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Paul's story - We Are With You

Pluss Positive People Positive People - Cornwall 21 September 2021

After working as a Telecom Engineer for 19 years, Paul became unemployed and lost his self-confidence and motivation. After being out of work for over two years, he connected with the Positive People programme at We Are With You and is now looking forward to the future.

“I was like a prisoner in my own home. I wouldn’t leave my bedroom unless it was to get a drink or something to eat. I was smoking weed from when I woke up until I went to bed. I wouldn’t answer the phone to anyone and if I had to call anyone, I would put it off for days, feeling scared and anxious for nights before. My sleep pattern was terrible – staying awake all night and then spending all day in my pyjamas and dressing gown.

“I severely lacked motivation, was completely depressed and had suicidal thoughts on a daily basis. I didn’t see any future. I felt like I was a waste of space.

“Life all started to go downhill in 2013 when my Grandson died just before his 2nd birthday. He had spent nine months in the ICU in Derriford Hospital. It raised so many memories for me, triggering painful thoughts and nightmares.

“My life’s activities became based around the pub, darts and pool. I could have done so much more, achieved big things with my dart playing, but instead I went out to get drunk. I had many self destructive behaviours. I felt numb.

“I’ve always had a fear of failure. If I can’t do anything to a decent level, I just wouldn’t do it, even if I really enjoyed it. I’ve always wanted to be liked, to be accepted, so I try to please everyone. I mirror who they are, to avoid being me and an embarrassment.

“Things began to change when I was referred to the Positive People programme by my Recovery Worker Gill Hemming. I was then introduced to Kirsty, my Change Coach.

“Kirsty has encouraged me to attend the Positive People Challenge 10 programme, which focuses on improving my skills. If someone had said six months ago that I would be doing Maths and English courses, I would have said no way. It’s getting the brain working again. I have attended a couple of sessions, and have really enjoyed it. I have also attended the Health & Wellbeing webinars. We’ve explored stress and anxiety and it made sense to me.

“Kirsty is there for me. She arranges things for me. She is not pushy. I’ve got an end goal, but I know there’s no deadline for that. It removes the pressure and it means that I am not doing things for the benefit of her, but for me. I feel that if I lapsed, she wouldn’t judge me. She offers praise, she sees my achievements. She is more like a friend than a worker. She makes me feel like I matter.

“I’m gobsmacked how quickly things have changed for me!

“I stopped smoking cannabis five weeks ago. Attending the We Are With You MAP (Mutual Aid Partnership) meetings helped, by listening to how others have managed to get clean. The support has been brilliant. It has given me the determination to do it.

“I still lack confidence, but my anxiety isn’t as bad now. I do still experience bad dreams. My Change Coach Kirsty has referred me to Pegasus for counselling and I am now waiting for an assessment.

“I have always worked and had things to do, but not working meant I was stuck in a rut. Whilst I’m nervous about engaging in activities, it means that I have got something to do. I’m getting emails and messages to read. It’s giving me something to look forward to. I get up in the morning, shave and get dressed. I’m involved in something and it’s given me a purpose.

“My wife and neighbours have noticed a massive difference in me. I go for long walks now, which helps me to relax and I’ve started doing things around the house and garden.

“Feeling part of something like the Positive People programme makes me feel that I am worth something. I used to think that if I died no one would care or miss me. I now feel like I help other people, encouraging them along in the group sessions. I’m enjoying things for the first time in a long time.

“I can now see myself getting back to work. I feel pleased with myself. I know I have a way to go with certain things and I still struggle with saying what I want, but I now feel confident about my future.”

To find out more about how Positive People can help you connect with education, training, volunteering or employment, email!