Dervla's Story

September 18th 2014

Why I went to Jigsaw… For me coming into Jigsaw was about getting through my exams.  That was a big thing for me because I would be finishing my degree and I didn't want to be back again the next year.  I wanted to do certain things after my degree and graduate with my class.  I had already failed an exam at summer and I didn't want that to happen again.  I wanted to get over the anxiety about doing the exams, to get to a place where I could concentrate, focus and study. I was also hoping that I could learn some skills that I could bring forward with me.  I wanted the benefit to be more long term.  I was very determined to get the most out it and I was going to give it my all. How I got to Jigsaw… My GP told my Dad about Jigsaw Galway. He told me to think about different options that were available and Jigsaw was one of them.  He left it up to me to pick which one to go with.  I was looking in to private counselling, as well as counselling available through my Mum’s health plan but when I rang about the health plan option, the lady on the other end was very flustered. All I wanted to do was find out some information about the service but it just felt like twenty questions. She told me I could only deal with one issue throughout the counselling and wanted to decide on it from the start. That just made me feel pressurised to decide on what was most important to me and anxious in case my priorities changed.  After my initial meeting in Jigsaw, I felt much more comfortable with Jigsaw than the idea of other services.  Even the space itself when you first go in is warm, inviting and open. My first time I went to Jigsaw… When I dropped in to Jigsaw, I just came in to see what the service was about.  The tea and biscuits while you wait for your appointment, they're a nice touch.  I just felt spoiled.  It's just a nice little extra to help you relax and to feel more comfortable and at home. All the rooms have a nice layout and have different colour schemes. They’re lovely and comfortable with couches or nice chairs to sit on. It helps to feel safe and comfortable in your setting so that you’re more at ease. For my initial consultation, a Support Worker brought me into a room and we just had a chat about how I was feeling.  Immediately when he talked about the service I just felt comfortable with the idea of sticking with Jigsaw.  He just had a chat with me and brought the anxiety down.  It was really good to have someone help me claw back at the negative thoughts. We went through a breathing exercise as well and he taught me a short mindfulness technique to help ground me at times of peak anxiety. I found those really good.  I kept those techniques with me and I used them while I was waiting on my sessions and I still remember them as they are easy yet effective. I know I can use them again in the future if I need to. My Support Worker told me he’d call me to check up on me and he let me know about the waiting period. There was going to be a three-week wait for appointments with a Support Worker but I knew I had exams coming up later and I wanted the support while I had the exams, so the timing worked out.I was happy to move forward with Jigsaw. Working with my Support Worker… Jigsaw exceeded my expectations because I was given more freedom to talk about stuff that I felt like talking about, which was a really big thing actually. My Support Worker realized that I like to plan so she said we could do a mini plan at the start of each session of what we were going to cover.  I really liked that idea because I could relax, I knew then that we would get everything covered that I wanted to talk about. Each week, we went through exercises together.  We moved quickly through everything but not too quickly.  We got through an awful lot of stuff and I felt it was really positive and really beneficial.  My Support Worker explained things to me that I didn’t expect. She told me about automatic negative thoughts, rules for living and core beliefs.  It was relevant to what we were talking aboutat the time and helped me see where things were coming from. We agreed on some goals with priorities for the sessions but I didn't ever feel boxed in.  I felt if I changed my mind halfway through, if one thing was bothering me more, I could talk about it.  She was always very open and always used to ask me, "Is there anything else you want to talk about?" She always spent a lot of time with me, always looked for extra resources, always had new ideas, new angles and was just really exceptional to be honest.  She always tried to adapt to my style of thinking and find ways to cover material that suited me. The first week I just had to record my negative thoughts; once I got used to that, she brought in something extra, adding on more layers and more layers, depending on what I could deal with.  That way, I didn't get bored with what I had to do and we were able to cover more material. It helped me get the most out of the sessions which was brilliant. I remember at the start she said, "Don't worry at all now if you don't get these exercises done," which I found quite comforting to hear because in the past when I availed of counselling sessions through my university, I had failed to do exercises.  When I brought in work I had done, she used to say, "Oh, thank you so much now for doing all this”. It was nice to have the effort acknowledged. I did feel really comfortable with the Support Workers. Once you feel comfortable with your Support Worker, the trust builds up. I knew I could trust them by their body language, their response to what I was saying and how comfortable I felt with it.  I always felt like there was more care and understanding in Jigsaw than in other counselling services I’d been in previously; I felt like there was a genuine and sincere wish to help me.  That helped me trust the service a lot. My own motivation… When I came to Jigsaw, I had realised that the first time I went to counselling in another service, I didn't put the effort in really.  I tried some things, but I wasn't motivated enough.  Then when I came to Jigsaw, I did my exercises and that helped and I came to realise that when I put the effort in, I'd get it back.  I suppose I came to realize that when you suffer from depression and/or anxiety, or any mental health issue, that it's you that has to get better.  You can have support, you can have your external resources, but you're the one that has to put the effort in to change the way you think, to try to get up every morning and to put the effort in to really change.  I made a lot of changes to my lifestyle, it all comes down to the person themselves in the end really. What I got out of it… Since having the sessions in Jigsaw, I‘ve had a real turn-around and I feel like I'm ready to move along on my own now.  I know I’m going to have bad days as well.  You're not going to just be high flying it every day but that’s just part of life and I feel like I’m able to deal with all of that much better now. A real sign for me that I was doing really well, was when I was doing my exams. There were days when I was under pressure studying and I was still really happy.  I was thinking “This is so odd, I've never felt this happy doing exams in my life!!”  It was just so nice to be so happy. Recently, I had a falling out with a friend and in the past I know would have reacted very badly to that and I would have been in an anxious heap.  Obviously, I'm upset, but I feel I can deal with things much better now. I guess it’s all about how you look at things and gaining a new sense of perspective and outlook. It sounds cliché, but I feel like I came into Jigsaw as a girl and I'm leaving as a woman.  I feel stronger, happier, more stable, and more at peace with myself, more confident.   For more information on Jigsaw Galway click here