09 Oct Blog: World Mental Health Day – Jaki’s Story
This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day is ‘Mental Health is a Universal Human Right’ set by the World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH).
The day provides an opportunity to increase conversations surrounding mental health; how to look after ourselves and others, how to spot the signs and symptoms, and most importantly how to be more inclusive and reduce stigma within our community.
At Oakleaf, we feel it is incredibly important to relay the message that no matter what, support is out there. Help is always available, whether that be through Oakleaf, your GP, friends and family, crisis lines or emergency support services like the Guildford Safe Haven.
However, as individuals and a society as a whole, we can always be doing more to raise awareness and help prevent mental ill-health in our communities. Therefore, we would like to share a story from one of our wonderful clients, Jaki with the aim of continuing and normalising the conversation surrounding mental health while offering encouragement and support to those who might be struggling:
“Three years ago, I had a nervous breakdown and I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for two weeks. Looking back over my life, I realised that, in a lot of ways I had experienced childhood trauma. This led to me being diagnosed with depression along with anxiety disorder, CPTSD and BPD; and so those next three years were instrumental to my therapy journey.
When I was in the hospital, it was heavily understaffed, and I couldn’t have any visitors. I remember a time when I reached out for help but sadly no one could come to my call, and that lack of support at a time when I needed it most actually caused me to reach breaking point, and subsequently try to take my own life.
I later made a second life attempt in April 2022 whilst at home. Both times, I was completely dissociated; I didn’t know what I was doing, and I had no control. It was like I was outside of my body. Dissociation is something that I think a lot more people suffer with than we realise because it is often not talked about.
Fortunately, just over a year and a half ago, Oakleaf was recommended to me. I was very nervous at first. I sort of dipped my toe in, did a couple of classes. However, over time I managed to open up my wings a little. There are so many positive elements that make up the charity as a whole. I would describe Oakleaf as a safe space; when you go there, staff don’t judge you, the other clients don’t judge you and you are encouraged to be nothing but yourself. For this reason, I really started to blossom in my mental health journey.
There is this feeling of connection – when you have a mental health disorder, it can be so isolating and you can end up feeling a lot of shame and guilt, almost to a point where you feel as though you’re the problem. You question ‘why are you like this?’ and want to hide away from everything. But coming to Oakleaf instilled in me a ‘one step at a time’ mentality, knowing that it was okay to start small, take my time, and eventually build myself back up and find the courage to try new things.
For example, Oakleaf’s schedule of wellbeing activities and work-related training courses has been amazing and has just continued to get better and better. There is so much choice and so many things to try such as Choir, Tai Chi, online courses in IT. I also offered to volunteer at Oakleaf’s Wellbeing Café every Friday afternoon, where I would ask clients how their week had been or what they were up to over the weekend, if there were any sessions at Oakleaf that they’d tried or would like to try. I felt I was able to get people to open up and share their thoughts and feelings as well as help them to feel seen, heard and understood without any judgement.
This is why I have chosen to give back to Oakleaf, because they have given so much to me, and so much to others. I really am incredibly grateful for all that they have done and continue to do for people managing their mental health and I look forward to seeing where this journey takes me going forward.”
– Jaki, Oakleaf Client
We want to thank Jaki for sharing her story and hope that it will encourage others to share their own stories and experiences; and more importantly, remind people that they are not alone in the challenges they are facing.
If you would like to find out more about becoming a client or join in with any of Oakleaf’s wellbeing activities, work-related training, employment support, counselling sessions or volunteering opportunities, please click here.
SABP Crisis Helpline: 0800 915 4644
Samaritans: 116 123 (24 hours)
Mind: How to Find a Therapist
Citizens Advice: 03444 111 444 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)
Surrey Safe Havens: 6-11pm, 365 days a year