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How BCHA helped me regain my life

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A BCHA customer has written about how his experience on the Ignite Personal Development Skills transformed his life and helped him gain employment by learning new confidence giving life skills that transformed his mindset from hopelessness and despair to positive thinking.

“The event that triggered my depression was when I first thought that I might lose my house after losing my job. It instantly filled me with fear and dread.

Our pain is caused by our thoughts.

That thought kept reoccurring throughout 2020 creating a feeling of hopelessness and despair which led to a permanent state of panic and anxiety.

Every morning, I awoke in a state of panic, soaked in sweat with a horrible “blood on fire” feeling that would last for hours and sometimes all day. The feeling was debilitating. I felt paralysed.

This affected my ability to function on a day-to-day basis, making it difficult to do the things I wanted to do like exercising, studying, going outside, finding a job, etc. I needed to force myself to do anything. Living life was like driving a car with the brakes on.

My problems caused a lot of time to be wasted and the fact that I was not as productive as I used to be was an additional worry.

When I visited the job websites, there weren’t many jobs that matched my skills. This caused more anxiety and panic. To avoid this anxiety I stopped visiting the job websites on a daily basis and only visited on a weekly basis. But this made the task seven times as stressful. I should have kept doing this task daily.

The fear of Covid didn’t help. I stopped going outside.

Watching all the successful people on YouTube made me feel worthless. Thinking about my old work colleagues who still had a job made me feel worthless. I didn’t want to talk to my old work colleagues or people outside my immediate family, as I was so embarrassed that I didn’t have a job.

I became fearful of everything and avoided everything. I didn’t apply for many jobs as I became scared of interviews.

My confidence was shattered which made it more difficult for me to find a job.

I kept waiting for myself to feel better before I did anything, but I never felt better. I stopped exercising on a daily basis and started to watch too much TV. This was a bad habit to get into.

I had recurring negative thoughts:

  • If I don’t get a job soon, all my life savings will evaporate and I’ll have to sell my house.
  • I’m so embarrassed by my job situation. I don’t want to contact my friends and family in case they talk about it.
  • If I visit the job websites, there won’t be any jobs that I can do.
  • My skills are out of date. I can’t do any of the jobs on offer.
  • If there are any jobs that I can do, I’m too scared to apply.
  • I’m too stressed to be able to do well at interviews.
  • I’m too ill to be able to take on another job, perhaps I should do something else.
  • I need to rebuild my confidence before I can do this.
  • Thinking about facing my fear makes me feel sick.
  • I feel the situation is hopeless and can never be resolved. But I need hope.
  • If I do get another job, I’m too ill to function.
  • How will I cope with a job when I feel like this? As a computer programmer, I need to be able to think straight. At the moment, I’m just a bag of nerves.
  • If I do get another job, the pay is less than what I was on and won’t cover my mortgage.
  • If I do get another job, it won’t be close to where I live. I don’t want to travel by public transport and catch Covid.
  • I’ve got several things I know I must do today (my accounts, looking at the job websites, going for a jog, doing my exercises), but I feel so terrible I don’t feel like doing any of them.
  • The continual procrastinating is making me feel useless.
  • Every day my procrastinating gets worse. I’m going backwards instead of forwards.
  • So much procrastinating. Am I lazy?
  • I’m going to get ill and die of a heart attack or cancer if this anxiety goes on too long.
  • Having these stress chemicals flowing through my body all the time can’t be good for me. My heart thumping all the time can’t be good for me. How long can my body keep going feeling like this? Will I have a heart attack or a stroke? Will it cause cancer?

Looking back on it now, I took far too long to seek help.

I waited almost a year before seeking help. During that time my mental health deteriorated. I should have got help sooner.

My family encouraged me to seek help. My daughter had a previous positive experience with Steps to Wellbeing and suggested I contact them.

Steps to Wellbeing suggested many courses of action for me to choose. I chose CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and BCHA’s Personal Development Skills course run by the Ignite team.

Looking back on it now, I can see that this Ignite course was the turning point in my recovery from a constant state of anxiety.

The Personal Development Skills course gives you the tools to correct damaging thought patterns. It's vital stuff that every human being should know. It should be taught in schools.

It covers valuable life skills such as:

  • Stress management
  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Confidence and self-esteem building
  • Assertiveness
  • Building resilience
  • Art as relaxation
  • Money skills

Some of the many useful things I learned include:

  • How to stop the pain caused by our thoughts
  • How to stop harmful self-talk and other damaging thought patterns
  • How to break through the terror barrier that keeps us trapped in our comfort zone
  • How to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts
  • How to use your time more productively
  • How to appreciate life and the beautiful world that God has made for us to live in
  • Don’t compare your inside to others outside
  • Exercise is a medicine best taken daily

The course goes at a slow pace and the super-friendly teachers hold your hand every step of the way.

It's done over Zoom and consists of 11 sessions (lasting two to three hours per session) over four weeks. It's time well spent that will change your life for the better.

Before I started the Ignite course, I had been out of work for over a year. I’d lost all my confidence and hope. I was living in a constant state of anxiety with a horrible “blood on fire” feeling, waking up soaked in sweat every morning, yet exactly two weeks after finishing the Ignite course I started a new job as a computer programmer. I cannot give this course higher praise. The Ignite course is pure gold!

Looking back on it now, the Ignite course changed my life and the hardships I faced during 2020 were worthwhile because of the things I learned.

When life has knocked you down, BCHA gets you back on your feet again.”

For more information about BCHA's employability skills courses, please telephone: 01202 410595 or email ignite@bcha.org.uk

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