Chapter makes you feel like you’re not alone

Four years ago, I was the manager of a busy bank in the centre of Chester. I had lots of friends and I was a regular at the gym. Then my working life caused a particularly nasty breakdown, and I was diagnosed with severe depressive and anxiety disorder.

Having retired due to ill health, I completely lost my motivation to do things. I didn’t just stop leaving the house, I also stopped doing things around the house, and I wouldn’t even do anything for my own enjoyment. I just sat at home watching television, 24/7.

I found it difficult to get up. I had no sense of purpose. I’d liken it to a spiral staircase that would only take you further down. My self-esteem had gone completely, and even though I live in Upton, I didn’t go into Chester town centre for four years. I couldn’t face it.

What I went through, I would not wish on my worst enemy.

In April 2018, my GP referred me to Chapter. I didn’t really know what it was but I thought I needed to do something.

I was assigned a key worker who gave me some practical tips about managing the way I respond to the triggers that nudge me towards that spiral staircase. She rings every now and again between one-to-one appointments, just to find out how I’m getting on. Knowing my key worker cares is a big factor. She’s a great sounding block and she comes up with lots of suggestions for how I can bring structure to my life. For example, she helped me create a timetable to help me deal with daily tasks.

My experience with Chapter has been amazing. Friends that I’ve spoken to have said things like “I can’t believe it, we’re seeing glimmers of the old you that we know and love”. But all I have done is joined Chapter.

Chapter’s group activities seemed intimidating at first. There would be lots of people I had never met before, and for some of them I would have to go into Chester for the first time in years. My key worker helped me with that as well, travelling with me to the park & ride and showing me how to use that service.

One of the activities I really value is Healthy Eating Club. I hadn’t been eating particularly healthy and I wasn’t a great cook, so learning how to make simple, nutritious meals like Thai green curry has been great. Another useful activity is the coffee morning in Hoole, which is a low-pressure and relaxed opportunity to chat to others involved in Chapter. These activities have really helped me rebuild my confidence around people.

Day trips are a great chance to do something different. We had a fantastic trip to Llandudno, including a long walk and a reward of fish and chips on the North Shore. More recently we went to see the Terracotta Warriors at Liverpool Museum, which was absolutely fascinating and something I just wouldn’t have done without Chapter.

Chapter’s activities give my life structure. They make me feel more alert, and the relationships I’ve built with other service users make me feel valued as a person, which I wasn’t feeling before. It’s certainly improved my mental health, and it’s given me my self-worth back.

Chapter makes you feel like you’re not alone. It’s given me hope for the future. I’ve even got plans to re-join the gym.

My experience with Chapter has been amazing. Friends that I’ve spoken to have said things like “I can’t believe it, we’re seeing glimmers of the old you that we know and love”. But all I have done is joined Chapter.

Posted in Activities, Chester, Mental Health, One-to-One Support, Service Users, Wellbeing.