Posted on: 27 September 2021

We are pleased to share the story of Chandrika Patel, who overcame hard times following her referral to CNWL’s Check in and Chat Service.

Chandrika, mother to a child with ADHD, was stricken by COVID-19 along with her son and husband. At this stage, she was “completely lost […] depressed, suicidal and lonely.” Chandrika was aware that she needed help but faced further difficulty when her own family – who she first turned to – didn’t lend the support she was hoping for.

Chandrika was referred to Check in and Chat (C&C) by her son’s team – the Harrow East Alliance Community Mental Health Team. Chandrika’s first call to C&C was a potentially life-saving one: “If I didn’t speak to you guys then, I would not be here talking [to you] now.” This was the first time she was able to let it all out.

The chatter provided a safe environment for Chandrika to talk – “I connected to my chatter on my very first call as they were speaking to me in a confidential setting, in a non-judgmental way. The chatter made me feel confident to open up and talk about my caring responsibilities and the reasons why I felt upset and angry – I could talk about anything.”

From this moment, Chandrika began to feel hopeful. She devoted more time to herself so she could continue her caring role which had a positive impact on her mental wellbeing. She looked forward to every telephone call, felt more energised, and more content with life. C&C created a safe haven where she “felt listened to and understood in every chat.”

The chats also provided a bit of a break from caring duties. Previously, Chandrika was desperate, in crisis, and unable to look after anyone else but as soon as she started her chats, her husband was the first to notice changes – “he noticed me smiling more. I had positive energy again which brought the family together, like the old times where we used to use humour in our chats.”

Carers often don’t have enough time get the support they need, so it’s the chatter’s job to make sure they are signposted, if needed, to relevant services available in their community.

Chandrika’s chatter encouraged her to attend coffee mornings, have a chit chat and try other hobbies – “I loved cooking and drawing which my chatter motivated me to get back into slowly. I hadn’t done these things in ages and I found it so therapeutic.” Chandrika became involved with her community by joining local meditation and exercise groups. Thanks to her chatter’s support, she was also willing to engage with her family again in a positive way.

C&C has had a momentous impact on Chandrika’s emotional wellbeing and it’s a service she’ll always be grateful to for saving her life. “I’ve seen a huge difference in me. Life is not to be wasted and nothing is wasted if you get the right help – you can be where you want to be in life, and Check in & Chat has given me a second life. I feel so proud to have taken that help and I’m not ashamed of it. As I’ve walked by the park, I have proudly informed my friends, neighbours, and acquaintances, many of whom are hoping for the same support that I luckily got. I would be in hospital with drips if I didn’t have access to C&C. My friends are just amazed – they all want access to C&C. My advice to other carers is not to be afraid to ask for help!”

Thank you Chandrika for sharing your story. Thanks also to Rania Adams, who put together this story, and Nuria De Miguel who shared it with us. To learn more about the team and how to refer carers: follow this link.