I had for 3 years been through a lot from the breakdown in my marriage to the loss of my dad. It felt like the floor had been ripped from under me. I knew the situation could not be fixed but wasn’t sure how to get through it. I had asked for help through my GP and was put on medication and needed to self-refer into local talking therapies. I was offered bereavement counselling or counselling for my childhood abuse. I choose bereavement counselling and had 8 sessions. I didn’t feel anything had changed after this and could not see any point in trying to get more counselling. My mental health meant that I was not in the right place to seek help and just felt unsupported and left to deal with it on my own.
I could barely get myself out of bed some days and felt like no one else could be bothered to help me, and I didn’t feel worthy of support. It all felt like a waste of time. I couldn’t cope with working and was signed off sick with my mental health for depression.
I found out about Crea8ing Careers through a friend, who gave me details about a course they were running about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). She convinced me by saying that even if I did not feel like I would get anything out of the course, they would still help and support.
I started the course and at first, I was quite sceptical. I had been through many interventions since the age of eighteen and nothing had really helped. I decided to give it a go as I was in such a bad place and just bottled everything up.
It was great to understand the impact of ACEs and took away some of the self-blame and shame of how I had dealt with everything. I found that it explained so much about the impact on brain development and everything from health to education. Suddenly it felt like someone finally “got me”.
The group was so supportive, and I realised I was not alone, and others were also experiencing difficulties. I felt more normal for once. For the first time, I didn’t feel the need to put on a brave face and pretend, and others in the group as well as the facilitators would be there for me with no sense of being judged.
I learned how to use strategies to change my thinking and suddenly felt it was life changing. I started doing more reading, taking time for myself, practising meditation, started going for walks in nature, using my gratitude journal they sent me to help think more positively.
The group and facilitators are always there. Knowing that I could get in contact at any time meant I felt less alone. I didn’t feel I could talk to family and friends as it was embarrassing or would feel ashamed, not wanting them to know how bad I was feeling. With the groups, they understood and would help talk me through how to manage things in the moment.
GPs, counsellors and others always felt like I was being passed from pillar to post and I had to deal with each issue separately, going over and over the same thing. But here they treated you like a whole person. You could even get in touch out of hours and just chat, if needed or talk to others in the groups.
They recommended additional support with their Family Coach that really helped me focus on small goals and puts you in a more positive mindset. It made me feel more able to do things and started building my confidence, allowing me to feel able to do even more things for myself.
It made me feel able to not just put up with “bad things” in my life and gave me the confidence to speak up for myself. They all made me feel more capable of doing things and changing my situation. The whole support gave me the tools to think about things in a different way and showed me how to accept the negative things that happened, and I’ve found it easier to let go.
During this whole pandemic it’s given me something to look forward to every week and not just being stuck on my own. I have joined in with bingo and quiz nights, as well as our regular group dates. It just helped keep me going through all this. I feel l’m in a totally different place now. I would previously have been overwhelmed by little things going wrong but now feel able to think about different ways to deal with things, feel more resilient and don’t just give up. I am not being overwhelmed by the emotion of it all. I am making lists of things to do and just getting on with it; I’m not scared of dealing with the solicitor about my divorce or talking with my Mum as her health is bad and feels she may pass soon which would previously have sent me over the edge.
I feel so much happier now. I had got to the point where it just felt like existing and I didn’t really want to be here. Now I am looking forward to my future. It may not be the one I had expected but I now think it may be even better. I feel like I have choices again. Nothing else had previously changed my mindset and the feeling I could never escape my past, but I now feel free from it. It’s not gone away but I’m not carrying it now. It’s like it’s beside me not inside me. Having their support feels like family, even though I know this is what they do. I am now thinking about how to make sure I keep myself strong, I would like to use my experience to help others and I’m looking at training that will help me do this. They have offered me training in Youth Mental Health First Aid which I can use in the future but also to support my family, and although I know I’m not there yet, I’m looking forward to being able to help others in the future and give something back.