“It is the one place where I don’t have to put on a fake smile and pretend everything is ok!”
I finally had a safe space to share
I came to MindOut’s Open group about 5 years ago and it took a while to get there but once I did I felt so welcomed and safe. When other people started to talk there was a lot I could identify with. At first I wouldn’t say much but then the group worker invited me to speak – that permission was amazing and I burst into tears. I didn’t feel judged and the group made me feel validated and ‘normal’ because they understood. So I continued coming and over time it became easier to talk about who I am. Because I began to share my difficulties – then I was given a space to talk and the other group members helped me to look at myself differently and to have a voice.
Peer support gave me the confidence to get back into work
People in the group really encouraged me to apply for some paid work. At the time I truly believed that I would only ever be a ‘volunteer’ but the group talked me through the application process and my first interview in 20 years and I gained the confidence to go through with it. And I was offered the job! The open group was so important because it was the first time I had met LGBTQ people with the same diagnosis as me. I gained huge insight into my difficulties. I got through my mental health crisis and eventually stopped attending, but I know the group will be there to support me again if I became unwell. It is the one place where I don’t have to put on a fake smile and pretend everything is ok!
I can explore my experience of being black
More recently I joined the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) group which has been a fascinating experience where we are all from different cultures and can talk about our different perspectives. This has been so supportive, because when I step outside the door you can’t see my mental health problems, you may not even see that I have a physical disability as a result of my Multiple Sclerosis but there is no doubt that I am black.
I’m proud to be a volunteer
Just being part of MindOut has been amazing – everyone is welcoming and fall over themselves to thank you for your volunteering. I feel so appreciated, but more than that I feel part of MindOut. I feel proud and like I’m making a difference. It’s not just MindOut for mental health, or for being LGBTQ – my wrist band says “MindOut for each other” and Mindout truly does that.
Thank you Mindout!