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Barrie’s story

I want to raise awareness of depression so that more people can realise that they aren’t alone and that help is out there

I’m open about my experiences with depression and anxiety because I want people to realise that anyone can get it, it doesn’t discriminate. I’m 6ft and 20st, people would never think just from looking at me that I’ve had these struggles but I think it’s important to remember that you can’t always see what someone is experiencing.

I have days when I feel worthless and really struggle to even get out of bed, I can also find it hard to get to sleep, mainly from overthinking and worrying and I’ve struggled like this most of my adult life.

I’ve been in touch with the Pathways team at Platfform for several years and the support from the organisation has helped me to build my confidence, to believe in myself and to realise my own potential. Even though I struggle, I now know that I can help other people as well as myself.

Through the Pathways project, I’ve completed courses in a number of topics including in I.T. This has helped to improve my self-esteem and make it easier to leave the house on the hard days. In fact, it was after an evening at my IT course that I was able to help a young woman who was in danger of harming herself.

I was walking home and noticed several cars parked on a bridge and people had gathered to look at something. As I approached I could see three men talking to a young woman sat on a ledge at the end of the bridge, the men had used a strap from their van to secure the woman but didn’t know what to say to her. It was clear that she was in distress and so I climbed over the railing to see if I could help.

I laid down on the floor next to the young woman, and held her hand. I spoke about my experiences of depression and anxiety. I wanted to let her know that I knew what it felt like to suffer and that there is help and support available, I tried to encourage her to think positively about the future. She wasn’t responding but squeezed my hand tightly as I continued talking with her. Then the police, paramedics and fire engine arrived and helped her to safety.

I was glad to be able to comfort her whilst we waited for help. I was a little shaken afterwards but spoke with the team at Platfform and they checked that I was ok and offered support.

A couple of weeks later I received a letter from Inspector Carl Williams of Gwent Police to thank me for my bravery. It said ‘Policing and safeguarding the public is not something that we at Gwent Police can do alone and we are always very grateful when people like yourself are willing and able to provide assistance. I therefore wanted to personally contact you to pass on my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to you; you could have walked on by, but your actions undoubtedly saved this lady and you should be immensely proud of this.’

I was very chuffed. It’s so nice to get a thank you. I took a picture of the letter and put it on Facebook – I’ve never had so many nice comments from so many people.

I just want to raise awareness so that more people can realise that they aren’t alone and that help is out there. I know the things that help me to feel better; my family; nieces and nephews – I love to spend time with them. I’ve got pets which bring so much comfort too. I love to go fishing and walking helps me to clear my head. I also find reading positive quotes and affirmations helps to lift me up.

I find that if I’m able to think of one thing that I love when I get a horrible thought it can really help to bring me back to a good place.