"With Community Moves I don't feel so alone"

Community Moves Client

In the dark times I felt trapped. I didn’t have control over my own life. But now I am taking back my control. You’re never trapped, there are people there.

’Stars need darkness to shine’.

In the dark times I felt trapped. I didn’t have control over my own life. But now I am taking back my control. You’re never trapped, there are people there.

I started getting tattoos when I moved out. I see them as a form of self-expression.

My butterfly tattoo symbolises transformation. I’m transforming into the person I am inside and am finally able to show people.

The OCD first started when I was 20, 21. I had to leave uni because it was interfering with my work. I felt defeated and completely hopeless. It is a painful thing to think about – I got so unwell. But I knew at the time the safest thing for me to do was to go home to my mum’s. 

But it became worse. I was living at home caring for my mum and I found my anxiety was increasing and feeding into my OCD. I couldn’t leave the house on my own and was reliant on her to look after me.

I got very unhappy because I was completely dependent on someone, didn’t leave the house, had no social life, and I was isolated.

I was getting really frustrated about my situation and got depressed about it. I started to research what I could do. I was in a stuck situation.

I went to the Youth Advice Centre and told them what was going on at home and they put my case to the council and Southdown got in contact with me.

I got a phone call from my support worker at Community Moves to arrange an assessment with me and talk about my housing situation and see if there’s something they could do.

At the assessment they took into account my needs and told me they had a few properties available. I went and viewed a studio flat. I moved on the 4 July 2016!

I’m loving having the space – it’s like a little shelter. It’s colourful and representative of me. When I go in there, I see the things I like. That stuff is mine and I can do whatever I like with it. There’s a lot of butterflies!

I was nervous at the prospect of having to start looking after myself but because I felt trapped before it was also exciting because I was moving towards my goals.

My goals were to move out and become independent. For me that meant learning to manage finances, cook for myself (I hadn’t touched an oven for 2-3 years because of my OCD), not rely on others, tackle the OCD, and also improve my relationship with my mum.

I was able to leave the house straight away as soon as I moved - after not being able to for two years!

Moving into my flat gave me the opportunity to get more intensive OCD support. It’s called ERP – Exposure Response Prevention.

I’d initially refused that treatment when I was living with my mum because it involves people coming into your home and working with the routines - and I’d kept my routines secret from her.

Light switches, lamps, alarm clocks, plugs, hair straighteners, ovens, hobs, toasters were all problems for me.

I’ve definitely started gaining more independence. I like to take things step by step, because if you put pressure on yourself, that causes unnecessary stress. It’s about doing what I can do. So the thought of doing a roast dinner is impossible, but I can do pasta.

I’ve got my support worker from Community Moves if I find things difficult. When he comes over each week, I have a stack of post ready for him to look at, and any problems I want to discuss, I can. If there’s a phone call that needs to be made he’ll offer to do it or overview it. He helped me to set up my electricity. He’s also helping me apply for housing from the council.

With Community Moves I don’t feel so alone. I wouldn’t have known who to have turned to without them. I have a 12 month contract with them and the one-to-one support will continue weekly.

At the end of this month I start my counselling certificate. I’m excited about that and learning a therapeutic role. I enjoy education, I love learning. When I left uni, I had a year where I didn’t do anything, but then I got my Maths GCSE and the diploma in Access Psychology. More recently, I did a Mental Health Level 1 and 2 certificate.

I’ve also got involved with Assert, the Asperger’s charity. Now I’m aware of my Asperger’s, I can work with it.

I always saw myself as a weak person. I was always comparing myself to people my own age who were getting married, having babies, having good jobs. But I’ll get there in my own time. For me, this is the start of my journey.

I don’t see myself as a weak person now, not at all. I think I’m a very strong person.

 

Read part 2 of this story here.

 

Community Moves provides support for people who are ready to progress to independent accommodation but need help to maintain a tenancy and live independently. Clients of the service are offered a 12 month temporary tenancy with Southdown and in that time are supported to address issues that may prevent them from successfully living independently.