Debbie's story

It’s changed my life. It’s given me something to get up for in the morning. I’m getting back to the Debbie I used to be.

Debbie did the gardening programme at the Bromley by Bow Centre

I used to absolutely dread going to work. In the December I was made redundant and I was relieved to be able to leave, but after the Christmas period, I was busily applying for jobs and not getting anywhere.

As it went on, I felt more and more despondent. I thought ‘What is the point?’. I started feeling pretty useless. After 19 months of making applications and not getting a single interview, my confidence was getting worse. I was bursting into tears at any opportunity. I started having panic attacks on the underground and in the supermarket. I was also drinking too much and had constant low energy: I could basically sleep all day.

I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. After my doctor told me I went outside, called my mum and burst into tears, I was so relieved that someone had recognised it. The doctor then referred me to a therapeutic horticulture project at the Bromley by Bow Centre.

The first time I came to the Centre I thought it was so lovely, walking through the gates to see a green courtyard. It’s really calming. I thought ‘Can I do this, can I cope with it?’ I’d be meeting new people in a strange environment. I was really nervous.

The group are really down to earth. No one is judging you. I started feeling better about myself and better about life. We started off digging and clearing the flower beds in the rain but I didn’t mind.

There are days I think I can’t face it but I come here and talk to people and leave with a smile on my face. In the summer I completed my vocational accreditation in horticulture (NCPT level 1) and am going on to do my Level 2.”

See more stories.