Experience – Isolation and Loneliness

Rebuilding self-esteem and personal friendships through befriending

I would like to write a few words of thanks. Not only to my own befriender who has helped me through a difficult time in my life, but to all the volunteers who take up this position. It’s hard to define the true essence or value I apply to such a simple thing as gaining a friend – even if it is for just a short while. A friend who sees the person they’ve befriended for who they are and not what they are.

I would also say the impact on the feelings of isolation I have had because of my mental illness have been greatly alleviated by the social interactions between my befriender and I. I believe that this is one of the most priceless gifts a befriending scheme can offer and with that simple gift there are many avenues for self-improvement to be found.

Since I started with the befriending scheme at FDAMH I have found that my confidence has increased. My self-esteem has increased and my general wellbeing has increased. I have gained so many things that it is difficult to quantify the values in such a short letter. There is one other benefit that I would like to mention. It’s the rebuilding of personal friendships in my private life because of the increase in self worth and the desire to get back on the saddle again.

The befriending scheme made me feel human again and you just can’t put a value on feeling human. It’s priceless. Thanks


Tags: Befriending, Isolation and Loneliness
27/11/2013 at 6:50 pm

Befriending can tackle isolation by helping to build life skills

I suffer from Schizophrenia and Depression. So it was suggested that I should join the Befriending Scheme, to overcome my problems of isolation, low self-esteem, poor social skills, lack of confidence and motivation.

At work I would concentrate on the job, working by myself, taking no breaks and not talking to anyone. Then when at home, living by myself, I would go to bed, turning night into day which meant that I had poor attendance at work. The entire weekend was spent in bed, watching TV, listening to my CD’s or spending time on my computer, with no interest in going out.

This has changed as a result of befriending – going out once a week to meet someone who cares about my wellbeing, in social settings has encouraged me to go out more. The advice given to me on how to think positively has built up my confidence, so that I now go on work’s outings and parties.

I no longer stay in bed. I am in my work on time and get up at 9 am at weekends, to visit (my sibling) in another town. My job performance, once rated poor, is now classed as excellent, because I now joke with workmates and help them out if they have a difficult task.

All of this is an outcome of befriending – tips on how to share common interests, how to keep a conversation going and setting myself goals – by taking things one step at a time. This has been the type of advice given by my befriender.

Tags: Befriending, Depression, Isolation and Loneliness, Schizophrenia
27/11/2013 at 6:33 pm

A recovery journey with FDAMH

I was recently asked this question what does FDAMH mean to you my answer is so totally simple – everything.

Several years ago I was made redundant after serving 40 years in various junior and senior management positions. The effect this had on my life was indescribable I just went into total emotional melt down, I spent the first two years isolating myself in my own home not wanting to speak or see anyone, I never even went beyond my front own door. I could never put into words how black life felt for me at that time.

I was eventually persuaded by my family to see my local GP, he in turn referred me to my local hospital psychiatric department for treatment and after receiving over two years of intense counselling I slowly started to get my life back together. It was decided by the hospital consultants it was time for me to try to get back into a more out door social environment.

My hospital consultant made contact for me with a local help centre called FDAHM this was the first time in more than 4 years I had ventured out into the public domain. On my first day I was welcomed with open arms by the very friendly staff and volunteer members at the FDAHM centre they were so good to me. I was very gently introduced to other members of the drop in group.

One of the first things I noticed about the FDAMH centre and at that time it was so very important to me was I was never made to feel I had to stay there or partake in any group activities. It was so important and reassuring to me at that time knowing that I could come and go and join in as and when I pleased. After the first few weeks of attending the day centre and mainly due to the kind and understanding staff members I slowly started to get my confidence back and started joining in with the many group activities spending a little longer with each time I was there.

After attending the day centre for a short while I asked a member of staff would it be possible for me to receive one to one counselling has I was still finding it hard to deal with my worries and feelings of anxiety and panic attacks. Over a two years period at the FDAHM centre I received two twelve weekly therapy sessions, each of these sessions were of a tremendous help to me giving me both the strength expand my new found confidence and also helping me to feel that I could go on to put my past broken life back on track.

I have always felt even from my early days at the day centre how can I help to repay their kindness. I owe so much to FDAMH and its fabulous full time and most generous volunteering staff, for with their help and understanding they have helped me to turn my life around.

Last year I was asked at the centre if I would like to consider taking part in a short volunteer training course at the centre, I said that I would be very happy to attend. I was thinking that maybe this could be a way of not only helping myself getting back some of my own self-belief but I could also in some little way give help and support to the other day centre drop in group members.I completed this excellent training course which I found to be most interesting and informative.

