Small Steps Gaining Confidence

Shaun’s Story


In 1999 I was working as a Mental Health Nurse. I had a 17 year marriage, kids, mortgage, car. An average life, you might say. Everything to live for.

But then I had an overwhelming urge to make a suicide attempt! Everything rapidly spiralled down in my mind and I actively tried to end my life.

I was then labelled with severe depression.

Then followed hospitalisation, medication, ECT, psychology, occupational therapy, psychiatrist, key worker, community psychiatric nurse.

A very slow recuperation. Return to work. Stigma. Discrimination. Inflexibility of management. Exclusion. Rumours. Fear.

I moved to an NGO sector and managed a few years of stability. Then came the breakdown of my marriage, loss of my job, and loss of my housing. Another suicide attempt followed.

Another short time in hospital along with a community psychiatric nurse, medication and all the rest.

Positive and on the mend

Gained somewhere to live, someone to love, something to do, new friends and something approaching a social life!

Upfront about my illness to employers, services, and the media through mental health awareness, suicide prevention and anti-stigma/discrimination campaigns.

Put reasonable adjustments in place to allow me to return to work

What helped me?-Relationships-friends, colleagues, lovers, family

Understanding and adjustments

Small steps, gaining confidence and self belief

Seeking out opportunities and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

What does my experience say about services? They need to be flexible and individual as much as possible.

A person’s needs should always be at the centre

They need to be respectful and accommodating of difference

Every small step should be encouraged and seen as valid in the voyage to recovery

A combination of support, advice and help in a crisis

There is an immense value in the unique knowledge of peers

No matter what label has been given to your illness

No matter what are the negative effects of your medication

No matter what consequences your illness has had on your life

You can hope for a better life and set out on a voyage to get there!

Recovery is possible, believe in it and believe in yourself!