Rose’s #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek story

Rose* is 82. She’s been supported by our PSS Wellbeing Centres for two yearsShe lost her husband a few months before this. I gave up at this point’, says Rose. Rose’s son, Bobby* who has a learning disability, is also supported by our Making Days South day centres. Because of Rose’s family circumstances, she cared for her siblings from the age of eleven and faced lots of trauma in her life. She is no stranger to putting the needs of others first. A kind and compassionate person, through and through. Rose explains how she’s always been a bit of a loner, she never found time to make friends and get herself out there, she focused all of her energies on being good to others. Rose hadn’t realised until later years that this was sometimes at the detriment of her own mental health and wellbeing. She now sees this‘I’ve never been so popular in my life’, she chuckles. ‘I didn’t even know what depression was before’. Now Rose has experienced so many different types of mental health support. She thanks Annie, her therapist for being her ‘rock’ throughout all of this. ‘Sometimes you just need a nice voice at the end of the phone, someone who really cares’. And Rose can’t wait to get back to group activities when the service resumes as normal. Apparently she’s the yoga superstar at the centre, proving that age doesn’t have to stop you from pursuing a healthy lifestyle. We’re so pleased to see that the kindness Rose has given has come back around all these years later and she’s now found a new lust for life.

When Rose was eleven, her father passed away and because her mum worked during the nights, Rose would come home from school and care for her siblings. She married at 18 and tragically lost her first born son when she was 19 years old, he was just a baby. Rose then had another little boy and a little girl. When her son was 22 months old and her daughter was six months old, Rose’s husband sadly passed away at age 24. This was a devastating experience for Rose and she carried the trauma of this for many years. She never fully acknowledged her experience or got proper support. ‘Mental health wasn’t thought about then’, she says. When she married her second husband she had trouble with him; him and her mother didn’t get on and so they relocated, moving away from the family. This was another stressful experience for Rose on top of everything that had already happened. But Rose says she never found time to face this, she never thought about her mental health or took time for herself. Her life revolved around looking after people, she would stay at home and look after the children. Then Rose’s mother became unwell and she began caring for her. There wasn’t help out there then to support people who were experiencing depression or anxiety. When Rose lost her mother, she had to begin caring for her husband. She supported him for 20 years. He had chest pains and wouldn’t seek medical help. He was scared that if he went into hospital he would never come out.

Supporting her husband really had an impact on Rose’s life. She thinks it made her stronger but also recognises the enormous pressure it had on her, she was so completely overwhelmed. Rose has also supported her son for many years. He has an acquired brain injury after being attacked. This had an impact on his mental health which really put a strain on Rose too, but she never stopped caring for him and putting his needs first. ‘He needed a friend, he was lonely’. Bobby used to be such a sociable person, holidaying with friends and living life to the fullest and watching his physical and mental health decline really affected Rose. He needs help walking and struggled for many years to find support that worked for him. 

This really built up on Rose, she felt she had no life at all and was permanently anxious and worried. One night, she couldn’t sleep. Her chest was tight and she couldn’t breathe properly. She went to hospital. Doctors thought she might have had a blood clot but they realised that this was a physiological response to her stress and anxiety. She was experiencing a panic attack. Rose struggled with panic attacks for many years but, since coming to the Wellbeing Centres, she’s found new ways to manage her breathing and help this moment to pass.  Through the PSS Wellbeing Centres connection, Rose also found a fantastic support option for Bobby. Bobby now goes to PSS Making Days South in Garston, Liverpool. He absolutely loves spending his days there, doing all the things in life he enjoys most. Rose is able to take some time back for herself whilst he makes friends, learns and has fun. Since lockdown, Bobby has struggled with missing the centre but Rose says that the team are still on-hand and have been keeping in contact with him. He’s so excited to get back and see his friends. ‘All he needed was a friend and now he has so many’, says Rose. 

When Rose was first told about the Wellbeing Centres she found the prospect of mental health support quite daunting and explains how she used to just ‘get on with things’. ‘I’ve never had any friends, I didn’t have time’, says Rose. She explains how she couldn’t even thinking about talking through her emotions with others but she soon overcame these obstacles, meeting people just like her and experiencing their kindness. ‘I’ve never looked back’. The groups have really supported Rose, she says she feels so much calmer these days and everyone notices. She does relaxation, yoga and craft clubs where she gets the opportunity to meet lots of different people. ‘Everything used to just be in my mind, I couldn’t get it out’, says Rose. She is now able to open up and offload her stressors to support her to feel happier and healthier. Rose feels that she now has more courage than ever. She used to think that courage was just about coping but now she sees it as recognising what she’s going through and facing her issues. She feels more able to look after her son and is able to manage her anxieties like never before. Before, Rose was worried that she was becoming stressed and snappy with others.

Annie, Rose’s therapist is still available remotely whilst group activities are temporarily postponed (apart from those now happening online). Rose tells us how Annie was always been a rock to her and this hasn’t stopped now. ‘She told me, I must tell people if I’m not coping, I must seek all the support available to me’. This prompted Rose to finally make some time for herself as well as others and has supported her to have more to give to her son.  Before Rose was pouring from an empty cup and now that she feels more mentally well she is able to cope better and see the results of her positive mental health in those around her too. This is real kindness. Being kind to yourself and to others. Rose says that Annie’s kindness has helped her to see this. She not only offers therapy but she listens to Rose, she asks her about her son and gives her honest advice, just like a friend.

Rose usually enjoys group therapy sessions, going on days out and about and enjoying group yoga classes. ‘Look at me at 82, still getting active’. ‘I never thought I could do this, but once you open yourself up to others, you realise how kind they really are’. It’s this kindness that has really supported Rose to find a new positive outlook on life. She never thought she could manage her depression or that there were people who cared. Now she gets to meet so many other people who can offer her the support she has deserved for all these years. Her mental health and wellbeing is now being managed every day.

After many years of not knowing, we asked Rose what she would say to someone thinking about accessing mental health support. She just said: ‘Don’t be scared, they’re there to help you and you should never be frightened to get help. I am really thankful.’  

Thanks to Rose for sharing her mental health story and for the kindness she exudes.