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Sarah’s story…

I’ve lived in Dorset for over 30 years, originating from Bristol. I’ve always had a passion for sport and played indoor volleyball at National level. I have coached and managed many volleyball teams. But my proudest moment was being part of the management team of the women’s Beach Volleyball pair who competed in the ’96 Atlanta Olympics. This experience of elite sport fed my desire to link my sports coaching experience to everyday life. 

My father died at 61, six months after being diagnosed with a brain tumour and my long-term relationship ended. This turned my world upside down and was the start of my journey through poor mental health. My GP was incredibly supportive and diagnosed depression. I found a local qualified counsellor and she was my catalyst to my recovery. This led to me wanting to understand more and I subsequently completed a range of counselling courses accredited by CPCAB. 

I decided that I wasn’t flourishing sitting behind a desk as an office manager. And so I took the leap of faith and applied for a job as a Welfare Officer with a national charity. It was my dream job, I spent my days providing advice and guidance to a very diverse workforce. I was able to advocate for those that were at their most vulnerable. During this time, I signposted to and worked with services such as Mind. 

Accessing support

Sadly, I did not follow the number one rule when supporting others to take care of ‘me’ first. Due to range of reasons a prolonged period of severe anxiety occurred. My GP was so supportive again and referred me to Steps to Wellbeing. I was diagnosed with a Generalised Anxiety Disorder. While awaiting CBT, I utilised resources on the Mind website to better understand my diagnosis. Thanks to CBT and practising self-help, I have returned to the ‘life loving, outgoing character’ that I once was.

One of the recommendations made by my GP, was to get out exercising again. He knew about my sporty background and encouraged me to take up cycling. In 2016 I raised over £3k for Mind by completing a 500km Cycle Challenge in India. It was one of the most amazing life-changing experiences.

How did you come to Dorset Mind?

Fast forward to 2020 and my connection with Dorset Mind started by completing ‘The June 500.’  It was perfect timed as the pandemic took over our lives. I was ‘challenged’ to get out on a cycle during lockdown. I was approached to join Dorset Mind as I shared many videos throughout June about my personal experiences of mental health. 

If you had one piece of advice you could tell someone about how to improve their mental health, what would it be?

My one piece of advice is to develop your own mental health first aid kit, as you would for any physical injuries. Stock it with things that you go to when you’re in need, such as the services of Dorset Mind.  

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