John’s Story

I had always experienced depression and anxiety to some degree, but when my marriage broke up things got much worse. I had a complete mental breakdown and felt that my life had no purpose. I became suicidal and was admitted to hospital where I was diagnosed with bi-polar depression.

Being diagnosed with bi-polar was a turning point for me. My doctor put me on medication which stabilised my mood. As I started feeling better I began attending the Grow support group, then later the Hand Up support group. In both groups I found the help that I needed.

The other people in the support group had experienced similar difficulties. They really understood what I was going through.

After my breakdown I shifted back home to live with my mother. This was difficult at first because my mother did not understand my illness, but then we heard about the Well Ways program, which is run by the Mental Illness Fellowship. The Well ways program helps the families of people who suffer from mental illness, by providing support, education and up to date information about anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder and other mental illnesses.

Fortunately, my mother really wanted to understand my illness, so we attended the eight week course and now she has a much better understanding of my illness and so do I

The Hand Up support group has also helped with my understanding of my illness. We often read handouts that give us insight into our behaviors and sometimes we have guest speakers, who volunteer their time to help us improve our knowledge and understanding.

The group also helps me accept myself. For a long while I have struggled with self acceptance. Sometimes it’s up and sometimes it’s down, but the group always accepts me.

I have found hope and reassurance. I still have my ups and downs, but I no longer feel that I am alone, because I have a network of friends who understand me.