I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember. I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder at a young age but as I grew older my conditions got worse and worse until I had a breakdown in my late 30s. I was getting treatment for a long time but my mental health just kept getting worse.
By my 60s I was classified as ‘severely depressed’. After this I was admitted to a local psychiatric unit because I was so unwell. For the next 8 years I was looked after by my husband at home.
I attended community support groups a few years ago which were really helpful. I went to monthly meetings, lunches and day trips but over time the groups had to stop and I only had monthly meetings to go to. I felt like I needed more. I had a big gap in my time to fill so I started looking for other ways to get support.
I came across Clic on the Hafal website about 18 months ago. It’s a 24 hour online community forum for people all over Wales with mental illnesses and their carers. It’s a safe and secure place for people to support each other, share experiences and meet people.
Since joining Clic I have felt less alone because everyone is supportive of each other. I feel part of a community because the fears that I’ve experienced in my worst times were also experienced by other people on the site.
Joining an online community has been better for me in some ways that meeting in a traditional group. Sometimes my anxiety was too bad to attend group meetings, socialising can be really overwhelming so being able to leave the website when I’m ready takes a lot of the pressure off me.
Also because meetings were at specific times, if I wasn’t feeling up to it by that time I would just have to miss out. I’d also sometimes feel disappointed that I’d have to wait a whole month until my next meeting. I find it really comforting that Clic never closes. I can log on any time of the day or night and someone will be there to chat.
"I find it really comforting that Clic never closes. I can log on any time of the day or night and someone will be there to chat."
I think even when I’m not on the site Clic is helping me. I went through a bad patch of anxiety last year and I felt too overwhelmed to join in, but knowing that the service is there 24 hours a day is like a safety blanket, I can just go back online when I’m feeling up to it.
Seeing what other people say also helps me to feel less self-conscious about what I want to say. I feel more confident to contribute to the discussion and over the last few months I’ve really enjoyed consistently contributing to the website.
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"This gave me a purpose and made me feel a part of something as well as having support from staff who encouraged me and made me feel accepted."
"Group members all have their own issues, but we all come together for support and that’s what helped me."
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