Your stories

Coming to a Talking Therapies service can feel like a daunting task. Many people tell us they were worried about how to explain how they were feeling, and were unsure what help was available. We have asked some people who have used our service to tell us about their experience. We hope that this can provide an understanding of what leads people to get in touch, and inspire people to take those first important steps towards feeling better.

The people we asked have given us permission to publish their words. We would like to extend our warmest thanks to those who have taken the time to share their experiences.

I learnt a great deal from the course especially revealing was the connection between stress & pain. I made notes and a lot of things clicked into place for me. I feel more in control of my pain and behaviour and have faith that the strategies will work if I put the effort in which I intend to do. I feel optimistic….I thought you were both inspiring. Thank you

I have always been a carer for my family.  I worked in London for nearly 40 years in a job I thoroughly enjoyed but never thought one day my life would change so drastically by becoming a full-time carer.

Unexpectedly, I made the decision to early retire to look after three members of my family.  Their conditions varied from mobility, long-term illnesses, depression, loss of memory, serious health issues and mental health disorder.

My time was spent each day not knowing what challenges I would face on a day-to-day basis.  Managing and juggling my caring responsibilities was my main priority which did not leave any time for myself especially health and wellbeing.

I often felt very tired at the end of the day, sometimes not eating, or sleeping properly, forgetting to take my medication, and not really looking after myself.  I did not realise my own health over the past few years had deteriorated gradually. The constant worry of how I was going to cope with all these responsibilities would eventually become a reality I did not want to face. 

Then Covid hit the world in March 2020.  My caring role increased during the pandemic, as I was now having to do all the shopping, cooking and cleaning, etc with additional responsibilities in three different locations.  However, I was more fearful of going out in case I caught the virus and took it back to my family or became infected myself.  My main fear would be who would look after them in my absence?

With all the government restrictions my family and I were now isolated at home, not meeting anyone, or going out.  I soon got tired and uninterested doing the same thing every day and felt really stressed and frustrated this would never end.

I truly missed my time meeting friends as I used to go out every day for a bit of fresh air, even for a coffee and a chat.  My world evolved around my mobile, online apps and watching TV.

I felt all alone and thought I was the only one striving to cope the best I can.  Too frightened to go out to meet people or come into contact with the virus my attention turned to how my family would cope, as I am the only driver.

My stress, worry and anxiety increased as well as my anger and frustration which did not help my mental health.  I became aware that I would often take this out on my family which I regretted.  I was often upset which ended in tears most days.  

I was successful in my career but felt I had failed as a carer.  I could not cope to a point of “burn out” and had to eventually admit I was struggling to care for my family. 

Eventually, I decided to get help from my GP in Merton Borough who referred me to Merton Talking Therapies. 

The Merton Talking Therapies Wellbeing Team referred me to one-to-one CBT therapy which helped me to understand my stress, overcome my thoughts and feelings affecting my behaviour towards others.  Having shared my anxiety and concerns with guidance counsellors willing to listen to me I felt more confident and secure to tackle and discuss many other options as a way forward for the future. 

I also attended various Merton Talking Therapies Wellbeing online courses e.g., managing anger, sleep, stress etc to learn strategies to tackle my concerns.  I met participants who shared their experiences and how they try to cope.  I then realised that others were worse off and struggling like me.  By learning new coping skills to handle problems or situations gave me vital knowledge and tools to overcome my difficulties.  It also gave me a break from my caring role as well as more quality time for myself. 

Every month, I attend the Wellbeing “Mindful Walks” at Morden Hall Park.  It enables me to relax more, discover mindfulness techniques and just being aware of nature and the environment around.  But most important, sharing experiences and making new friends.  I gained more confidence to walk every day on my own to improve my fitness but also my mental health.

Last year, I joined the Merton Service User (SU) Forum.  It is an important and valuable opportunity for me to give feedback and make suggestions as a carer to improve or make changes to the Service to help others within the community.

This year, I returned my passion for photography.  Inspired by my dear friend I bought a new camera.  The joy of photography is capturing that moment of beauty, sparking the imagination and revisiting memories in a way otherwise not possible.  My photos have been exhibited during Carers Week this year and used in newsletters and websites. 

I gained vital knowledge, understanding and confidence to look after my own mental health and wellbeing and started to feel less isolated.  It empowered me to help other carers.

