Experience – Anxiety

Social Prescribing and then Befriending helped beat terrible anxiety

I have always been an outgoing adventure seeker … I travelled all over and never had a care … In 2004 I was walking my dog when a tall man started yelling at me he was angry and mentally abusive.. there was no reason for his outburst but such a small act left a massive impact on me .. I was badly shaken.

A few days later out shopping with my partner I collapsed in a supermarket unknown to me I was pregnant .. I awoke to a sea of strangers all crowded around me .. it was the most horrific experience of my life I was absolutely terrified ..i have never felt so helpless ever and felt so incredibly shamed to have been stared at by so many at an obviously traumatic time. I passed out a further 2 times trying to get out of the store too quickly.

From then on I could not leave the house .. I spent 4 years too terrified to leave the house .. I couldn’t make it out my front door without having a full blown panic attack .

Both situations together in a short space of time knocked my confidence to the ground ..

When I had my baby I tried so hard to force myself to go out … after facing my fears a few occasions I found that I could travel in a car with family although I still had panic attacks and could only walk very short distances with family by my side it was still nerve wracking I managed to overcome the panic attacks and control them somewhat with my safety nets, bottle of water, sugary sweets, rubbing the sharp end of a key down my thumb just to keep myself in control.

I eventually lost all my friends due to my refusal to socialise – all I had was my family who lived a half hour drive from me .. I was not able to pluck up the courage to get on a bus or take a taxi so I had no way to get to my family whenever I wanted or on my bad days when I felt I needed them most.

After seeing many therapists over many years I gained some control over my life although I still could not go anywhere without a family member .

My doctor eventually referred me to FDAHM for therapy which helped immensely. I found the therapists (Social Prescribing Practitioner) actually listened to me and helped me with coping strategies, and helped me to control the fear and not let it rule my life anymore …

Then I was referred to the befriending scheme which really turned my life around .. at first it was completely nerve wracking the thought alone of going on a bus with a stranger terrified me .. actually made me have panic attacks sitting at home thinking about it … but meeting with Natalie I found her so relaxed and friendly and completely understanding of my situation never judging me only encouraging and helping me to see the positives in every situation .. she also reminded me to always be proud of my achievements no matter how small they are .. and by taking baby steps she encouraged me to do what I felt comfortable and never pushed me to do anything I felt would be too much for me.

She showed me that there was so very much in life that I have been missing out on even day to day things like going for a cuppa or going shopping its truly exhilarating now to be in a position where I now have found the confidence to get up and go whenever I feel like it without having to worry or panic ..

I never in my life thought I would do even half the things I do now I go on the bus by myself , I can go to my child’s school plays .. I never blink an eye at the thought of panicking now because I have learned through FDAMH that I can control my fears and I have and will continue to do so.

Without FDAMH I guarantee I would not be in the position I am just now of enjoying life to the full and I will be eternally grateful to everyone at FDAMH who has helped me on my journey. It has been difficult and sometimes very challenging but I could not be more proud of myself for facing those fears and not letting them rule me. FDAMH has given me my life back.

Tags: Anxiety, Befriending, Panic, Social Prescribing
15/09/2016 at 2:21 pm

Befriending… and Starbucks

Befriending is a vital service used to help people to take the first steps towards meeting new people, rediscovering old hobbies and developing new interests. It helped me a great deal by working on combating my sense of isolation, anxiety and other combined mental health issues. It worked on my self-esteem and gave me more opportunities for social interaction. Time was spent to match me up with someone with similar interests and we then discovered we both like genealogy, camper vans and cloud spotting! Overall she is pretty cool, nothing was too much trouble. I would thoroughly recommend the experience, because it restored my faith in humanity, and also gave me an excuse to go to Starbucks!

Provided May 2015

Tags: Anxiety, Befriending, Isolation and Loneliness
01/06/2015 at 2:20 pm

I’m much more able to do things myself now…

The Third Age Befriending Stepping On Group expanded their activities to visiting a wider range of local cafes and restaurants, as well as day trips out to further afield venues and activities. On our days out, we started by picking B up from his flat, then encouraged him to come along to a more central point to be picked up by the bus. This was to encourage B to find his own way to a designated spot at an allocated time.

