Witnessing a car crash outside her daughter’s school triggered a tragic reaction for mother of three Kirsty who was already in the grip of mounting levels of anxiety.
Forty-year-old Kirsty had taken a break from her managerial role at a chemical manufacturing company and was eventually referred to Able Futures, a mental health service, to help with her transition back into a working environment.
Able Futures, which is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions to deliver the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service, provides access to support at no charge and regular appointments with a mental health specialist known as a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant (VRC).
“My rising anxiety was producing physical symptoms which meant that I was not eating or sleeping,” explained Kirsty who lives in Preston. “No-one was hurt through the car accident, but this event was the last straw for me.
“I kept dwelling on what could have happened if the vehicle had crashed 15 minutes later. I could have been on the crossing with my daughter. My reaction was so extreme that I started to worry about my child when she was away from me, even when she was at school.”
Kirsty is employed as her company’s quality control manager and has been in her current role for four years. Her responsibilities involve supervising the laboratory staff members and she manages the quality testing process to ensure that products produced in-house are of a consist quality and meet the requirements of the customers.
“I have been with the company for 19 years,” added Kirsty. “At the time I was going to work on very little sleep and I was unaware of how my usual working day was becoming so overwhelming. I was worrying that if I made a spelling mistake then I would be sacked, the simplest things became insurmountable. I was frightened that if I said anything about how I was feeling that I would lose my job. I had everything out of proportion because I was not talking to anyone. I had truly reached breaking point.”
Kirsty visited her GP and took a six week break from her work. When she was ready to consider returning to the office, she liaised with her company’s occupational health team who put her in contact with Able Futures for additional support.
“Quite simply Able Futures helped me to get back to the person that I am,” said Kirsty. “I now realise that my anxiety had gradually built up and one day I felt I could not continue.”
Able Futures offers engagement with trained vocational rehabilitation consultants (VRC) who are available to offer advice and devise an approach that is right for each individual client.
“I worked with Able Futures for nine months and my VRC helped me to develop coping strategies to deal with my difficulties,” she added.
Kirsty regularly met with Emma Martin, her VRC, and communicated each week through phone calls, texts and emails.
“My most pressing problem was how to improve my sleep patterns,” recalled Kirsty. “We talked through some of my issues and Emma suggested several approaches that I could use. There were also a number of relaxation apps to help with the process.
“I began to keep a daily journal. I used bullet points to simply list incidents and observations and then I would look at my list to try and decide if I’d experienced a bad day or a good one. Gradually, some of my weeks started to include better days.
“I was learning to change my negative mind-set to a more positive outlook. Writing things down helped me to feel that I had dealt with the issues and I no longer needed to dwell on them when I was trying to go to sleep.
“I would recommend that anyone facing a similar mental health issue should engage with Able Futures. They have an amazing array of tools that will help you. It was wonderful to know that I had this support in my corner - someone was fighting for me to recover.