Diary of a mental health service user

Diary A mental health service user who volunteers at an NHS trust writes

Monday I edit a newsletter for the NHS trust for one of the local acute mental health wards and have an editorial meeting with the ward manager. The next issue focuses on Mental Health Action week (12-18 April) and we both want the emphasis to be on raising awareness of mental health issues. I do some errands after the meeting and end up very late to meet Mum to go shopping for something to wear at my brother’s wedding. I fail to find anything.

Tuesday I have a session with my psychologist. It’s positive and we talk a bit about our work ending a scary yet exciting prospect. At home I pick up an e-mail with another article for the newsletter. They’re coming in thick and fast. I finish my PowerPoint presentation for the clinical governance meeting next month and e-mail it to the ward manager. I head off to my graphics course in the evening where we explore texture and marking. It’s great fun. I go to bed exhausted but feeling I’ve had a productive day.

Wednesday Mum pulls me out of bed at the crack of dawn to ready ourselves for another go at finding an outfit for the wedding. It all goes well and I come away with a pair of trousers from only the second shop we go into. I catch up with my social worker for our weekly meeting, which goes well. I don’t really have any current concerns but find the weekly contact invaluable even when I’m feeling relatively well. She also comes up with some more ideas for the newsletter, so we spend time mapping out the next few issues. I then spend the afternoon in bed in direct protest against being made to get up so early.

Thursday The ward manager is impressed with my PowerPoint presentation, which is good because it is the first one I have done. I leave the building still wearing my trust ID badge underneath my hoody. I’m so proud I’m now working for the trust as a service-user volunteer. It represents massive change for me. Mum and I practise packing the car in preparation for travelling to the wedding tomorrow to pre-empt the: “We’ll never get all that in the car” tantrum Dad will have in the morning.

Friday I leave for my brother’s wedding after a busy and exhausting week. I can’t say I’m looking forward to spending the afternoon sitting on the motorway, but I am licking my lips at the prospect of the chocolate fountain at the wedding.

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