‘I was in hospital, unwell from episodes with my schizophrenia. Shortly after I got better, the psychiatrist mentioned this place. Instead of upping my antidepressants, she wanted me to go here instead, and just have the exposure to this environment – to work by myself and in groups and try some more strategies. She wanted me to try this rather than a pill.
For about a month I was a bit unhappy about it, but then I thought I’d give it a go. It turned out better than I thought it would be. I thought it would be like hospital, so I was worried about coming here, but when I arrived, the staff were good and offered lots of support. The groups are good too, and once you’ve done your group stuff you can go out.
I suffer from social anxiety, and I hate to go to shopping centres. For someone from the country, to go out and expose yourself to public places that are crowded… it’s hard. But then I’d come back and talk to workers and tell them how it went, and how to make it better. I found that when I go into shops with sunglasses on, it’s better. It makes me feel like I’m not there. I’m invisible.
Waking up here and knowing you can go down the shops, do your own thing, you can join in the group, talk about different ways to do stuff or do my one-on-one if I want – it’s really good.
At first I struggled in group, because there were too many people in the room. But then I realised it was good hearing similar stuff people have been through, or stuff I’ve never thought to talk about. Hearing strategies, from people with similar symptoms makes you feel like you’re not the only one. I even ran the group the other day and mentioned something new that the support worker is going to use.
I have trouble crying. I try my hardest to suppress the idea of crying to the point where I can’t get myself to do it. I’m embarrassed. Everyone can see I’m really down and I try not to show it. But just talking about it in the group here, I got that it’s alright to cry. I was raised in a house where the guy doesn’t cry. Now I want to get to a point where hopefully one day I’ll be able to cry.’