Debbie was in an abusive, controlling marriage for almost three decades before she decided to move to Somerset to ‘escape’ and rebuild her life. She’d become reclusive and lacking in confidence, she felt ashamed and embarrassed about her situation.
But moving to Somerset didn’t mean Debbie’s problems came to an immediate end either; “I’ve had six breakdowns since I left my husband,” she reflects. “I struggled with confidence, and in stressful situations, I’d get flashbacks.
“I can’t be around any kind of anger or confrontation now.”
Debbie turned to Positive People Somerset for help and guidance.
“They organised counselling for me whilst I was waiting for NHS counselling. Mandy has been lovely and helped support me through these difficult times,” she says.
Breaking down barriers
Positive People Somerset set about helping Debbie on her journey back to employment and she’s full of praise for all the team, including Chloe from Cosmic (Positive People’s digital inclusion partner), who spent time teaching her to overcome her worries about technology.
Chloe’s been so patient with me. I have a barrier to learning because of my anxiety and I often just shutdown and get overwhelmed trying to learn new things. She quickly picked up on my panic and made sure she kept the learning simple and in small, achievable chunks which helped me relax and trust her.
Debbie admits to having a problem when it comes to retaining new information but under Chloe’s tuition she became much more comfortable with the digital world.
“I’ve even started shopping online for the first time and I’m no longer as scared of using the internet or trying out new apps,” she says.
The future looks bright
Debbie says she’s noticed a significant change since she found Positive People Somerset; “It’s helped me to find my voice.
“I felt I never had anything interesting to say but, with increasing confidence, I’ve pushed myself to be able to join in conversations and I actually look forward to our weekly chats and giggles!”
For Debbie, this is just the beginning of the journey to rebuild her life: “I know I need to take the time to get properly better,” she says.
“I plan to start volunteering with a mother and toddler group that I visited after completing the Empowering Women course. It’s taken me months to pluck up the courage but I got there.”
Despite her nerves, Debbie says she’s excited to have been offered the opportunity.
And the next steps on her journey?
She’s starting a Teaching Assistant course and contemplating using her experience to help others by studying to become a counsellor.
“I am very thankful for all the support I have received,” Debbie says. “I am a natural healer and I think, with my history, I may be able to help others overcome some of their challenges too.”