Focus on recovery

This page features the stories and experiences of those whose lives have been touched by mental ill health, in addition to news, reviews and comments around current thinking in relation to conditions, treatments and therapies.

Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to contribute articles or stories to this section from your experiences (anonymous submissions are accepted).

Johann Hari TED Talk "This could be why you're depressed or anxious"

One of our volunteers has highlighted this excellent and moving TED talk on how to view mental health differently. Journalist Johann Hari shares fresh insights on the causes of depression and anxiety from experts around the world - as well as some emerging solutions.

"If you're depressed or anxious, you're not weak and you're not crazy -- you're a human being with unmet needs," Hari says.

Direct link:

The diagnosis of an unspoken illness

As I sat in my room, confined by the four walls blocking my vision of the outside, dwelling on my position in this strange world, I could not help but think of how my life had suddenly came to a halt. I was always one for going out with friends and having a smile painted across my face, but now that smile had been replaced and the tears could no long be contained. Receiving help for something I could not even recognise was a strange feeling, but every therapy session seemed so normal. It was not the fact I was being told to eat that got me down, nor was it the anger she projected through my inability to comply, it was knowing that I couldn’t get myself to step forward and reveal how I truly felt.

She sat there using her methods clearly read from a book, describing how food is a must to live and I must increase my meal plan. All I could hear was that voice in my head that had appeared long before this day. “She is lying. You will gain weight, do not eat that.” This had just became a part of life for me and the voice my only real form of support. No matter what other’s said the voice always prevailed. Sure, I ate some food during the day, but it never felt like the right answer.

I recall sitting there, constantly pulling my T shirt, wondering why it clung to my body like the skin covering my back despite my low intake. My psychiatrist seemingly quite relaxed but her face saying otherwise, “we are going to admit you to a local hospital in the Newcastle area, they treat mental health related issues including anorexia.” I remember being told that day I was two weeks from death, but I didn’t see it, I could not feel it and my mind was certainly not satisfied…why? Not why did I not feel underweight, why was I left two weeks from death before they acted? They sit there wrapped up in their own methods, stereotyping and basing referral on body weight! They could have acted sooner, but BMI came before my life.

I say this with an open mind with only my voice giving the orders, I will not sit around and let mental health professionals wave away thousands just like myself. Weight does not define your needs as a person, so why does it define your life in treatment?



Don't Try To Fix Me I'm Not Broken

imagesOKT31UAHIt's only a WHIMSICAL NOTION I know, but wouldn't it be nice if everyone I knew and that includes family and friends., as well as health professionals . Would treat me as the person I am not as a list of SODDING symptoms from a definition of a mental health condition someone has labelled me with. It would be BLOODY MARVELLOUS!!!!! If they would allow me to have the normal human emotions they attribute to themselves. For example if I appear annoyed or pissed off, it's simply because I'm annoyed and pissed off. In the same way everyone else gets aggravated when things get up their nose. But of course I can't possibly be experiencing an ordinary human emotion or response to an infuriating or upsetting situation or circumstance. I have to be behaving that way because I suffer from mental distress. "Look out Dad's having one of his turns" or "Oh God the nutter's going off on one" or the mock sympathy approach "Are you all right?" If things are getting too much for you maybe you should take a break. "Is there anyone I can call for you"? "When did you last see your CPN/Psychologist/Psychiatrist or Counsellor"? Along with lots of other stupid meaningless phrases,
Well to you all I give this message "DON'T TRY TO FIX ME I'M NOT BROKEN" though I sometimes think my mouth is, as nothing I say seems to get through and everything I say, every simple action is always linked to my mental health issues. As an illustration just recently I said that I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up, so of course that means that I want to kill myself it couldn't possibly be that I've been so busy and am physically exhausted that I just want to get some sleep and build up my physical and mental reserves, I could have just as easily said I could sleep forever
.The thing is even if I was contemplating taking my own life then that's no one's business but mine ,it's my life it's up to me how I choose to end it and it certainly wouldn't be because I was depressed or felt life was no longer worth living.
So in conclusion I again proffer this heart felt appeal to everyone who knows me

The Seven Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

m1Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that leads to personality changes, memory loss, intellectual slowing, and other symptoms. Although each person with Alzheimer's is different, most progress through a series of stages, each of which is characterized by more serious Alzheimer's symptoms.

The following seven stages were developed by researchers and physicians to describe how a person with dementia could change over time. Your doctor might collapse the seven stages into early/middle/late or mild/moderate/severe, so these classifications are provided as well. . It is important to note here that dementia affects every person in different ways so not everyone will experience the same symptoms or problems or necessarily follow the same pattern of decline. These 'stages' are used for guidance purposes only. Although the stages provide a blueprint for the progression of Alzheimer's symptoms, not everyone advances through the stages similarly. Caregivers report that their loved ones sometimes seem to be in two or more stages at once, and the rate at which people advance through the stages is highly individual. Still, the stages help us understand Alzheimer's symptoms and prepare for their accompanying challenges.

Stage 1 (Absence of Impairment)
There are no problems with memory, orientation, judgment, communication, or daily activities. You or your loved one is a normally functioning adult.

Stage 2 (Minimal Impairment)
You or your loved one might be experiencing some lapses in memory or other cognitive problems, but neither family nor friends are able to detect any changes. A medical exam would not reveal any problems either.

