Gill Taft, 59, from Warwickshire has suffered with depression and anxiety at various points since her teenage years. Recently she and her husband both faced health problems and multiple operations but Gill tried to carry on as normal with caring for her elderly, blind mother and working full time.
But one day at work everything became too much; Gill had a serious anxiety attack and then suffered a nervous breakdown. Here, Gill tells us how receiving a prescription for self-help books helped her understand and tackle her mental illness.
"It felt like I'd gone into a black hole; it was terrifying and I felt so isolated. People who haven't had depression can't really understand how awful it is.
"One day when things were really bad, I saw a MIND bus in the car park. I plucked up the courage to go in and make an appointment to see someone. Whilst I was waiting, they had some books on the table. It was the first time I had read anything about my condition, but it made me start to think that this could help me.
"When I saw the lady from MIND, we agreed that she'd give me a prescription for some self-help books on coping with anxiety, depression and insomnia, and a book on building self-esteem that I could collect from my local library.
The librarian was really discrete
I was worried about going to my library to collect them; I wondered what people would think of me when I went in with my prescription. But the librarian was really discreet and showed me to where the books were kept.
I've worried for so many years about why I get depression and anxiety, but I've never had anyone or anything really explain it to me. The books I've been prescribed have helped me so much in understanding things like what can bring on an anxiety attack, and why it makes me feel the way it does.
I found exercises and tips in the book on self-esteem especially helpful. I've always been a 'yes' person, but the book helped me understand that I can say 'no' to things. Now I can stand back and see I was trying to do too much, and that it was affecting me not just mentally but physically too.
The books in the library have been recommended
I also saw that there were lots of other books in that section of the library which I thought could help me, and now if I am having a bad day, I can drop in and pick up a book. It makes you feel enabled. I've had a library card all my life, but I wouldn't have thought, of going there to get help. I might have looked on the internet, but there's no quality control on what you get online, and these books have been recommended. What's good about being given a book to take away and read is that you can go back over it in your own time, at your own speed.
I still have good and bad days, but I know now that I don't need to feel the way I do on the down days, or worry about what people think of me. For the first time ever, I feel like someone has understood and that I have been treated really well over to the mental illness I have.
I would thoroughly recommend Books on Prescription and self-help reading to anyone coping with anxiety or depression.
In June 2013 a national Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme for England was launched which will enable health professionals to prescribe expert recommended self-help books for patients to collect at their local libraries. Find out more about the scheme and read case studies from other individuals who have found Books on Prescription helpful.