When the bubble goes pop.

When you meet Deborah for the first time and hear her speak, there’s a warmth and familiarity that instantly places you at ease.

She’s a married mum with two lovely girls, Amy-Leigh and Chloe. She worked with the British Army for 10 years.

Deborah is both engaging and disarming.  Which maybe illustrates why she is so good in her role as a veteran peer support worker for SAMH.

But life hasn’t always been content for Deborah and the experiences she has had lend a major reason to why her role within SAMH and her work with veterans, in particular, is so important.

Giving birth for most people is a special time. But Deborah’s first birth was difficult; she had to endure a 49 hour labor before she could hold her child. The first 24 hours are often seen as critical for bonding and feeding and when no problem was incurred all seemed fine. But then the baby stopped feeding and Deborah was left feeling like a failure and not knowing what to do.

Ally to this the detachment of leaving the Army during her pregnancy and the safe, familiar, protective ‘Green Bubble’, as it’s fondly referred to, of regimentation and order; an adjustment to civilian life was messy, to say the least.

Deborah became obsessed with Amy-Leigh. No-one could feed, bath or take her for walks. She would find herself staying in her pajamas all day, crying at the slightest thing. She had had inklings that something was going wrong with her, and so did her husband and parents.

She was encouraged to go to her GP who instantly diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. Deborah was given medication and booked in for 4 weekly check-ups.

Things happen for a reason they say, and just 12 weeks after Amy-Leigh arrived and to her utter amazement Deborah was told she was expecting again. The medication stopped immediately.

This time everything was different. The birth was completely different. Deborah’s mental health improved. She got married. And she took on a 12 month Full Time Reserve Service posting with 2 Scots welfare.

Then fate cruelly struck again. Deborah’s boss, whom she had known personally for 15 years, was killed in Afghanistan. It hit her hard, sending her into another downward spiral of depression.

She instantly sought help from her GP and through psychological therapy and counseling, set herself back onto the road of recovery to the place where we find her today. A fulfilling and important role working with veterans for SAMH.

The role has seen Deborah throw herself into helping them deal with a variety of complex issues: PTSD, Depression, Anxiety. Some are socially isolated, so she works with them on a weekly basis for 6 months to explore triggers, develop coping strategies and help the individual move on. It’s a shared journey, there’s a strong connection. A mutually empowered relationship. And she’s incredibly good at it.

Confidentiality is a key ingredient of these relationships, which means absorbing other people’s problems so Deborah has developed her own ways of dealing with things. She knows she can speak to her line manager and professional help is at hand through SAMH should she need it.

She herself has now lived with depression for 9 years, she still takes anti-depressants, and is the first to say she isn’t fully recovered. But she is at the best stage of recovery she can be.

And to those in need, Deborah provides a trusted guide on the often difficult pathways towards better mental health. She’s no longer in the green bubble of army life; instead she’s creating bubbles of security and comfort for many others.

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Referral process

Referral through GP or mental health worker or by calling the Motherwell office on 01698 265659 or Airdrie office on 01236 439417.

Service: Expeerience Counts, North Lanarkshire
Expeerience Counts offers a peer support service for anyone in North Lanarkshire experiencing or recovering from a mental health problem. Peer support workers have personal experience of mental health problems and are trained and employed to help others.

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