Suicide Prevention Day - Andriana's Story
Andriana Petropoulaki is a Contact Officer at Solent Mind, the collaborating organisation of Solent NHS Trust’s Portsmouth wellbeing service, PositiveMinds. Talking about her own mental health journey, Andriana explains why, on this Suicide Prevention Day, it’s more important than ever to reach out.
“I grew up in Cyprus and at 18 decided to come to the UK to study, believing that I could better myself and get away from issues at home. In truth, I found I was isolated and missed my family terribly, making it through the first year of the degree before heading back home.
"I now realise that this mistake caused me to go back to an environment that was wrong for me. The effect was that my mental health worsened, to the point where I tried to take my own life. Luckily, I was unsuccessful, but my parents were unable to talk to me about it, I think due to their generation. My Mother did not have the confidence to talk to me about my emotions and there was very little mental health support in Cyprus at that time.
"Knowing the opportunities that were here compared to Cyprus, I realised I would be better off by myself and came back to England. I began my caring career working in care homes, believing that it was better to look after others while ignoring my own needs. My career flourished and I went on to work for the Probation Service and eventually as a 111 Call Responder. It seemed that I was always trying to help others, in what could sometimes be extremely traumatic circumstances, all whilst hiding my illness away.
"Eventually, I took the step of reaching out for help, escaping fake friends who would have kept me in my poor state and instead opting for hope. I was eventually diagnosed with PTSD, Anxiety and Bulimia.
"My constant need to punish myself through over-exercise was halted when I was put in touch with a great group of trainers. I now exercise regularly but not to excess, and I know the benefits this brings my mind and body. I have bad days, but I know it is temporary and I now have a way to restore my balance.
"The work I do now still brings me into contact with vulnerable people experiencing a mental health crisis, but my journey enables me to connect with them on a personal level and build trust. I think I’ll always want to be helping someone!
"This suicide prevention day, I think the theme is incredibly relevant, especially living through Covid-19. Let’s be brave and save someone’s life by working together. If you think someone is quiet or not themselves, ask them the question, offer to listen and stay connected. You’ll never know how important your contact may be.”