A Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) peer support worker who has battled depression and anxiety for more than three decades has written an inspirational message of hope which has been published in a special book to help others facing similar difficulties.
Ceinwen Fidler, who lives in Norwich, has contributed a heart-felt letter to The Recovery Letters, which features submissions written by people recovering from depression addressed to those who are currently suffering with a mental health condition.
Addressed to 'Dear you', their aim is to provide hope and support to those experiencing difficulties and act as a testament that recovery is possible.
Ceinwen wrote her letter following a challenging period in 2013, and credits it with helping her better understand what she was experiencing. She now hopes that others in a similar situation will also find it useful.
“When I wrote the letter, I had been very depressed and ill for around a year. It was one of the worse periods I have ever been through,” said Ceinwen. “I found that talking to people who had been through similar things really helped me, and hope that the letter will do the same for someone else.
“I was very excited when I heard it was going to be published in the book. It has been online for a while and I’ve had some really good feedback from people, which is really nice.
“For me, knowing that it has helped people is even better than the fact it has been published.”
Ceinwen first fell ill with depression and anxiety in her late teens, but did not receive a diagnosis of bipolar disorder until she was 37. As part of the illness, she has periods of hypomania – or extreme highs – followed by episodes of severe depression and anxiety interspersed with panic attacks.
Her letter touches on these low periods, but also goes onto focus heavily on her recovery, during which she received help from close friends, NSFT’s crisis and community teams and a support worker with lived experience who she says made a big difference. Ceinwen can now recognise her triggers and warning signs and manages her mental health better, and is able to take action to prevent a relapse of her condition.
At the same time she is also using her lived experience to help others through her role as a peer support worker with NSFT’s North West Central Adult Community Mental Health Team – a position which she relishes and has held for the past three years.
She explained: “I enjoy the variety, being able to help people, getting to know people and being able to make a difference.
“The thing I like the most is when people tell you things which they haven’t been able to tell anyone else before – it’s a privileged position to win someone’s trust and for them to open up to you and feel able to say things which they wouldn’t tell their nearest and dearest.
“I am proof that there is life after mental illness. My message to others would be that you are not alone. It is ok to feel bad – you are still a worthy person, you are unique and your life can improve, just like mine has.”
James Witney, who edited the book, said: “Ceinwen and the other letter writers in the book have taken time to reach out to those experiencing depression because they know the pain and the isolation that this illness brings.
“Their letters send a message of hope, that things can get better, that the pain can ease and living a full life alongside any type of depression is possible.”
You can read Ceinwen’s letter by visiting www.therecoveryletters.com
To buy the book, visit https://www.amazon.co.uk/Recovery-Letters-Addressed-Experiencing-Depression/dp/1785921835
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