Created on 27 April 2020

Read about Andrew’s amazing journey

The following is really worth the read as Andrews journey is truly amazing, here is his story.

I have been unemployed for many years. In 2001 I was involved in an incident at work which resulted in me suffering with PTSD. After a period of being off sick I left the company. I had tried numerous times to get back to work but they were short lived as I couldn’t deal with the pressure. Prior to signing up for this project, I wasn’t in a good place. My Depression and Anxiety were preventing me from engaging with life. I felt like I was in a room observing, not being part of it. I was in the job centre speaking with my job coach, going through different options that were available and ‘The HeadsUp’ program caught my ear/eye.

I was concerned if it was to be meeting within a group setting. Would I have to talk about my past history? I was anxious about the thought of having to meet new people and going alone to unfamiliar places. All of this was anxiety inducing. I was very apprehensive, but I thought just take a deep breath and see where it leads to, I felt hope for the future.

In [the first] three months of the project, loads of brilliant stuff happened! I took that first step and feel I have taken (am still taking) positive steps forward. I met with my PSW and her colleague in unfamiliar surroundings, but I feel very comfortable attending our meetings now, quite often making my own way there which I wouldn’t have done before. I attend a social group meeting and usually my mind would go blank or else I’d feel frozen and not able to speak due to the anxiety. Recently, however I found the confidence to speak, I had something to say and I said it! That’s a huge step forward for me, very liberating and rewarding. I’ve also taken my two children out on my own which not only amazed and surprised me but my wife too!

I have enrolled at college, had a 121 interview with an Assessor, in a room full of people which went brilliantly, and I have been accepted on the course! I feel I go out with a purpose now, that I’m no longer treading water. I have a sense of where things are going, excited to see what being on this project will lead to. I feel I’ve ‘got brighter’.

Working on my CV with my PSW will be interesting. Pulling all the random things I’ve done together on one piece of paper. We have discussed the workshops; I am slightly anxious about doing them but it’s good for me to push myself so I will go.

[Andrew says to people thinking about joining HeadsUp] “Take all the help you can. Join this program, get counselling, anything that makes you feel part of something. Don’t be isolated, that leads to a downward spiral. Find the strength to take that first step and you’ll soon be doing some of things you’ve always wanted to!”

***Since kindly sharing his story with us (above) Andrew’s journey has become even more incredible and he provided us with an update of how things have been going as he is now on his way to university !

[the current] course involves the application process for University, so the only major stumbling block there was making your personal statement interesting enough to make it noticeable from the crowd, to secure an interview. The interview day was 9-4 pm involving a maths test, English test, group interview/discussion type thing, a 1 on 2 interview and a campus tour, where both the soles of my best interview shoes literally fell off, now there’s a story Haha!

Plans for the future are 3 years Uni, then 2 years as a probationary paramedic and then you can specialise in doctors surgery desk job, work on oil rigs, helicopters, warzone stuff with the military, lots of other options, I quite fancy joining HART personally (hazardous area response team).

The marathon running was a friend’s idea at the Church last year. We set a plan to do one together this March in Brentwood, but we got so excited we actually started last year and completed 2 half marathons, 2 X 10k races and a few 5k fun runs over Christmas, 2 in fancy dress as Santa. Lost a couple of stone too which is a nice bonus.

My life has changed massively, so much so I can barely believe the massive hole I was in. I think it’s having someone you can talk to and discover the way they see you. When you spend so much time in your own head space and only seeing yourself from your own point of view, it really made me appreciate others don’t see me the way I do.

That and the support I have with my family and from my Church family, enabled me to seek the medical help I needed too. So, it’s a combination of factors really and the small advances I made, built on one another until I actually felt quite good about myself and that hadn’t happened in a long while.


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