Lucy’s mental health journey started when she witnessed a friend dying in secondary school. Since this traumatic event, Lucy has struggled with suicidal thoughts, engaging in self-harming behaviours and has unfortunately tried to take her own life.
She has been diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after being admitted to hospital before she was 18 and resided in a children’s specialist inpatient unit for some time before coming to Brookhaven in December 2019.
Here she talks to us about her journey, how her time at Active Pathways has helped her recovery and her hopes and plans for the future.
Tell us about your background
During high school I witnessed a friend dying on the football ground. It was a traumatic experience that I struggled for years with. I had three admissions to hospital prior to Active Pathways, starting with an admission to hospital for adolescents.
I really struggled to deal with my emotions, and because of this I self-harmed. During this time, I also experienced hallucinations and voices, which I didn’t know how to deal with. I didn’t speak about my problems or feelings with others as I felt that they didn’t understand me and I didn’t know any strategies I could use during bad times. My family were always there for me and they tried to help, but I didn’t want to accept it.
I then tried to commit suicide which led to one of the admissions to an adolescent mental health unit.
Because of all of this, I struggled with flashbacks, I had, and still have, seizures that are triggered by heightened emotions, my independence was limited which resulted in me struggling to do daily tasks such as cleaning, cooking or shopping and I lacked confidence and self-esteem.
Can you talk to us about your time at Brookhaven?
I came to Brookhaven (Preston) in December 2019 and initially struggled to communicate with others. I struggled with identifying my own ideas, thoughts, and ways to deal with any difficulties. And I also struggled with recognising and controlling my emotions.
I now feel more confident and I’m able to express my problems, rather than keeping them to myself. I now know and understand the difference between facts and opinions with my own thoughts, helping me to develop more positive coping strategies to deal with my emotions. In turn my family relationships have improved and I don’t feel as guilty for everything that happened. I have a safe space to grieve and deal with bad things.
I feel that I can trust the staff at Brookhaven which allowed me to open up and speak about my past and any issues. The team are non-judgemental and have a good mindset to help people. I have anxiety around new people and in groups of people but I didn’t feel that staff pressurised me to engage in activities and let me go at my own pace to encourage me to engage. They gradually engaged with me rather than forcing me.
During my time at Brookhaven, I’ve been in contact with different people and professionals such as the occupational therapy team (OT), nurses and have had weekly sessions with the psychology team as well as being offered regular one-to-one time with nurses or staff on the unit which helped me to voice my concerns, anxieties or worries on a regular basis.
I also took the opportunity to engage in Active Pathways’ therapeutic earning scheme where I was required to go through an interview and complete a necessary course to be able to gain the job I wanted. I liked that this got me into a routine for work and prepared me for work in the community.
How would you describe Brookhaven to someone else?
Helpful. The staff don’t expect you to do things that they wouldn’t do themselves. I didn’t feel safe for a while, because of my anxieties of being in a new environment where I didn’t know people, but staff were there to help and support me. I know that I can rely on the team and no judgements will be made. They don’t treat you like you’re different, like you have mental health illness.
There are plenty of activities at Brookhaven such as walks, arts and crafts, cinema nights and alpaca walking for example. This allowed me to be myself and showed me that I can do things that can help my mental health.
I had OT input where I learnt how to become more independent. For instance, I am a very fussy eater and I had the opportunity to learn to cook meals I like.
What are your future plans?
I’ve already been back to college which allowed me to speak to other people I didn’t know and I’ve made some good friends. I’m pleased to say that I’ve passed all my assignments at college and I have been accepted to university which I’ll start in September.
I really enjoy playing football and so I’ve started going out with people from my football team too.
I’m a stronger person and I know who I am now and what I like – I feel as though I’m one step closer to my own identity. I don’t feel scared of being judged by others for everting I do, say or the way I am anymore.
Through my time at Active Pathways, I was able to find the right path for myself for the future.
Even though I have mixed feelings about the future as I’m scared of messing up, I’m excited to try it. I know I want a good education and after I finish university I would like to work as a PE teacher and possibly have my own football club. One day I’d like to have family of my own, have my own home and have a dog.
What have you learnt during your time at Brookhaven and what advice would you give to someone who is at the start of their recovery journey?
I’ve learnt new life skills such as speaking to employers, bus drivers and people who I don’t know without the fear of being judged. I can now cook a variety of meals and most importantly, I’m more confident, assertive and I have found my voice.
I would tell anyone who is at the start of their journey to trust the process even if things are not looking the way you want them to and things don’t always get better straight away. Life is like a roller-coaster: if you go down you must go up.
Everyone needs help sometimes and asking for help doesn’t make you weak so try to be open minded as to what’s on offer and take it. If you’re struggling, there is hope and help.
Finally, be proud of the little things you’ve achieved. You can validate your own feeling’s and everyone’s feelings matter. And don’t compare yourself to others!
A word from Natalia, Lucy’s Senior Assistant Psychologist
Despite all obstacles, such as death of more people in her life, not being able to play football, go to college or see her family due to lockdown, Lucy has worked hard on her recovery. She’s always willing to get better and being able to deal with all the issues that came at her. She’s managed well and used all her strategies and ways to help her through.
I feel that every single person at Brookhaven has contributed to Lucy’s recovery and she’s also had good support from her family which showed how important inclusion and family involvement is to make a difference in recovery.
Overall, Lucy came to Brookhaven as a vulnerable, shy person who did not trust others. With hard work form Lucy and the help from the team at Brookhaven, she become more confident, assertive, and independent as a person who can advocate for herself, rely on herself in sorting practical issues and can see herself as a worthy person who can manage difficulties that come her way.
I believe that Lucy is fully ready to face the world. She has enough skills and courage in her to combat challenges that come her way and with some support, she can achieve her goals.
If you’d like further information, please get in touch by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us 01772 646650.