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These Nottingham people struggled with their mental health – but came out fighting

Andrew Thompson thought he would never see the light after sitting in a dark room for many years to try and cope with his depression.

But nine months ago the 46-year-old changed his life – and he is now training to help others deal with mental health illnesses.

Andrew, from Bulwell, had a car crash at 13 years old which affected him so badly he was eventually diagnosed as clinically depressed in 1996.

He has been through endless amounts of therapy for the past 30 years but eventually decided to seek help five years ago.He said: “I went to the GP who gave me forms to fill in and medicine but this didn’t work; I was in and out of therapy for 30 years. It was finally suggested that I should attend Nottingham Recovery College and thought I would just go even though I wasn’t sure if it would be for me.

“When I was 13 I was involved in a car accident which led to being in a coma. When I was recovering from my brain injury things seemed out of place and I was forgetting a lot of things, life was not as linear as it had once been. I then started therapy at 16 and was diagnosed as clinically depressed.

“I used to have days where I would stand at the door and have to open and close it before I could get out the house, this hasn’t happened since I attended the college.”

Andrew has not been able to work full-time since his diagnosis.

“Despite being unsure at first, when I kept going it didn’t seem like therapy, if anything it reminded me of school. We were being given real world lessons by the peers, who had sat in the chair we were in ourselves,” he said.

Andrew has been attending the ‘Mindfulness’ course at the college with a friend for six months and hasn’t looked back.

“Sometimes I go twice a week now, there is far more of a social element to it. They provide a safe and understanding place which makes it so much easier.

“After 30 years, I have been to dozens of places, some even are quite clinical, you were there because you were told to be there. But it’s not like that at the college.

“I’ve been there for nine months now and want to become a peer to try and give back. I was nowhere near wanting to do something like this, and if you had said that three decades ago, I would have thought it would be impossible,” he said.

The-father-of-one said that as far as funding goes, money does help improve facilities dedicated to mental health, but this is the least important part of the problem.

He added: “Getting rid of the stigma will make those living with mental health issues a lot easier. What people forget is that anyone can suffer with this, rather than chuck medicines at people, improve their understanding of it.”

Another Nottingham resident who has battled with mental health and won is Rosa Taylor.

The 56-year-old said her journey began back in 2006, when she developed anxiety.

She said: “There wasn’t a moment where I didn’t stop crying. I neglected all my duties and stopped caring for myself all together. I couldn’t even get out of bed some days. It was only in 2010 when I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. I felt alone and very isolated.”

After years of struggling with mental health issues and undertaking cognitive behavioural therapy to try and help with her anxiety, “I decided to take charge of my own life,” she said.

Rosa re-discovered her love for photography, which she said helped with her recovery.

“I joined Nottingham Photographers’ Hub in January 2014 and since then I found my passion for photography, I’ve always loved it.

“The group were always very helpful and they never focused on my mental health, they focused on my talent. This made a huge difference.”

Rosa joined the Pathway to Resilience project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, at the hub which comprises six, 10-week photography courses.

She added: “As time went on, the group felt more and more comfortable with each other and most importantly, safe. This is when we started to be more open about our mental health. It was never forced, which I loved.

“The project has helped me get my life back on track and I feel it will help me in so many more than ways than I’ll even know.”

The project offers a number of external photography trips where people can explore their environment and develop a different perspective on how they view things.

Mental Health Awareness week begins today, May 8, and has run yearly since 2000.

This year’s theme is ‘surviving or thriving’ which aims to raise awareness the importance of keeping active and getting people talking if they’re struggling.

Source Nottingham Post