Sometimes the breakdown of a relationship with a spouse or partner can really affect the direction your life is going and throw up some very challenging obstacles that can leave you stressed, lonely or feeling low. It’s important to remember that there is support out there for you if you want it. Holly’s life started to spiral downwards after breaking up with her wife, but her recovery ended in a very unexpected, but very happy job…
“I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have any friends, didn’t have much money, didn’t even have any furniture in the flat.”
Holly is originally from London. She moved down to Margate with her then wife for a fresh start. Unfortunately, only after a couple of weeks their relationship disintegrated. Holly’s wife moved back to London and she was left in Margate, alone.
“It was a really dark time for me. I’ve suffered with mental health issues on and off throughout my life and this just set me spiraling downwards.”
Initially, Holly self-referred to Thinkaction. She had the initial assessment, and a couple of sessions with one of the cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) therapists. “I just felt really hopeless, everything had gone wrong, my marriage had collapsed and I didn’t have a job. I really couldn’t see how things were going to get better. But I also didn’t know how to stop things getting worse.”
Then, for various reasons, Holly missed a couple of appointments and her case was closed and her treatment stopped. “I had my little wobble,” she says, “I thought ‘I can’t do this! I’m not ready!’ I was afraid it wouldn’t work. I’ve had one session and thought, I don’t feel any better. I felt like I was wasting everyone’s time I was never going to get any better.”
However, Holly managed to get herself back to the GP who then referred her to Thinkaction for CBT again. “I needed help to try and get some positivity about the future. I blamed myself for everything. At the time, I thought I was a terrible person and I just wanted to talk that through and just try and pick myself back up. But I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.”
Holly had eight one-to-one CBT sessions which completely turned her life around. She had experienced other mental health support but never CBT. “It was a real breakthrough for me and the stuff I learned was incredible. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. It was a lightbulb moment. The techniques I learned to cope with everything were amazing. We worked out I have quite entrenched thoughts about the way I see myself and CBT actually helped me unpick that, how my thoughts affect my behaviour and stuff like that. I still use the CBT techniques now.”
Holly turned a corner in early 2015 and found a job posting on the Internet for ‘Duty Manager’ at Thinkaction in Margate. The role was primarily taking referrals on the phone and booking people onto the same initial assessments she had only six months previously.
“I had so much respect for the organisation,” she says, “what it had done for me and what it had brought me out of, that I just wanted to be part of it. I thought, if the organisation could do that for me, then to be part of it and helping other people across the area would be amazing. With the duty role – when I first called in to give my details when I was self referring, I was so grateful for the person I spoke to on reception – they were so friendly and warm, they made the process so comfortable – I recognised the importance of that and thought that was something I could offer, too.”
Holly believes that experiencing the treatment side of mental health really helped her excel in her Duty Manager role. Having cancelled or not turned up to a few initial sessions herself, and then getting the courage to try again, Holly sees that people who do that at Thinkaction now aren’t being difficult or deliberately trying to cause anyone problems. “I’m patient and understand with things like that,” she says, “because I’ve been that person.”
Now, after a year as Duty Manager, Holly is taking a big step and training to be a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP). This means, after a year she will be qualified to help make assessments and do the one-to-one sessions she benefitted from in those earlier dark days. Holly left school at 16, didn’t go to college, do A-levels or go to university. To start the PWP training is quite an achievement.
“Because I only had GCSEs I never dreamed something like this would be available to me, the chance to study at this level. It’s such a great opportunity. I felt ready to take that next step to helping other people. Often when people are going through difficulties they do feel like they are the only ones. And its nice to know there is help out there, to be part of that is great. Knowing that my GP offered the service to me, and to know that I might be in the same service available to others in the area is brilliant.”
Holly wants to stay in Margate after her training is over and hopes to get a full time position. But as she’s learned through this whole process, it’s great to concentrate on what you can change in the present moment.
“All I’m focused on now is completing the course. I really want to succeed and be a good PWP. If I can do that, then I’m going to be okay.”