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Ann Marie’s Story: From a dark place into a better tomorrow

Ann Marie Seasalt and national Mind partnership photoshoot

I have suffered with my mental health for many years, but things came to a head on 14 February 2020, when I attempted to take my own life and was sectioned for 5.5 weeks. I had been suffering with severe depression for months, not eating or drinking properly, not maintaining self-care – I was a mess.

Those 5.5 weeks were the worst of my life. I was physically and emotionally abused by the staff on the unit. I was suffering from psychosis and having hallucinations. I don’t remember much about those weeks, just a terrifying feeling of fear and loneliness.

It took another two bad episodes over the next two years before I was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to my experiences whilst sectioned.

It has taken a lot of strength to pull myself out of that dark place. The medication helps but I believe that your attitude to life plays a big part, you have to want to help yourself before you can be helped. I have noticed that if my mood is low, my activity level is low and that’s a sign to make changes to my routine and include more exercise and self-care.

Last year I started volunteering with Manchester Mind’s walk and talk peer support group. It is a group for all abilities and is totally different to the normal face-to-face and zoom groups. We walk and talk around a park, sharing our experiences and offering help and advice to each other.

Within a short amount of time the group members were already feeling the benefit of fresh air and exercise and it has encouraged most to increase their daily exercise regime.

Two years on I am now a peer support volunteer with the Wednesday walk and talk group and the Friday online group. When I was given the opportunity to volunteer, I jumped at the chance to give something back and help others who were going through similar struggles as me. I have been with the group for a year and it has been an incredible experience, I feel a sense of purpose and fulfilment. It is comforting to know that I am not alone in my struggles and that there are others who understand and can relate to what I’m going through. The groups provide a safe space to share our thoughts and feelings without fear of judgement.

Through my involvement with Manchester Mind, I also completed a peer support course. It helped me develop essential skills, which have been invaluable in my personal and professional life. Being a peer support volunteer has given me a sense of confidence and self-worth, knowing that I can use my own experiences to help others.

Today, I am proud to say that I will be starting a degree course in October, thanks to the unwavering support and encouragement I have received from Manchester Mind. They believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. I am grateful for the tools and coping mechanisms I have learned, which have helped me manage my mental health and thrive.

As I reflect on my journey with Manchester Mind, I am filled with hope, resilience, and a deep appreciation for the organisation and its mission. I am a living testimony to how their support and services can change lives. If you are struggling with your mental health, I urge you to reach out to Manchester Mind or any other mental health organisation for help. Remember, you are not alone, and there is always hope for a better tomorrow.

Find out more about our peer support groups.


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