AN inspirational poem has been shared by a woman who has battled with her own mental health for years, to raise awareness about living with an often invisible illness.

It’s not a choice.

We jump in with our judgements

With our pronouncements On

Someone else’s predicaments

We’ll argue that if you smoke

Or drink , or eat too much,

Or stay unprotected in the sun too much, You’ll mess with your biology You’re heading for oncology

That is not the same as

Saying you’re asking for it

Is it?

Did you?

Did you choose to get bronchitis

What about that crippling arthritis

Was it something YOU DID WRONG that led to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (That’s M. E. To me and you) Did you ask to get the flu?

Did you do it, was it you?

Did you plan to have that accident

Need benefits to pay the rent

Be dependent and feel so bad

And lose the life you thought you had


So this morning

When you dressed

Did you decide to be depressed

Or did you opt to be obsessed

With all the detail of your day

Did you want to hear those voices

Scream and whisper their abuses

In your tired and battered eardrum

As you struggle through today

Did you bring on your confusion

Is dementia of your choosing

Do you decide to forget stuff

To repeat yourself

To repeat yourself

To repeat yourself

Just to annoy us?

And if you found that your reality

Is a disordered personality

Is it really cos of what YOU did

I somehow don’t think so

Please don’t judge me

I could do with a little empathy

Before you judge my incapacity

This is my reality

I’m doing the best I can.

By Sue Hammond.

PEOPLE who received mental health services have been called on to give their own personal experience of what it feels like to get help from Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership in a bid to improve the service.

From anorexia, to depression and experiencing secure hospitals to psychology services, 10 people are part of a new team with a range of personal stories to tell.

They will be part of the Experts by Experience group, led by director of nursing at the trust.

Current and former people who have been helped by the trust have now got on board to improve services. With a combined 75 years receiving support for their mental health and living with 110 years of mental health issues, they are the experts.

Throughout his life Anthony has spent time in and out of prison, before receiving the correct health support and is now part of a group of clients giving direct feedback about how it feels to be part of the mental health system. He said: “I will fight for anyone who doesn’t have a voice. I care about all people and they should all be treated the same. Everyone should have some sort of voice.”

Chris said: “The trust is not only life changing, it is lifesaving. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the experts and their support. You can have focus groups, but we need people to work together. We have experience of the length and breadth of this service and we want to help with that.”

Sue, who penned the poem on invisible illnesses, added: “After living with no joy for 17 years last year my mental health picked up and now I have been able to be creative and share with other people.”

Head of nursing at the service Julie Kerry announced the partnership during this week’s annual general meeting held in Corsham.

She said: “Thanks you to you all for being so open and sharing your experiences. I was overwhelmed with the level and quality of applicants. This is something we will be doing moving forward to shape the service.”