Stephen is a Peer Supporter at CNTW. He mainly works on Aldervale Ward, a High Dependency Unit based at Hopewood Park in Sunderland. Our Peer Supporters help service users during their care and treatment, challenge stigma, and promote hope and recovery.
Stephen has a Personality Disorder, and helps others who are struggling with this to understand and cope with their struggles. He has shared some thoughts about the current COVID-19 pandemic and how it is affecting him, in the hope that this might help others.
“COVID-19 has changed all our lives, and so many people have lost their lives.
“I am finding a lot of comfort in my team’s work. We are all in this together; we are a team, we are strong, we will get through it and we will make a difference.
“At the moment, my emotions are like a yo-yo. I often feel lost and worthless, overthink things, think of leaving my job. I need lots of validation. I’ve really struggled with the loss of structure.
“But there is lots of support out there which is helping. I’ve been using the Headspace app, phoning the Samaritans or Crisis Team when I feel really low. The Stop Suicide app has been helpful. I’ve also used some of the CNTW self-help guides.
“My main mental health advice for people going through the same thing would be: there’s so much going on, it’s important to seek support and take time for you.
“I am not completely ‘better’, but I am doing better. I haven’t been down to the riverside in four weeks – I usually go three or four times every week to think and challenge my feelings. I am able to handle my emotions more and seek support sooner. I’m more focussed on things in the present. I’ve learned more coping skills.
“My previous worries focussed on anxiety, worrying about not surviving, struggling to get through this, and not feeling wanted. At present, I’m able to normalise that feeling of anxiety. I can recognise what I have survived. I have strength and resilience, a sense of purpose and meaning.
“I will get through this. I have amazing peer support around me. I will come out stronger; I am coping better than I thought I would emotionally.
“I am talking to friends on the phone or video calls; I am doing more exercise (walking and on my pedal-bike); I am writing down my feelings. I feel more positive about my future whilst dealing with COVID-19. Never be afraid of seeking support.”