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James’s story: Benefiting from peer support

James has had anxiety from early childhood, something that has slowly become worse. Over time, James has sought clarity on his mental health and found ways to boost his confidence. By coming to Change Mental Health, he has benefited from peer group support and one-to-one support in Stranraer.

Having anxiety since he was a child, his previous school reports would say that “James doesn’t like change but after he’s done it he’s fine.” James believes it all in the thought process of being worried that something is going to change, which became more difficult as he started working.

“Everything that I’ve done that I’ve been worried about – such as talking to you right now – when it’s finished I wonder why I’ve worried the whole day about it. I don’t seem to learn. Okay, I get worried but I always seem to get through it.”

James was once a Support Worker for people with learning disabilities in Glasgow. The anxiety got worse and James started doing less before becoming more withdrawn. After visits to the GP, James was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (type 2), major depressive disorder, EUPD that followed severe anxiety. He managed with the treatment he was on until 11 years ago but they eventually didn’t work, which led to James leaving his job when his mental health deteriorated.

A break-up of a relationship brought James to Stranraer and has been at Change Mental Health since arriving.

“It’s just been a lifesaver. They can’t rid of me and I’m here every day it’s on, really. I’ve found it’s definitely boosted my confidence and it’s helping me to push doing things I’d never thought about before. I’ve had one-to-one help and I’m going to men’s group every Wednesday. The structure of the group has been fundamental to my general wellbeing – knowing that I have the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with peer support and even doing some volunteering.”

James has taken part in all sorts of activities, such as pizza nights, and has received help with his EUPD diagnosis. He believes the friend that encouraged him to attend a session at Change Mental Health over four years ago has massively helped his mental health.

“If I hadn’t found the group here, I really don’t know where I’d be right now. We can chat about anything at the group and how we’re feeling at the same time. There’s quite a large group here and with my boosted confidence it’s just knowing that there’s people out there with similar experiences. It’s so easy to be here and talk about anything and nobody is judging because they’ve been in the same boat.

“Before, I wouldn’t have been able to go for a walk in town, or even just out my front door. I’ve now been able to go out and meet friends more and not feel so isolated.

“All the staff have been so helpful and understanding. I’m quite positive that I’ve got something ahead of me now.”

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