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Kirsty's Story

Kirsty (26) came to Thistle for support struggling with her physical and mental health and having to adapt to the new realities of the COVID-19 lockdown.

In the middle of last year, I started to feel ill and was told I had suspected Crohn’s disease. It had a huge impact on my life: I wasn’t even able to go out and see friends the way I normally would.

Feeling ill, being in pain and the effect this had on my life had a really negative impact on my mental health. When I received some bad news, everything was just too much. I was finding things difficult and feeling really low. I ended up going to see my GP who referred me to Thistle’s Midlothian Wellbeing Team.

Connecting with the Wellbeing Team at the start of lockdown was exactly the right timing for me. Before lockdown, my way of coping was to stay busy all the time. I work in out-of-school care and I’m studying for an SVQ too. The kids always make my day! Even the worst day can be made better just by seeing the kids. Being busy stopped me having to think about things. Lockdown took all that away. I’d lost my usual coping mechanism and was struggling. It was really scary.

I was diagnosed with bipolar three and half years ago and since then I’ve seen therapists, tried Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and been on medication. I didn’t want to go down the medication route again if I could help it.

I knew a little about the way Thistle worked. I wanted to try it. But to be honest, I was sceptical. I felt so negative and everything felt so rubbish, I wasn’t sure Thistle could help.

I’ve never met Leeanne, my wellbeing practitioner, in person. Because of lockdown we’ve only talked on the phone. I was apprehensive before our first call. But I knew that she was going to approach things by focusing on positives and just knowing that made me start thinking more positively before we even had our first conversation!

I met Leeanne once a week. I felt really at ease in our conversations. As well as listening she gave me support and also useful links to self-help material that I could look at in my own time.

Thistle’s support has made a massive difference to me. I was so surprised – I didn’t believe I could change how I felt and I’d given up thinking there were things I could do to make myself feel better. It’s made me realise there are lots of things I can do. I’ve realised that even simple things like the space that I’m in can affect how I feel. So, I’ve been making sure my home feels calm. I’m much more aware of how I feel and am making choices that make me feel better rather than worse.

I’ve also noticed that when something difficult happens, I don’t feel really low. I was due to have a procedure done in hospital to help with my physical health, but it’s been postponed due to Covid. A few months ago, I would have really struggled with the delay. Now, I’m managing, reminding myself that it will still happen, I just need to wait until the restrictions are eased again.

I feel really lucky that Thistle’s Wellbeing Team are here – a lot of people who experience mental health problems go to their GP and end up on a waiting list for months before speaking to someone.

If anyone was unsure about speaking to Thistle I’d say it’s worth giving it a go. Talking to someone really helps and Leeanne helped me see things in a different way.

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