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The Story Of My Mental Illness Recovery

By James Lindsay, Trust Mental Health Champion 2023

Before I went to Man On, a football and mental health support programme delivered by the Trust, I was experiencing a great deal of depression as a result of my mental breakdown that happened in 2016. I suffered from psychosis and had to be sectioned under the mental health act. I took a lot of medication to get myself stable, but the side effects of these resulted in me putting on a lot of weight. I was very low on confidence and self-esteem.

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I feel extremely grateful to have discovered the Man On group back in 2019. I was being seen regularly by the NHS community mental health team at the time. After my care coordinator realised that I loved playing football and supported Watford FC, she told me about Man On and suggested that I give it a try.

So one Wednesday afternoon I visited Meriden Community Centre full of nerves and a bit anxious, but as soon as the session started I absolutely loved it. Now I go almost every week and it is easily the best part of my week!

Then later that year, I was asked by the Trust if I wanted to take part in a video documentary that was being produced by the Premier League. I was keen to get involved because I wanted to give back to the Trust and also help other people who were struggling with their mental health. The video was released in October on World Mental Health Day. The reactions were incredible and I could not believe I was on the Premier League website, the same place I do my fantasy team!

Then in 2021, I had another opportunity to help the Trust when I managed to get their charity place in the London Marathon. After nine months of intense training, I was able to get in the best shape of my life and also raised over £2,000 for the charity. Crossing the finish line was an unforgettable experience, one I will remember for the rest of my years and I felt immensely proud.

Another thing that has been a massive part of my recovery is writing, which I find really therapeutic. In 2018, I started writing a book about my experiences with psychosis and schizoaffective disorder (my current diagnosis). This is a self-help book and memoir about my ups and downs, what I have learned and my advice/top tips to navigate mental illness. I am delighted that the book is being published and comes out in March 2023. It is called Befriending My Brain: A Psychosis Story and I really hope it helps loads of people, as well as raises awareness and reduces stigma. I think reading other people’s journeys makes you feel less alone and gives you hope, which is exactly what I want someone to feel when they read my book.