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07/Jul/2017

 

A Fight You Can Win

Martin Logue

South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and its Volunteer Peer Advocacy Service were the recent winners of the Patient and Client Council Excellence in Co-Production Awards. As part of Co-production Week (03-07 July) Martin Logue tells of his journey to accessing the service which, in turn, has enabled him to become part of the Peer Advocacy Service.

It was around March 2013 that I noticed my mood was dropping. I knew something wasn’t right. I remember mentioning it to a close friend at a social event. It was the start of a downward spiral that would last for two years - when my home became prison and bedroom a cell.

I kept myself hidden in my bedroom away from family, worried that my unwashed, dishevelled appearance would frighten the children.

I felt I was just existing, I was useless and a burden to my family. I started to think about ending it, thinking it would be better for everyone. My GP put me on medication and told me that I’d taken a breakdown.

I’d lost three younger brothers over a period of years earlier in my life. I wondered if this had caused my breakdown, but thought surely it would have happened sooner?

I knew I had to tell someone about my suicidal thoughts. This resulted with me being referred for an assessment and admission onto a psychiatric ward - the first of many. I felt the ward team could fix my problem. I also felt relief that I couldn't harm myself.

Staff advised that it was essential to add some sort of structure to my everyday life. The team helped me with those first steps.

In September 2014, I was discharged from hospital and knew I had to do something that could help me to manage this terrible illness, which had already taken away one and half years of my life.

I began attending the AWARE support group for people with depression.  A fellow patient involved in peer advocacy told me about the Derriaghy Social & Educational Centre near Lisburn.
Days after my last discharge from hospital I drove to the centre distressed. Staff listened and placed a referral. At last I had a lifeline. I felt I was starting to live again.

I linked in with the Peer Advocacy Service and eventually I started my training to become a volunteer peer advocate.

I completed an Open College Network (OCN) Self Advocacy and OCN Level 2 in Peer Advocacy, then applied through the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust Volunteer Services and, after appropriate checks and a commitment to continuous training, qualified as a peer advocate. 

I am now a volunteer peer advocate on psychiatric wards. Helping others in turn helps me as I now feel I have a purpose in life and this is my vocation. Providing this service feels a lot better than any medication.

I still have bad days, but I now have my life back. I’ve learned to take one day at a time. Please believe me, I was a very weak person. If I can do this you, too, can learn to live again. I promise you this – this is a fight you CAN win.

If you are struggling with depression, you may find the group support offered by AWARE useful. For more information visit http://bit.ly/2m3WWqq


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