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This dove symbolises a friendship and the profound effect mental health can have on people and those around them.


My friend Rachel (name changed) gave me this one of the last times I saw her, almost four years ago. I had always thought she was the most fun, positive person I knew – until I called her one afternoon around a year earlier, when she told me she was suicidal. Paranoia, psychosis and several weeks in hospital quickly followed, and she lost her job and her rental apartment. She relied on me and a small group of other friends over the next 12-18 months, though much of the time felt that she could be harmed by any of her family, friends, case workers, or even the doctors who might have prescribed medication to help her. Paranoia is especially cruel in that sense. Her main case worker’s workload and periods off work with stress meant there was no consistent public support.

I’ll never forget one day when she was ill, when a homeless man was shouting extremely offensive abuse at people in the park that we were walking through. Rachel took her water and sandwiches and gave them to him, and wished him well. He cried and thanked her.

Today, her condition is more stable, though she still avoids almost all her friends. I pray that one day soon she will have recovered, and once again be the quick-witted, funny, vivacious person that she used to be.


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