These stories were created at a workshop sponsored by NHS South Stafffordshire and Shropshire Foundation Trust in order to give mental health services users within the Trust the opportunity to reflect on the experiences and share those in order to drive improvement and acknowledge good practice.
Sarah’s life journey started off on the wrong track when she was sent to a special school, rather than being diagnosed with Dyslexia and given appropriate support. After years of not wanting to leave the house, self-harming and self-doubt, she was able to work with her Counsellor and Occupational Therapist to take those first crucial steps on a new journey. Leaving the house, and travelling on the bus opened up new horizons and successes. Sarah in now a service user representative and a peer mentor for others. She has travelled all over Staffordshire exploring bus services for an assessment of the suitability of public transport provision for service users, has her own flat and is making plans for future journeys this time on trains.
One piece of music has been the soundtrack to Sian’s life. Expressing herself through her violin, she was somehow never quite able to unpick the strands in the fugue the self-harm, the drinking, the depression, the panic, the anxiety. After many years, an assault at work signals the start of a series of bitter losses and the beginnings of a therapeutic pathway that is orchestrated for her, not by her. Suddenly, a flashback to childhood trauma opens up memories and she picks up her violin once more, still searching for a recognised diagnosis and a clear therapeutic pathway.
So what’s the alternative, then?
After a lifetime scarred and damaged by mental health issues, repeated section orders, and situations where he had no control, no alternatives, the care in the community approach has put Malcolm back in control of his life.
Kathy’s childhood happiness is shattered by an incident of abuse by someone outside her family, and her journey takes a different path through a difficult marriage, bullying, divorce, depression and overdose. In and out of hospital, she is eventually sectioned, but fortunate to have good legal representation, a loving family and effective mental health service support. Her journey has taken a different turn now, with an apartment of her own which she has made home, and reached a place where she is, at last, happy again.
My journey to myself
The journey that many trans people embark upon is a long, challenging and arduous one. Along that journey lie social and cultural obstacles, procedural and legal hurdles, and personal and professional dragons. For one traveller, the road has been particularly rocky and painful and recent progress is being threatened by resourcing and staffing cuts, and the physical and mental effects of that long and debilitating journey.