Hi everyone, I’m Jo.
I’m a 18 year old aspiring psychology student, working to make a positive change within the mental health system.
This blog covers everything – from my experience with mental illness, tips and tricks for managing your own, and most importantly will hopefully provide some comfort and support for those of you also on the rocky road to recovery. Here, I will share my story in the hope it might help or inspire others to start talking more openly about their own mental health, and start a much needed conversation within our services.
I’m not currently able to be in education as I suffer from multiple mental health problems, including complex PTSD (which unfortunately involves periods of dissociation – to those of you who also experience this symptom, all I can say is sorry… blimey, is that a strange one!), newly diagnosed BPD (not sure how I feel about this label but thats a whole other blog post!), Anorexia/bulimia, OCD, various forms of self harm, social anxiety and chronic depression. Although these illnesses do make parts of my life massively challenging, I refuse to feel ashamed forever – why should I need to hide away in a society where 1 in every 4 people struggle with mental illness? I hope by sharing my very raw and real struggle it might encourage others to speak out, and help stamp out this stigma once and for all.
As well as being on multiple psych medications, I’ve recently spent 8 months in intensive treatment with a place called the HOPE service based in Surrey (UK), which is a day/outreach programme for young people aged 12-18 with extremely complex needs or at risk of placement breakdown. This was after several hospital admissions due to my mental health problems – I was also admitted impatient to HOPE house children’s home twice in order to keep me safe. I could truly write a book about that place!
Although being extremely challenging, eye opening and at times scary, HOPE truely saved my life – Never have I ever come across such an amazing and inspirational group of young people cared for by truly incredible and dedicated staff. I finally found somewhere where I fitted in, found who I truly was, and found a place where there are people just like me (which is something, up until last year, I never thought I would find!)
I’ve also found what i’m passionate about, and through HOPE I’ve been able to get involved with organisations like CYA (CAMHS Youth Advisors) – who are a group of young adults like me who have all accessed mental health services. We do lots of important work, and help advise on best practice as well as advocate for improvements within young people’s mental health services. I’m very dedicated to this cause and have honestly found my happiness in helping others.
When i’m ready to return to education, my aim is to get my psychology degree and one day, I’ll hopefully be working in the HOPE service (or somewhere similar) as a trauma therapist/EMDR practitioner for other young people just like me. I’m still in treatment and very much a work in progress, but thats totally okay!
So take whatever crappy hand you’ve been dealt, and make it into something brilliant. Sending positive vibes and happy thoughts your way. Always remember:
“Strength is what we gain from the madness we survive”
Just breathe. Even if that’s all you can manage. Happy reading…
Looking for more advice or support? Need help now? Visit my Facebook page or join our support group by either copying the link below, or clicking on one of the links below, or clicking the Facebook symbol at the bottom of the page…
A Penny for your Thoughts Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/A-Penny-for-your-Thoughts-363727270484899/
A Penny for your Thoughts mental health support group: https://m.facebook.com/groups/435342940132790?ref=bookmarks