I had been a full time carer for 11 years for my son who has autism when a friend gave me a leaflet about InstructAbility. At the time I was looking for a new career path and the course immediately appealed because I have always been interested in sports and thought it would be great to have a qualification in something I’m passionate about.

I have lived with depression and anxiety for 25 years. My life is challenging because I have waves of difficulties throughout every day. Panic attacks are the most scary as they are hard to deal with, especially if I'm not at home, but I have learned to deal with it and have great support from family and friends.

I completed the InstructAbility Programme which involved a gym instructor course and qualification followed by a work placement at Park Road Pools & Fitness leisure centre, where I am now a permanent part-time employee working ten hours a week.

InstructAbility has helped me to understand that exercise is a key element to positive mental health and feeling good in general. It has helped me to express myself and no longer hide my disability, which is an important part of me. I am able to use all the skills and knowledge that I gained on the course to show disabled people that exercise is for everyone – whatever someone’s disability, there are exercises they can do. Adapting exercises for people and seeing clients meet their
achievements has been one of the highlights of the course for me and I plan to specialise in working with disabled people.

Having a hidden disability is difficult as people still don't understand it, even though I try to explain, because I look like I'm ok but inside I'm facing difficulties most of the time. So if I'm feeling wobbly I have to tell someone or talk to someone, which is the most difficult thing to do at the time. I'd rather hide, but that’s not always possible.

I now plan to become a personal trainer because one-to-one or training small groups is what I feel most comfortable doing, as I can pull all my inner strength and do a job I like to do. I enjoy being around people and having contact with people lessens my own struggles.

InstructAbility has opened up my world and given me a new focus. I have gained confidence and feel like I am in a new phase of my life. After not working for ten years I am now employed, as well as being a mum to my three wonderful children, all of whom have helped me to get to where I am today. I am able to manage my depression and anxiety better because I am doing something for me that I enjoy.