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Steph's Story - in her words

"My recent diagnosis of Bipolar meant that I had been on an emotional and unstable rollercoaster."

Family and friends have been so supportive and understanding throughout each stage of the illness. My step-mum even gave up her business to care for me. However, the illness seemed sometimes to suffocate me. Both physically and, of course, mentally. Sometimes I felt extremely isolated and trapped. It was hard to remain at my house day after day, but I knew it was for my own  safety. Then we heard about IPSUM…

I was over the moon when I found out what was on offer. So we made an appointment to see Lucille for an assessment. She immediately made me feel welcome. We talked openly for some time about what I had been going through and ways to move forward. She is in charge of Art at IPSUM so we discussed the types of workshop on offer. In the end we decided I would go to the Wednesday “Wild Card” because this would allow me to participate in a range of different art projects. I was looking forward to coming back the following week.

On my first morning, I was excited, yet anxious. I knew I would be meeting people from all types of background and hadn’t experienced anything like this before. It became a slightly daunting concept. Everyone within the group was extremely kind and welcoming, but it was overwhelming for me.

I felt as thought that morning, I really realised I had been diagnosed with Bipolar. Perhaps I’d been living in a little bubble and reality hit me that day. Accepting an illness, is a very important part of being able to deal with it. I was overcome with emotion when I left and couldn’t control my tears. They just kept on and on. My reaction to joining IPSUM shocked me and I remember little other than the emotions of that day. However, this needed to happen. This needed to happen so that I could make a step forward. I knew I needed to push through the fears that consumed me. It was not IPSUM I was afraid of, it was myself.

I decided not to return on the afternoon, but I knew the following week I had to push myself to go back. I’m extremely glad that I did, as since then I feel as though I’ve made noticeable progress every week. As the weeks went by I felt my confidence grow. It’s great to have a form of escapism in such a creative environment, especially as I love art. I have also started having guitar lessons with Mike, which has been another exciting new experience. I’ve found that music is really great for my self-esteem. I’ve only learnt a few chords, but while I’m playing I really do feel myself smiling.

It’s also given me a whole new perspective that I will take away with me and probably use throughout my everyday life. It’s been good to understand the people around me and get to know them without making any immediate assumptions.

IPSUM has played a really big part in my recovery process. When I was at my worst I wasn’t allowed to leave the house on my own, but now I’m catching the train to Swindon by myself. I’ve now even begun to volunteer within the group, which, looking back over the last three or four months, is somewhat surprising. Coming to IPSUM has allowed me to channel my energy into a positive future.

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