A story

I first visited Mind in Llandrindod Wells as a customer to the Art café with my family a few years ago, when we enjoyed toasted sandwiches and homemade cakes with spiced apple juice or hot chocolate as a treat or we’d pop in to buy holiday gifts. We loved the friendly staff and welcoming décor of local crafts, paintings, photographs and comfy chairs and it was there I saw a notice offering free counselling. Suddenly it dawned on me that the café I loved going to, was run by the mental health charity Mind.

I had been feeling very suicidal, understandably really because having lost 5 animals (4 dogs and my cat) in a fire, only 2 months later, my mum died suddenly from a stroke, then a month later, my dear friend of 18 years, Alicia, was diagnosed with single cell lung cancer - to die just 3 months later in July. Despite my children getting university places, and despite having a loving partner, I really didn’t feel like living last year.

Depression makes life feel like one big uphill struggle. It is an effort to get out of bed; an effort to work; to eat; to pay bills even when you are in a position to be able to pay them; to remember important tasks even when you have noted them down; to focus or feel organised; to feel motivated or enthusiastic even about those you love.

I had been waiting more than 6 months for NHS counselling and at Mind in Llandrindod Wells, I found help immediately available. Nobody minds my tearfulness. There is a support worker who can help with practicalities, and a free counsellor, and interest groups which include walking, craft and creative writing. There are even free complementary therapies available such as reflexology and massage. There may be a waiting list but compared to the NHS, waiting lists are relatively short.

Just before Christmas, I discovered the Wellbeing centre, in the basement, accessible to disabled people too. They offer a cheap 2 course lunch to members and everyone there seems really friendly and open. On the other hand, it’s a good place to get a bit of space too.

15 months on from the fire and living is easier. I now only cry 2-3 times a week. I don’t wake at 4am crying every night, just some nights. I am discovering my creativity again and the Mind writing groups helps. It is small so we all have the opportunity to listen to each other but there are no expectations, so no pressure. Courageously, we are hoping to hold an Open Reading evening in the Spring. All welcome!

I still visit the Art Café upstairs with visiting relatives and if I lived nearer I would hang out at the Wellbeing Centre more often, as it now opens some evenings for informal get-togethers. I am so grateful to the Mind charity for their invaluable counselling service and encompassing support. I even went to their annual conference held locally last November and for all this, it had only cost me £1 to join.☺