"I wish I’d known earlier how different things could be"
I thought I wasn’t going to be like everyone else, I thought I was just going to stay the same. I gave up on my goals, my aspirations and dreams. Things seemed really impossible before all this. I’d lost hope. I’d given up on myself. And that was depressing.
If I had to describe how I feel in one word it would be ‘content.’
A year ago I wouldn’t have imagined I would be in the position that I am in now.
I moved into my lovely little flat in July and have been with the Community Moves service [now known as Southdown Support] since then. It’s been going really well – I’m definitely a lot more confident. I feel like an adult now.
I always felt behind compared to my friends, but now I feel I’m catching up. I wanted to get to the point where I could look after myself and not rely on people and now I’m moving along on that journey. I’ve definitely got a lot more acceptance of my life now. I don’t feel so held back.
I’m managing my OCD better and the Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) support has ended. Sometimes I still find it difficult to get out. Before I leave the house, it can still take time to get ready and do my checks but now I can leave on my own.
But… I’ve made a roast dinner! I found out I can cook but the thought of doing it was so hard!
I started with pasta on the hob, and developed to making spaghetti bolognese. Once I conquered the hob I thought, “Let’s work on the oven!” So I got one of those chicken roast trays and did it!
It’s opened up things a lot for me – I can eat more nutritionally now. Before, I was living off ready meals and salad.
My home is a studio flat – one room with a bathroom. I’ve managed to create a little study desk area, my bedroom area, and then I’ve got a little lounge – a petite sofa sitting opposite my tiny telly! And then my kitchen is just near that. I’m so grateful for what I’ve got.
I’m getting more confident about being around people, like talking to my neighbours, for example.
Sometimes being around people can be completely overwhelming. It’s complete sensory overload. You go outside and it’s like in HD – lights flashing, cars going past you. It’s like the world spins.
After my contract ends, my Community Moves Support Worker said they’ll support me in finding a new place to live, they’ll help me search for a similar property that is suitable for my needs.
I’m realising what’s out there and what support there is. I feel like the world’s opened up for me. I’m a lot more aware now and if I need any help, I can go to my Support Worker. It’s been a great opportunity to learn stuff.
I get excited about the future, but nervous at the same time. Normally things turn out okay so you can surprise yourself!
I finished the level 1 certificate for counselling and now I’ve put myself down for an access course cos I want to go back to uni. I thought, “Come on, you can do it.”
Before, I would seek a lot of reassurance from other people and shy away from responsibilities and making decisions. Now, I feel more confident in making choices. I was even bold enough to get my lip pierced! I can choose my own path now.
I’ve linked up with Preston Park Recovery Centre and that’s been really nice. I go there on a Friday morning for art and it’s the highlight of my week. It’s a place where I can be creative and spend time with people in similar situations and learn their stories.
Art helps. It’s like all the noise in my head, the volume, turns down. It’s the only time I can feel calm.
I’ve learnt how to deal with stress and I’m not so harsh on myself. Before, I was very critical, I bullied myself -“You should be going out, you should work, you should be at the same level as your peers.” And now I’m like, “I’m doing it in my own time.”
I feel like I’ve grown up and I feel better equipped to deal with any problems I have.
I thought I wasn’t going to be like everyone else, I thought I was just going to stay the same. I gave up on my goals, my aspirations and dreams. I always wanted to work in mental health and support people but I was very critical of myself if something didn’t go right. Things seemed really impossible before all this. I’d lost hope. I’d given up on myself. And that was depressing.
I want to go back to nursing. Even if it takes ten years, I’m going to do it, I’m not going to give up.
The Community Moves workshops are very helpful. The employment skills one enabled me to reflect that I have the confidence to go back to nursing if I want to. I can do it. It’s kind of got me back on the treadmill, as such.
I feel more supported in all areas of my life now. I have someone to help with the Asperger’s, support with my mental health, a floating support worker for my housing, and Preston Park Recovery Centre for the social side.
I turned 26 in December which meant I lost quite a lot of support aimed at young people. But the support with Southdown – it feels like I have even more support now.
At Preston Park Recovery Centre they have a new group just for younger adults. It’s nice to see young people and people my own age and boost my confidence with them, cos in the past I have been better with older adults.
My advice to others is don’t give up on yourself. It can be surprising how things can change – and in a good way as well!
I wish I’d known earlier how different things could be.
Southdown Support (previously known as Community Links and Community Connections) provides short-term, flexible support to prevent homelessness and support people's mental health, wellbeing and independence.