See how your support can help to make a real difference to the lives of young people who visit Jigsaw...
Sarah, from our Jigsaw Team, speaks with Eva* about why she came to Jigsaw and how it was just what she needed to support her through a difficult time...
How did you find out about Jigsaw?
Basically, I was going through bit of a rough time. It occurred to me one day as I actually passed this building and saw this big sign: Jigsaw, support service for young people. I just thought, well, maybe if I ever needed this… It was a sort of a pre-warning that I was going to need this at some stage, because I was thinking that I was going to have to talk to someone about all of the things that were happening for me. So I googled Jigsaw and looked at the website and read the stories as well.
Did you have any doubts?
I did wonder, is this really going to help me? Is this genuine? I didn't know if it was going to help me in the way that I needed at the time. I just wasn't sure what the service is about. But one day my rough times escalated… It was actually the month before my exams. I remember I was in the library and I was so down that couldn’t focus at all. You really have to be 100% concentrated on whatever you're trying to learn in University. I was thinking, if this is going to continue, I will mess up my exams. I was constantly thinking about my worries and it wasn't doing me any good. That's why I decided to make a move and talk to someone. I was like, okay, it's time to actually do it and not just think about it.
What was your impression of the service at this stage?
I remember when I walked inside for the first time, the architecture caught my eye and I was... This is actually something that could benefit me and this is the right place to be right now. There were people walking around and I just realized, well… this is an organisation that is trying to help and there is someone there; it's not just you. I just came in a really good feeling.
How did you find the experience of opening-up to somebody you had never met before?
It was exactly what I was looking for at that time. I just wanted to speak to someone and just let it all out because at that stage I hadn't mention anything to anyone. It was such a relief to talk about the feelings and the thoughts I had at the time and to not be judged and not be asked questions I didn't want to answer. If you say things to your family, they look at the problem or issue from their point of view. I didn't feel like my parents would understand what I was going through. They would just ask about what they were interested in; they wouldn't really want to know my thoughts or position. I know that people working in Jigsaw wouldn’t judge me. They were going to look at it like an objective by-stander. They were going to look at my perspective and opinion and that really helps.
What was the Jigsaw Team's response to you?
I remember the first session that I had, I was asked, "What's the issue?", and I just started crying.
Obviously the first time opening was a big step for you...
Yeah. When I think about it, it was a really stressful time. The support worker I met at Jigsaw just listened and I just found that extremely, extremely helpful. She calmed me down and told me, “If people have an issue with your problem, then it's their problem, not yours.” I remember that very vividly. It’s not my problem if other people are not accepting. I went into a lot of detail with her so she knew everything that was going on. She guided me through everything. I was going to face the same issue again in near future. She even set up a strategy for how I could deal with it... "Just try doing this and maybe try to take this approach." She saw that I was really down, so she was trying to help me out. I really appreciate that. I really felt relieved that I was able to talk about it with someone. Just being able to talk to someone and hearing their opinion on the situation, not just your thoughts constantly in your mind. It was a really great help… I was able to concentrate afterwards.
Did you notice any other changes for yourself?
Then it kept getting better. I didn't tell anyone until I was speaking with my support worker. Then I told my family and it's all good now. It has turned completely – from not talking about it at all, to now being open with a couple of my friends and all of my family. My support worker was really happy for me.
What difference does that make to you – having opened up now and shared this with people?
You're not keeping this, like secret to yourself. You're able to talk about it with your friends, your parents, your family. I remember at that time my mom just kept asking me, "What's wrong with you? Why are you keeping to yourself?" I didn't know how to approach this topic. I just didn't know how to bring it up! I wasn't able to open up to her… When you're hiding one thing, you don't want to open up about anything because you're worried you’ll be asked about that aspect of your life and then, you will have to hide it or lie. I was completely avoiding conversation and that was upsetting her. Then when I opened up to her and to my family, she felt relieved that it wasn't anything against her. I remember she told me: "You didn't have to go to someone else, you should have spoken to your family first." She felt like she failed as a parent. I told her it wasn't anything against her; it was just that I needed to speak to someone and find the courage to open up to my family. Then she understood and she was really impressed. She definitely feels more at peace now.
Do you feel more at peace yourself?
Oh, yeah, definitely. I started to work on myself and feel more confident about the issue. The fact that my family knows and they support me and don't judge me, that they're not mad… Makes a whole lot of difference. If something goes wrong with college or friends or something, I always know I have the support of my family. That's the turning point really.
I'm happy that you found that. It was always there but you really connected with it at this time. Yeah. Exactly.
What advice would you give to somebody who is maybe in the same situation as yourself or has a different worry?
Just go for it. The fact that you think about going to a service means that there is something that is worrying you. Every problem, if it's bothering you, is an issue. No matter how small or big it is, just go for it and get it out. I think that the biggest reason why people don't come to Jigsaw is because they doubt the extent of their issue. They might think, well, is my issue really worth wasting their time? Is my issue good enough to be discussed? I remember that's what I thought. But thinking about it now – how much this helped me – it makes me happy and sad at the same time.
Jonathan’s* aunt talks about how visiting Jigsaw has helped him to rebuild his confidence. Jigsaw is a safe place where Jonathan can work through his concerns, and identify ways to begin to look after his mental health.
Jonathan’s mother was drinking, and from time to time in hospital with her mental health. His Dad was the stable parent in the relationship, but we lost him after a tragic accident. His mother couldn’t help her addiction to alcohol, so she was open to me fostering Jonathan. He came to live with me at the age of seven and his first few years were great, but as he got to puberty things started to slide. It broke my heart when his friends stopped knocking and he started isolating himself. He’s a really intelligent young fella and likes reading. After our first big conversation about how he was feeling, he left one of his books, The Fault in Our Stars, on the hall landing with a note that said, ‘Read the first page’. He was trying to tell me something, but he hadn’t the words. I knew that something was not right .
One day I got a series of texts from him in school. I could tell that he was anxious. When I collected him that day, he got distressed and spieled off all the things that were upsetting him. I like to take action, so we visited my doctor who referred Jonathan to Jigsaw.
Since then, he has been more positive and active in public situations, such as going to the cinema and hanging out with friends in school. One night I went to collect him from the cinema. I knew well enough that I had to wait back and not be seen, so that I wouldn’t mortify him. A young girl gave him a hug and my heart soared. It was fantastic to see him out being social and enjoying himself. The other thing is that he has become much more considerate. He’d often put the kettle on now and ask if anyone would like a cup of tea, or sit with us chatting. Jonathan doesn’t discuss what he does at Jigsaw. I respect his privacy, so I don’t ask. I don’t need to ask, because we all see the changes in him for the better.
My name is Maureen and I am 13 years old. I first came to Jigsaw half-way through my first year of Secondary School when I began to struggle with social anxiety in particular. My school was very helpful and they introduced me to Jigsaw.
Working with Jigsaw was brilliant they gave me a better way of approaching my problems which helped significantly. After a few sessions I began to notice some positive changes in how I was coping. It was suggested to set some personal goals to aim for that helped me confront my issues but at my own pace.
What I found great at Jigsaw was their patience and understanding, I was never forced to do anything or discuss anything I didn’t want to, everything happened on my terms. The most important thing that I took away from my journey through Jigsaw is to get help when you need it and not to wait for your problems to get worse because getting help is not a sign of weakness it is a sign of strength.
At the end of my final session at Jigsaw I felt coping with my anxiety was much easier than it was six sessions ago and that I could leave with a stronger and healthier mental state!
*Please note: To protect the privacy of the young people who visit Jigsaw, names and identifying features have been changed in these case studies.
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