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How Delfryn Lodge turned my life around

In our latest blog, Rachel, a former service user at Cygnet Delfryn Lodge, writes about how the service helped turn her life around and inspired her to help others by training to be a mental health nurse.

When I was first transferred to Cygnet Delfryn Lodge back in March 2015, I had already been in mental health services for a few years. When I came to Delfryn Lodge, I was very unwell in my mental health, I was psychotic, severely depressed, anxious and self-harming on a daily basis. I saw absolutely no future and thought I would never get out of hospital, I just wanted to die. I honestly believe I would have successfully taken my own life if I hadn’t been held in hospital under the Mental Health Act.

However, my time at Delfryn Lodge was a real turning point in my life. It was slow progress at first, but throughout the two years I was there, I received excellent rehabilitation and support from all the staff. So many of them helped me through some of my darkest moments and enabled me to overcome obstacles, the staff believed in me, even when I had no hope for myself or my recovery.

We had monthly ward rounds which we were involved in, I was made to feel comfortable during these, despite initially feeling anxious and overwhelmed at the prospect of them. I felt the team fully listened to me and my needs, wants and preferences, as well as involving me in regular care planning. I found the ward rounds and care planning process very person centred and collaborative.

Even outside of ward rounds, the consultant would make time to catch up with me and gave me time to talk and listen. We had regular discussions around my care and medications. I was previously diagnosed with EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder), however I never felt this diagnosis fully fitted what I was experiencing, but in previous services I felt I was never listened to and I was told that medication wouldn’t help me. However the team and the doctor at Delfryn Lodge diagnosed me with Schizoaffective Disorder, which I feel suited my presentation better, and I got on the right medication which has helped me massively.

The occupational therapy (OT) staff were brilliant. I had regular meetings with my named OT, we would identify goals and work towards them, many of which I was supported to achieve. I formed a good rapport with one occupational therapy assistant in particular. I found her approachable and felt I could talk to her about anything that was troubling me at any time.

When I first came to Delfryn Lodge, I couldn’t go out in public as it made me very anxious. The OT team tried graded exposure with me, we started by going to a small shop a few times. It was very difficult at first, but they supported me every step of the way and gave me reassurance and guidance, but also an encouraging approach. When I was comfortable, we gradually built up to going into Tesco and then going into Mold town centre. Thanks to them I can now go out anywhere, I can even go shopping independently, and catch buses on my own.

The psychology staff were brilliant. I have never found psychology input particularly helpful for me, but the best psychologists I have ever had were at Delfryn Lodge. I also found the animal therapy very helpful. There was a lovely therapy dog, and animals were sometimes brought in, such as bunnies, guinea pigs and reptiles. I found it very therapeutic, and now I have a dog of my own who helps me so much.

It is now three years since I left Delfryn Lodge, I still have my struggles at times (and as one amazing support worker once told me, recovery isn’t about being “cured”, it’s about managing your illness), but I am now living back with my mum after a spell in supported living. I have my own dog, and I am training to be a mental health nurse, as I have been inspired to help others. I give myself credit, but I honestly would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the outstanding care and support I had from the amazing team at Delfryn Lodge, they were there every step of the way and they helped me turn my life around.

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