One of my siblings, also an architect, had been encouraging me to contact the Architects Benevolent Society. I was very hesitant, as I did not believe anyone would be able to help me. I was convinced that was what my life would be like, until I died. I was entertaining awful thoughts, although I never actually got to the point where I planned to end things.
You read these type of stories online and think “Oh, poor them”…but you never think that, one day you would become the person who desperately needs help, that others will read about like you readers are doing right now.
I finally completed the form on ABS’ website almost on a hunch, and Aidan [Welfare Officer] called me back that same day. And…we just started talking. It was a simple thing – we were just talking. Aidan asked me probing questions, but in a very non-threatening and easy-going manner.
It felt good to talk. He spent quite some time getting to know me and my situation that day, and then looked at what practical steps he and ABS could take to help me in the most effective and quick way. While I was accepting Universal Credit at this point, it only covered rent and bills – so I was struggling to provide necessities such as food and the help I needed for my chronic pain. My savings were depleting very fast and I had absolutely no idea what I’d do once I’d ran out.
Within two days, ABS arranged for a grant to be paid into my account, which helped me access physiotherapy and pay for food. I was also referred to regular counselling through Anxiety UK. At that point, I’d already depleted the 6 sessions offered by the NHS – I had a great therapist, but stopping the sessions after 6 weeks was almost as hard as starting them, and I felt very alone again, with no therapeutic support and no one to speak to.