I want to make mental health real and ok to talk about.

6 Feb 2015

Today's blog is written by Fliss Baker who had a great experience training and learning with the MHFA. Here's her story:

Receiving a diagnosis for a mental health illness is a life changing experience. You feel relieved to know 'you're not going mad' but at the same time confused, fearful and alone. After a lengthy period of stress due to relationship breakdowns, work and attempting to cope through an eating disorder and drug bingeing, I lost the ability to cope and was diagnosed with bipolar in 2008. After a lengthy hospital admission I felt lost. Where did I start? My confidence was shot but I wanted to help others. Volunteering with a mental health charity gave me the opportunity to share my story during some Mental Health First Aid courses.

I can't put into words what attending the first MHFA training course felt like. I was shaking with fear and my medication made me anxious. However, I received amazing feedback and felt a sense of achievement. I also learnt things I never expected to.

Statistics showed me I wasn't alone and the reinforcement of symptoms relieved my anxiety - I wasn't the instigator of my challenging struggles! Primarily, I learnt I could recover. I could access professional support and use cognitive behaviour techniques recognising how my thoughts impacted by feelings and actions. In addition I could call helpful numbers, talk to family and friends and try to rediscover things I enjoyed. Finding stability started to give me a purpose. I was spurred on to continue sharing my story and four years on I have assisted in changing the attitudes of thousands of people.

I now talk to undergraduate mental health nurses and I write about mental health issues. I owe much of my personal development to increased learning and understanding from MHFA England. Pre-diagnosis I lived in a world where mental health was hidden and only for the weak minded but I fight this stigma now. My life isn't easy and I have had a hospital admission since then but with acceptance, understanding, using coping strategies and accessing support I know however hard it gets, there is hope and MHFA helped me to understand that.

Fliss Baker

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Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. Posts and comments on the blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.

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