B was talking about the confidence he now feels in travelling to new places:
“Since we started going out to different trips, I feel more able, more confident. I know I can do it and I won’t panic. I’ve wanted to go back to Stirling to see the town for a long time. I haven’t been back since moving over here, but I couldn’t take the bus because I was too feart. Well, we’ve been out a lot lately and I loved it, seeing all the different places and the wee bus was great. I love sitting looking out the window.
So the other day was a good day and I thought, I’m going to try and get the bus to Stirling. I thought I’d just go through to see if I could do it and come home. But I went for a wee wander through the town and then had a bit lunch in a café. I could never, never have done that a year ago. I wouldn’t have gone out on a bus and I wouldn’t have gone into a café by myself.

I do think the group has made a difference, aye definitely. I’m much more able to do things myself now. Going into Stirling was big for me, I’m fair pleased with myself. I’m definitely going back for another trip.”

Provided July 2014

Tags: Anxiety, Third Age Befriending
09/12/2014 at 1:47 pm

Achieving aims with Third Age Befriending

This is the story of F., referred to the TAB project as she was anxious, shy and would not leave the house unless accompanied by her husband. F. and her husband have a close relationship, but both were aware that they needed to work towards her becoming more independent.

F. was matched with a befriender and they practised using the buses into Falkirk to meet for coffee. They had also looked at knitting classes within F.’s area that she could attend in the future, once her confidence was built up.

The befriender had to withdraw from volunteering due to changes in work and for a short time, until another befriender was identified, F. joined our monthly lunch group. She functioned within the group very well, which was a joy to see, as she had previously had been very nervous of being a group settings, however small. The group were extremely supportive of F. and she began to relax and look forward to the outings.

We were able to match F. again fairly quickly and she has gelled with her befriender very quickly. F. had expressed a desire to learn to use the buses from Falkirk to Stirling, so that she was not limited to Falkirk and she could work towards visiting a housebound friend in Stirling, who she had not been able to see for some time.

On their 3rd meeting, the befriender organised with F. where she would get on the bus to Stirling and accompanied her to Stirling to show her where she would get off the bus. The following week, F. travelled independently to Stirling (having practised again, the weekend before with her husband) and met with her befriender.

F. was extremely pleased with this development and was very excited about the possibility of meeting her friend in the near future. Both F. and her befriender intend to meet outwith Falkirk more regularly and they are talking about trying out the buses to Edinburgh and further afield.

This is such an achievement in a very short time and indicates the value of setting clear aims and goals to work towards. It allows an opportunity to plan and have a feeling of control and independence and, when the goals are achieved, it allows a chance for the person to feel pride and value herself.

F.’s husband is delighted and amazed at F.’s progress and says that he feels more secure and much less anxious about about their future. F. has also started to attend the small local knitting group independently and says this is due to her feeling secure and able to cope with small groups after regularly attending the Stepping on monthly lunches and thereby feeling more confident about trying other group activities.

Provided June 2014

Tags: Anxiety, Third Age Befriending
09/12/2014 at 1:18 pm

Befriending helping to relieve the difficulties of agoraphobia

The reason I was given a befriender was because I had problems going out on my own as I was mugged. I suffer from agoraphobia.

My doctor sent me for therapy and my therapist recommended FDAMH to me for a befriender.
It has worked out really well. We meet one day every two weeks and she has been really great. Even now that the befriending has come to an end we have decided to keep meeting as we have a good time together.

I would like to thank FDAMH for their help as it gets me out.

Tags: Anxiety, Befriending, Isolation and Loneliness
09/12/2014 at 12:43 pm

Pushing past anxiety to reap the benefits of befriending

Having had anxiety for a long time, meeting people and going places has always been a struggle. So when having a befriender was mentioned, the same anxious feelings of fear and worry which usually made me put off doing things were there as always.

I’m glad to say I did push through my anxiety and met my befriender who was so easy going that it made me question what all my worrying was for. I realised had I not met him it would have been a big mistake as I would have missed out on many positive experiences, like having something to look forward to each week or learning to play squash which I would never have done or just being able to talk about anxiety and depression with someone who understands just in the same kind of way we chat about everyday things like movies or what happened during our week.

Thinking about my anxiety and negative thinking I had before meeting my befriender and then seeing through time how it changed to the point of looking forward to the meetings. It gives me hope that if my thoughts and anxiety can change with that, hopefully they can be changed with other aspects of my life.

Received: February 2014

Tags: Anxiety, Befriending, Depression
26/05/2014 at 7:36 pm