Jessie's Story

I started with Penumbra on 21.4.2014 support was to assist me with budgeting, shopping and my mental health stress/anxieties self-harm, reduction of alcohol and to get me out of the house. I had two teenagers at the time and Penumbra helped with structure and getting them to go to school.

I had a lot of debt and very little money coming in; therefore, staff would help me to budget and prioritise bills and food. I could not go out on my own without having panic attacks and Penumbra staff taught me coping strategies and breathing techniques so I could go into shops.

My house was desperately needing decorated, but I didn’t have any spare money, staff helped me get a Scottish Welfare Grant which got me carpets and other things for the house this made a huge difference to mine and the kid’s life.

I struggled to sleep and would often sleep in for support or just not answer the door this was something the staff worked hard for me to overcome.

As time went on the staff supported me to become more independent even if I didn’t know it as they would maybe walk into another isle in the shops, I knew they were there and although it was scary, I knew it was for the best, and I caught on to this very quickly I can laugh about it now.

I had set some goals and one of them was to go on the bus, something I had not done for many years so the staff would come with me and at first get on at one stop then maybe off a few stops later they also encouraged me to wear earphones to block out the noise then got me to sit at another part of the bus from them and I absolutely hated it but I persevered until I was able to go on myself and meet Jackie in town I was an absolute wreck when I got off but I was so proud of myself. We then worked on me going into a shop myself and staff wait outside again this was hard, but I kept doing it until I was able to do most of my shopping on my own.

In 2019 I was introduced to  The Place group where supported people meet up and chat or go on outings, I had been a few times and on a couple of outings I was asked if I wanted to go on a group holiday to Blackpool I had said no as I didn’t have the money but after some persuasion and help from social work with the cost I decided to give it a go, on the build up to going I was so nervous and wanted to cancel on a few occasions, It was the day before going and I was advised to stay at my daughters house so she could come with me to the bus otherwise I wouldn’t have gone I will never forget that taxi journey to the bus station my full body was shaking and I felt sick. Once there I was introduced to everyone, and I knew a couple of people going so I calmed down a little bit, I met Michelle and we got on like a house on fire I sat with her on the bus to Blackpool and discovered our daughters were friends, Michelle and I are still best friends to this day. I cannot thank staff enough for persuading me to go to Blackpool as it was brilliant, and I have the best memories (and I only had one panic attack while there).

I was offered a position at my local food bank which I am very grateful for as I have had to use food banks in the past so I feel like I am able to give back now and that makes me very proud

I have continued to go to The Place group when I could and one of my fondest memories was going to the safari park, this was a brilliant day I had such a laugh and felt at ease for the first time in a long time.

Covid hit and it was hard for everyone I particularly felt this , as I had just got over the isolation and I was now back to square one this pushed me back to my old ways of sleeping all day and staying awake at night, I done video calls with the staff and social distance walks, but this was hard as I felt trapped again. Staff would help me with online shopping, but this did not help me as I felt like I had not spent money and always thought I had more money than I did.

Once staff were allowed back in I really needed to go to the dentist this was a huge fear of mine but I knew that I had to go after many abscesses in my mouth, I made an appointment and staff supported me to the appointment, I struggled so much at the dentist.

In March 2021 I was referred to the hospital to have all my teeth removed under anaesthetic and as the date was getting closer I was anxious I was making myself unwell, staff done their best to reassure me but it was too much. On the day of the appointment, I tried not to think about it and staff took me to the hospital and stayed until I went to theatre. Unfortunately, I had a reaction to the anaesthetic and ended up in a coma in intensive care, this was a very scary time for my family and friends, I recovered somewhat but my mobility was affected and when I got home I was unable to use the stairs so my bed had to be brought into the Livingroom, which meant that I had to start applying for another house. After a few months of bidding for houses I was offered a one-bedroom ground level flat this was a little distance to where I was staying and in a whole new area, but it was perfect for me living on my own.

Once I moved in, I was awarded some backdated money which put me in a much better position financially I was able to buy new things for my new home and treat my kids, I also become a nana so was able to buy for my grandson this was massive for me.

I started going to The Place group more as I was closer to the meeting places I met some new ladies who have now become part of my friends circle and I was proud to invite some of them to my house and on one occasion I hosted a bingo day complete with buffet it was a brilliant success and I was so proud of myself.

I have started helping at The Place group becoming one of the peers in which I help others if they are having a difficult day, I bought myself a Rollator which has massively helped with my mobility and independence. I am managing to go out on my own doing shopping, meeting friends or meeting for The Place group but I still felt something was missing so I spoke to my key worker about volunteering and we phoned around a couple of places, I was offered a position at my local food bank which I am very grateful for as I have had to use food banks in the past so I feel like I am able to give back now and that makes me very proud.

I kept putting off the dreaded conversation of going back to the dentist and my key worker was very patient with this I eventually made an appointment, and we went for a consultation, I was offered to have them out using gas and air over 6 appointments and getting 5 teeth extracted each visit. I was extremely nervous when the first appointment come round. The dentist was absolutely brilliant she calmed me down and was very patient, I got very scared when they said they were going to do the gas and air, so I opted to have the jag instead I managed really well and got 5 teeth out I was very proud of myself, I had all my teeth out in time and couldn’t believe I had done it I am now awaiting my dentures which I cant wait for,  I now have another grandchild on the way and life is good.

Huge thanks to Jessie for sharing her experience with us.  

Read other inspiring stories, here: penumbra.org.uk/your-journeys

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