Clare’s story

Clare came to Thinkaction Merton after finding out about the service from a local support group, Focus for One.

I was definitely having a breakdown. I had lost my job, and the job centre was giving me nothing but hassle, which really made me anxious and stressed. I was also losing my home.

Clare wasn’t sure where to turn as she’d grown up in a family that believed in keeping personal issues private.

Before it all happened I was a very independent person and relied on nobody at all to help me through situations in life. Then suddenly I didn’t know where to go, how to be, how to fix this problem. It was a real nightmare.

I had had depression before when my daughter decided to leave home when she was 16. I went through a nightmare with that – we were mega close and it really hurt. I noticed the symptoms this time around but I didn’t know what to do. When you’re in that kind of depression your mind is not your own. Nothing really makes sense.

Clare spoke to Hannah at Thinkaction and had a number of talking therapy sessions on the phone.

The first thing I noticed was Hannah’s voice. I found that she was talking to me in a relaxed way which enabled me to come forward with more things and talk.

Through their sessions on the phone, Hannah and Clare found common ground talking about photography. This was something Clare had wanted to do a long time ago but had never had the opportunity to pursue. Hannah told Clare that a balance of activities can help reduce depression. After the third or fourth session, Clare joined a photography club.

Photography is something that gets me outside on a down day. Before Hannah suggested it, on the really bad days I couldn’t see the point of even stepping outside the door, let alone taking pictures.

Hannah also helped Clare focus on small achievements, like doing the housework to help her get through the day if she couldn’t leave the house.  This is a cognitive behavioral therapy tool known as ‘behavioural activation’. Over time, a person gradually builds up their activity levels to regain motivation and increase energy levels which are often depleted during depression.

Clare took Hannah’s advice and started doing small amounts of housework.

Afterwards, I’d come in to see Hannah and say ‘I’ve done a little housework today’ which I wouldn’t think was very much but Hannah said that this is an achievement on its own. It was important to hear this; it encouraged me to do a little bit more in the house. So even on the really bad days when I couldn’t get out the front door, the day still had purpose.

Clare also found the ‘five minute rule’ (a tool to help you start tasks) very useful.

Hannah sent me information sheets on that and we spoke on the phone about it. The five minute rule became very handy because I had also developed anxiety as well as depression. That really helped me to get calmer in my thoughts and move forward. It was a very useful technique for me. I still use it today.

After four sessions with Hannah, Clare turned a corner.

I began to want to do things, anything!

Although she was nervous about the sessions ending, Clare felt she had developed enough tools and self-care techniques to tackle her illness on her own and she continues to develop her photography practice.

Now I’m doing ok. I’m really going ahead with the photography; it makes me feel very positive and relaxed when I’m taking photos. It’s almost like a therapy. Without Hannah digging in and finding out what I wanted to do, I don’t know where I would be.

Holly’s story

"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."

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Trevor’s story

Trevor, 21, is serving a three-year sentence for burglary. In prison he became increasingly anxious thinking something bad was going to happen to him.

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