Important work of The Cellar Trust helped save my life, says 22-year-old woman living with bipolar disorder
- 22 year old hopes her experiences will help others
- Sophie urges people to donate to charity's covid appeal at a time of urgent need
- Former student diagnosed with condition last year
"To put it simply, The Cellar Trust gave me the support that saved my life,” says 22-year-old Sophie De Groot, reflecting on the help given to her by independent mental health charity The Cellar Trust at her time of greatest need.
Sophie, a University of Leeds graduate originally from Sussex, is someone who has experienced mental health issues throughout her life and was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 disorder in December 2019.
Due to various triggers, her mental health seriously deteriorated earlier this year and in August she attempted to take her own life.
“I was barely eating, sleeping or taking care of myself and felt like the world would be better off without me,” Sophie says.
“I thought that if I could end my life successfully then I would no longer be a burden to my family, boyfriend and friends.”
She adds: “I just felt a type of loneliness, detachment and isolation that at some points I grew concerned I was becoming invisible.”
For Sophie, as a highly vulnerable individual, this is where The Cellar Trust came in.
She first became aware of the trust and its crisis team while in hospital, following the attempt to take her own life.
The team working with Sophie wanted to make an action plan to stop her from acting on suicidal thoughts in the future and prevent her from having to become an inpatient.
“I got a call from a support worker named Anthony,” says Sophie.
“He wanted to set up weekly meetings to help me cope in between psychiatric appointments and waiting for dialectical behavioural therapy.
“Anthony spoke to me on the phone for at least an hour every week and always made sure I knew I could call him if I was struggling.
"He helped me plan a structure to my day so I was eating a meal, getting some fresh air and exercise and taking better care of myself.
“He also helped me come up with a plan to sleep better and it was really nice having the same person check in on me every week.
"I really looked forward to our chats.
Anyone can experience a mental health problem, it affects everyone indiscriminately
“The Cellar Trust helped me in a way I don't think any psychiatrist or counsellor could, in the sense that our chats were always informal, not focused on the bad and I always left feeling positive. I fully owe to them the fact my life has got back on track. I finally feel 'real’.”
Sophie Russell, a 21-year-old from Bingley, works voluntarily as a facilitator for the It’s Worth Talking About mental health support charity.
These groups run throughout West Yorkshire’s Aire Valley and exist as a safe place for anyone to go and talk about what’s on their mind, while enjoying a drink with other brave individuals in the process.
Russell experienced her own mental health issues growing up and has now turned to helping others going through similar.
She couldn’t speak highly enough of organisations like The Cellar Trust and their impact, saying: “Services like The Cellar Trust are so important in helping vulnerable people, because many individuals with mental health issues don’t get access to the NHS services on offer.
“The Cellar Trust, and mental health charities generally, bridge that gap and fill the space. This takes pressure off the NHS.
“Small charities like The Cellar Trust continue to help hundreds of people who need assistance and deserve to be seen as on a par with other elements of the NHS.
“Areas within the Bradford District, such as Shipley, are some of the most deprived places which need the constant trickling down of resources. The Cellar Trust quite literally provides an accessible lifeline when other aspects of public health aren’t available.”
In terms of Sophie De Groot’s inspirational battle, things are certainly on the up.
In November, just three months after she reached her breaking point, she graduated from an MSc in security, conflict and justice with a distinction.
As someone with bipolar disorder she may well never be ‘cured’, but with the right help and support she can hopefully now look forward to a bright and successful future.
When asked why people should consider donating to The Cellar Trust, Sophie says: “Anyone can experience a mental health problem, it affects everyone indiscriminately and you never know when you might end up in that situation.
“It’s therefore vital for places like The Cellar Trust to exist to act as a safety net, as they have become my safety net, for people who need support.
“People seem to say 'don't sweat the small stuff’ but because the trust helped me manage the small stuff, it gave me the confidence to tackle the bigger issues in my life.
“I can't force anyone to donate but mental health is universal and everyone at some point will probably experience issues.
“It’s so important to invest in mental health as you’re essentially investing in yourself, should you need the help, but also protecting another family, another partner or another friend from being torn apart.”
While Sophie is just one individual case, she represents a far wider issue in society which needs to be talked about.
As a fighter who’s gone 12 rounds with her mental health, she has a simple message to anyone experiencing similar to what she went through at her lowest: 'Please keep going, because it does get better.'
She says: “It’s not always instant but you’re here for a reason and if you take your life you won't ever find that reason.
“When I feel really down, which still happens, I think of all the people and things I’m grateful for. It always makes me smile and feel humbled as I know I’m so lucky to live a life so filled with love.
“I’d never want to give that up, so anyone else in my position I would strongly urge to get some fresh air, take a deep breath, think about your happiest memory and keep going.
“Nothing gets better overnight but there’s always a reason to try and always more happy memories to be made.”
Sophie is especially keen for people to donate to the trust’s covid appeal.
You can follow the trust on Twitter @TheCellarTrust and this #SaveTheCellarTrust campaign @SaveCellarTrust.