Angus McKay and the power of peer

Angus is a Peer Volunteer with our Western Isles NOVA project. In this article, he talks about his journey of recovery and how he’s now supporting others through his own lived experience.

This is Angus’s story.

I would like to share a little bit about my time with Penumbra.

It all started with me being a “shut in”, I would never leave my flat during the day, only coming out to do my shopping after 6pm. I was so anxious about everything which would sometimes lead to depressive thoughts. These thoughts would last from anything from a few hours to days on end.

I then was referred to Penumbra and began working with my Peer Worker Dave. Dave began by visiting me at my flat initially and the more I relaxed and trusted him, I began to slowly talk to him about my troubles. He helped me to understand that my thoughts were just that, thoughts, and it was my reaction to them that was important. I had no trigger that lead to my negative thinking, which frustrated me at first, but I then learned that it was my reaction to them was the part I needed to focus on.

The help I received around my anxiety and going out during the day was a more long-term project. It started with me meeting my Peer Worker in town and going to different places like An Lanntair (local Art Centre) and the library. With support I felt safe and protected. This developed and I built up my confidence with regards to going out and about with support and eventually by myself and these days I can go to any part of town with no anxiety.

I now practice CBT and mindfulness techniques every day, even when I am well, so I know it will kick in if and when I need it.

A good thing about Penumbra is that there is no time frame, you go at your own pace, which I felt took a lot of pressure off me. I am now feeling so well that I was recently approached and asked about volunteering for the service as a Peer Volunteer within our Peer Support Group (Hope & Recovery) which I am now doing and I feel so happy and positive about. Hope & Recovery is a huge part of my recovery journey, as being part of this group has supported my mental health and wellbeing over the years.

I have also been asked to volunteer with presentations about the service, attend events and visit GP surgeries and other agencies to talk about my Recovery and how Penumbra supported this.

All that is left to say is, thanks Dave, you saved my life.