This allowed me to feel more relaxed, my anxieties started to ease and felt more in control of my life again.

a bird in the grass a forest with a steam

by Bernadine

I recently completed a course of CBT through Merton Uplift. My midwife suggested that I self refer to talking therapies after a difficult first labour and I felt very lucky that I could easily refer myself. I went in to the sessions open minded but honestly not really knowing how or if talking therapies could help. I am happy to say that I could not have a more different opinion coming out the other side of my 8 week course. Every week I felt stronger and more able to deal with the issues I was facing. I learnt multiple techniques and coping strategies that were so useful not just for the problem I had referred myself with, but for general everyday life. These all take practice which is not always easy but I can see that it is absolutely worth it now that I feel so much more positive and prepared. Thank you for all your help!

Thank you for your invaluable support for the past 10 months. I wouldn’t have been able to get through the numerous amount of processes, unknowns about the processes, timelines and legal employment procedures without your support.

You helped me to somehow keep holding it all together and seeing light at the end of the tunnel around these lengthy very formal processes around Flexible Working and workplace grievances.

You have supported and advised me right through from the start of my Flexible Working Request Appeal, my Dignity at Work Complaint and Dignity at Work Appeal.

You provided me with impartial advice from an outsides perspective, legal employment advice around the processes and policies, helped me to understand terminology that I do not use and didn’t understand the meaning of.

You understood the sector I work for and could provide me with excellent advice on what my options were and who I would be best to contact for escalation points, further clarification and what to cover for my appeals and written documents and evidence.

Thank you for the listening ear at some of my lowest points, your calm mannerism and way of understanding what my pain points were and seeing a way forward. You was always sympathetic to my situation whilst providing advice and making sure I was ok and understood what my next steps and options were.

You played such a supporting part throughout the route I went down, and I’ll be forever grateful for everything you did to help and support me through one of the worse things I’ve had to go through in my working lifetime.

I didn’t know what to expect when Merton Uplift asked If I needed employment support, but I’m so glad that I said yes and that you were assigned to my case after my first meeting being cancelled due to staff sickness.

For as long as I can remember, I have had issues around food and my body image. It’s been something that throughout my life I have struggled with, battled with and tried to fight on my own. When you have an issue like this for 15 years, you begin to feel like it’s your forever. Of course there were ups and downs with it throughout my life, but the past two years have been some of the worst in regards to these issues. 

Then I found out I was pregnant. This caused me to find the courage and desire to seek the help I clearly needed, and it was something I had put off due to the embarrassment I felt of my issues. 

Binge Eating disorder was my main struggle. Due to on and off dieting throughout my life, my relationship with food was detrimental and draining. It caused me to hate my body and my mind, and feel as though i had no control over myself. But the self-hatred, the constant Yo-Yo dieting, the anger at my body, and this image I had conjured of food being the enemy was something I never wanted to influence onto my son.

So after a doctors appointment, I was referred to Merton Talking Therapies. I worked very closely with the therapist, and the discussions we had were absolutely matched. The support i received during this period of CBT was incredible. For the first time in my life, my issues felt valid. We both worked very hard to look at triggers, and issues in my life that could pinpoint where my problems with food could stem from. 

I began to truly look forward to my sessions. Having a place where I could be 100% honest with myself and someone else was a massive relief. I knew going into these sessions that I had a safe space and somewhere I could openly discuss these things without judgement. 

Throughout the course of treatment, I noticed my issues becoming lighter and lighter. It allowed me to look at things from a completely different perspective, and allow myself to accept food as a positive thing rather than demonising it. Every week I had somewhere to share my thoughts, and look in depth at the emotions and behaviour exhibited alongside them. It was life changing. Genuinely, wholeheartedly, life changing. 

I was nervous about the treatment ending after 12 weeks, as I’d had such an amazing result in terms of understanding myself more, viewing food in a different way than I ever had and finally feeling like my issues weren’t forever. So the thought of no longer having that support terrified me. 

However, the last few sessions gave me a lot of hope. Looking at my progress week by week and understanding how far I had come and how hard I had worked was a massive reassurance. Also knowing that even out of treatment, I still had access to the tools that aided me in my recovery created a huge sense of relief. 

I had my beautiful son towards the end of my treatment, and being able to share that with my therapist was incredible. Knowing that the issues with food I had carried for years would not be passed on to him was a massive relief. 

I still continue to work on my relationship with food, but I would not be where I am right now without the incredible treatment and support from my therapist. 

The foundations for my future and my sons future have been built, and I am so grateful to have been able to work through my issues so in depth and with so much support. I would recommend this treatment to anyone and everyone.