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Antony’s story: Living with PTSD

From the support Antony has received with Change Mental Health, he has learned that is it okay to be himself and that his life going forward must be about finding the community that values, recognises and understands him.

Antony living with PTSD

Prior to his time with Change Mental Health, Antony recognised he had been struggling with his mental health for many years. He had reached a place in his life where he could begin processing his emotions and felt ready for the next step in his journey towards understanding and strengthening his mental health.

“Before coming to Change Mental Health my emotions were very raw, I was being very easily triggered by things on the daily basis. I would spend a lot of time withdrawn, and by the time I started interacting with Change Mental Health I was starting to feel kind of like I had done a lot of processing on my own, and I began to feel like I needed some form of outside support, stimulation and motivation.”

Many people can live with mental health problems for years before seeking support. This can be due to a number of factors such as: worries about appearing weak, social stigma, or feeling unworthy of help. However, it takes great strength to acknowledge your mental health problems, and Change Mental Health services are here for anyone who seeks support.

“Looking back I can see I’ve lived with trauma my whole life because trauma doesn’t erupt from nothing, there has to be roots somewhere. But like many people, I had tried to just get on with it and put the past behind me, focus on the future. But I consistently found that whenever I tried to take steps to create more of the life that I want, I would get so far before old feelings would start to surface and I’d feel like I got pulled right back into the same space of ‘why am I feeling like this? I can’t deal with this stuff’.

“The difficulties in my mental health and wellbeing made it very hard for me to just function ‘normally’, to just be able to function in a way that allowed me to feel positive about my life. I was constantly dealing with emotional turmoil, I was constantly feeling discouraged, not feeling safe, certainly feeling like I couldn’t be my authentic self; at best I would be misperceived and misunderstood, at worst attacked.”

When Antony reached out for support from Change Mental Health, he was looking for some form of support that he hadn’t yet received. Then through an external body, he was referred to The Signature Project, which is a service to support men with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) based in Edinburgh.

“Change Mental Health have offered me a way of reconnecting with who I am. What is meaningful and motivating to me more than anything – and this is the most important part – I have felt consistent authenticity, genuine care and connection, and professionalism from the people at Change Mental Health.”

“When I first contacted the Signature Project I was hoping for meaningful connection. I was initially doing one-to-one meetings with my Support Worker where we would meet a coffee shop near where I live and just have a conversation for a couple of hours. And then she invited me to join the newly formed Peer Support Group.”

The Signature Project’s Peer Support Group runs every Thursday at the Stafford Centre and is for men like Antony who want to experience genuine connection with their peers in a safe space. During the Peer Support Group, Antony is able to meet other likeminded people and they support one another to process their emotions in a non-judgmental environment.

“I feel in a way that the Peer Support Group has been a huge support for me. I feel like I have less of a need for one-to-one support because I’m finding, at this point now in my journey, much more energy and positivity from my engagement with Change Mental Health that’s allowing me to experience myself in a new way. I’ve learned that I have a lot to offer men who are on a similar journey to me and that is immensely healing as well.”

Services like the Signature Project and its Peer Support Group are wonderful resources for mental health. They are a way for those who experience mental health problems such as depression, anxiety or PTSD, to connect with others and their community. These services are a way to support mental health symptoms, reduce isolation and bring a sense of belonging.

From the support Antony has received with Change Mental Health, he has learned that it is okay to be himself and that his life going forward must be about finding the community that values, recognises and understands him.

“If you are looking for some form of genuine, unconditional support, I would recommend contacting Change Mental Health, even if it’s just to have a chat and see how that feels. Everybody is different and have different needs, but I think everybody at some level has a profound need to feel accepted, safe and that they can trust those around them.”

Antony and his fellow Signature Project volunteer, Douglas, received a prestigious award at the annual Volunteer Edinburgh ceremony in June 2024.

The award recognised Antony’s outstanding work with the peer support group at the Stafford Centre, his invaluable lived experience and his crucial support and guidance to men facing similar challenges.

contact

Our Advice and Support Service is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, where advisers can signpost you to local support that most fits your needs, including our own Change Mental Health services. We offer initial advice on money worries and help to deal with emergencies.

Contact 0808 8010 515, email us at advice@changemh.org or fill out the enquiry form on the Advice and Support Service page.

Our Signature Project runs in Edinburgh. It is a men-only service to which men have to be referred by emailing signature@changemh.org

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