Simon’s mental health journey

July 1, 2024
Photograph of Simon Eddy

Following a traumatic experience as a teenager, Simon Eddy experienced feelings of suicide and severe depression in his 20s and 30s. Four years ago, he was diagnosed with psychosis and spent two months in St. James’s Hospital under the mental health act. In his blog, he writes about his mental health journey, including the volunteering opportunities with Solent Mind that have supported his recovery in recent years.

 

I was sectioned under the mental health act and diagnosed with psychosis and a possible delusional disorder

Four years ago, after a long decline in my mental health I was sectioned under the mental health act and spent two months in St. James’ Hospital. I was diagnosed with psychosis and a possible delusional disorder and put on antipsychotic medication and antidepressants. It was a difficult time being confined to the wards and trying to come to terms with what had happened to me.

While there, I had effectively been made homeless which added to the difficulties of coping with being committed to hospital. After I left the hospital, I was placed in a B&B where I stayed for six months. I began my slow recovery which has effectively taken four years to reach the point where my condition has remitted, and I am now off the medication. I had support on a weekly basis from a nurse for three years with the Early Intervention in Psychosis team at St. Mary’s Hospital and, after a few accommodation moves, found myself finally in stable, good quality privately rented housing, which has been a major factor in my recovery.

Volunteering opportunities were rewarding and helpful in rebuilding my shattered confidence

Through support from Solent Mind, I found that volunteering opportunities were rewarding and helpful in rebuilding my shattered confidence. This also helped with rediscovering that I could have an opinion that was respected and that I could once again be part of a successful team. This is something that I have developed over the last three years and has been a big part of my recovery.

Interestingly, my problems with depression had actually started in my twenties but at that time, some 25 years ago, there wasn’t much support for mental health difficulties – or if there was then, it simply wasn’t made apparent or advertised.

As such, I spent a great deal of my twenties suffering with severe depression and feelings of suicide and essentially just tried to press on with working life as best I could without assistance. I had suffered a traumatic experience as a teenager which had left me with feelings of an undue sense of responsibility and guilt that I wasn’t able to do more to protect my family during a physical assault. In a separate incident I had suffered a severe concussion and spent three weeks recovering mostly in bed, something which is now known to be an incorrect course of action.

There was no-one to say to me that having thoughts of suicide and feelings of despair is not a normal way of being

Unfortunately, untreated and unsupported mental health conditions can worsen, and I began to struggle again in my early thirties after my father died, my aunt died, and my marriage broke up. Again, support was not readily available, but fortunately I was financially able to escape my life to a different city where I spent two years supporting myself and recuperating.

Looking back, I can see that I suffered a lot and that, untreated, these feelings and difficulties inevitably get worse and re-appear at difficult times in our lives.  There was no one to say to me that having thoughts of suicide and feelings of despair is not a normal way of being and that you don’t have to suffer in silence.

We now have a system that can help at an early stage in mental ill health

Fortunately, with much research over the years and the great work undertaken to improve public policy and develop charity and NHS support for mental health conditions, we now have a system that can help at an early stage in mental ill health.

With the creation of the Portsmouth Mental Health Hub, there is no need to suffer without help. We can all access the guidance, support and treatment that we need before things escalate to a stage where we can no longer cope, and our lives are at risk.

It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant we think our difficulties are, if we know that something is not right, we can now reach out and make that first call for help knowing that there will be someone at the end of the line who understands and can signpost us to further support before we end up in crisis.

Equally, if things have already become extremely difficult and we feel that we are already in crisis or despair then it’s never too late to seek help and have a friendly, compassionate and helpful voice at the end of the phone line to signpost us to further support.