A Torbay trainee counsellor who has suffered debilitating mental health issues and personal trauma has told her story about how she’s turned her life around, to mark National Stress Awareness Day on 7 November.
Sanctuary Housing resident Carla Thompson was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2013 following the tragic death of her seven-month-old daughter.
Consequently, Carla couldn’t keep up with the payments on her flat, so she turned to social housing to provide a home for herself and her son, moving into her Sanctuary home later that year.
The now 34-year-old struggled to leave her house, suffering from anxiety and claustrophobia. After forcing herself to get and about, she started to attend a local women’s circle, run by community organisation Imagine and funded by Sanctuary.
Carla said: “That was the turning point for me. I got a little bit of confidence back and could progress at my own pace. I did some volunteering too, which really helped me to build myself back up.”
Today, Carla’s strength shines through, recently completing a course that will lead to her becoming a counsellor, and she is thrilled to have secured part-time employment.
Carla commented: “It’s through the women’s circle that I’ve been able to find myself again and am moving forward with my life.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have had another little girl, who’s now a happy and healthy one-year-old. I would love to eventually become a counsellor and help to shape services for other residents who have been through tough times.”
Sanctuary’s neighbourhood partnerships manager, Lynne Roberts, added: “Carla has gone through some devastating times, and to come out the other side with such a positive mindset is nothing short of inspirational.
“It’s an honour to provide funding and support to a group that is having an amazing impact on our residents.”
The women’s circle, which receives additional support from Bay charity Shekinah, offers two groups based in Torquay and Paignton. The Torquay gathering has been running for more than a year and held a first anniversary celebration to mark the achievement.
The Torquay circle takes place at Shekinah’s Endeavour House, in Union Street, every Thursday between 12.30 and 2.30pm. The Paignton group meets each Friday from 10am until 12 noon at Great Parks Community Centre. For more information call Sally Renshaw on 07818 167672.
National Stress Awareness Day
National Stress Awareness Day is an annual campaign to raise awareness about the profile of stress and its impact, and reduce stigma around stress-related illnesses.