On The Road With Harry

On The Road With Harry

I’m writing this whilst on a bus journey, something I have got quite used to in the past 40-odd years. Even though I got my provisional driving licence when I turned 17, my life never quite presented me with the opportunity to make use of it, beyond the occasional ID requirements!

However, a recent legacy of my late sister left me with an offer I couldn’t refuse: her car! So, after decades of procrastination and set-backs leaving me emotionally, socially, professionally and mentally unable to cope with such a task, at the beginning of this year I took the plunge and booked lessons.

What was different this time that allowed me to take such action for the first time in my life? Ok, I had the chance to fulfil my sister’s wishes and make a little sense of her passing. Then there was a year-plus of Impact techniques learnt and practiced, to aid and support me in coping with something I doubt I would’ve ever achieved a short time ago.

So, I was able to set myself a long-term goal, plan the steps and short term goals to set me on the path to learning. I worked out what was important and what could be avoided, after all the future of cars aren’t manual gearboxes! Add that fate had transpired my sister’s last car to be an automatic, so destiny was in my favour there…

Using tools to cope with my thoughts and feelings, I overcame my fears in finding an instructor, relying on my strengths in researching to find someone suitable and contact them. I have taken my time, not succumbing to peer pressure to rush though lessons and take a test as soon as possible, it’s not really necessary in my case so why follow other’s targets and expectations.

I recognised improvements every week and took encouragement from my instructor as he also saw them. After a few months I booked my theory test, planning my revision and using online resources to practice. I didn’t see it as a do-or-die situation, if it didn’t work out I was sure I could see what I did wrong. So, coming into an examination-style situation did not phase me and I was relatively relaxed, even when they informed me I passed!

Now the driving became a short-term priority and I was able to cope with getting my car back on the road, taxed, insured and MOT’d, acting on advice from trusted people around me. I have since been using my peer support to help me get experience driving it, preparing me for the big day of the practical test, which is now booked and just weeks away. Even now I refuse to be phased by this target, as I know if it doesn’t work out, I have no doubt that I will pass in due course.

After that, I can look forward to all the new targets I can set, using this major new strength. I doubt I will be waiting for buses in the near future…

Going Forward With Life

Going Forward With Life

I initially found out about Impact whilst I was seeing an NHS therapist in the Bedfordshire Wellbeing Centre.

A Bedford learner

I had hit rock bottom and felt like there was no way out. My mental health was the worst it had ever been.
I felt like the treatment I was getting via the NHS wasn’t helping me at all, so finding Impact was a ray of hope.

I’m 30 years old, I’ve been married for 8 years to a member of the armed forces and I’m a mother to one.

I’ve had periods of poor mental health throughout most of my life. I’ve always struggled with anxiety, depression and insomnia but I also had a period of post-natal depression after my son was born. I was also diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which is exacerbated by my mental health.

Growing up I had a difficult childhood. I had very little relationship with my parents and struggled with feelings of neglect. Then, when I was 6, my brother was born and the gap just widened. I felt incredibly isolated and alone. Looking back on it now, I’m pretty confident my mother suffered from Post Natal Depression but at the time I was too young to understand.

As a teenager I was bullied for 4 years. I was verbally and physically abused on a daily basis but because of my home life I didn’t have anyone who could support me through this. When I did eventually reach out to my grandmother about being bullied; my parents removed me from the school and placed me into a new school. I was much happier and I flourished for a while.

I met my husband when I was quite young and we had 2 really fantastic years together before he joined the military. We’ve now been a part of the military for 10 years and during that time my mental health has declined rapidly. I became mentally co-dependent with my husband. Over the years I became incredibly needy and obsessive about his behaviour and we clashed repeatedly about his career. I didn’t realise that my behaviour had become toxic and I was slowly poisoning our relationship. I was always unhappy but couldn’t pin point why. At times I even questioned if our relationship was doomed to failure.

In 2012 we made the decision to try to have a baby. We were in a reasonably good patch and so when I became pregnant it felt like the icing on the cake. I didn’t realise then that becoming a parent would just increase the pressure on us as a couple. Having children within the military lifestyle can be pretty tough and we struggled at every stage. I resented my husband for leaving me alone with the baby to go to work. I felt even more alone and neglected. His career flourished and he was so happy and all the time I was supporting him, I started to hate him.

