You didn’t try and fix me

River felt ready to tell his story after a difficult couple of years working out his identity and dealing with multiple mental health crises. To mark Pride month, we share River’s story and his insights into why Second Step’s support means so much to him.

I met River over Zoom one sunny day in May. His enthusiasm, thoughtfulness and energy radiated throughout as he told me about his recent experiences. He, like so many, found lockdown hard. But it also provided him an opportunity to reflect properly and deeply on who he was and who he wanted to be, perhaps for the very first time. These reflections were difficult and he sometimes found himself plunged into deep upset and trauma. Sometimes life just felt too much for him.

It was then he turned to Safe Haven, our crisis and support service based in Weston which helps people across North Somerset. He ended up talking to staff at Safe Haven most days, often when he was at his lowest ebb. And what marked out these conversations from the many River has had with agencies and organisations in the past, was that the Safe Haven team really listened. “You didn’t try and fix me,” he explained. “And that’s so important. So many times I’ve had to talk to people who want to fix me.”

After many weeks of support, River felt validated and heard. He was able to explore his identity and find ways to keep strong. His newfound confidence and positivity meant he jumped at the chance of representing LGBTQ+ people as the service’s first ever LGBTQ+ client representative. He said: “I still have bad days and then I try to remember how far I’ve come. I still go to the train station, I’ve always liked trains, but now I go to watch them.” And he laughs his amazingly infectious laugh.

If you need mental health support we have details of helplines and places to find support here. If you are in crisis and need immediate support please dial 111 or call the Samaritans on 116 123 for free.

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