Friday, 13 January 2017

30 counselling sessions later and now it’s just me!

I had a long break over the festive season, some carer responsibility which I enjoyed and had some ‘me’ time (as my counsellor keeps asking me to organise).

On Tuesday I had my last counselling session. At times I can’t believe I have been lucky enough to have so many counselling sessions. But I suppose it shows just how bad things were for me at the time. I was always a big supporter of talking therapy but it often not on offer for those of us with mental health issues. Frequently there is a long waiting list and then only a short number of sessions, nowhere near enough to begin to try and tackle the issues. It is all so clear how mental health issues when left unsupported can lead to further and more damaging issues for services users. I found this was the case as a social worker and my personal experience has merely affirmed this view.

I still get strong feelings of depression, but now I feel more able to contain and understand what is happening. Developing a coping strategy has been critical to strengthening my mental health for the many challenges that lie ahead of me. I don’t pretend that I can’t ever relapse, the fear of relapsing is something that I am learning to deal with, it is hard, but I am ready for it.

I feel I know myself a little better. I believe this will enable me to cope when facing difficult decisions on a regular basis; something we always seem to have here in Barnet!

The Stigma, of being labelled as being ‘tainted’ ‘unable to cope’ ‘unfit’ to be a trade union rep by both employers, union comrades, members was and still is a concern to me. In terms of my employer I have not yet seen any evidence of my mental health being an issue. However it has disappointingly been raised as an issue within the trade union community. I am disappointed, but not surprised because ‘fear of mental health’ is not something that confined to employers. It happens with our friends and families, so why not trade union comrades. I supposed I am, just disappointed as I expected better of trade union comrades. On a positive note I have some fantastic solidarity and support within the trade union community and outside it, along with friends and family. You can never underestimate the importance of solidarity to the good mental health.

In my view real solidarity is one of the most important and greatest strengths within the Trade Union movement and sometimes you are surprised just where the strongest solidarity comes from.

My next challenge is to come off the medication. I never wanted to take it, it was a compromise. I’ve never been keen on medication and I am conscious I will never know how I am really until I am off the medication. I will be arranging to meet my GP in order to discuss how I manage coming off medication.

Now I am back representing members, I am seeing on a regular basis the impact of austerity on the mental wellbeing of our members regardless of the employer. The impact of cuts to resources, cuts to staff but increased workloads, is predictably leading to industrial scale levels of stress for our members. Austerity is literally destroying members and service users lives and worryingly there is no sign of a fightback except in small pockets of communities.

It is almost a year since my breakdown, back them I was worn out, both physically and mentally. Now I am feeling invigorated, energised for the fights ahead. To try and do the best for my members and the community that I serve.

I have a very, very long ‘To Do’ list.

In the midst of the bitter war against Austerity, we can lose sight of the importance of the need to celebrate and relax (something I am re-learning), with that in mind I want to plug our Solidarity Warm up for the 4 March NHS march.

So be my guest and pop along to:

Rock against Austerity presents: “Sing your Heart out 4 our NHS”

Date: Saturday 25 February 2017, 7 pm til late

Venue: Midland Hotel, 29 Station Road, Hendon, London NW4 4PN

Download Flyer here

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