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Grace came to us in March 2012 suffering with anorexia. She says: 'Every day I would wake up and wish I hadn't because I knew that until I went to bed the only thing I would be able to think about was food. Despite being so weak and hungry I was terrified to eat. I wasn't able to sleep because I was so thin that my bones would dig into me and I couldn't get warm. But the more control I took over my eating and my weight, the more control I lost over every other aspect of my life, including relationships with friends and family. I knew I had to do something before I had control taken away from me so I chose to do the Recovery Programme at Still the Hunger.

I have been coming for ten months now and have started to gain weight and feel more positive. I have learnt how to differentiate between rational and irrational thoughts surrounding food and understand what caused my illness, and as I've worked on resolving these issues I've begun to get my life back. Starving was not resolving anything but making everything so much worse. Now when I wake up in the morning, instead of being overwhelmed by negative thoughts I thank God for my life and my freedom.'

Grace has been fully recovered from anorexia for some time now and joins the Still the Hunger team as our youth intern in January 2015!

 

Esther says that a friend from church recommended Still the Hunger to her. 'At first I dreaded the sessions coming round each week and felt I could cope alone with my own issues.  However since now being on the programme for eight months, I feel safe in the environment and comfortable enough to share things that I have kept hidden for over 30 years. Although the group work is really challenging I am now attending twice a week and feel I can be myself for the first time in my life without anyone looking down at me.  I feel listened to.'

 

Heather says 'Before I started on the programme I was struggling on my own with depression and anxiety.  I had been signed off work for 8 weeks as I couldnt leave my home, see friends, or answer the phone.  Then a friend introduced me to Still the Hunger and I enrolled. I was extremely nervous, especially worried about speaking in the group sessions, but everyone made me feel so welcome and put me at my ease that I was quickly able to speak about my worries for the first time.  In fact the group sessions have been so helpful and hearing other people's experiences has helped me to feel I'm not alone.  Through the work of Still the Hunger I am now able to leave the safety of my home and start to resume living a normal life again.  I'm telling everyone I know who has mental health problems to get in touch with the team as they have made such a difference to me!  My world has been transformed and my hope restored.'

 

Jim said, 'before I came to the group I had a general anxiety about life.  I had an unhealthy obsession over illness and found it hard to face work.  I hadn't realised how my mind had buried painful experiences from my past which now manifested themselves as anxiety.  The group was able to help me work through these memories in a gentle way and I discovered how to take control over my own thoughts. 

I had been the only fella at first and I think it's hard for men to share their feelings.  But we are better represented now.  I think both Christians and non-Christians, male or female, benefit from the cognitive behaviour therapy on offer here.

Still the Hunger has become a safe place for me and like a second family.  I got back to work with the group's help, only to retire and come back to Still the Hunger as a volunteer!  I lead music on a Friday afternoon and I'm actively involved in the back office.  I love it!  I understand intimately what's required having been through the process and have a passion to see lives changed.  I always wanted to retire early and give something back to society but never knew what I would do.  Now the charity that helped me get back on my feet want me to help them.  I feel privileged to be here.'

 

Andy said, 'I want to thank you for the major impact I have experienced in a short time in accessing my feelings and remembering my deep feelings around God's love that somehow got obscured with the emotional overwhelm I had experienced from the accumulation of events.  I'm still reflecting on how I lost the plot for a while and how to safeguard against it in future.  It is one of the greatest feelings to be able to share what we feel on a spiritual level and it is a welcome and unexpected experience to find a place to be able to do that in the group.'

 

Holly said, 'When I came to Still the Hunger for the first time five months ago, I had just been suspended from university following time in a psychiatric hospital for self-harm, and I saw myself as evil and disgusting. I did not want to be alive. After years of mental illness, counselling, so-called recovery and relapses, I was tired and saw no hope whatsoever. I felt completely alone, and as for God, well, let’s just say we weren’t really on speaking terms.
I started to attend the sessions at Glebe Road and was welcomed with warmth, validation and friendship. I have started to feel emotions again rather than blocking them through self-harming. Despite my anger at God and frequent denial of his existence, the love and patience that God has for me has been expressed through the patience and acceptance I have experienced at Still the Hunger. I have been angry and rude, I have walked out, and I have not turned up on occasion but the group has always welcomed me back with open arms and without condemnation. Most importantly, through my journey at Still the Hunger, my faith in God has started to return and I know, albeit in my head rather than my heart at the moment, that I am loved, cherished and 'fearfully and wonderfully made', and that my identity is not in my past, my academic achievements or my weight. I have hope for the future, even though I don’t know what it holds. Before I arrived at Still the Hunger I felt so alone and like my life was in complete ruins but through challenging my negative thoughts and behaviour, I am now looking towards my return to university in April.'

*Please note names have been changed to protect our clients' identities.