What can I say? We all need a purpose in life.
We often forget that those with mental health problems, particularly in the case of depression, lose that purpose and question their place in life.
I had it all, seemingly. I had a beautiful flat, senior management job, wonderful friends and a casual relationship with a handsome man. Behind closed doors, however, I was stressed, badly treated and isolated in my new home. I developed an eating disorder in order to cope and went into self-destruct mode. I felt alone and couldn’t remember the last time I had enjoyed anything. I masked my pain behind fake smiles and led two lives. The one every one saw and the one I lived inside. There is nothing more soul destroying than feeling empty in the pit of your stomach, yet full of overwhelming distress.
On my last day of work, I walked out, got into my friend’s car and sobbed for the entire journey back to where my family lived. My hurting heart told me I had left my life behind. From that day I never returned to work and I never returned to my home. I spent the next seven years battling rapid cycling bipolar where your moods fly from euphoric, high energetic and irritable highs to depressive, lethargic and suicidal lows. I lived with my family as I couldn’t live and support myself without them.
Five years ago I was in recovery at home and if I recall, living in grey jogging bottoms and a grey jumper – which says it all really. I was bloated from medication and I had the constant shakes from their side effects. I was de-motivated, lonely and sad. I almost wished I was back in hospital with other inpatients who understood how difficult life could be. My life had smashed into a million pieces and I had no idea how to mend it. The girl I once was had disappeared and been replaced by a lost soul.
One day I told myself that I could no longer live by a timetable with basic daily tasks set with the support of my community psychiatric nurse. I needed something more. I felt compelled to help others. I wanted to prevent anyone from struggling in the way I had. I contacted the mental health charity MIND and was given the opportunity to volunteer for them.
I was asked to share my personal story on training courses to businesses which were eager to learn more about mental health in the workplace. I was terrified. My hands were still shaking and I felt negative about myself but I pushed myself to do it. After I spoke everybody clapped and for the first time in a long time I felt valued. It spurred me on, my confidence grew and my recovery continued. I decided to join an exercise class where I met an incredible, charismatic, woman who has since become one of my closest friends. Volunteering had sparked something within me and given me a new purpose in life.
Since then, my road has been rocky and I have relapsed a number of times with hospital admissions. However, in my well periods I have always found my purpose again. Working with MIND enabled me to help Mental Health First Aid England and guest speak at Midlands Universities. It is amazing how once a seed is planted the trees grow and branches unpredictably sprout. I was never to know that I would self-promote my guest speaking, write a book and poetry collection, approach magazines and both feature in them and write for them and build a personal and passionate blog. I do the best I can, when I can and when my flexible work structure collapses in periods of ill health, it is always rebuilt in recovery.
As a thank you to MIND I am raising £500 by sharing my story and poetry in Birmingham for World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10th October. They are a fantastic charity who offers many services to support those with mental health problems, enabling them to recover and manage their lives on a day to day basis. Everybody deserves the right to live a life where they feel motivated, valued and can find enjoyment. MIND provides these opportunities with care and without judgement.
MIND gave me time, sensitivity and understanding and ultimately, opened a door for me. They gave me a purpose and they changed my life.
Please support me in my quest to raise a mere £500 at https://www.justgiving.com/Fliss-Baker/. You can read my World Mental Health Day inspired poem on my blog here http://flissbakertalks.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/lets-stand-together.html
Thank you for your support.