Strong support networks

Every day most of us are around a multitude of people, but who can we turn to and establish deep connections with in times of trouble? Don’t get me wrong, I think that acquaintances and small talk have their place in our everyday lives, filling the gaps in our day and adding more sociability to our world, but sometimes we need a but more. Yes, that’s right – we are human, and being so, we all need help sometimes.

As you may know, I have been hospitalised with schizophrenia in the past. The truth is, I believe it would never had got to that stage if I had entrusted the people around me more in the first place. In the lead up to my illness, I was overworking and isolating myself. It’s safe to say this was not a good combination! I had structured my life so that I had little time to talk to people in my day. As time went on, my declining health meant that I had to give up a number of activities but I did little to replace this with meaningful connections and shunned the help I was offered by services. Granted, my delusions had got so strong that I thought everyone was against me, but I had let things escalate in the first place.

Today, I have learnt never to bottle things up! As I have said, I see both the purpose in a bit of normal chit chat during the day but, more so, I have learnt to rely more on my closest friends and family. I do not tell everyone everything (I use my discretion), but equally I try not to hide anything. One good example is that I always talk to someone now when I am frustrated with myself for making a mistake. Recently, I missed an early appointment because the alarm either didn’t go off or I didn’t hear it. I was mortified because it could have meant I didn’t get an assessment done in time for my university placement in the summer term. It turns out they had another appointment just a few days later, yet I was still upset with myself. I rang my mum and she widened my perspective, making me see that sometimes things don’t always go to plan and that I wasn’t the only person in the world who isn’t a morning person! We even had a laugh about my nana amplifying her alarm clock by putting it on top of two biscuit tins! The support networks we put in place can help us to be kinder to ourselves, as this is not always easy (see my last blog post).

Back on Track have also been a support to me when I needed them. As I am now so much more open with people, I told some of the tutors about the struggles I was having revising for a maths exam I needed to pass in order to get on to a primary teaching degree. They empathised with me because some of it did sound tough, but they also took the time to mark a test paper they gave me to see what my strong and weak points were. I am thankful for their help!

Therefore, it is important to appreciate others around us when things go wrong, so that we can turn to them when needed. Although I am now fully recovered from mental health problems, it doesn’t mean that I never need any support. We all experience challenges in our lives, big and small. Trusting others can get you far.

Maysie Stott-Morrison