“I moved to Bath in 2019 to work for a mortgage broker. It was a regular 9-5 job, but I began to struggle. There were lots to do and I couldn’t keep up with the pressure. Soon my mental health declined. I would get signed off for a few weeks, but before I went back I’d end up doing something like hurt myself so I could get signed off again. My workplace was nice and tried to find a way to make things work for me, but I felt guilty that I couldn’t handle work like everyone else could.

I was living in a shared house with people I didn’t know. When I stopped working, I couldn’t afford it. The letting agency soon sent a letter saying I was to be evicted, but when COVID hit, they couldn’t evict me.  There was a stream of phone calls back and forth, but they didn’t know what to do with me.  It was clear they just wanted the money from my rent.

Without keeping a job, I had to move on to benefits, which created its own problems. The other residents in my flat heard I was on benefits for not working and then they expected me to pay more than my share with my benefits.  It wasn’t a comfortable environment to live in.  Eventually I was moved to supported housing, but I couldn’t work whilst living there. So, what was I going to do with myself?

As I couldn’t work, I started volunteering at Bath City Farm, helping with gardening.  I soon started some small online courses like horticulture, Spanish and sign language.

I think these helped with my mental health. I found out from the doctor that I had EUPD, a personality disorder which gives me a skewed sense of self. It was actually the doctor who recommended I go on Genesis Trust’s Life Course as a psychotherapy option.  I thought another course couldn’t hurt, but if I’m honest, I didn’t really know how much it would help at the start.

Compared to the stress I’d experienced at work; the Life Course and its commitment was just what I needed. Sue Fourie made it easy to attend, being flexible with me, especially at the start. The content was relaxed and manageable.  We learnt stuff I already knew about self-care and how important it is, but hearing someone say it and talking about it brought it home for me.  I really valued the learning style and it was like a gentle push through to why these things are important. The style was, “this is how you can do it; I’ll leave that up to you.”

The Life Course has really helped me make progress, especially with my emotional intelligence.  I definitely feel better now than when I started.  Now I question why I do things, telling myself, “I’m doing this because of this, and if I want to get better, I need to do that instead.”  My default to any problem is always sleep, but the Life Course has made me push through that reaction and try something better, like going for a walk instead.  Sometimes it doesn’t work, but it’s like Sue said, I’m forming new neuro pathways each time I question my actions and thoughts.  I’ve been given the tools to become aware and I know I can fix it.

Now I’ve completed the Life Course, I’m going to do more courses.  It’s a nice environment here at Gateway and all the groups are great.  I’ve done the nature course already.  A big thing for me will be keeping in touch with my group as I struggle to keep friendships.  If I end up talking to people after this, that would be a good outcome.  I want to move out of supported housing too.  I know I’m on my way.”

If you’d like to help Genesis Trust in supporting people like Harri, please give to our Christmas Appeal of Hope.  You can enable more people like Harri to find their way to a better future.