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My Journey to Success

In this powerfully honest and ultimately inspiring blog Dominic, a service user at Cygnet Oaks, describes his journey from admission through to the present day.

I can remember the day well, 31st August 2018; I was sat nervously in my room, back on the acute assessment ward at a hospital in Rotherham. My thoughts were all over the place. My heart was pounding, my palms sweating. The ward manager, and the rest of the team came to bid me farewell, and all the best for the future, and to keep out of trouble, if that was even possible? I had just spent the last seven months of my life on that ward. Was it a beneficial experience? To be continued… Deep down, they thought, thank god he has gone, not in a negative way, but in an affectionate way, I hope?

The hospital transport finally pulled up to the hospital’s main entrance. It seemed like ages to load all my belongings into the minibus. It is amazing how much one can accumulate in such a small amount of time. The journey only took forty five minutes, but when you are going somewhere new it seems like hours. The traffic was light, as I poked my head out of the minibus window, I could feel the cool breeze on my somewhat free face. The journey went without any hitches, nearly a straight run.

As we approached the main gate at Cygnet Oaks my thought process went into overload. The cogs were going around like mad. My first distinctive thought was why am I here? Followed by another, for intense therapy you idiot. My three kind escorts from my previous hospital rang the doorbell to the main reception. The automatic doors swung open, in we walked, and this was the start of a long journey to recovery.

My initial thoughts were ‘what a very nice looking fish tank’, followed by how very kind and welcoming receptionist was, who has a heart of gold, looks more like a librarian than a hospital receptionist. The very kind looking librarian booked us in, and then directed us to Oaks Lodge. The Lodge is a twenty bedded unit, which accommodates males with complex mental health issues.

When I initially arrived at Oaks Lodge, it was like walking into the abyss. I am six foot four inches, but I was still scared, it’s the unknown, an alien environment. I was not in control and was on a downward spiral with no goals or future aspirations in life. My thoughts and emotions were all over the place. My physical body was in bedroom six, but my head was somewhere on cloud nine. It’s a strange feeling. You can be surrounded by lots of people, but you can still be very lonely inside? It’s a strange but a real feeling nevertheless.

I was shown to my room. It looked warm and inviting, but at the same time, very clinical. In walked two very young looking support workers. One asked, “Is there anything we can get you?” to which I replied, “Please Miss, can I have a cup of tea?” Miss, I thought, you have been in the system too long. The girls then did a mini introduction to the ward. Oaks Lodge is a small unit, but it has ample opportunities and facilities, when you first arrive, it looks bigger than it is.

Before I knew it, my therapy programme had commenced. I had an informal chat with my named Occupational Therapist (OT), and my Forensic Psychologist. I immersed myself in all the activities that the OT department offered me. I particularly liked the walks in the countryside, trips to the seaside, and the list can go on.

Psychology, well that was a different kettle of fish. Some people dissed psychology, but in reality I needed psychology. If done effectively psychology does work. But for psychology to work you have to put your trust in the Psychologist, and then you can start to build a rapport. To benefit from any form of psychology you have to be very open and honest.

If I am being honest, I found that exercise extremely hard. From my own experiences, I grew up not trusting people, and especially those in authority. Trusting people was a sign of weakness; this was taught to me from a very early age, but my very experienced Psychologist persevered and eventually managed to chip away at my shutters. The amount of complaints that I put in against her was off the scale. But in reality, and deep down, I needed someone like her in my corner.

The type of psychological treatment that I am receiving is called Schema Therapy. Schema Therapy is hard, I am not denying it, but you have to work through the pain. Past emotions are, and will be, stirred up. The negative memories I had buried for many years came to the surface.

Since starting my journey with Cygnet Oaks I have started to achieve many things, namely I am studying for a BA (Honours) Law/Criminology with the Open University. Plus I am the patient representative here at Cygnet Oaks, and with this has come a great deal of responsibilities. This has been achieved through the hard work from me and especially the whole team at Cygnet Oaks.

My OT and Psychologist have taught me many things, but now I can achieve many of my goals in life. I am nearing the end of my journey with Cygnet Oaks, but I will especially miss them both. This is because they have been an important part of my life, and what lessons I have learned from them I will enjoy putting into practice. I know I will face many prejudices when back in society, but I will relish the challenges. Failure is not an option. I now see rejection, not as a negative, but as a positive. You can always change or challenge negativity, and then turn it in to a positive. These were taught to me by many wise people at Cygnet Oaks.

As my journey nears an end at Cygnet Oaks it stirs up many emotions, mainly thanks to my Psychologist, these have been very positive ones. That person, who first entered Cygnet Oaks a couple of years ago, is now leaving with a positive outlook on life, is looking forward to a brighter future and is embracing the challenges ahead. I will be forever indebted to all the hard work and perseverance of all the staff here at Cygnet Oaks.

I also would like to say a special thank you to my named nurse, who has put up with me over the years.

Dominic

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