My name is Anne Foley and this is my story in the mental health services. I first was referred to the mental health services in Wexford 16 years ago, was diagnosed with depression and was hospitalised for 3 months. I was on a lot of medications that were to define my life for the next 10 years.
Five years ago I was hospitalised again for a short time, but this time things were different. I was referred to the local mental health centre, Maryville, in my town. Here I was looked at as a whole person, not just my illness. With the help of the team, I was able to reduce my medication. I was lucky in that at this time new treatment plans were being devised to treat people with mental health issues, which included a care plan where the whole team treating, your GP and yourself were involved in making up your treatment plan.
I now have a keyworker, Helen, who oversees my care, and is my first point of contact and the person I would see most often. The team in Maryville became my life-line and gave me the belief that I could lead a normal life and still recover from depression. The first 10 years after my original diagnosis went by in a haze where I was locked away inside myself, living but not living fully. Maryville and Helen changed all that, along with a lot of work on my part.
I started to live again, I got back into education, started to set goals and achieved them, started enjoying my life, my children, my new grandchildren, and my family, my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and my friends. My keyworker makes time for me if I need her. She would often recognise I was unwell before I would. I’ve learned how deal with my thoughts and how to change negative thinking and thoughts into positive ones.
You may ask how do I know that Maryville and the team there have helped me in this positive way. The answer is when I heard my granddaughter ask my daughter a couple of years ago: “Why is nanny able to play with me now where she could not before?” and my daughter tell her: “Because nanny was sick when you were born and were younger, but now she is better so she is able to play with you.” And when my sister tells everyone that I am her hero because for 10 years I was lost to my family but have found my way back. And when my friends know I am someone they can call if they need a shoulder to lean on. And when people like Mental Health Reform or Shine ask me to give interviews or volunteer to spread awareness.
I now advocate for change in the mental health services to continue. I am a spokesperson for change.