As part of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (21 – 27 May), a woman from High Wycombe has come forward to share her powerful story about her struggle with depression – and the life-saving support she got from Buckinghamshire’s NHS talking therapies service Healthy Minds.
Ailsa was diagnosed with severe depression in 2000. Her symptoms included persistent low mood, frequent crying and an extremely judgemental attitude towards herself. “I was unable to eat in front of other people because I felt I was unworthy of food and avoided social activities,” she explains. “Occasionally, I was found wandering the streets near my home, believing I was lost, and I avoided driving because of my thoughts about crashing the car into a wall.”
Despite her difficulties, Ailsa managed to cope with everyday life with the help of counselling and medication over the next ten years. But there were still times when this support was not enough and her symptoms returned. She resigned herself to the idea that she would spend the rest of her life ‘experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions’. Then in 2010, she heard about Healthy Minds, a free NHS service for Buckinghamshire, which offers a range of talking therapies to help people with depression, anxiety and stress.
“I referred myself to Healthy Minds,” says Ailsa. “With the help of the service, I learnt to examine my self-critical thoughts. I was shown systematic ways to decide for myself how much to believe them, and come to more balanced views. The most critical difference between this and any support I had received previously was that I was challenging these ideas for myself, not just having someone else reassure me.”
The treatment she received from Healthy Minds, which is part of the Government’s nationwide scheme called ‘IAPT’ (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) allowed Ailsa to resume a life that was much more settled. She developed a daily routine that prevented her mood deteriorating to the extreme lows she previously experienced.
“My life is so different since my treatment,” she says. “I can now enjoy being with others and have a very full social life. I no longer spend hours anxious about my abilities, and have been confident enough to apply for new work and been successful. I no longer fear driving because of my persistent thoughts of suicide. And importantly, I am not ashamed of my illness, and have become involved in campaigning to reduce stigma against people with mental health issues.”
Our Communications and Involvement Team handles all internal and external communications. Click here for contact details.
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of specialist mental health services in five different localities as well as physical healthcare to patients in Oxfordshire.
4000 John Smith Drive
Oxford Business Park South
Oxford OX4 2GX
If you, or someone you know has concerns about their immediate health and you or they are already registered with one of our services then we have lots of information on how to contact us.
Find out more...