What Blackthorn Means To Me
In September 2007 I came to Blackthorn after ten years of mental health problems following a nervous breakdown. At the beginning I was nervous, suspicious, and generally lacked the self-confidence required to correlate with new people. I genuinely believed that there were no "NICE PEOPLE" left in the world let alone a whole group dedicated to the health and wellbeing of the people in their charge.
I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO HAPPY TO BE SO WRONG
After only a few weeks I began to realise that the community feeling that fills this place is infectious, I couldn’t seem to stop myself from joining in. I discovered a previously unknown love for horticulture, I plant things and they grow its fascinating. Thanks to the guidance and training received from the garden managers at Blackthorn I now have a qualification (NVQ level 1 Horticulture), which will assist me in my plans for the future. Probably more important though is that for the first time in years I have been able to trust enough to make new friends, and in at least one case a future business partner.
I can only attribute this change to the non-judgemental approach which is a factor of life here, everyone is treated (condition dependant) as an equal and is encouraged to join in to the best of their ability in the many and various activities required for the community to function. Helping that is what makes us (the co-workers) feel useful again, this opinion is I know shared by many of my peers here.
When I was asked to write this statement I was happy to be given the chance to say thank you to the community here by doing my best to convince the readers of my sincerity in the belief that my time here has been the main reason for my imminent return to the real world. With your help it will be possible for more people to become part of the Blackthorn community and start their road to recovery.
I am not sure when it was that I started saying us and we when talking about Blackthorn but I know that whatever path my future takes I will always make time in my life to remain an active member of the community here.
The Blackthorn Trust
After a career in Local Government for 36 years which involved working in numerous demanding and high powered posts I decided to leave my post on the 31st July 2008 under mutual agreement terms and pursue other interests. Despite several bouts of stress and stress related illness, I was too proud to admit what I already knew, that I was suffering from depression.
In November 2008 I was diagnosed with depression. I probably had this illness for two years previously although unknown at the time. With no counselling undertaken and a reluctance to communicate with anybody I pressed a self-destruct button. I was 55, and felt my life had no purpose. I had lost control of my life. A midlife crisis it was not.
Since attending the Blackthorn Medical Centre and Trust I feel that the treatment I have received has enabled me to reflect on my life, turn it around and start again as Version 2. My life has been transformed. I am doing things which I had previously lost confidence in and working in the voluntary sector which in V1 I would never have even considered as an option.
I realised early on that without my personal active involvement I would never recover from my mental health problem. The Blackthorn centre gave me an opportunity which I have fully grasped. The opportunity I was given as a co-worker within the Blackthorn bakery gave me the chance to undergo social rehabilitation and the process actually empowered me as it became part of my healing process. Working in the group and contributing to the group while also having a mentor enabled my needs to be met.
Blackthorn provided me with the care, support and rehabilitation I needed.
I have been able to have fortnightly meetings with the Employment Support Officer provided by the trust who has given me invaluable advice and guidance on such things as re-designing my CV, and identifying my skills, knowledge and experience. Motivational discussions with him have now enabled me to work towards establishing a new career for myself in voluntary Advocacy work and Welfare Advice and support for older people. My self-confidence and self-esteem have been revived and I am now stronger in character and personality. I feel a big step forward has been taken in mastering my condition.
I never thought I would have a mental health problem. Without the assistance and support of the Blackthorn Medical staff and trust I would probably not have regained control of my life. In the early days of my illness the NHS Trust provided a care manager who was invaluable in providing assistance as well.
I had not realised at the time but from January 2009 onwards the anthroposophic treatment I was receiving began to stimulate my natural healing processes. After researching anthroposophic medicine I became aware that my illness gave me an opportunity to positively change myself and give my life a purpose. I have in fact become a stronger person both mentally and spiritually.
I am hoping to explore further areas such as biographical counselling which maybe will answer some questions I still have in relation to my family.
My life has definitely been transformed for the better. Newly acquired skills and knowledge in baking, working in a kitchen environment, and undertaking voluntary work with older people, are several of the key areas that I am now undertaking in my on-going self-development.
In this 7 month period I never dreamt that I would be where I am today. Happy, relaxed and positive. Blackthorn will always be an important part of my life and one that will always bring back great memories.
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