My mental health journey by author Malan Wilkinson

Malan wilkinson

To mark the launch of Reading Well Books on Prescription for mental health in Wales, author and mental health advocate Malan Wilkinson talks about her experience of depression, and how expert endorsed reading – alongside mental health treatment – can help people to understand and manage difficult feelings.

My mental health journey started about six years ago, back in 2013. I found myself – not for the first time in my life – experiencing an episode of deep depression and – for the first time in my life – taken to Hergest Mental Health Unit in north Wales, where I stayed for three months.

The next 6 years of my life was a difficult and dark time, returning to Hergest at least another 4 times as a patient. I still face hurdles today, but the difficult feelings have become less frequent over the past two years. Who should I turn to? This was one of the first questions I asked myself during this time and one of the most common questions.

The world has changed over the past 6 years. The way we treat and talk about mental health has changed too – for the best, thankfully, as more people are talking about mental health and doing so openly. We still have a long way to go in regards to teaching people about mental health and how it can impact individuals and our communities.

Mental health can be a very lonely journey for the patient. It can be a journey that causes much pain to the individual and can make you feel ashamed. It can make you feel that you are not enough and hopeless. How can we deal with a challenge of this magnitude?

This is where the unique Reading Well programme comes in. Books can be the best medicine. I’ve found myself hundreds of times over the past 6 years wondering who I should turn to in order to make things better? To deal with these difficult emotions?

I’ve always worried about having to speak to someone I don’t know face to face about my biggest fears. This can be hard for someone under the most normal circumstances but when you are living with terrible paranoia, it can be incredibly difficult.

If I’d known there was a collection of incredible books in my local library – Reading Well Books on Prescription for mental health, available in Welsh and in English – it would have been of great support to me. It would have pushed me to take responsibility for my mental health and to research and educate myself on effective ways to deal with it – in the comfort of my own home, with my beautiful sheepdog, Wini Lwyd.

Sometimes, when things get too much – and we ask the question: Who should I turn to? There is no need to panic anymore – we can remember that there is an important collection of books, available to borrow for free in libraries across the whole of Wales. A collection of books of great importance at a time when mental health is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society.

Malan Wilkinson is a mental health advocate and author of Welsh-language memoir Rhyddhau’r Cranc (Y Lolfa), recently shortlisted for the Literature Wales Book of the Year Award 2019. She has lived with mental illness for many years and continues to do so.

Reading Well Books on Prescription for mental health was launched in Wales on 26 June 2019. The books are now available to borrow from all 22 library authorities in Wales.

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Fy nhaith iechyd meddwl i gan yr awdures Malan Wilkinson

I nodi lansiad cynllun Darllen yn Well – Llyfrau ar Bresgripsiwn ar gyfer iechyd meddwl, mae’r awdur a’r eiriolwr iechyd meddwl, Malan Wilkinson, yn sôn am ei phrofiad o iselder, a sut y gall darllen llyfrau sydd wedi eu cymeradwyo gan arbenigwyr – yn ogystal â thriniaeth iechyd meddwl – helpu pobl i ddeall a rheoli teimladau anodd.

Fe ddechreuodd fy nhaith iechyd meddwl i chwe blynedd yn ôl – nol yn 2013. Mi ffeindiais i fi fy hun, ddim am y tro cyntaf yn fy mywyd erbyn hyn, yn dioddef episod o iselder dwys.

Cyfnod digon anodd a thywyll oedd y 6 mlynedd nesaf yn fy mywyd. Byddwn i yn ôl fel claf mewnol yn Hergest – o leiaf 4 gwaith yn ystod y cyfnod hwn.

At bwy ddylwn i droi? Oedd un o’r cwestiynau cyntaf i mi ei ofyn ac un o’r cwestiynau fwyaf cyffredin.

Mae’r byd wedi newid yn y 6 mlynedd diwethaf. Mae’r ffordd ‘da ni’n trin a thrafod iechyd meddwl wedi newid hefyd – er da, diolch byth – mae mwy o sgwrsio am iechyd meddwl y dyddiau hyn a’r sgwrsio yn digwydd mewn gofodau ac ar gyfryngau llawer fwy agored. Ond, mae ’na dal lot o ffordd i fynd yn nhermau addysgu’r boblogaeth am iechyd meddwl a sgil effeithiau iechyd meddwl arnnon ni fel unigolion ac ar ein cymunedau.

Taith unig yw taith iechyd meddwl i’r claf sy’n dioddef. Gall y daith honno fod yn daith sy’n achosi poen a/neu gywilydd i’r person sy’n dioddef. Gall y daith honno yn aml wneud i unigolion deimlo’n annigonol ac yn anobeithiol. Sut felly mae mynd i’r afael â her o’r fath?

A dyma ble mae’r ymgyrch arbennig hon yn rhagori. Gall llyfrau fod y meddyginiaeth gorau. Dwi wedi dal fy hun ganwaith yn y 6 mlynedd diwethaf yn gofyn at bwy ddylwn i droi i geisio gwella pethau? I geisio delio gyda’r emosiynau anodd?

Wastad, wedi gwrido wrth feddwl y basa rhaid i mi ella siarad wyneb yn wyneb a rhywun diarth am fy ofnau mwyaf dwys. Rhywbeth sy’n ddigon anodd i’w wneud dan amgylchiadau cyffredin, i berson holl iach, heb son am os ydy unigolyn yn dioddef o baranoia ofnadwy neu â anhwyderau iechyd meddwl eraill.

Taswn i’n gwybod bod stôr wych o lyfrau ar gael yn fy llyfrgell – casgliad Llyfrau Darllen yn Well ar Bresgripsiwn ar gyfer iechyd meddwl yn y Gymraeg a’r Saesneg – byddai wedi bod yn gymorth mawr i mi. Byddai wedi fy ngrymuso i gymryd cyfrifoldeb personol o’m hiechyd yn ogystal ag i ymchwilio ac addysgu fy hun am y ffyrdd effeithiol o ddelio ag e – hynny ym moethusrwydd fy ystafell fyw, yn fy nghwmni fy hun a’m ci defaid hardd, Wini Lwyd.

Weithiau, pan mae popeth yn teimlo’n ormod – a chithau fel finnau, yn gofyn y cwestiwn hwnnw: At bwy ddylwn i droi? Does dim eisiau mynd i banig bellach na gwrido – dim ond cofio am y casgliad pwysig hwn sydd ar gael o heddiw ymlaen – am ddim ac ar bresgripsiwn – ar draws Cymru gyfan. Casgliad a phrosiect o bwys eithriadol mewn oes sy’n gweld iechyd meddwl yn dod ynun o’r heriau fwyaf amlwg yn ein cymdeithas.

Eiriolwr iechyd meddwl yw Malan Wilkinson a hi yw awdur y cofiant Rhyddhau’r Cranc (Y Lolfa), a gyrhaeddodd restr fer Gwobr Llyfr y Flwyddyn Llenyddiaeth Cymru 2019. Mae hi wedi bod yn byw gyda salwch meddwl ers blynyddoedd ac mae’n dal i wneud hynny.

Lansiwyd cynllun Darllen yn Well – Llyfrau ar Bresgripsiwn ar gyfer iechyd meddwl ar 26 Mehefin 2019. Mae’r llyfrau bellach ar gael i’w benthyg o lyfrgelloedd pob un o’r 22 awdurdod yng Nghymru.

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