Feeling alive again!

Charlotte   web banner

Charlotte had experienced a long break from work due to a serious mental health condition, which made looking for, and finding work again, a huge challenge.  She worked with several of our Employment Specialists at different points in her recovery journey, each of whom supported her in a way that worked for her at that point in time.  She now works with Anoushka, who helped her to find a job which she loves, and who also provides ongoing in-work support.  Most critically, Charlotte now believes in herself again.  Here she tells us her story in her own words…

I was out of work for a very long time - since 2015.  I was struggling with my mental health, and had also been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, so I was offered therapy at St Annes hospital.  It helped to try and help me heal and manage my emotions better and look towards the future.  However, I’d always been someone that worked, and it felt strange not to be working.  My main goal was to get back into work even though I didn’t know how it would happen.  I wasn’t sure how I’d be accepted.

The therapy at St Annes was quite long – two years.  I spoke to my psychiatrist about work and we considered volunteering as a way back into work.  She also told me about Twining Enterprise and how they help people get back into work.  I was so pleased to hear about Twining.  I was initially introduced to Hoi; he was so, so kind to me.  He listened to all my worries, how I’d lost my confidence, and how I didn’t know what would suit me anymore.

The last jobs I’d had were quite high pressure, and served other people in their times of crisis. I wasn’t sure what would suit me anymore.  Hoi helped me to consider other lines of work and different roles.  I thought I was ready, but then it turned out I wasn’t.  But Hoi was so understanding and said I could always come back to Twining when I was ready… and I always kept that in my head.

Five years later… and I was ready to come back!  During those five years I had also done some volunteering work which really helped me during that time.  I actually ended up with two volunteer positions!  I really felt the benefit from being out and about again – routine, structure, purpose.  By the time I came back to Twining I felt really ready to look for part time employment again.

I googled Twining and found you again! I found a contact number and spoke with a lady who found someone to call me back - and they called the next day!  I went to meet with my new Employment Specialist, Oliver, at St Annes hospital.  Mentally I was just in a different place by then.  I just felt so determined to find a job.  Oliver was great for this as he gently pushed me out of my comfort zone.  I still felt a little under confident, so I needed a cheerleader.  Oliver just encouraged me that bit more, which I needed.  He boosted my confidence and he listened to what I wanted.

Together we looked at different roles; I still wanted to support people but maybe not on the front line; maybe in a back-office role initially.  Unfortunately, it was quite slow at first, but I had quite specific criteria to fill – which made the job hunt slow and I started to feel deflated.  After a while, and after speaking to friends, family and Oliver, I felt I was actually a bit scared to go into the front-line roles – but equally it was where I’d thrived previously.  If I stayed at the back-office level then I wouldn’t have thrived again, and probably would have got bored and felt down.

So, I made the brave decision to start looking for front-line roles again.  This time I was only going for part time roles and I was in a better place too.  So, I hoped it wouldn’t be as difficult for me, like it was in the past.

I then actually ended finding more potential roles and getting more call backs.  Then, sadly, Oliver left Twining and that was a shame as he was trying to build me up, and we’d built the relationship.

However, I’d been with Twining for so long, and I knew every person so far had been so brilliant in supporting me.  And the next person was – Anoushka has been so wonderful – both on a practical level, and emotionally too.  With Anoushka everything just flowed perfectly; everything just felt right.  I wasn’t even with her for that long when I was offered a job!  It was less than 2 months!  This was amazing – the first time I’d been offered an interview in ages – it was huge.  Anoushka really helped me to prepare for the interview.  She told me to have questions ready and to research the organisation and be ready for certain interview questions.

I felt so nervous at the interview.  But it would have been worse if I hadn’t prepped.  I still felt really nervous, and I told them that.

There were two people that interviewed for the same role that day.  There were two parts to the interview – a verbal Q&A – and then an in-tray task which was creating and delivering a 15-minute activity for children.  I asked for help with the activity, but the idea was all my own.  I was really happy and proud of myself.  I didn’t even know what was going to happen – but the main thing was I’d done the interview – after so many years I’d finally done an interview and felt so proud of myself!  I just took the experience as useful, regardless of the job outcome. 

But then they called me within the hour to say I’d got the job!  They said they were so impressed with me that they couldn’t wait to let me know about the job offer.

I just wanted to cry.  After years of fighting with a mental health condition and trying to find myself again, someone could see the potential in me.  It was the first job where I had also declared my mental illness.  I told myself that moving forward that’s what I wanted to do.  So, I had declared it and they still wanted me.  It felt huge.  That complete acceptance.

It’s just been such a journey – I just feel alive again.  I have a routine, I have a purpose every day, I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone and I’m doing all these things to better myself.  It’s a massive change working again.  It’s huge.

What’s really great is that I still have Anoushka’s support – I’m able to regularly check in with her.  It really helps me to feel really supported.  Someone else just to reflect on work things that might worry me.  It helps me to feel better.  She has been so supportive and sees me in ways I don’t see myself, which is really helpful. 

Even if I don’t stay in this job forever, I now have the confidence to look for something else if I needed to.  I know I can do it.  It wouldn’t feel like a set back or a failure, as I know I can look for work again.  There has been a massive change in me – I believe in myself again!  Of course, I have had struggles and stresses in this job – but it doesn’t make me want to leave like I might have done before the support – I know I can stay and tackle any concerns now.  I know I have the strength inside of me to face those challenges.

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