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Maggie's story (Ignite customer)

girl with head in hands looking at a computer

Maggie, a former computer programmer, describes how BCHA’s NOCN Accredited Personal Development Skills course enabled her to move successfully away from a constant state of anxiety.

BCHA’s Ignite is an employability and skills programme, which focuses on supporting people to find greater self-belief, break free from benefit support, get back in to work and live life. Delivered in partnership with Skills & Learning and BCP, Ignite offers a range of workshops for people to choose from, which are all tailored to build a person’s self-esteem and confidence and to support them to achieve their goals.   

“My depression was triggered 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 and that thought kept reoccurring throughout 2020, creating a feeling of hopelessness and despair which led to me feeling a permanent state of panic and anxiety.

“Every morning, I awoke soaked in sweat with a horrible ‘blood on fire’ feeling that would last for hours and sometimes all day. 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, just became 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 now know that 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.

“And thinking about my old work colleagues who still had a job made me feel worthless. I didn’t want to talk to them, 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 and I didn’t apply for many jobs as I became scared of the thought of interviews. My confidence was shattered, which also 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.

“I had recurring negative thoughts such as: 

  • 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.
  • My skills are out of date. I can’t do any of the jobs on offer. And 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?
  • If I do get another job, I’m too ill to function.

“I told myself I needed to rebuild my confidence. But thinking about facing my fear made me feel sick. I felt the situation was hopeless and could never be resolved. But I needed hope.

“Looking back on it now, I took far too long to seek help. I waited almost a year before seeking help and during that time my mental health deteriorated.

“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 Maggie and she chose Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and BCHA’s Personal Development programme, which is run by the Ignite team.

“Looking back on it now, BCHA was the turning point in my recovery from a constant state of anxiety.

“The course gives you the tools to correct damaging thought patterns. It's vital stuff that every human being should know. I believe it should be taught in schools.

“We covered valuable life skills such as stress management, meditation and mindfulness, confidence and self-esteem building, assertiveness, building resilience, art as relaxation and money skills

“Some of the many useful things I learned personally included: how to stop the pain caused by our thoughts, how to stop harmful self-talk and other damaging thought patterns and how to break through the terror barrier that keeps us trapped in our comfort zone.

“The course goes at a slow pace and the super-friendly teachers hold your hand every step of the way. It takes a few hours about three to four times a week for a few weeks. It's time well spent that will change your life for the better.

“Exactly two weeks after finishing the Ignite course I started a new job as a computer programmer.

“I cannot give BCHA’s Personal Development Skills course higher praise – it’s pure gold. Looking back on it now, the course changed my life and I believe the hardships I faced during 2020 were worthwhile because of the things I learned.

“When life knocks you down, BCHA can get you back on your feet again.”

For more information about BCHA’s NOCN Accredited Personal Development Skills course and to download a referral form, please visit the employability and skills courses page on the BCHA website.

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