JET saw me as the person I actually am
Ana Slous stopped working in 2015 due to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, which brought with it depression and anxiety. Today she is a qualified independent capacity advocate, a job she loves, and she believes that she is living her best life. ‘It’s not about what you can’t do, but what you can,’ she says.
‘For nearly five years I couldn’t work, and all areas of my life were on hold. I had lost all my confidence and self-esteem and hated being on income support – not in control of my own finances. All those negative emotions, I felt humiliated, useless and guilty. I felt there was no hope. I wanted to be invisible. There were days when I didn’t shower or get dressed or brush my teeth as I felt I wasn’t worth it. I felt like the worst mother to my son.’
With support from JET, Ana started by volunteering at Acorn and although some days all she could do was sit at a table counting puzzle pieces – as menial and insignificant as it sounds – she started noticing that whilst doing this she wasn’t thinking about her problems, and she was more ‘present’. She then went on to attend other programmes and counselling which helped replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
‘On really bad days, I pushed myself and I started having a sense of purpose,’ she says. ‘Little by little, my health issues became secondary to my life.’
Her advice to anyone suffering from mental health issues is: ‘Don’t assume there is no help, that no one will understand. When I first started counselling, I used to go away thinking it was a waste of time, but it really helped me deal with all the negative thoughts and emotions and my outlook became brighter.
‘JET supports you through employment, but they do so much more because they really understand your journey. Attending JET means that they can help build your confidence and help iron out arising issues. No matter how bad things are, there is always a chance to get better.
‘While you can’t take away whatever is giving you pain, you can do something about all the negative emotions that weigh you down. But nobody is going to do it for you. Reaching out is everything.
‘JET was the first thing I reached out to and they saw me as the person I actually am.’