"Life can be cruel sometimes and I have probably had more than my share of knocks. Rape and then a physical assault at work leading to a brain injury.
"I was a psychiatric nurse. Looking back the physical and mental effects of trauma had a profound effect on me, and I had lost myself. I became very reliant on others, anxious in new situations with no confidence and no purpose. I felt frustrated and useless. Today I can't believe I'm that person. I can't actually remember how I got involved in Mental Health Together. I'm so glad I did though.
"With support and guidance from Niki, Kath and the team I finally feel useful again. I think the nurse in me needs to still care. I'm still passionate about mental health. I think we are still the Cinderella service. Now I feel in a unique situation - nurse turned patient. I've experienced the horrors and trials of a social care package and private care. The system is so flawed but many with mental health problems are either too unwell or lack the confidence or ability to complain or question what's going on. I was really surprised when it was suggested I stand for hospital Governor and even more thrilled when I was elected.
"Now I'm representing my own community in South Derbyshire. I'm learning so much. My friends at MHT have been invaluable with this. An example of this is that Derbyshire Healthcare Trust also represents people with Autism and my knowledge is limited, so I love being able to improve my knowledge and share information and get advice from other Experts. I’m meeting the most amazing people and am honoured to learn their stories.
"I'm able to network with different organisations to try and improve things. Our local First Responders now have access to mental health training and our local Community Mental Health Team staffing levels are increasing. Personally, I'm thriving! I love the challenge of the role. My confidence has come on, I'm using technology (badly most of the time) but I'm not afraid to try now. I'm speaking up, raising issues, asking questions and meeting the most amazing people along the way. Finally, I'm useful and the old Hazel again!"