Clare, who works for Cox Automotive, asked for support after hitting rock bottom when her grandad died. She was struggling to cope with her grief, was suffering with anxiety and didn’t know where to turn. That’s when she went to see her Mental Health First Aider at work who said Ben could help...
“I was at rock bottom. Back in March, I was trying to cope with my grief after losing my grandad. This would be tough for anyone, but my grandad was very special to me. He, my nan and my Mum as a single parent, brought me up until I was 15 and I lived with them, so he was my father figure. It was really, really tough.
“My grandad passed away just before lockdown so we could only have a small funeral, restricted to just six of us, socially distanced. My husband couldn’t come in and we couldn’t hug or support each other. My nan completely broke down and I couldn’t even hug her - she had been with my grandad for close to 65 years. We felt we couldn’t grieve properly.
“My nan was then diagnosed with early dementia and she’s now in a care home. She has really deteriorated. Her and my grandad were fit and healthy people and, all of a sudden, things completely changed.
“I’ve always suffered with my mental health and I’ve been on and off medication throughout my life. When I was younger, I had depression, but over the years it’s become anxiety that affects me the most. What happens is that I’ll be fine for a while, but then something will hit me.
“I was struggling to cope with my grief and the situation with my nan. There was no support locally and, given how lockdown was, I thought, ‘what can I do and who can I turn to’? I couldn’t see my family in person. My GP was closed, I didn’t want to burden my husband and I didn’t want to panic my mum over the phone. I really didn’t know where to turn. I just needed somebody to listen to me.
“When I called Ben, they were amazing. They listened. Once I’d spoken to them, I knew it was going to be fine. Every time I spoke to someone at Ben, I felt like there was a solution. My Case Manager made me feel comfortable and the support was sincere, it felt like it was more than a job to her.
“I had eight sessions of counselling and it’s been really helpful so I’ve chosen to carry on. I feel really lucky. My counsellor understands me, he doesn’t judge me and I feel comfortable. My Case Manager checked in with me regularly throughout the process and made sure everything was ok. I was always in control.
“When I first contacted Ben, I was off sick from work. Without the support, I would have been panicking more. I would have started worrying about money as I wasn’t working.
“Ben’s help probably saved my life - sometimes you don’t see a way out. Especially this year, when things kept knocking me back. There was only so much I could take. In the past, I had ended up in A&E, but with the way things were with Covid, I honestly don’t know what I would have done.
“I don’t think mental health issues ever go away completely, they just become part of you and something that becomes easier to manage after getting the right help. The world around me is the same and the things happening around me are changing my life, but I’m better equipped to deal with them. I’m still getting rubbish news at the moment, but I can deal with it.
“After the support Ben has given me, I wanted to give something back to Ben. You’ll never know how much I appreciate the counselling I had, I couldn’t be more grateful, so I took part in Formula Ben VGP. I enjoyed the challenge as my husband and I got out in the fresh air and had a chat.”
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