happy self. The biggest change has definitely been in The sleep space. Jo has been amazing throughout.
I really do believe if you are feeling in a difficult place reaching out is always worth while. Advice is just that, not rules to be followed or enforced but guidance to be considered.
If you are unsure and thinking about using the service or another service my advice give it a try. If you are asking should I? You probably should.
I am not sure how much longer Mind will be running active monitoring so all the more reason to jump in if you think it could help.