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Taking control one step at a time: Shannon’s Be Well journey

“Now I’m just trying to take one step at a time with each day. Without Be Well, in all honestly, I would most probably have ended up self harming again and probably having to be sectioned.”

When Shannon, came to Be Well she was battling with depression, anxiety and PTSD.

“I’ve suffered with depression since I was 12 or 13. At the same age, I also started self harming. Then in 2015 I was attacked by a group that I thought were friends which put me in hospital for two days.

“Then I shut out all my friends. My circle went to nothing, it was just my family. I wasn’t eating or sleeping and when I did sleep I’d only get 10 minutes because I was having flashbacks of the attack. I wasn’t able to leave the house because I was having panic attacks even trying to go to work. I just locked myself in my room.

“I had got a bit of counselling when I was 15 because I was severely self harming. There was no skin left on my arms – it was just cuts. But after I stopped seeing the counsellor in 2016, I just shut off and refused to admit that I needed to speak to someone and that was the case until last year.

Seeing an old friend was the turning point that led Shannon to Be Well.

“Last year I got back in touch with one of my friends. She turned around and went: ‘I think it’s time you went to the doctors’. She said: ‘I’ll come with you’. So with that little bit of support, I finally went to the doctors and admitted I needed help. The doctor sent a referral over to Be Well. Then I got an over-the-phone assessment. A few days later it was Sara from Be Well that rang me and we met up at the Forum in Wythenshawe which is near my house.

“That first time I met Sara, I felt so nervous and scared but I also felt a release because I was actually speaking to someone. And someone who was willing to listen.

“Straight away I knew I had a good person there to support me through it. Normally it’s all structured – we are going to talk about this, we are going to talk about that. But she turned it around. She said: ‘This is on your terms, you talk about whatever you want’. Because she gave me the control it felt easier to talk. She said that I didn’t have to tell her anything else until I felt comfortable to say it.”

Over the next 3 months Shannon met and talked to Sara weekly and set herself small, achievable, weekly goals that helped her build up the confidence she needed to tackle the issues she faced.

“Around the low moods we spoke about different things I could put in place to help me. Things like keeping myself distracted like a colouring book, or music, or just a 10 minute walk around the block.

“When I was in a low mood I wouldn’t want to move out of bed. So we came up with the idea of being out of bed by 10, then do cleaning about the house or my room to keep me distracted. I said to her, “I’ll just keep saying ‘a tidy room is a tidy mind’ while I’m doing it”.

“It was difficult to stop self harming because I’d done it for so long – especially when something bad happened. Speaking to Sara about it, we got techniques together to not do it. The things that come to mind are the grounding technique of 5,4,3,2,1. Five things you can see, four things you can smell, three things you can touch. The other is flicking an elastic band around my wrist.

“But then I had a really messy break up and I got really low and ended up slipping back into the past. When I told Sara she was really understanding and from there I was finally able to start speaking to my mum about how I felt. I got affirmation cards and pictures of my family and stuck them all around my room. Now I’ve got my pictures and affirmations it encourages me not to do it.”

As Shannon’s confidence grew she gained the strength to take more control, do more things on her terms and make more changes.

“I had a really, really bad fear of the dentist. I hadn’t been for 5 or 6 years. It meant I didn’t even have the confidence to smile. But I found a lovely new dentist and took the first step of actually going. Sara helped me get the confidence together to phone them and go.

“While I was seeing Sara I also had really bad health issues. I was in and out of hospital with polycystic ovaries and endometriosis and had to have an operation. When I recovered I felt as if I was ready to start improving my fitness. Sara put me forward to Project Life.

“It was a massive help. Project Life is more private. They come out and see you, they don’t make you go to a gym and be in front of loads of people that you don’t know. It’s fitness on my terms – whatever I feel comfortable with. They got me walking. Just little ones in my local area at first. Now I’m doing circuit training sessions at home. I’ve been doing squats, press-ups and lunges, all sorts.

“I even got a job at B&M until I had to start going in and out of hospital regularly again because of a heart problem. I realised I needed to get back into a routine of working and get out there and start trying to ask people to get back into my life. So I’m now seeing Dalu the Be Well employment coach.”

Looking back on her experience with Be Well Shannon said, “The biggest difference Be Well has made to my life is having someone who is so kind and accepting I can talk to and who is willing to listen. Now I’m just trying to take one step at a time with each day. In all honestly without Be Well I would most probably have ended up self harming again and probably having to be sectioned.”

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