Stage 3 (Noticeable Cognitive Decline)
Family members and friends recognize mild changes in memory, communication patterns, or behavior. A visit to the doctor might result in a diagnosis of early-stage or mild Alzheimer's disease, but not always. Common symptoms in this stage include:
• Problems producing people's names or the right words for objects
• Noticeable difficulty functioning in employment or social settings
• Forgetting material that has just been read
• Misplacing important objects with increasing frequency
• Decrease in planning or organizational skills

Stage 4 (Early-Stage/Mild Alzheimer's)
Cognitive decline is more evident. You or your loved one may become more forgetful of recent events or personal details. Other problems include impaired mathematical ability (for instance, difficulty counting backwards from 100 by 9s), a diminished ability to carry out complex tasks like throwing a party or managing finances, moodiness, and social withdrawal.

Stage 5 (Middle-Stage/Moderate Alzheimer's)
Some assistance with daily tasks is required. Problems with memory and thinking are quite noticeable, including symptoms such as:
• An inability to recall one's own contact information or key details about one's history
• Disorientation to time and/or place
• Decreased judgment and skills in regard to personal care
Even though symptoms are worsening, people in this stage usually still know their own name and the names of key family members and can eat and use the bathroom without assistance.

Stage 6 (Middle-Stage/Moderate to Late-Stage/Severe Alzheimer's)
This is often the most difficult stage for caregivers because it's characterized by personality and behavior changes. In addition, memory continues to decline, and assistance is required for most daily activities. The most common symptoms associated with this stage include:
• Reduced awareness of one's surroundings and of recent events
• Problems recognizing one's spouse and other close family members, although faces are still distinguished between familiar and unfamiliar
• Sundowning, which is increased restlessness and agitation in the late afternoon and evening
• Difficulty using the bathroom independently
• Bowel and bladder incontinence
• Suspicion
• Repetitive behavior (verbal and/or nonverbal)
• Wandering

Stage 7 (Late-Stage/Severe Alzheimer's)
In the final stage, it is usually no longer possible to respond to the surrounding environment. You or your loved one may be able to speak words or short phrases, but communication is extremely limited. Basic functions begin to shut down, such as motor coordination and the ability to swallow. Total care is required around the clock.

A dog does wonders for your mental health - and I should know

imagesO4OT7G63This article based around the premise of pets as therapy tells the story of the benefits to the author of owning a dog as an aid to her recovery from depression "I've been struggling with periods of the worst depression I've experienced for many years. It's at such times that the companionship of animals can offer welcome respite both from the troubles of human beings in general and of this human being in particular".
Story by Clare Allen in the Guardian 2/09/2014 click HERE to read full article

Dementia 2014: A North East Perspective - report published July

dementia reportThis report by the North East Dementia Alliance (produced for the Northern Rock Foundation by Debbie Smith and Peter Otter) summarises the present position across the North East in regards to the provision of dementia care by statutory, voluntary and academic organisations in support of dementia sufferers and their carers. It highlights progress made and gaps in service development and provision.

Click HERE for a downloadable copy


NEDA        NRF



Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. One woman’s story of recovery

imagesLO033QY5"When you have been so low that death seems like the best option, then you know you're in a dark place. This is where I found myself in 2001, aged 16, during my first bout of anorexia. When my eating disorder (ED) began in 1999 I knew, as I had been warned, that this would be like falling into a deep dark hole - the easiest thing to get into and the hardest thing to get out of. By the time I was 16 anorexia had full control over me, and my life became nothing but a monotonous calorie and weight fixation, each day just like the last, planned meticulously around every morsel I would allow myself at whatever particular time". 

Story by LOu click on the link to read full story Eating_Disorder_Not_Otherwise_Specified.docx

Mummy is Poorly

MHNE would recommend this children's story (published by NTW NHS Trust), which tells the tale of a little girl whose mother is experiencing mental distress. Written from personal experience, the author, a single mother seeks to provide very young carers through the story with a basic understanding of what would happen to them if one or other of their parents developed mental health difficulties.

Click on the link to read the story mummy_is_poorly_-_website.pdf


The Colour of Depression

depression"Whenever I hear someone talking about depression or read an article or report in the media, the overwhelming impression given is one of blackness, Churchillian phrases such as "Black Dog" or the ubiquitous "Black Cloud". Not only are these yet more instances of negative use of the word Black, but do not match my own experience of Depression. To me it has no colour, or at best an opaque nothingness, that couldn't even be described as shadows or fluctuations of light and dark". This is a piece by one of MHNEs volunteers who is also a service user talking about how  they view depression and the way it affects them To read the full piece click HERE

Living with PTSD (The Musings of a Most Peculiar Man)

"He was a most peculiar man" that's what Mrs. Reardon said and she should know she lived upstairs from him
(Paul Simon: A Most Peculiar Man)

"Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has had a major effect on my life and mostly in a negative way, though this has been due largely to my reluctance to seek help or have any wish to talk about the experience that lead to the trauma in the first place, choosing instead to bury my thoughts and feelings and to actively avoid anything that reminded me of the traumatic event".

This is an excerpt from an online blog and recounts the story of one man's struggle with post-traumatic stress To read the full blog please click HERE If you would like to submit a short article about your experiences of PTSD or any other Mental Health condition or simply wish comment on this post please contact us via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.