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David's Story

I had been on different medications, tried different talking therapies but I still wasn’t getting anywhere. I was still ashamed and afraid to attend a group with strangers, however, I knew I needed to take control of my life, and that things needed to change. Solent Recovery College was my last hope to try and get better.

Trigger warning: This post contains reference to suicide.

I first attended Solent Mind’s Solent Recovery College (SRC) as I was suffering from a long history of mental health issues; depression, anxiety, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder).

I had been on different medications, tried different talking therapies but I still wasn’t getting anywhere. Everything came to a head in 2018 when I took an overdose. I had been told about the the college previously, but dismissed going. Looking back, I was still ashamed and afraid to attend a group with strangers. However, I knew I needed to take control of my life, and that things needed to change. SRC was my last hope to try and get better.

From the off, SRC had a huge effect on my recovery. I underestimated the impact attending a weekly class would make. I really felt that for the first time in my life I was speaking truthfully about my feelings.

The courses were unlike anything I'd tried before because they were lead by Peer Trainers alongside Adult Mental Health Trainers. Peer Trainers have their own lived experience of mental health issues which can be really impactful and connect with the students on a much deeper level.

I had underestimated the power of being surrounded by people with similar experiences to myself - it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. It was refreshing talking to people who were being honest and open, in an environment without any fear of judgement.

I felt empowered by going to SRC, because the new skills I’d learnt enabled me to really take control of my wellbeing. I was introduced to so many useful techniques and different ways of thinking: mindfulness, breathing exercises, and so many factors which contribute to our mental health.

The course had such a positive impact on me, so I decided I would like to share my experience and become a peer trainer myself. Initially, I started by leading some mindfulness exercises and my role built from there. I have been a peer trainer myself since January 2020 and I absolutely love it! If someone said to me a few years ago that I would be sharing my personal experiences with strangers, I never would’ve believed them.

One thing that will always stay with me was my first class as a peer trainer. I told my story about living with depression and what coping mechanisms work for me. After the lesson, a student came up to me to explain how much it resonated with them.

That feedback was so important to me as I realised, if only person takes hope from me sharing my experiences, what greater gift is there to share?
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