Mental Health UK

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Austin’s story

Austin's story Mental Health UK newsAt sixteen I was knocked unconscious in a fall. My mother said I was never the same from then on. I became slovenly, unwashed, and delirious, heard voices, and on top of that the Troubles heightened my fears and paranoia.

When I left school at 18 I lost all contact with reality. With no job or routine, I lay in bed all day being tormented by evil spirits, smelling and feeling things that didn’t exist. I joined the merchant navy to get away but after a couple of months I was discharged.

Back home I was referred to hospital for 2 months and given a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. I didn’t accept this, I was in denial. I was 20 years old now. Even though I knew there was a family history of mental illness, I felt I was just going through a “bad patch”.

When my illness was under control I was discharged, but I attended the day hospital for 2 years. I went to occupational therapy and worked as a voluntary porter in the hospital. A little while later I moved into a flat in Lurgan, the first time I had lived on my own. I was also referred to MindWise, and started using their centre daily, and I was able to make a new start, and enjoy everyday life.

MindWise really gave me the opportunity I needed to live my life. When I first moved to Lurgan I depended very much on the MindWise team, who really helped me to cope with my illness, and kept my head together.

MindWise was like a wee haven for me, got me back into synch so I could sleep at night.

I was 36 when I left home, a late learner in life. I wanted to be like my younger siblings and make my own way in life. MindWise helped me with this. I was a round peg in a square hole. My mother died about 10 years ago and I always feared that I wouldn’t be able to cope with this. But with all the support I have in place I was able to stay well.

I always know if I pick up the phone I have someone to talk to, because of MindWise. I might not always be physically here at the service, but I know I will always have MindWise and that is the greatest help.

After a lifetime struggling with mental ill health, I have accepted my illness and ask for help if I need it. I now live on appropriate medication and in my opinion I have a good, if alternative, way of life. I am content with my lifestyle and more importantly, content with myself. I’m happy now: I have a better quality of life, I have alternative outlook on the world now and I know it’s not so bad because of MindWise.“

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