Before joining Connecting Opportunities, I was struggling with how to move forward in my life. I had previously attended college to do a Health and Social care course but had been caring for my son the past few years, taking him to nursery school and other activities. In September 2017, he began attending school full time, and because I am a single parent, it was difficult for me to obtain employment as it needed to work around school hours. As I had much more time during the day to think, I became more aware of the absence of my family, who I had left behind in my country when I was trafficked to Europe. Because of what I had been through and the pain of losing my family, I struggled with depression and anxiety.
I was finding it more difficult to go out because of panic attacks and my fear of losing control. When I was referred to Connecting Opportunities, I felt much more hopeful because my keyworker TL helped me to sort out my benefits and think of ways I could move forward. She referred me to Solace mental health support because of my anxiety, depression and panic attacks.
At Solace, we looked at the obstacles that were getting in the way of me getting a job. At that time, I was having a lot of panic attacks that were so upsetting to me that I was frightened to go out. I had bad memories of going to a chemist shop and having a panic attack which was so bad that I lost control and fell over. I felt very embarrassed about it when the people around saw me and tried to help me. Using a form of therapy called EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, my therapist not only helped me to reduce the frequency of my panic attacks, but they were much less intense so I didn’t lose control anymore. Although I still get them sometimes, it doesn’t stop me from going out and doing the things I want to do.
The next barrier was my fear of leaving my son with anyone but me or the school to look after him. Even with good friends, I felt too scared to be separated from him. Because I had been kidnapped and trafficked, I always imagined it happening to my son if I wasn’t with him. Again using EMDR, my therapist helped me to process some of my fear and build up my confidence to leave my son at the home of his friends. So far I have done it twice. Although it is still hard, I am very proud of myself for doing it. If I am, to begin working, I need to be strong and get used to leaving my son with people I trust. With the support of my keyworker, I have begun a sewing course at Swarthmore College.