When I first saw the flyer I remember thinking what a great opportunity for staff to have that kind of support. Having worked in the NHS for over twenty years I am aware that the pressures staff are working under are unprecedented and I could think of a few friends and colleagues who might want to access the classes. I didn’t immediately think it was for me.
As I reflected on the fact that I was experiencing a number of difficult things at work, namely increased work load and lacking the job security that I had always taken for granted I began to realise that a number of things on the flyer really did apply to me. I was feeling anxious, not sleeping and intermittently struggling to eat (not me at all!) and I was worrying about what the future held for me and my family. It struck me that I could possibly benefit from the stress control classes. It struck me again and again but for some reason I didn’t ring.
I am really fortunate that I have some great colleagues and friends that I can confide in and I was able to share with a trusted friend, that I felt I would benefit from going to the classes, but was worried about ringing. My friend is a very intuitive honest and caring person and she just asked, ‘what’s really stopping you?’. I became quite tearful which was a surprise and when I really thought about it there were two things; that I felt like I was saying I couldn’t cope and the ‘stigma’ of accessing a mental health service. I have been a nurse for over 20 years and to hear myself say that was quite something, a revelation. If I could think like that as someone who has been supporting patients and their families for many years, then how difficult might it be for someone without the insight and experience I have had to access the service? It really made me think.
And what I thought was, that the things that were causing me stress were not going away and the ways I normally managed difficulties didn’t seem to be helping, so I would have to do something different. I picked up the phone and made the call. It was lovely to speak to someone on the end of the line who was sensitive and explained that they needed to take some details before putting me through to someone else. I was treated with care and respect by both the people I spoke to and I was offered a place on a six week stress control course.
That was 3 weeks ago and I have now just completed the first session of the course. I was a little apprehensive and I guess slightly anxious as I made my way to the West Yorkshire Playhouse but I was also looking forward to it. As I arrived I was greeted warmly by the two course facilitators who explained how the course would run. The clear informative delivery was interesting, engaging and inclusive. There was real acknowledgement that taking the steps to get to the session was achievement in itself particularly when you are feeling stressed. I think there were a few metaphorical pats on the back at that point!
What I saw and experienced was a group of people of different age’s genders and race sitting together and beginning to understand an ever present issue of life. It was good to know that I wasn’t on my own. We’ve only just started but I left with a real sense of anticipation (not anxiety!) and I am looking forward to relaxation in week 2. I know that the things I learn and refresh will help not only me, but my colleagues’ friends and family.
I feel fortunate to be able to access the group and while it doesn’t change the situation that may have precipitated my feeling stressed, I hope that this positive input will help me build my resilience to cope with what’s in front of me. I’ll keep you posted!
LCH Staff member December 2014