Catherine's Story

My confidence was gone. I had left my Teacher Training GTP Course after one term, unable to balance the four days work in school, preparation, long hours, the college course work, and my commitment to my two children. Three different roles, all with enough work involved to be full time. And I am a single mum.

Yet I felt I was a complete failure, my self esteem was extremely low, without an income or a career plan my anxiety levels soared. I was tired all the time, unable to focus, overwhelmed by simple tasks like washing up. I saw myself not coping and therefore panicked more. My belief in myself had gone. I cried frequently, from being tearful to overwhelming episodes of crying, triggered unpredictably, where I was curled up on the floor. I couldn't see how I could possibly hold down a job.

And, of course, I stopped enjoying life. My mood was very low and the things I used to find pleasure in didn't reach me any more. I stopped doing many things I used to enjoy due to lack of money and feeling that I didn't deserve to.

I felt scared, trapped, overwhelmed by responsibilities, incapable, abandoned, a failure.

My Employment Consultant at Status Employment approached the problem of getting me back to work with kindness, understanding, encouragement, practical help and structured sessions. She was able to help me look at my skills and experience, recognised my emotional condition and helped me identify psychological blocks as well as practical ones. I was allowed to cry. I always left feeling more focused and stronger. We identified possible career paths, found jobs and created a CV. I had a more rounded view of my whole set of skills and strengths than I had ever had, yet I didn't apply for many of the jobs as I continued to struggle with anxiety. I still didn't believe I could cope with work and I was scared of failing again.

Earlier that year, when I had just left my job, I had started Trapeze Classes. This was incredibly helpful to me. It was a challenge, a passion, an endorphin boost and a possible career path as I wished to return to acting as one part of my career plan. As I continued to be unable to work, I gave up after 12 sessions as I struggled to support myself and my children. Even if I had had the money I no longer felt I deserved to do anything I enjoyed, my needs came last.

My Employment Consultant suggested the Trapeze Course through Status Employment. She had come up with the idea to help people get back to work. The course was based at the Trapeze School where I had previously had classes, with the same teacher - it was perfect for me. A life-line. I was extremely lucky to be offered help of this sort and particularly in the one discipline which I most wanted to pursue.

From the moment of going to the group sessions to meet other potential participants, I began to be interested again. I had something I looked forward to - a focus. I felt part of a group. I wanted to encourage others and in doing so I encouraged myself.

Through Trapeze I began to find the pieces of myself and put them back together.

It is a discipline; I found my commitment.
A challenge physically and emotionally; I found my strength and courage.
In the group I found acceptance.
Through physical exercise I felt exhilaration, endorphins, enjoyment.
In the shared experience we laughed and remembered how to have fun.
It is a learning process; I found the opportunity to fail and not judge myself, to try again, to eventually succeed or just to accept I had tried.

Each person in the group has different abilities, we all find some moves easier or harder than others, we all look different, we are all interesting to watch, we are all valuable. In mutual support we begin to accept ourselves.

It is hard work, I acknowledged that I am a hard worker. As we work we make progress, I found a sense of achievement.

It is such a fabulous thing to do; it is exciting and rewarding and enjoyable and I began to feel that if I could do Trapeze, even just turn up and TRY, then I could do other things in my life. Our teacher, Amanda Miles of My Aerial Home has been brilliant.

As a direct result of the classes I started believing in myself again. I launched the Drama Classes for Children I had been working on all year and the kids and parents have loved them. I started working for a friend, gardening. It is a step on the way to finding my new career. I have some income and my anxiety levels are down. I pay for my own trapeze classes and continue to benefit from the strength they give me.

I have gone from feeling "I can't do it" to "I can".