Raising two young children while coping with anxiety and the death of a parent can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Ormiston Families stepped in to help Sarah see how bright her family’s future could be…
Sarah had a history of poor mental health and increased anxiety. Her father had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and tragically died shortly after his diagnosis; just a matter of weeks before her baby was born. Struggling to come to terms with her father’s death, Sarah felt she didn’t have time to grieve because she needed to stay strong for her children.
Sarah’s anxiety led her to spend a lot of time isolated at home. Some difficult past experiences of leaving the house with both children made matters worse. She was envious of certain friends whose babies seemed to be good sleepers and she could only see that her three month old ‘just cried all the time’.
Sarah felt completely alone, and couldn’t bring herself to speak to her partner about her feelings. She thought he didn’t understand what it was like to be at home with the children all day which built up tension between them.
Sarah had refused further support from her GP regarding her mental health as she didn’t want to take any medication, but was willing to receive support from Ormiston Families via a referral from her health visitor.
Louise from our Small Steps Together team spent time with Sarah through one-to-one and telephone appointments to understand her needs and family situation fully. She also met with Sarah’s husband so she could understand the expectations, concerns, and priorities of both parents. They agreed on some goals to work towards which included having both parents see each other’s perspective. They focussed on increasing Sarah’s confidence to find work or volunteering roles and go out on her own with the children, as well as building her support network in the community.
Louise arranged for a volunteer to accompany Sarah to community play groups and the children and family centre for six months, and she attended the Ormiston Families Wellbeing Support Group fortnightly until the baby was a year old. She attended a 6 week MIND Mum’s Matter group at the Children & Family Centre which was co-facilitated by an Ormiston Families practitioner, and she was signposted to Adult Learning to update her CV and look at increasing her skills through remote learning and voluntary opportunities.
Throughout this process Louise conducted Loss Cycle work with Sarah to help her work through her feelings around the loss of her dad and used Graded Exposure work to enable her to feel more confident around leaving the house with her children.
Sarah’s confidence has increased dramatically, and she now regularly meets with three mums who live on her street for ‘play dates’ who also support each other with childcare so they can each attend appointments when they need to.
She updated her CV with help from the learning direct team at the library and currently volunteers for the Ormiston Families Small Steps Together team each week for three hours. She works with our wellbeing group from mums who are aged between one and two years old and has shared her own story in order to help others move forward the way she has done.
Her husband now regularly looks after the children while Sarah has some much needed time for self-care and address her own needs, and she has taken up running three times a week which has been great for her mental health and general wellbeing.
Sarah has found that although the anniversary of the death of her father is very hard, she is able to reflect positively on the wonderful relationship she had with him, and how he moulded her into the parent she is today.
Louise says: “Sarah demonstrates excellent, positive parenting skills which is an asset to her volunteering role, as she is able to model how to engage and develop children within the groups that Small Steps Together runs. I have seen Sarah grow in confidence and feel that her sharing her story will make a real difference to the families we work with.”
Sarah says: “Ormiston Families staff have been helpful to me. Volunteers supported me in attending groups and I’m now confident to go on my own. I started volunteering with Ormiston Families because they helped me and I want to set up my own groups to support mums in similar situations with older children.”