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Paul’s story

I found support and wellbeing through my community

Gofal has been so patient with me. From where I was a couple of years ago, I don’t know where I would be without them

At the age of 16, I left home and moved into a residential college in Oswestry. It provides further education to students with learning difficulties and disabilities.

Shortly after making this move, I lost my closest friend to skin cancer and experienced a decline in my mental health, leading to depression and anorexia. At the age of 18, my depression had become so unbearable that I attempted to take my own life.

I realised at this point that I had “hit rock bottom” and needed help with my mental health so I reached out to get therapy. During the years after leaving college, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome alongside clinical depression, severe anxiety and cyclothymia (which has many similarities to bi-polar).

Finding my own space

In 2015, I moved into supported living in Caerphilly. However, this environment wasn’t right for me so I took steps, with the support of Gofal, towards becoming well and finding my own space to live.

I now live in my own flat and have been volunteering at Platfform [formerly Gofal] since 2018 and it’s a role which I love. I hope I will be with Platfform until I retire.

Embracing community support

I regularly attend the weekly food co-op at Gofal’s Blackwood office as it’s a great place for people to talk. It’s brilliant community that are always there to support each other and meet up for a chat when anyone needs it.

I recently started helping out at a gardening project – which is still a surprise to me as I didn’t think I would enjoy it until I started it!

As well as my volunteer roles, I enjoy listening to music and weekly cinema trips to help me feel well. I particularly enjoys artists, such as Pink, who also understand challenges with mental health too.

My past doesn’t define who I am

Now I feel stable and I’m doing really well to manage my mental health. However, I know that Pathways are always at the end of the phone which has been a great help for me.

Now I help others who are going through similar issues that I have been through in the past. It’s so rewarding knowing that I am able to improve the lives and offer advice to those who need it.

I really recommend that if you’re struggling with your own mental health and wellbeing, it’s important to reach out to people that you can trust and talk to, as well as organisations like Gofal, because no one is going to judge you for what you’re going through.

If you’re struggling with your mental health and wellbeing, it’s so important to reach out to people you can trust and talk to, as well as organisations like Gofal. No one is going to judge you for what you’re going through