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Catrina’s Story – Mental Health and Counselling

The unprecedented curb on social interactions during the year of the pandemic has been a struggle for many people. The different rhythm of life brought on by unceasing lockdowns has in many cases negatively impacted our mental health and wellbeing.

Catrina Charman (pictured), travelling head person and stud hand at Chasemore Farm, found the isolation and space to reflect, brought on by the initial lockdown in spring of 2020, was the catalyst to reaching out for mental health support from Racing Welfare. She says:

“I was having a wobble at home; I wasn’t as happy as normal at work and I sent a text message to the Support Line first asking to talk to someone, I had a couple of telephone counselling sessions but felt face-to-face counselling would be more suitable.

“Within the week Racing Welfare found a counsellor really close by. I requested a male counsellor as I find it easier to talk to men and they found a chap nearby. The process was so quick and I was really shocked; I was amazed at how quickly they helped me.”

Catrina had been struggling for a long time with various issues and at the time the pandemic hit, she was experiencing relationship problems with her partner. She adds:

“I found myself very isolated and had too much time to think about stuff. It was a build-up over a long period of time and then coming to the end of the first lockdown; I just lost the plot. My personality seemed to have changed, I was very intolerant of people, very angry all the time and I knew I wasn’t my normal character. It all came to a head over lockdown.

“The counselling was hard to start with and you’re talking about yourself and things are quite raw. I had a good few months of the counselling and suddenly things just didn’t seem so hard to talk about. It has allowed me not to pretend anymore if something is upsetting me. I actually stand up for myself and I don’t allow people to walk all over me.”

Finding her voice again during the counselling process allowed Catrina to realise the benefits of talking through her emotions with others and in turn she reaps the rewards of feeling heard:

“I’ve realised that I’m not going to burden people with my problems and that actually people quite like helping you. It allowed me to have a voice. I used to be the one going around checking everyone else is ok. I still do that but I wasn’t using my own voice until I completely exploded and it didn’t feel like anyone was hearing me. It’s not until I erupted that people woke up and realised something wasn’t right. Unfortunately by that point my relationship had broken down but since going to the counselling I can talk and voice how I feel.”

Through support and counselling Catrina has managed to repair her relationship and is feeling positive for the future.

“I have finished my counselling, I can go and talk to people now and say I’m struggling. If something is upsetting me I can talk to someone and say I need some help or I need to offload something, I’ll have a good cry and then I’ll feel fine again.

“Racing Welfare have been so good to me not just with my mental health issues but with life and injuries that I’m still struggling with. It’s like having a friend on the end of the phone. My local Welfare Officer calls me every now and again just to check I’m ok and we have a lovely chat.

“I can honestly say I don’t know what I would have done without Racing Welfare or what would have happened without their help, I was at a point where I thought I couldn’t carry on, I was hurting myself and now I feel positive and happy. I feel like a different person, without their help and my colleagues’ help I would have been in real trouble.”

If you work in racing or are retired from racing and you are struggling with mental health issues please contact us on 0800 6300 443 or you can visit our mental health pages here for more information.