Bridge House Saved my Life13 January 2021
The importance of the work we do can never be over emphasised! The services we provide and the support that we give to those that need us is sometimes the difference between people falling through the cracks or recovering to lead fulfilled lives. Below is an update from one of our past Service Users who found help and support through Synergy and ultimately Bridge House.
Our thanks to the Synergy and Bridge House teams for the excellent services they provide.
My Experience with mental health and my life at Bridge House
My experience with mental health problems started when I was 4 months pregnant. My partner walked out of the relationship and decided it was not what he wanted. It didn’t matter that I was carrying his baby. Prior to this the relationship was quite volatile. He hit me a couple of times but the abuse was more psychological. Very controlling and manipulative, always finding faults in almost everything I did, making me believe that there was something wrong with me and I was getting what I deserved. In the process I lost myself. I turned from this confident person to constantly questioning myself, wondering I could ever get anything in life right.
When he walked out I decided I will have the baby and bring the baby up by myself. I threw all my energy into working 6 days a week and hoping to be financially stable to take care of my baby. I had a straightforward pregnancy but a rather traumatic birth which meant I stayed in hospital for 3 weeks and had 2 surgeries. I had no family around and at this time I decided to rekindle the relationship with my partner and at least get his help, especially since I needed to be discharged from hospital. I also physically needed help to take care of myself and the baby and I needed him to be there. A few days after I was discharged he left again. I resolved that I would never contact him again. I had nurses coming to see me every day to change my dressings so at least I had company. Two months after I had recovered from my physical wounds and was able to go out, reality hit me. I was alone and yes felt very lonely. I had a few friends who lived far from me but I was putting on a façade and with no idea how much this was affecting me mentally.
I then began to experience lack of sleep, coupled with other challenges of a new baby. I started having funny thoughts that my baby was disturbing me…and doing so deliberately. My partner’s words, that I could never be a good mother started to sound true. My neighbours were suddenly so noisy that even when I got some sleep, I thought I could still hear them in my sleep. My tiny flat felt like a cage. I felt trapped. I knew I needed help but didn’t know where to start or who to talk to. I was also feeling guilty that I was putting my baby in a place where he didn’t deserve, and I was the only one who could help him. Yet I didn’t know how. I checked in with my GP for regular checks and when he saw me he knew something was wrong. I had lost over 15 kilos and I must have been looking really bad. He insisted I needed to speak to someone. The surgery referred me to Penrose Synergy.
I reluctantly called Penrose Synergy, only because the psychiatric nurse at the GP’s surgery needed feedback, with the intention of not calling them again. The lady on the phone at Penrose (I forgot her name as my memory was so messed up) was so caring and supportive that I opened up more than I initially intended. I would say this saved my life. The team at Penrose were brilliant! They would accompany me to appointments such as with the council and call up to see how I was doing. They listened to me and made me feel my life was important. And when my flat was inspected and found to be a fire hazard and inhabitable and I became homeless, they offered me a place – Bridge house.
For me Bridge House was a breath of fresh air. It gave me hope that I could restart my life. It was here that I rediscovered myself. I met other Mums who seemed to be going through what I was going through. I felt I was not alone. We shared our experiences about motherhood, domestic abuse, about our kids and future aspirations etc. I felt safe and supported. I re-learnt skills such as, cooking( I miss that lovely soup that one of the staff at bridge house- Karen- used to make). I learnt budgeting, got training on first aid, child safety etc. There were sessions on how to take care of my mental health, about domestic abuse etc. These are skills that I put into practice even now. During this time, I also bonded with the other mums, some of who we are still in touch today. This was really important, giving us the chance to share our experiences and support each other. We celebrated our kids’ birthdays together, had dinner get-togethers, did Halloween and Christmas decorations together with the kids etc. We were like one big family.
I eventually came off my antidepressants and sleeping tablets.
I left Bridge house after 11 months and got a lovely place for myself and my son. My life has continued to improve and is slowly but steadily getting back on track. I feel very lucky and I am determined to give something back. I am now in my first year at the University studying Mental Health Nursing.
I would say Penrose found me when I had lost myself. They gave me hope and made me feel like a human being again. Every mother and baby should have access to a place of safety and mental health support when they need it. They are a lifeline to mums. Bridge house is especially great because it takes older Mums who go through experiences like mine. Such places are rare to find.
I will always be grateful.