I am 34 and I live in the community in my own flat with a 24 hour support team. I have a long and substantial history of forensic mental health and I also have a learning disability and Autism. I came to live with Advance in February 2012 and I have stayed here since then.
I was diagnosed with disorganized schizophrenia in my early 20s. I lived in a number of different care settings and was introduced to Advance while living n a long-stay hospital. I had previously been told that my behaviour was so unmanageable that I would never live on my own or have my own place to call my own.
Lots of work went on by Advance who said they wanted to help me find a flat and help me to live in it. I struggled at first as I was not sure how to use money very well or understand I deserved to spend money on myself. I got to know some of the staff members and they took me to Tesco and Asda and I bought lots of nice things for myself that I had not done before. I went back to hospital with a smile that day and knew that I was going to have a different life.
Although I felt initially scared to leave the hospital, I did go and visit the flat and I was supported to choose things to make my flat look pretty. Everything in my flat is mine and I chose it all. I started to stay overnight. I settled in well and eventually after two months I moved into my very first flat.
As part of my illness I can become aggressive and I was worried the staff team would not have the confidence to steer me in the right direction at those times.
My staff team were very kind and patient with me and as time passed they got to know what helps me in times of crisis and I learnt that I was important to them and they did actually like me and want to be there with me.
I have learnt how to carry out all of my independent living skills and tasks to a very high standard and I am doing things in the community that I could only have dreamed of. I have bought myself a Christmas tree and I was supported to email a photo of it to my mum, who cried. I have my own TV and I have had my very first haircut. I paint my nails, I go out for meals, I go bowling, I go clothes shopping and I have a keen interest in shoes and handbags.
I enjoy my life I understand there is so much more to life and although I understand my illness very well, I still struggle at times. I receive a lot of emotional support and reassurance. I trust the people I work with and I know they trust and listen to me.
(*Name changed by request)
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