I self-referred to MIND in my early 20s to ensure I wasn’t too isolated and to encourage myself to socialize.
Because, just as I have done now, I developed a liking for being alone in my home, alone, no company, just drifting, and I know, however much I like drifting, I need to keep trying to spend time with others.
The Social groups were overwhelming for me at first, too much for me, so I would hide in a side room, and a support worker would either keep me company or coax me out to join the group, she was a very nice support worker, who remained supportive and friendly until she left to move away.
It took me a while to feel safe in that group, and at first I just stayed in the corner and trekked to the urn for more tea every few minutes 🙂
The breakthrough was when the male support worker, another safe, helpful person, took to sitting with me and drawing cartoons and playing noughts and crosses. This progressively grew until a whole group of us were playing noughts and crosses, drawing cartoons and making each other laugh by captioning each other’s cartoons 🙂
We progressed to me being able to play pool or ‘killer’ with them as well, which was great! 🙂 These skills, simple as they were, did help me.
I joined some music sessions and various MIND things but was busy with work and other things and didn’t keep anything apart from social group and outings up.
I made a friend or two at social, but everyone had problems and some of them never got my name right, nor did I learn everyone’s name, but it was good to be in a social setting where I wasn’t the lone vulnerable person in a church of england church.
I made a friend with an excitable young woman who was so like my old friend at college, so similar, and as at college, we made each other hyper and silly.
Outings were fun, we had a number of outings to the coast, enjoying strolling, sightseeing, going out on motor boat trips, and the usual seaside things.
We had a look round a historic village one time, and we often went to a market in the next county, it all added variety to a basic hand-to-mouth lifestyle.
Some of the trips I found harder were the ones that included the pub, the driver, who was not really part of MIND, jeered because I didn’t want to go in the pub for a drink with the others, but back then, I had only been in a pub a few times in my life, when I was 18 and 19 for Birthday meals with the people I lodged with, and for two of my brothers’ wedding receptions, and those were meals, not drinking times, I did not want to go into a pub and drink, but during a MIND trip, we simply stopped at a pub, and I was unprepared and bewildered.
The other time I found difficult, which was otherwise a good trip, was when we went out on a boat, it was a boat that did trips for disabled people, and we went out, but I was with the nice female support worker, and one of the staff was flirting with her and chatting to her, leaning over us and leaning in, and even then, and even now, I cannot cope with being leaned over or stood over if I am sitting, because I feel too vulnerable, especially if it is a man.
So I was getting anxious, and I tried to get away, and the man scornfully said to the support worker ‘I suppose you are used to this’, as if I was an animal, no feelings, no ears, such a wrong attitude, and he was causing the problem.
Sometimes living with the conditions I have is like that, extra hurts from being misunderstood on top of the daily struggles to live independently.
Anyway, never mind the less happy bits, we had fun, we had great fun, and I am grateful for it, I am grateful to anything that breaks up this difficult life and gives it some colour.
We went to a football match once, now that was fun, although we had to stand up all the time.
We had a great time, and on the way to the match, we had to stop for fuel for the minibus, and there in the petrol station was someone dressed as Elvis, that caused us much amusement! 🙂
One time I attempted to play squash with another MIND client, but I couldn’t afford to keep that up, and I was too shy really.
MIND did a great thing in helping me to communicate and interact and socialize, but they didn’t help me towards further diagnosis or treatment, aside from the social side of things, they didn’t really notice me, and despite me speaking to them, they kept wrongly addressing my newsletters and paperwork, so in the end when they restructured without me knowing, that was probably because they sent the information to the wrong address or simply forgot me.
So I was not told that this valuable resource had been lost, and I was left with nothing to replace it.