I have now for several months been running a weekly family history and genealogy group within FDAMH. The members of my group love talking about the old times, it’s a great way to get them communicating to each other, they also love finding old family photos and genealogical records and sharing family history details with each other. I have also found that my family research group is a great way to getting older group members interested in using computers some for the first time, they may find it slow going at first, put are quickly delighted when they find some interesting family details via the Google search engine system.

FDAMH thank you so much for helping me to find my own self confidence and self-belief.


Tags: Activity Groups, Anxiety, Counselling, Drop-In, FDAMH Training, Isolation and Loneliness, Panic, Volunteering
26/11/2013 at 9:12 pm

Befriending, feedback from a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN)

I am writing to provide feedback on the success of the befriending service. Due to illness my patient had become very socially isolated. FDAMH carefully matched him with a befriender with similar interests. His befriender was also very flexible which is indeed required when working with someone with fluctuating mental health. The result of the befriending experience is that he keeps in touch with his befriender as a friend. He has a renewed interest in photography and is more confident socially. He has also applied for and been introduced to another befriender.

When treating people with severe and enduring mental health problems much more than medication is required. Their need for socialisation is also incredibly important. As not everyone we see is able to join groups the individual approach the befriending service offers is invaluable. I would like to again express my appreciation for the services you offer.

Tags: Befriending, Isolation and Loneliness
26/11/2013 at 9:06 pm

My life is different because of the Link Service

After I left hospital and the Mental Health Home Team had finished visiting me I was left, possibly no worse, but certainly no better than I had been when I entered the hospital. Isolated and alone I felt no hope, only despair. I was no better equipped to deal with the outside world than I had been.

Fortunately I had been referred to a psychologist who in turn referred me to FDAMH. There I spoke to Jane, who treated me with such insight, compassion and understanding that I found the strength to attempt to rebuild my life.

I was encouraged to join the Link Service where I attended a course on anxiety and depression. There I began to understand not only what was happening with me, but more importantly for me, that I wasn’t alone. I met people, people just like me experiencing the same debilitating fears and difficulties.

From there I was given the opportunity to join the Next Steps Programme where Marguerite with her tremendous energy and enthusiasm for life made me see that there is a world out there to discover and enjoy and opportunities to be had.

Early on Jane told me that things would never be the same for me. My life would be different. I would be different. Which didn’t mean that things had to be worse they could even be better. A concept I treated with scepticism. Now I understand exactly what Jane was saying. My life is different, I am different. A whole new world has opened up for me. A world I am thankful to be part of and which grows wider and more rewarding with each passing day.

Without FDAMH and the Link Service I have no idea where I’d be today or even if I would be. Through the contact and the opportunities offered to me I am now rebuilding my life not only within FDAMH but outwith, re-establishing contact with friends and family, no longer isolating myself. This new found confidence has enabled me to become involved in volunteering within FDAMH and with each day I find my ability to enjoy and participate in life increasing.


Tags: Anxiety, FDAMH Training, Isolation and Loneliness, Link Service, Next Steps Course
26/11/2013 at 8:42 pm

From Link Service to Befriending to college

I was referred to the Link Service by my Psychologist who, after doing lots of work with me on my fear of lots of things, felt that I needed more support to talk about these things and help me to think about my future, to get a life free from all my fears.

The Link Worker talked to me about lots of things – what was holding me back, what I would love to do with my life and the steps needed to get me moving in the right direction. At first I thought it was really hard because I had hidden myself away in the house for so long but gradually we managed to make a plan! I had homework!

I needed to start seeing my friends again so I forced myself to make contact with them and very soon I was back having our Friday night girl’s night at each others houses which I used to love and missed. I was so scared but did not need to be as they were so supportive, I felt great. One of my friends helped me to start using the buses again and I started to walk a wee bit further with my dog, all of the time feeling very anxious, but this was my homework and I understand what Jane was saying, that I had to feel this anxiety, work through it and yes, she was right, nothing bad happened, in fact I felt better.

I found the confidence to take driving lessons, my mum and dad couldn’t believe it, I was starting to get a life. My dream was to go to college and eventually get a job with children, I never thought I would be able to do this but with the support of the Link Service I took the next step to get there. I put my application form in to the college, me and Jane went to the college to find out more information about the courses available and met with a Learning Advisor who reassured me that I would be supported if I got a place on the course. The college was huge, I was really nervous but it was good to be there, I was getting nearer to my dream, so exciting.

Eventually we got the letter saying I had been accepted on to the course, I was so happy, at last I was living my life like all my other friends but there is still work to be done. Jane referred me to the Befriending Service here at FDAMH so that I could gain more confidence about using the buses before my course starts in August, my new befriender is lovely, she supports me with going on the buses and I am gradually gaining in confidence.

I can’t wait to get to college in August, thank you!

Tags: Anxiety, Befriending, Isolation and Loneliness, Link Service, Phobia
25/11/2013 at 7:19 pm