Kim Walker, 48, from Newton Abbot suffered from stress and anxiety during and returning from working overseas.
From 2008-2015, Kim was working overseas in the Middle East when she first started to experience severe anxiety, leaving her emotionally exhausted. She would often find herself crying, criticising herself and thinking that she wasn’t good enough.
Kim returned to the UK in 2015 and began working in a different, but equally stressful environment. This led to her also having trouble sleeping and finding that she wasn’t able to meet up with friends or keep social appointments in the diary. Kim was struggling to cope with going to work and doing everyday tasks, such as cleaning the house. She would wake up in the night worrying about anything and everything.
This impacted her family too as they didn’t go out and would miss family occasions and events.
Kim said: “When I was feeling particularly anxious, I couldn’t pick up the phone to call people and struggled to answer the phone when it rang.
“In the end, I felt so bad that I saw my GP and explained that I felt I wasn’t coping. The doctor referred me to TALKWORKS, and they invited me to attend group therapy CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), which I started 4 weeks later.
“I found the sessions very useful and it surprised me to see people there from all walks of life and ages going through similar situations to me, I found it useful to talk to my peers about what I was experiencing.
“On the third week I had a bit of a breakthrough as this particular session taught techniques to manage my thoughts and deal with what the CBT team called ‘the poisoned parrot’ that was sat on my shoulder expressing my negative thoughts. These techniques included visualising the parrot, picking it up and putting it away in a cage and covering it up to keep it quiet and out of mind.
“The sessions have had such a massive impact on my life, my confidence has returned and I’m back out socialising with friends and family which I was unable to do before. I make time every day to go over the techniques I’ve learnt and if I find myself listening to that parrot, I pick it off my shoulder and put it back in its cage where it can’t trouble me.
“The person who noticed the biggest difference in me after the treatment was my husband, Adam, he has told me that since I’ve completed the course, he feels he has his wife back and the woman he married, not this other anxious and stressed person who had taken over. He thought that the course might have only been a temporary fix, but he can see now the long term change it’s had on me and all of us as a family.
I’d say to anyone having similar feelings to talk to someone as soon as possible, and that you absolutely don’t need to live like that. It was easy to get the help and support I needed and there is lots of help out there. Attending the six-week CBT course was one of the most positive things I have experienced, and I had great results from it.”
Find out more about how TALKWORKS can help improve your mental and physical wellbeing.
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