We are delighted to share Jaime’s story of growth and transformation through the support of Step One Charity. 26-year-old Jaime had been leading a reclusive life since a mental breakdown during his teenage years. In this blog post, Jaime talks about his struggles, the role Step One played in his recovery, and the positive impact it had on his overall wellbeing. By sharing Jaime’s journey, we hope to highlight the difference our incredible Community Support Workers can make in the lives of those struggling with their mental health.
Life before Step One
“Prior to working with Step One, I was a complete recluse. This was a lifestyle that had persisted from the age of 15, following a mental breakdown that resulted in me dropping out of school. I practically never left the house, and when I did, I tended to only leave the house at night.
My avoidant tendencies throughout these key formative young-adult years resulted in an absence of important life and social skills, which further compounded my difficulties, leading to a severe lack of self-worth and further avoidance and isolation. I had no real ambitions or consideration for my future in general. Beyond scattered bits and pieces of self-learning, I was completely stationary in my development. I was utterly inert; I felt as if I were trapped in limbo.
Discovering Step One
Given my state at the time, I believe my GP mentioned Step One to my mum and she arranged things on my behalf. The support I received was 3 hours of face-to-face support a week, lasting for what must have been around 5 years. More than anything, the regular outside human contact was key to helping me.
Quite soon after working with Step One, my agoraphobic tendencies were challenged in a healthy and productive way; I went from a complete shut-in, afraid of answering the door, to regularly going outside every week alongside a variety of new faces.
As a secondary school drop-out, I also did not have any qualifications, and now I am currently studying the latter half of the first year of an OU degree, with the plan being that I will attend UWE next academic year. I would not have achieved this without a member of support going out of their way to research and facilitate the adult-learning GCSE courses that served in building my academic foundation.
I’ve additionally just moved from Exmouth, my home of the last 20 years, to Bristol, with the desire to start afresh. Thus far I have maintained a healthier and more confident outlook, even managing to rekindle some old relationships! The regular social contact and new experiences provided by the support, as well as the development of everyday life-skills, such as utilising public transport, has been key in achieving this.
I cannot speak for everyone, but I think given the nature of my difficulties and the type of support I received, Step One has been the single most important service in tackling my difficulties. I believe that this is due to the authenticity of the support; the fact that the individual support workers tend to be incredibly down-to-earth, occupying many different walks of life. Over my years of experience working with Step One, I’ve never had the impression that a support worker wasn’t invested in helping me achieve my goals.
I would definitely recommend Step One to those struggling with social difficulties, depression and/or anxiety, especially those who have become somewhat disenchanted with professional therapy.
Needless to say, at my worst, I was extremely self-conscious, yet I never once felt as if there were any judgement concerning my difficulties. Overall, I am just very glad that I managed to largely overcome my mental health rut, in large thanks due to the support provided by Step One.”
We are delighted to find out that Jamie has recently been offered 2 university places on merit at Exeter and UWE to study Computer Science after he scored 98% in maths with Open University. We wish him the very best in his next chapter.