Onwards and upwards! A post of progress from Sheryl Odlum

Life’s around the corner and I’m feeling determined, but scared!
I’ve just got back from my first (non-crisis) psychological session and feeling a bit raw. It’s only taken 7 years being a mental health service user to reach this point, but I suppose I just wasn’t ready to truly face my demons before. The session was about how I react to my emotions, which has effectively been to sweep everything under the carpet and make huge, unsustainable changes. Anything rather than facing my feelings. This has resulted in many career changes, broken relationships and house moves.
The psychologist seemed to ask all the right questions, which was a bit of a shock after so long not talking about this stuff. The way I react to stuff is normal for me because of where I’ve come from – an often violent background with 3 fathers and 5 siblings – all vying for mum’s attention. I was a gifted child who excelled at a really young age, but didn’t have the support in place to realise myself. I beat myself up a lot now for not having pursued a sponsored place at Oxbridge, but also realise that I turned down this opportunity for good reason – I didn’t feel safe enough to do it. What I did do was stop working on my A and S levels in Physics and Maths and ran to a groovy pub job in Covent Garden – where I had a whale of a time for a couple of years. Grrr… why couldn’t I have just plodded on and gone to the local poly?! The answer I suppose is that I either had to live up to people’s expectations of me or escape. I’ve been escaping ever since.
However, now that I’m in recovery it’s high time to face this and begin to take the reins of my life back again. Mark Russell has been here for the last 18 months as I’ve been at my illest and most needy, having been fiercly independent for most of my adult life – to the point of being really controlling too. I suppose what scares me most about taking responsibility for my life again is that I will go back to this sort of behaviour, but I also realise that I can trust myself now. At least to take these first steps.
It’s not a doctorate, but it’ll do for now.! Facilitating courses and workshops for Leeds Mind Peer Support and volunteering at a mh-friendly arts centre around the corner, as well as starting the formal dealing with emotions with the NHS.
The new term starts here and now.


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