Justine’s story

I had always wanted to have children, from a very young age. When we found out I was pregnant, we were really happy. I was so excited but I was also really scared because I had no family of my own around me. I felt very isolated and alone.

Soon after the birth, Damien went back to work. At first there were lots of visitors to see the baby, but after a couple of months all that stopped and I found it very hard. It wasn’t looking after Lewis that I found difficult – it was the isolation. I started to get very anxious about going outdoors with my baby. Soon, I only felt safe at home with him.

I have always had very low confidence. I was bullied quite badly at school, and have always felt very self-conscious as a result. I would only go out if Damien was there. I was home all the time and then when visitors did come, they just wanted to ask about the baby. I felt like I was losing my identity.

Because I’m a very self-conscious person, I have always worried about people looking at me and judging me. When he cried I worried people would be thinking badly of me. I couldn’t bear the thought of people judging me. I used to worry people would think I wasn’t dressing right. If I ran out of make-up, I wouldn’t go out. My confidence was rock bottom.

My health visitor recommended Aberlour. I went to a group called Positive Parenting. It was a group of mums and one dad, all sitting together and talking while the children were in a crèche. Becky from Aberlour came out to the house and helped to take Lewis out. She took us to soft play and the park and then eventually she took me to a parent and toddlers group. She recommended I try another Aberlour group called Finding A Balance, which is all about dealing with anxiety. I started going and I loved that too. It was so relaxing and it taught me how deal with people and situations that made me anxious. I started doing so much better.

I went back for support after my second son Harris was born. I am so much happier. Now we still go to Aberlour to a session called Stay and Play. Harris and I go when Lewis is in nursery. We sing songs there and Harris plays with other children. We do crafts and physical things and I get to speak to other mums who are interested in what I’ve got to say. I look forward to it every week. Aberlour feels like a safe place. One of the things I like best is that no-one judges you. You can share your story and say whatever you are feeling and people will listen to you and understand.

Aberlour saved me. It really did. It brought me back to who I was. On the last day of Finding A Balance, Avril said: ‘Do you think you’ve turned a corner Justine?’ And I said ‘turned a corner? No way, I’m on a whole different street!

I just want to thank Aberlour for everything. There’s no words I can use to say how much it’s meant to me.