I was fortunate to benefit from the Covid 19 pandemic in the sense that I got to keep my support worker a little longer than I would have under normal circumstances.

It was a brilliant thing that EDAMH did to ensure that none of its service users were cast adrift during such a challenging time, even if they had been engaged for a duration of six months or more.

By the time I was discharged from the service I was a completely different person from the one who met with her support worker for the first all those months ago.

Back then I had no confidence. I’d lost it all during the preceding three months following an acute anxiety episode, depression and a diagnosis of panic disorder.

I pulled myself out of the depression through sheer grit and determination and I learned to better manage my anxiety levels but I couldn’t have taken the next steps without my support worker.

What was key for me was learning that I was “normal” after everything I had been through – I wasn’t crazy, I hadn’t lost my mind, I had simply experienced a rough patch with my mental health which, sadly, most people will at some point during their lives. But I came out the other end, and my support worked did a fantastic job supporting me, encouraging me and keeping me from straying down the wrong path during times where the negative self talk threatened to take over – I will never be able to utter the words, “I NEED to” without hearing her voice in my head, telling me, “you don’t NEED to, you want to”, giving me back that much needed element of choice and reminding me gently to take the foot off the gas, such is my natural tendency to put pressure on myself, to always be productive. This was particularly helpful during lockdown when it seemed like everybody else was baking sourdough bread and the pressure to achieve was beginning to take its toll on me.

What was incredibly helpful was just having someone to talk to about the little things that stressed me out – sometimes I keep these thoughts and feelings to myself, to spare those closest to me, and honestly, I don’t even realise how much they might be bothering me until I shared them with my support worker. The process of saying these thoughts out loud was cathartic and my support worker always knew just the right thing to say to provide me with reassurance that anything I was feeling was entirely natural and human.

Being discharged is scary – even when you know it’s the right time. But if I am ever struggling, I simply ask myself, what would Debra say, and I remember her words of support and encouragement and her empathy and kindness – Debra would have told me, “it’s YOU who has done all the hard work” and this gives me the strength and confidence I need to move forward.