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Sam, 30, from Brecon was feeling isolated after suffering with anxiety and depression, but our social prescribing project has empowered her to take on new challenges.
At the beginning of 2019, I was at my lowest point. For the past three years, I had been suffering badly with horrible mood swings triggered by an operation I’d had that had thrown my hormones out of balance. Every time I had suffered a low mood, it would take me weeks to pick up the pieces, only to spiral downwards again. I felt as though I couldn’t speak to anyone about my health issues, which led to me feeling incredibly isolated.
I realised I needed help, but I was so nervous that I continuously lost my nerve and put off going to my GP.
Even thinking about going to the doctor could trigger a panic attack for me, and I found the most menial of tasks a struggle. I felt hopeless.
By May 2019, I had gathered up the courage to go thanks to support from my Mum, and was referred to Rhiannon, my link worker at Brecon Mind. It took me a few weeks to get in touch with her, but when I did she instantly put me at ease.
Initially, I had a meeting with Rhiannon about my background, where I could talk openly about my feelings, my health issues, and my wellbeing. I felt embarrassed about getting so emotional regarding my worries, but she was incredibly empathetic and understanding. The fact she was so encouraging and supportive reassured me that she was on my side.
My goal was to regain the confidence I had lost in the past few years.
I was sceptical that the project would help me in the beginning, and was starting from scratch in terms of self-belief. Rhiannon and I met every couple of weeks to discuss my aspirations, my interests, and how I was feeling. I was focusing on everything to help myself, but wasn’t socialising. I missed being able to connect with people without feeling like an outsider.
The first activity I tried as part of the social prescribing project was a local meditation group. I’d been regularly doing fitness, meditation and yoga before suffering with my mental health, and it was great to be a part of that again. Meditation was probably the best thing to try first anyway, as I came out of the session very calm and relaxed!
I worked to build my confidence in interacting with other people, and aimed to get back to volunteering. Rhiannon found me a number of different options, and I now volunteer at a local food bank.
It feels good to be back doing things I used to love doing, and it has helped me so much mentally.
I am taking care of my body and mind, and fitness classes along with volunteering give me a good sense of routine. I have something to get up for.
Though my life may very well have improved without the social prescribing project, I believe it would have taken a lot longer. I’m still in regular contact with Rhiannon, and she has been a huge supporter of mine.
I’ve recently accomplished one of my more significant goals, which is to apply for university. I never thought it would be a real possibility for me, but I’ve received two offers so far to study Psychology and Sociology, where I hope to use my own experiences to help others. I’ve even found a job, which is a massive achievement for me.
The project has also helped me be a lot more open with others.
I am more willing to discuss my past health issues, and I’m not ashamed to talk about what I’ve been through. A lot of that initial embarrassment I felt about that topic has dissipated, and I’ve also finally got a diagnosis of PMDD, which has helped me a lot in finding the right treatment.
Though I’m still working on some of the larger struggles in life, I’m happy that I no longer crumble under the tiniest amount of pressure.
It’s wonderful to feel as though I’m in control of planning my own life again, and am very aware that I need to take care of my mental health in order to keep going.
I feel a massive improvement to how I felt a year ago, and wish to continue that improvement – I am now hopeful for my future.
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