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Sam's Story

I started to realise how alive I felt being around people who understood and I could be my true self with. It was a relief to not have to put that mask on and try to pretend everything was ok.

Trigger Warning: Contains references to self-harm

I have a history of suffering with depression, anxiety and EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) and was supported to come along to the New Forest Wellbeing Service, one of Solent Mind’s Wellbeing services in Hampshire.

Initially, I was very reluctant to come along as I feared new places and people and the thought of doing group work terrified me. As I was stuck in an unhelpful cycle with no hope, I thought if I try it and can’t manage it, at least I can say I tried. I did not hold much hope, as other avenues did not seem to help…

I had my first assessment appointment and initially decided not to come back due to fear. A few months later with some support and reassurance, I then felt able to return and push myself to attend my first group. I got there early to ensure I was sat by the door so I could escape if I needed to. I spent the first few sessions with my head down and hood up, I didn’t look at anyone or speak to anyone, but I was so proud that I had managed to stay for the whole session. The staff were very supportive and would check in with me to see how I was doing.

I remember clearly the first people from the group that approached me. We were on a break from the group and I had gone outside. They came over and introduced themselves and I could feel that tough exterior slowly coming down. After getting the confidence to talk during the break, I then began to talk in the group and before long, I was finding myself able to ask and answer questions.

I started to realise how alive I felt being around people who understood and I could be my true self with. It was a relief to not have to put that mask on and try to pretend everything was ok. One of the most powerful things about the New Forest Wellbeing Service is being able to share experiences and strategies with each other. I also felt that the staff really understood and stood by everything they said. Knowing that most of the staff have had lived experience of their own mental health issues really helped me to truly believe what they were saying.

There was one course especially that really did help me on my way to recovery. It was a course about Life Skills. I learnt so much about myself and learning what, when and how to use all kinds of useful strategies. These skills have helped me to stop self-harming and I continue to use the skills I learned every day to keep myself well.

I came into the service thinking it was just another thing that wouldn’t do anything, and nothing would change. I was so wrong. It took years of therapy and medication changes and I still didn’t feel I had progressed any further and within a few months of joining New Forest Wellbeing, my life had taken a completely new journey into recovery.

I was so grateful for the help I received that I became a volunteer and shared my experiences to help others. I wanted to help people at the start of their journeys by being able to say “that was me once!” and encourage them to engage and stick with it.

Later I successfully applied for a part time paid role at the New Forest Wellbeing Service and  I continue to take pride in being able to help people in the same way I was helped. There is nothing better than seeing people start their journey, make progress and notice the difference from when they first started to when they left.

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