"I was driven and determined to make progress in my recovery" Idris' Story There was a three-year period where I couldn’t do anything. I was extremely avoidant and paranoid. I wouldn’t even go out the front door. In 2018 I went to get help for depression from a local mental health service, but I was told that my social anxiety was a much more urgent issue. That same year, I was put in group therapy – it was incredibly difficult being around people. I felt suicidal every week. When that group ended, I found out about the Recovery Café. I first went to the Recovery Café on the day I planned to end it all. As daunting as it was, it got to the point where I just had to address it. I’ve learnt that if you don’t confront the things you are avoiding, you have to deal with the long-term consequences. When I got to the Recovery Café, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I spoke to a member of staff and they helped alleviate what I was feeling. My social anxiety was a lot worse back then; I couldn’t speak to anyone other than the staff alone in a room. The next time I went was a couple of months later. It still took a push for me to go. Over the course of time, things changed. In 2019, I started going more and more. I was back getting Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for social anxiety, and that helped. The thing with social fear is the fear of judgement. You think people are judging you negatively and seeing you as inferior. The staff listened and understood me and helped me get into a new mindset. I decided I needed to do things I wouldn’t normally do. I was driven and determined to make progress in my recovery. I started trying to speak to other customers at the café and eventually felt ready to take part in activities like the creative writing group and the well-being group. If you do too much too soon when you’re not ready, you can set yourself back. It had to be a gradual process. Before coming to the Recovery Café, I couldn’t see the appeal of being around people. I associated it with panic and worry. The other people at the Café are different. These people were understanding and empathetic as they have experienced mental health challenges. I have made friends now and it’s changed the way I see people. When things were much worse, all I could focus on was trying to get through the day. I didn’t think I would stay alive much longer so the future was completely blank. Now, I’m looking to get back into education. I want to pursue a degree in criminology and become a probation officer. I want to make a change to other people and help integrate them back into society. It’s difficult to take those first few steps towards recovery. Take things one step at a time and just think about the here and now and build from there. A lot has changed for me. I thought things had gone too far and that I couldn’t come back from it. When you look back in hindsight though, you can see how much progress you have made. Which book has impacted me the most? No Exit by Jean Paul Sartre. It is a play I read in book form. It made a lasting impression on me, as it dealt with the idea of taking responsibility for the meaning you want to create. Which can be difficult, just by nature of coexisting, and making compromises, and worrying about how you're perceived by others. The central idea though was to create subjective meaning to your existence. And rather than lose individual autonomy, find personal freedom and impart your own meaning. Which film has impacted me the most? The Turin Horse. It dealt with being caught in a repetitive cycle and questioned at what point do you begin to challenge it, and self reflect on ideas that are imperative to life itself. Which song has impacted me the most? Parking Lot by Mineral. It starts with him being in a difficult mental state, but then transitions to wanting to take a step out of the darkness, and wanting to move forward, and confront what he is feeling. I find it to be a relatable song.