Minding Your Mental Health

Recovery: You alone can do it - but you can’t do it alone

A testimony on how GROW helped during lockdown, by Christina

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Recovery: You alone can do it - but you can’t do it alone

It was right there I saw my story in hers; the very next week I was brought to my first ever GROW meeting

Since the start of the lockdown I have been putting my GROW programme into daily use even more so than before.
Before I tell you my testimony I need to give you a small synopsis of why I come to be in GROW.
I was diagnosed with postnatal depression after my first born child in 1994 and subsequently after my two other children. During this time I became very anxious and would have different periods of dealing with depression. I was also living with an alcoholic and abusive husband. This all came to a head in 2004 when I tried to die by suicide in my car after a day in Dublin with my children.
I spent 12 weeks in hospital in the psychiatric ward. During this time a nurse, who had great insight to mental health, saw there was a need along with medical help to also have other interventions. After week seven a group came in to give a talk and one lady gave her testimony. It was right there I saw my story in hers; the very next week I was brought to my first ever GROW meeting.
I can honestly say this was the turning point in my journey to mental health recovery, as with the wisdoms I was able to step my way through many a difficult situation in my life. My little blue book is like another limb as I can turn to it and it will always give me a wisdom or a reading to help me through all situations.
So during lockdown I was a bit anxious at first as my three adult children were home with me and I wasn’t sure how we’d all get on in such a close proximity 24/7. I am a person who thrives on routine and keeping busy, so when the routine went I could feel the ground under me move.
The first three weeks were okay as I got lots of work around the house and garden done that I was putting off. By the end of these three weeks I was missing my GROW group. We were told that Zoom meetings could be an option going forward and this I was looking forward to.


During the first three weeks I was using some of my GROW wisdoms to keep grounded such as:
1 - This too shall pass
As we were told by trustworthy people that they will find a cure for the virus and life will go back to some normality.
2 - Be ordinary and be ordinary every day


I took this wisdom to mean that everybody is in the same situation and everybody would be feeling the same so I’m not in this alone.
After we went past the third  week I could feel my foundations being rocked even more and my anxiety and depression were getting stronger.
At this time our co-ordinator Louise was ringing and checking in quite often. There was always the promise of that Zoom meeting, which thankfully did start and has been going great ever since.
It was so great to see members of the GROW family on the screen and knowing that when you speak there is no judgment only support and care for each other.
During this time I lost a very dear aunt and the fact I wasn’t able to say goodbye to her or see her before the funeral weighed heavily on me. She was a huge part of my life growing up. My GROW group, through WhatsApp, gave me great encouragement and support.
This is what I love about my group as it is like another family and you can be yourself no matter what is going on for you. During these last few weeks my anxiety and depression has gone even further down, but I am using my wisdoms and programme to get me through.


Some of the things I am using to get me through this phase of my life are:
1 - I can move my muscles and limbs in spite of my feelings. I do this every morning as I get up washed and dressed before I even come downstairs. This gives me a good start to my day.
2 - Feelings are not facts; feelings are like the weather.
These help me know that although I’m feeling low and anxious that what I am feeling I have felt before and that it will pass like the weather (bad weather) outside won’t last.
3 - Don’t come in at the end of someone else’s maladjustment.
This helps me as when I am feeling anxious I am in my head thinking about what others are saying about me but how do I know that? I’m not a mind reader. What if someone does say anything nasty about me? That that’s not my problem, it’s what’s ever is going on for them.
4 -  Just for today


This has helped me with my day to day living. If my week is going badly I can break it down and just go day by day; sometimes I have to break it down morning, afternoon and evening.
Just for today I will get up early get dressed and face into the day like any ordinary person would.
So during lockdown only for my GROW group, the blue book and programme I think I would be back with my team and not coping too well.
So if anyone is ever thinking of coming to a GROW meeting please take your courage in your hands and come along it will give you the tools and support to face each day as it comes.
I hope my story has helped in some way and given you an insight into the GROW group, GROW and the GROW Programme.