The lived experience of everyday activity for individuals with severe mental illness
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Engagement in everyday activity is an underplayed area when attempting to understand mental illness. Little is known about the everyday activities of individuals who experience severe mental illness and who are labelled hard to engage. This article reports on the findings of a longitudinal study. Eleven individuals receiving community mental health services were interviewed over a 12-month period through one-to-one meetings using field notes and audio recordings. Phenomenological methodology was employed to explore the types of activities that constituted participants everyday lives and the meanings they attributed to them. Three themes emerged from the findings: illness identity; embodied crisis and managing supports; and boredom. The meanings of everyday activities were conveyed through self-narrative and often as a consequence of the provision of mental health care for the individual. When not receiving medication or attending groups, participants felt alone and bored, trapped in the mundaneness of the everyday.
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