In October 2018 my husband was due to depart for a month overseas. During the weeks building up to this my son was incredibly unhappy, my dog became dangerously ill and my job was becoming increasingly stressful. I had days where I didn’t eat or sleep at all but in front of others I portrayed this controlled calm persona. When my husband eventually left, I’d had 5 solid days of no sleep and very little food. I managed to get my son up and dressed but whilst I was doing this I noticed a shortness of breath. This then progressed to a full blown panic attack. I knew in my heart that I needed professional help and managed to drive myself to my GP.

I had a desire to tell someone everything. All the things I was hiding from others and ultimately myself. He took some time discussing my symptoms and was pretty confident I was suffering from Generalised Anxiety disorder and Insomnia.

Although this isn’t one of my happiest memories, I now see it as the beginning of my recovery.

When I first attended Impact I had very little knowledge of mental health. I was initially hoping to learn about anxiety and how I could help myself to recover. Little did I know that it would not only educate me but fully equip me on my path to recovery.

I’ve attended both the You Programme and the Your Pathway to Recovery programme.

Within the YOU programme I learned how to use RAMPS to ensure I was helping myself stay mentally healthy. This subject made me realise that I had fully detached and isolated myself from everyone around me, including myself!

I decided to completely overhaul my lifestyle and introduce new routines. Some of which included making new friends and becoming more physically active. I also introduced journaling into my daily routine and started a much healthier sleep pattern.

Once I realised I had better control of my wellbeing by utilising this tool I noticed a real improvement in my mental health.

When the YOU Programme finished I couldn’t wait to carry on with the learning so signed up for the YOUR Recovery Pathway Programme.

During the gap between the courses I joined an aerobics class, started meeting with friends at least once a week and sleeping much better.

I’m currently working through the YOUR Pathway to Recovery programme. It’s been another huge eye opener for me!

I finally understand that my relationship with my husband had become toxic and how detrimental it was to my wellbeing. I knew I needed to make some huge changes in that area of my life and the class gave me the knowledge on how to achieve this.

I had another ‘Eureka!’ moment when I realised that the pain I was carrying from my childhood was severely damaging me and no one else. I needed to allow myself to process what had happened and let it go. With this knowledge and the professional help I have been receiving from a private therapist I’m working towards this.

This time last year I was incredibly unhappy and couldn’t see a way out. Now, with the skills and tools I have learned and the changes I’ve made in my life, I honestly feel like I’m recovering.

I still have periods of anxiety but now I’m prepared and equipped to deal with these episodes.

I am now in a much healthier place both mentally and physically.

A Bedford Learner

My relationships are growing and adapting to my new mentality and I look forward to the future. I now have the strength to deal with my previous issues with my parents and I’m beginning to see the possibility of a relationship with them. Also my husband and I are now working together on improving our day to day life. I feel like I can become a much better wife and mother now.

I can’t wait to go forward with my life.

A Bedford Learner

I Found Impact

I Found Impact

After trying a number of organisations and my doctor to be met with a minimum of 12 weeks waiting lists. My cousin came across Impact through her volunteering with CLI. They immediately offered me a place starting the following week, lucky me 😄

I needed help!

After a life with abusive parents I sought a way out and thought I’d found that with my husband who also turned out to be abusive. I ended the relationship with my parents 5 years ago and the relationship with my husband at the end of 2018.

Around this time my relationship with my daughter broke down and my mother passed away in January 2019. I decided to make a big move to a different country in a bid to start a new life. I have suffered with poor mental health for a number of years and have had treatments and been on various courses. When I made the move my husband decided to go full speed with the control and applied for custody of our child. Then it hit me like a brick wall, overwhelmed, depression, no self-worth, anxiety, I felt like I was losing control, everything was my fault… it had to be me! I wasn’t good enough.

I knew my mental health was poor and I needed help. So I reached out to a number of organisations, so many that by the time I spoke with impact I had my story down to a tee. I was almost robotic in saying it, I had said it so many times before. Eventually, and what felt like just in time I was starting the Impact YOU programme.

