"You can do a lot on your own, but it’s more beneficial and sustainable to do things with people"

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Southdown Support Client

The financial support has taken me from being extremely anxious thinking I need to go and work in anything, to a place where I have time. I don’t need to worry about how I’m paying my electricity or phone. It really helps my mental health hugely knowing I don’t have to find work immediately.

I was in hospital for three months from October to December 2016. I had attempted suicide and I was extremely depressed. I didn’t have much will to do anything.

With mental ill health you feel more vulnerable. You spend your life indoors, you don’t want to interact, you really want to spend time under the duvet.

People with mental health are often reluctant to talk about it or seek treatment. There’s a stigma attached to talking about mental health. It’s not encouraged. There’s a reluctance to touch it and address it even though it affects a huge amount of people. That’s changing now but it takes time.

Without support you stay under the duvet, you spend your life in bed. You give up on things.

The crisis team at the hospital put me in touch with the Southdown Homeless Prevention and Mental Health Support Service. They knew I was totally broke and I couldn’t pay the rent for my flat.

I first met my Floating Support Officer in January. It was just after I badly broke my leg in the New Year.

At that point I was really very early days in recovery – I’d been in and out of depression for a few years. I didn’t know what to do, where to turn. I was embarrassed. I didn’t know how the system worked. My landlady quite rightly wanted me to pay rent.

My Floating Support Officer was amazing. He said he’d be with me until I got sorted. It was amazing support, tremendous support. He was a constant and I knew I could rely on him and talk to him about different things.

He helped with money management and housing. He kept in touch with the whole medical team at the hospital and always wanted to make sure that he didn’t ignore the non-housing aspects of my life.

He was very realistic, he grounded me. I wasn’t in the position to start work, I could hardly walk. He brought me back to dealing with things one at a time. For me that was very healthy.

When you come out of depression, it takes a while to realise things aren’t going to happen fast, there are no shortcuts. He was honest about it taking a long time, especially securing social housing.

Housing support in the community was absolutely unbelievable. I think no doubt, housing support in your own home makes a difference. Having appointments, a routine, a plan helps. It means you can’t spend time under the duvet. You make sure your place is clean and tidy if you know you’re having a visitor.

I wanted to work but I wasn’t ready. I just wasn’t comfortable. I was getting housing benefit by then, but there was a shortfall so I moved into a hostel. But my benefits decreased because the accommodation was classed as shared accommodation.

I registered to get online alerts for private housing and older people’s housing - I knew social housing could take years. But for some reason a housing association put an ad online. I called them immediately and I don’t think I went much further than opening the door when I said, “I want it.” I am very lucky.

My Floating Support Officer advised me how to get things done once I moved into my home. He told me which charities I could go to to get help to buy furniture. He also helped me with the PIP application.

All those things took time to come through, but they did come through. My experience was of truly amazing support. It’s hard for me to think what would have happened if I hadn’t had that support. I’d have been lost.

The financial support has taken me from being extremely anxious thinking I need to go and work in anything, to a place where I have time. I don’t need to worry about how I’m paying my electricity or phone. It really helps my mental health hugely knowing I don’t have to find work immediately.

When I finished support with the service, I was put in touch with an Employment Support Specialist because I want to go back into work – build up from a day or two.

I used to work in the media, I was an animator and had an animation studio. I’ve been extremely fortunate my whole life until recently. I wasn’t rich but I was very comfortable.

When that collapsed, I completely collapsed. A lot of people I thought were good friends disappeared when I no longer had money.

When you’re out of the workforce it takes quite a lot of strength to redefine yourself in what you want to do. You need to find your voice again. It’s hard.

The older you get, the harder it is. You become invisible after 55. It becomes a struggle especially in creative work.

You need support because people can open you to new ideas and opportunities. You need people with a wider view to show you what is possible. It’s very difficult otherwise. It’s hard to do it on your own.

I am also receiving support for the next six months to reintegrate socially. Social life is vital, it keeps us well and content. Relationships are so important. That’s what keeps your mind functioning and preserves your identity. Without it you hide under your duvet.

I’ve learnt lots of things about myself. It’s been a humbling experience. I thought I could do it all myself, but I can’t.

I’m ten times better today but that doesn’t mean I’m completely okay. It is a struggle.

It’s difficult because there are so many different things to deal with. And it’s never a quick fix. There are no short cuts.

People ask me if I’m thinking about suicide. The whole idea of killing yourself, or going away, it never disappears. But it’s shifted. It’s not in the front of my mind.

It’s not something I plan daily, but it is there. I keep myself busy. If I’m washing 300 dishes I won’t think about killing myself. But no-one wants to clean dishes, they want to be comfortable in bed.

Support has been tremendous. I don’t want to think what would have happened without it. I feel unbelievably fortunate. The whole experience of recovery, the social and medical services has been amazing.

You can do a lot on your own, but it’s more beneficial and sustainable to do things with people. Reaching out, realising there are plenty of people who can and want to help, is what made a difference.

I’m able to look at the future now, rather than think there is no future. It took a long time for me. I’m starting to accept who I am. Healing is when you get entirely in touch with yourself.

 

Southdown Homeless Prevention and Mental Health Support Service (Brighton and Hove) provides short-term, flexible and tailored support to prevent homelessness and improve people’s mental health and wellbeing. This support focuses on our clients’ immediate housing needs, and other areas that are impacting their lives such as mental health and wellbeing, employment, finances, and social networks.

Our specialist Employment Support helps people access and retain paid work, complete education and training and get involved in volunteering. Employment Specialists work in partnership with Mental Health Recovery Teams to provide support tailored to individual needs, goals and aspirations.