A Journey To Recovery

by Bryan Woods

Bryan Woods

It was the end of a long journey for me. On the 21st January 2015, I was formally discharged from the care of my local Community Mental Health Team.

It was a journey that had started back in 1996. It was then that I began to experience night sweats and very low moods. This was coupled with sudden suicidal thoughts. It was absolutely terrifying.

I went to see my doctor and he told me that I was suffering from clinical depression. This had been caused by a recent bereavement, a traumatic lifestyle upheaval, and a long-standing addiction to alcohol.

My GP prescribed an anti-depressant. This worked for a while, but eventually my mental health worsened again. This was exacerbated by my continuing alcohol abuse.

I was hospitalised for the first time. Finding myself in a mental health unit far from home, I felt lost and alone.

Over the coming years I was a patient in four different hospitals in Hampshire. I was sectioned on several occasions. I also attempted suicide twice during this period.

Unfortunately my mental health did not improve during my time in these mental health units. But thankfully it was stabilised .

The staff at the units did the best they could under often very trying circumstances. But the atmosphere was often disruptive. A lack of funding and sufficient staff meant there was a lack of many planned activities. Patients often just stayed in their rooms or sat for hours on end in the television room.

When I was discharged from hospital, I went home to an empty flat. And it was not long before the twin demons of mental ill-health and alcohol abuse returned to haunt me.

In the late noughties’ there was a change in policy. Whenever possible, it was decided that rather than keeping people in hospital they should instead be discharged to be treated at home.

With some exceptions, I believe that people are much more likely to recover at home than they are in hospital. I certainly benefited from home visits by my local Community Mental Health Team. However, there is only so much they can do. This is especially true when NHS budgets are constantly under strain.

That is why I believe that the work of Hammersley Homes is so important. Their Outreach Service and home visits help many people who would otherwise be left to struggle. They would fall through the cracks.

Thankfully I recovered from the worst of my mental ill-health. I also got help for my alcohol addiction. Today I am healthy and well again. It can be done.