Service User and Carer Group Advising on Research

Isaac’s sweet road to recovery.


For me, too much Sugar can never be a bad thing! My road to recovery and management of my mental distress that affects me in ways that I would never wish on anyone, has been made so much brighter and easier due to my dear friends at Sugar. Not everyone will have the opportunity to ever need to express the pain that comes with the fact that sometimes one’s own mind plays games that make you feel quite alone and different. One’s moods can be up and down like a roller-coaster, and you never know which turn will come next: the up, or the down?

I feel that I have a gift that I would like to share with you all. Here we go. So we are in the early stages of the new year; sometimes I feel like ‘Not another year that my mental health is affected by things that my peers just brush off like they are nothing’. For example, just going down the pub with a friend takes some planning and real effort. Sometimes when the darkness of depression creeps in through the open window of life without warning and without reason, this chemical imbalance that makes me feel as if getting up out of bed to look at the tree outside my window is like climbing to the top of the tallest tree, forever in the darkness. Climbing this tree will be something that will, I am guessing, be a part of the rest of my life, as it has been for so many of these past 16 or so years. Except now I know that I will no longer be trying to climb to the top of the tree alone, in the darkness. I had a ‘eureka’ moment: things changed for me when I became a member of Sugar.

It occurred to me just after I had taken down the Christmas tree. It was adorned with all things wonderful, more so it was celebrated with the love and care that I have found with our group called Sugar. This tree was symbolic for me, this year more than most, as for the past 10 years I have been someone that has spent most of Christmas locked in my room under the covers where the Christmas monster couldn’t get me. This was because I had lost all my power. When you have been unwell and have had to adjust from the life you imagined you would have had to the reality of the life that is marked by extreme highs and lows, well, quite frankly it left me feeling very different and unlike my peers. So when everyone would gather round the Christmas tree, I would retreat to the safety of my own room where I could just be me.

This year I can look back as say this has been very difficult, and even though each day is unlike any other and sometimes I need that helping hand to make the best of my day, this has come about due to a gift that has been bestowed on me by being a member of Sugar. This name has been as far-reaching as Japan, the USA, and Australia.

Now, today, I feel quite poorly and am looking out of my bedroom window at the trees outside as they get ready to start a new year of growth. Even though this year has been, for my personal tree, harsh and hard, my tree has weathered the storms not quite knowing if it would withstand them totally or how battered and bruised it would emerge. I have come through these storms ever so much stronger and have been able to call upon the skills of other trees that have seen their way into my life for many different reasons. My friends at Sugar will never know what they have done for me. They have given me the space to feel loved, accepted and supported, and like I can make a difference. Everyone in our Sugar family has enabled me to become more robust. My tree has strong roots which come from a place of all the different challenges that each member has experienced and subsequently shared with me. The word ‘selfless’ comes to mind when I think of the sharing and support that my Sugar family have given me. When I have listened to narratives that have come from the different members of our group, be that someone who has accessed services or a carer, it has added a ring of growth to my tree. This ring has been born of pain, love, and hope, and the courage to share and believe we can make a difference through the work we do. This year has been my annus horribilis and a life-changing year for many reasons. However, I can look back and remember that this was not all doom and gloom, but a lesson with gifts that have been bestowed on me by Mother Nature. It has subsequently given me the strength and fortitude to keep going and grow with the mindfulness that I have so much to give, receive and share. I have been helped and supported by my Sugar family, from the kind words of a member, to the knowledge that once a month I will see the same face that looks at me with deep, wise eyes born from the same values of making a difference to people who access mental health services, as well as carers.

As you may know, I am someone who will not, nor cannot, turn a blind eye to injustice and will always try to do my best for others. I need to proclaim this is my life’s mission, which is made all the easier because of your love at Sugar; the support and encouragement that has helped my tree to develop robust roots has come from all the gifts that have been given to you by your loved ones and subsequently you have shared with me, whether intentionally or not.

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for touching my heart and that you have given me some gifts that have, in turn, been given to others. We’ll never really know what we have done for the world but I am sure we have done what we can.

Never underestimate the power of Sugar when you need to climb a tree.

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