My Journey on the Impact YOU Programme & YOUR Recovery Pathways

An Impact Learner In Flitwick

My self-worth and confidence were on the floor and the thoughts of sitting with a group and discussing things scared me. I was scared of being judged, put on the spot and finding out that I had brought this on myself!

I turned up despite my fears and was me with a smile and a hug and my fears started to fall away a little.
There was no judgement, no pressure, no being put on the spot. There was nothing only huge understanding, support, great people, lots of tea and biscuits and a wealth of knowledge, which I am proud to say I have taken a great deal of with me.

On the YOU Programme we learned how the brain has 3 parts when it comes to our thoughts and how one part is our worst critic, which when we have poor mental health this is the one we tend to listen to. We learned simple techniques like naming this part our chimp, to be able to distinguish it. Which was a huge moment for me because it helped me understand where all these negative thoughts were coming from and it wasn’t only me who had a chimp! There are studies to prove it’s in all of us, it’s just up to us how much we listen to it and let it affect us.

Impact were straight in there with their box of tools to help us keep our chimp within its boundaries. Simple tools such as breathing, acknowledge our chimp and looking after ourselves more. We were introduced to the Impact tool called RAMPS, which is a great and easy way to remember what kind of thing’s we should be doing every day to help our mental health… even for just a few minutes each day.

This helped me in so many different ways. I started to feel a little lighter, think a little clearer, which in turn makes everything a little easier. The huge bonus was that whilst I was learning all these new techniques I was also receiving fantastic peer support from a great group of people from all walks of life with different stories.

We shared laughs, tears, cakes😁 hugs and respect for each other. Which continued into the YOUR Recovery Pathways Programme, which was a master class in itself, but definitely did not feel like school or I’d been straight out that door!

We watched talk clips, played game’s (surprisingly good & funny 😂) did arts and crafts, had discussions and the knowledge and understanding I got was amazing.

Sometimes straight away in light bulb moments, where I was saying ‘Oh my God’ and for others it might have taken a little longer to sink in and even in a group environment there was never any pressure and everyone moved at their own pace.

We looked into our life expectations, relationships, shame with others and ourselves. Fear, personal strengths, self-nurture, visualisation, ego, mindfulness, goals and my step by step plans to help me move forward to where I want to be. Which has not only given me the confidence and strength but the passion to get to that place.

For me this was the start of my learning and me building myself up to the kick ass b***h I know I can be. I know I’m strong, I’ve got through all of this but I’m imagining what I can now become when I put that strength into positive actions in my life, instead of it getting me through the negative. I know life has ups and downs and I look forward to them because I believe I will never hit the same lows I have before…

My eyes have really been opened to things I can’t un-see and with the knowledge, tools and understanding I’ve been given by Impact and my peers I’m going to grab this beautiful life with both hands and live it to my fullest.

Life’s Burdening Baggage

This is ‘My Story’ … It is written with the belief that, in ‘recovery’, I can celebrate, and by sharing my story it will bear witness to my struggles and how they were overcome… and just maybe by sharing, someone reading this will find inspiration to continue with their own recovery…

From YOU To My Daughter

In response to her daughters growing anxiety about attending a Hen weekend, a former learner from a February 2018 YOU programme, currently attending a Dunstable YOUR Recovery Pathways course; sent her daughter a text…

Passenger to Pilot, controlling the direction of my mental well-being

One of the most important skills I’ve gained from both programs is that I cannot control my past but I can control my future!

Recovering From Anorexia, Bulimia and Depression

From the age of 13, I was severely anorexic, bulimic and depressed, which madly enough was aspirational for my generation. Having a medically defined label was a status symbol, and I had the status, a pyrrhic victory. Continually shifting between not wanting to live and being on the brink of death, under a crumbling facade of highly successful student and popular teenager with a vigorous social life.

The Power Of Mental Health Peer Support

Let me tell you how amazing it feels to receive a message like the following, telling us what a difference our mental health peer support programmes are making to people’s lives.

It’s all about You at Impact…

It’s always great to get positive feedback, and at Impact we really enjoy pulling all of the comments together for our annual report. The next report will be available in March 2017!