I’m Jacqui. I live in a lovely house I share on the outskirts of Leeds enabled and supported by ubu. I’m happier now than I’ve been for most of my life. Before I came to live here I had been living in a hospital for a few years. It was a terrible time for me, I was locked up for much of the time and it’s something that’s hard to talk about. Most of my life until recently has been filled with abuse and sadness. I didn’t have proper friends and I used to feel horrible about myself.

After I left the hospital, I was given the chance to make a new start. Moving here was the beginning of a journey along the road to finding a place in the world where I could start to become healthy and strong. When I first arrived I was taking huge amounts of medication. I didn’t want to wash or get dressed most days. I was really overweight. I was angry all the time, shouting at the enablers in the house who were trying to give me support and care. After everything I had been through I found it hard to be calm and I just couldn’t be bothered to take care of myself.

It took a while to get things sorted out. The ubu enablers were patient with me but they also made sure that I began to have some routine in my life. They helped me to start to take responsibility for the things I do. It took a lot of effort but gradually I began to be able to make some changes to my behaviour and the choices I was making. It was really hard because I just didn’t feel I was worth anything.

But there was always someone there to listen to me, if I was feeling down or upset I knew I could go and talk. I started to realise that it didn’t help being aggressive. It was OK to feel down sometimes, probably everyone does, but it’s even better to notice when you feel happy. I decided to start keeping a diary. I used it to write down what I was thinking about, the good stuff and the bad. Gradually I saw that there were good things happening to me every day. It really helped.

The enabling team worked to help me to choose to eat a healthier diet and as I began to change what I was eating and to get some exercise, I started to lose weight. People noticed and cheered me on with every ounce I lost and I started to feel well and realised that I could make things in my life feel better if I wanted to.

Over the last few of years I have felt much stronger and in control of who I am and what I do. I started finding ways to dress nicely that have made me feel good in myself. I’ve started going out, making friends with local people, playing bingo and having meals out. I even took a cookery course last year, I’ve learnt how to budget my money and I’ve even been abroad on holiday now!

My next big thing to do is to start working. I would like to help care for other people. I’m starting with voluntary work and I’m beginning to feel much more confident that soon I’ll be able to find a job that’s just right for me.