Who are you?
Good question, I am Amy and I've always had a passion for helping others. When I was in my late teens, I got into a relationship with someone who was a few years older than me. Things were ok to begin with although he often had to have things his own way. It didn't take long for him to begin being violent towards me, especially after he'd had a few drinks. This continued for two years. I lost pretty much all the friends I had and even my family couldn't help because I wouldn't let them in. I just pushed everyone away, believing that it was all my fault. His parents blamed me for 'winding him up'. After spending those years having things thrown at me, being thrown down the stairs and hit regularly, the worst was the mental abuse. It left me thinking that I was worthless, I had no self-confidence all (this is something that I still struggle with). The relationship ended with him leaving bruised fingerprints around my neck, but I was also left feeling low about myself and very anxious even after the bruises faded.
My first real experience of depression
During this time, I met his friend. He was one of the kindest people I have ever met, and he quickly became my hero. He protected me from the violence and made me feel safe. Unfortunately, he was struggling with depression, something that I didn't completely understand at the time. He was facing his own battles but didn't ever speak about them, he was always 'ok'. But he wasn't! One day, he left to go home but never turned up. A few days later he was found miles away from home, he had committed suicide because he thought that it was his only way out. I felt completely numb and the pain ripped through me. Ever since then I knew that I wanted to be able to help others in any way that I can especially those struggling with mental health illnesses. Looking back, I know that when I had my first child, I struggled with post-natal depression. I was completely alone because of the choices I had made leading up to this. I felt scared and lost and I had no idea what I was doing. I spent most of the time spending money to try and make myself feel better, it worked well, but only for a short while and then I had to buy more. My mum helped me with my son and I slowly managed to begin to feel ok again. I think for me, the feelings of being useless and worthless came flooding back to me and were even stronger than before because now I had a little baby to look after, I wasn’t good enough to do that.
The strength of anxiety
I have always been a little anxious about things, I think that I always will be, but after my bad relationship and what happened to my friend, things got worse. I have let my anxiety control me for my whole life. I’ve not done what I have wanted because of the fear of what others will think of me. I struggle with social anxiety, so it caused me problems in my career and personal life. I used to get so panicked by people that I often found myself going bright red and then my thoughts, about what the person was thinking, grew and I got worse. I have basically spent my life avoiding the situations that I know will cause me anxiety. I always felt silly about it, so I’ve never really been able to speak to people until my son began to struggle with anxiety and my partner was diagnosed with OCD. This changed things massively for me. I’ve spent the last few years helping them both to cope with the symptoms of their anxiety. This has really helped me too. I don’t want my son to spend his whole life in flight mode, so I help him to fight every situation that makes him anxious. I’ve learnt a great deal about anxiety and the skills we need to be able to help ourselves feel better. Our thoughts are often a lot worse than the actual situation itself.
I have created Under the Surface to help others to feel better and get the help that they need. Waiting lists are long and people aren't being able to access any support so with the help of some amazing people, we are going to be giving people access to a range of sessions. From yoga, life coaching to counselling, people will be able to get some help, meet new people and start to feel better. The people running these sessions will be professionals in their session and have volunteered their time and expertise to help. As well as offering sessions tailored towards children and adults, we will arrange social meetings, walks and much more. Communities helping each other is great and needed in our society. Talking about your feelings and listening to others can make a big difference. I think that by people working together to help other people not only proves that there is still so much kindness about, but it also teaches the younger generation to be kind to others and help as much as they can. Any money that we raise will go towards helping to run the sessions, provide transport for people if needed, hire rooms, provide food and hot drinks, provide a support service for people outside of sessions, expand our sessions to different areas and make token payments to the professionals running the sessions.