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Southern Health 70 years of the NHS; 1948 - 2018
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My pathway to research, by Carolyn

I have been a user of Mental Health Services since 1999.

In this time, I have:

  • Undergone psychological counselling 
  • Been held in a secure psychiatric ward in California
  • Been a UK psychiatric ward inpatient 7 times
  • Been sectioned under the Mental Health Act several times 
  • Felt my life was ruined and irrecoverable
  • Been given antipsychotic medication, both as pills and injections 
  • Attracted a diagnosis of Schizophrenia
  • Undertaken and passed a degree and a masters course
  • Lost friends and acquaintances,
  • Lost housing, a job, and my confidence
  • Been rejected for many jobs especially in 2009
  • Been given the opportunity to volunteer at Southern Health
  • Taken part in many research projects which I have found out about and for which I was a suitable participant
  • Slowly regained my confidence and abilities
  • Found a treatment that works for me and keeps me stable
  • Been employed in several part time roles in the Trust
  • Made many new friends and acquaintances
  • Felt my life is good
  • Recovered from psychosis and its effects
  • Done a Tandem Skydive from 15000ft and raised over £1000 for Solent Mind
  • Been thankful to all who have helped in my recovery


How have I benefited from being involved in research projects as a participant?

  • Talking about my episodes clarified them for me
  • Knowing I was giving something back is a good feeling
  • Have found a space to recount my story
  • Helping to inform others about recovery
  • Meeting new people
  • Using my Lived Experience to inform projects
  • Turning something which seemed to destroy my life into something worthwhile and rewarding.


Why is it important to have Lived Experience in projects?

  • Participants seem more at ease knowing I have a diagnosis like them
  • Knowing that something good can come out of challenging times and experiences gives hope
  • Lived Experience of conditions is a valuable resource.