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Martha Sneyd looks back on her time as co-peer director of the Psychosis HIT

4 February 2020

Martha has been part of the HIT since 2016 and her contribution has been extremely valuable to the team’s work on improving support for people with psychosis. Here, she reflects on her time with the HIT.

The beginning of a new year, and this time a new decade, always brings ample opportunity for reflecting upon our lives; the ways in which we spend our energy and time, the quality and direction of our attention- all comes into focus- inviting us to simplify and prioritise.

From this place of reflection, I have decided to step down from my role as co-peer director of the Psychosis Health Integration Team (HIT). It has come alongside many other changes in the last twelve months, including the unexpected death of my brother in May. This process of grief has led to a desire to be closer to family, nature and experience a slower pace of life for a while, as the jigsaw pieces of my life reshuffle and recover from this shock.

I wanted to share a bit about the role that the HIT has played in my journey since I started in November 2016, in the hope that it might convey how grateful I am to have been a part of it. It was just five months since my last hospitalisation after a drug-induced manic episode. I still remember the interview vividly and how different it felt to be met as a potential researcher rather than a patient.

Along with joining the HIT that year I also made several healthy and long-term changes to my lifestyle which I see as fundamental in my recovery. I also won a scholarship for my MSc in psychology and consciousness studies and began my first job in mental health as a support worker. The combination of my lived experience, working professionally with others in the field, my academic studies and the range of HIT events and projects we put on, created an incredibly rich few years for me. It has been a fulfilling time of exploration, integration and healing, and giving back to a system that both helped me and harmed me. The HIT has been a primary facilitator in this process.

I have always found it helpful to think of life as cyclical, and the passing of my brother in May seems to have triggered the resolution of this four-year cycle of intense focus on psychosis, both professionally and personally. I am now taking a breather from this area and exploring other research interests.

I have had such a good time being a director of the HIT and feel very lucky to have been part of the team and part of Bristol Health Partners. Some of my most memorable, challenging and exciting moments over the last several years have been rooted in our work as the Psychosis HIT, all held together with skill and sensitivity by Oliver Watson. Some highlights for me include: the Rewriting Psychosis event in January of 2018; speaking collaborations with James Robinson, Dr Julian Walker and Dr Simon Downer; and my first journal publication on co-production, made possible by Dr Michelle Farr. It has been wonderful to work with so many inspiring colleagues.

The chance to practice public speaking in an authentic, vulnerable way has also been a powerful experience. Standing up in front of at times hundreds of people and finding the words to communicate an experience that is stigmatised, misunderstood and feared, is not something you come out of unchanged. My aim as a co-director of the HIT was to embody the possibility of ‘breakdown to breakthrough’, while remaining sensitive and aware of my own and other’s trauma.

Through being a part of this team, I found my voice and the strength to narrate my own story, in a meaningful, service-orientated context. This has been absolutely central to my recovery and so it is with great gratitude and hope for the future, that I lay down my hat of co-director of the Psychosis HIT.

The Psychosis HIT is currently working with local partners to agree its future direction.

For more information, please contact Oliver Watson on oliver.watson@bristol.ac.uk.


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