Catherine is staying at one of our shared houses which enable people to build on skills to live as independently as possible. Here’s her insight into handling challenges and taking positive steps forward.
"I’ve been living here for just over a year. I find it hard to recognise what I’ve achieved in this time but staff tell me that I’m making good progress. This is actually the fifth place I’ve lived since leaving my parents’ home and I was previously at CCT’s residential service.
"It takes a while to get to know people but everyone gets on well here and I’ve made a good friend in the house. Evenings can be difficult so it's good to know other people are around.
"I use the staff a lot for emotional support: talking through feelings, my self-harm urges, things related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anything really. PTSD comes in waves and lots of things can trigger it. Sometimes it can be something I watch on TV or if someone says a certain word, other times it’s hard to know.
"The staff help me to keep myself safe. If I have an urge to do something harmful they talk through the risks and consequences with me, and we make an action plan.
"Going out on my own can be stressful and make me feel anxious, especially where there’s lots of noise and people, or if I don’t have a specific destination. I’m starting to handle this a bit better now but I'm not quite up to strolling about outside on my own yet. I like being able to go out for a coffee with staff and they’ve been supporting me to gradually cope better in supermarkets.
"I’m also taking more control of my medication and managing my appointments. I used to get very anxious about seeing the dentist, and didn’t go for ages! The staff help me with this and also act as my advocates. When I see a doctor my mind can shut off and I won’t say what I want to say, but if I’ve chatted with staff first they can provide helpful prompts and are not afraid to speak up for me.
"I really like acting, singing and dancing and have been doing theatre in my spare time, performing in Grease at Torquay Princess Theatre. When I was little I used to do ballet, tap and jazz dancing. I’d given it all up but now I’m going back to it. I can be on stage looking out at an audience and it doesn’t worry me. I think I like acting because I get to be someone else.
"I've started running as well and have been doing the ‘couch to 5k’ plan. And I've started swimming which I enjoy although it’s not something I can go to alone. I did some volunteering at CCT courses that help people with similar issues. After giving it a try I feel like I would like to look at volunteering for other things.
"I have a cat (Benji) who give me extra responsibility and has a very calming influence on the house. He knows when we’re upset and just sits on you for hours.
"I’ve just started therapy with someone so will see how that goes. I take one day at a time. While I’m staying here there’s less pressure and I feel supported. It gives me breathing space."