Peer support is something I never really valued. I didn’t want to be around people with the same problems as me, and I didn’t understand what good it would do sharing my troubles. I was, to be honest, a bit of a ‘peer snob’.
I was, to be honest, pretty shocked. As a veteran of the mental health system, I assumed I knew all the tricks of the trade…how to get an appointment faster, what kind of medication is best for my condition, whether I should have CBT or counselling. I thought, quite wrongly, that I knew how to cope all on my own.
What I have learnt over the years, since that very first meeting, is that peer support has value way beyond just my own mental health. It takes the burden off my friends and family a bit. It supports me to make informed decisions. It enables me to draw on my own lived experience of Borderline Personality Disorder and help other people going through the same thing.
It gives me, quite simply, a voice.
Now, I don’t know what I would do without the peer support I have in my life. I use peer support on a daily basis…whether it is chatting to a friend who has the same experiences as me or checking out recommendations on Twitter from people around the world. I am a peer support junkie now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
So, that’s why I spoke at #Peerfest14 in Birmingham on Friday. Run by the national mental health charity Mind, it has become the annual celebration of peer support in England. I am honoured to be attending, and I will be doing a poetry reading in the afternoon,
Why? Because I have found my voice, thanks to peer support.
This piece was originally posted on Laura’s blog ahead of #peerfest14, the English peer support conference run by @mindcharity . We asked Laura if we could re-publish it, because it sums up so perfectly what we hear from people so often.
What about you? Have you overcome concerns about peer support? Or maybe you’re considering getting involved in peer support but feel unsure? Has Laura convinced you?