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Susan’s story of taking control of her mental health after being diagnosed with PTSD

Learn how we helped Susan get the therapy she needed to get her life back on track, after her PTSD meant she could no longer work.

Eventually, my mental health got so bad that I became pretty much unable to function in my job. Which meant I faced not only being out of work, but being out of work for way longer than I feared.

Hi, I’m Susan, and I live in London. Having originally planned to train as an architect and with a partner who works as an engineer, I joined the IET early in my career – but have since transitioned to training in law, undertaking specific work in engineering and construction law.

I never thought I’d be in a position where I needed support with my mental health. But in 2021, following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, my emotional wellbeing took a huge nosedive, and I was informed by a psychologist that I was suffering with a form of PTSD.

Rather than helping me come to terms with what I was going through, the PTSD diagnosis only made things worse. What was even more distressing though, was that the NHS waiting time for the specialised therapy I needed to overcome my PTSD was close to a year – and there was no way I could afford to go private.

Eventually, my mental health got so bad that I became pretty much unable to function in my job as a trainee lawyer. Which meant I faced not only being out of work, but being out of work for way longer than I ever would have feared – a terrifying prospect.

“Now, instead of being able to help others through my role as a lawyer, I was the one in need of support.”

Luckily, a friend reminded me that because I was an IET member, I was potentially eligible to access support through Foothold.

With nothing to lose, I took the leap and reached out to them in late 2021, to see how they might be able to help me.

Getting the therapy I needed with Foothold’s support

Upon explaining my situation to the team, I was allocated a case worker straightaway, with whom I had direct contact.

There was no being bounced from pillar to post or endless hurdles to jump through like there had been with previous organisations – the whole process was simple, straightforward, and refreshingly reassuring.

The first offer of support from Foothold came in the form of a grant to cover 10 weeks of EMDR therapy to help me manage my PTSD. This was a godsend – I don’t think I’d have been able to get on the way to recovery without it.

The next step was to rebuild my confidence to return to work. Foothold were able to support me with this too, by funding around three months of CBT therapy to help me deal with the other mental health difficulties I was facing, and get back on track with my law training.

Helping others like me to overcome life’s challenges

Thanks to Foothold’s support I am now back at work and in a much better position than I was this time last year.

It makes me shudder to think about where I would be if they hadn’t stepped in to help me, but I do know that I certainly wouldn’t be on the way to a full recovery, or back in the workplace doing the job I love.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my story, I never thought that I’d be in a place where I’d need support with my mental health, or financial assistance to help pay for it.

But having been in that position, it’s made me appreciate even more how challenging life can be sometimes. None of us ever think we’re going to be in that position, but you never know what’s around the corner.

That’s why I’m grateful that I’m now able to once again help others deal with those challenges as I did – both through my work in law, and by giving back to Foothold by donating to their cause.

And I also learned that there is no shame in asking for help when you genuinely need it. Don’t suffer in silence – Foothold are here for you, and I sincerely hope that by returning the favour, I can help them change even just one person’s life as much as they did for me.

 

If you’re living with a mental health challenge and it’s affecting your day-to-day life, we might be able to help. Get in touch with us to find out more about out support.

Michael Hargreaves, author of How Foothold’s new Engineering Neurodiverse Futures programme can support you to achieve your career goals

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