Bridgend is a great community and we want to share local stories about our ‘PYB Health Heroes’. Those who have made great achievements when it comes to their own health and wellbeing. And those, who encourage others to join in and make a difference to their own lives too.
Life is unpredictable. Everything can be going along just fine and then, when you least expect it, a series of distressing events in close succession can send you into depression and loneliness.
Our nominated PYB Health Hero this month is Sharon Brawn who experienced just that.
Here is Sharon’s story and how with the help of local resources she picked herself back up and made positive changes to get her life back on track.
Sharon, Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I’m originally from Northamptonshire and at the age of 63 resigned from a full time job I had been in for 17 years, sold my house and moved to Ewenny in February 2017 with my 91 year old mother to be closer to my daughter living in Cowbridge with her husband and 2 children.
We were almost settled after the move when in May 2018 I had a fall whilst out walking and cracked the ball joint in my left shoulder and fractured my arm bone just 2 inches lower. The next day my mother had a brain haemorrhage and passed away 10 days later.
You have been nominated as a PYB Health Hero for turning your life around through lots of positive changes. Why did you feel your life needed to change?
My recovery was extremely slow as the break refused to heal. By mid 2019 I was still facing a major reconstruction operation to repair the damage. I was isolated, dependant on my daughter, as I was unable to drive, and depressed because I was new to this area and didn’t know anyone well enough to find out what help was available or where to access it to put an end to the situation.
What was the first step you took to start your journey?
In June 2019 I visited my GP as I injured my back which resulted in me using 1 crutch (couldn’t use 2 because of my arm). This was the last straw and my GP acknowledged this and put me in touch with Mair Jones who was a newly appointed Community Navigator. Mair came out to see me at home, assessed my needs, researched where and from whom I could get support and gave me the confidence to approach various groups for help.
How did that make you feel?
It was difficult to acknowledge the situation I was in but to know that Mair understood my dilemma and could offer ways and means of changing things for the better made me feel valued.
What have you gone on to do since?
There was a lot I felt I couldn’t tackle but I eventually phoned a local craft group and joined them in September on a weekly basis and had stalls at two craft events just before Christmas.
I’ve attended two computer courses and I’m about to start a third one next week offered by Bridgend Council.
Bridgend Community Bereavement Support has been tremendous in helping me understand my depression but it took some courage to approach them.
Valley Steps Mindfullness course also helped me put things into perspective.
Lucy (I’m sorry I’ve forgotten her surname) from the Red Cross was sent by Mair Jones and helped me with visits to a different craft group in Swansea and has given me weekly encouragement. Contact with her has been invaluable.
How do you feel your life has improved?
I have now met a wide range of people from various areas in and around Bridgend and Ewenny who I feel have similar interests as myself and have welcomed me as a ‘total outsider’ into their circles.
What would your advice be to someone who is feeling lonely in the Bridgend area?
Regardless of how daunting things may seem, when the time feels right to YOU, take the step to accept any help that is offered to try new, different and often scary opportunities which will help you overcome a situation or thought cycle which stops you from enjoying your life moving forward.
Thank you Sharon and Congratulations for being a local PYB Health Hero nominated by Mair Jones.
When I first visited Sharon back in July 2019 she was very weepy. She was struggling with a broken arm that wouldn’t heal, had chronic pain and was blaming her accident for her mums death and felt socially isolated. We had a long chat and I found out what Sharon’s interest were. We chatted about what was out there for her and because she was so receptive to all the ideas I put forward she was as a dream to work with. Sharon embraced everything and is in a much better place than she was. She no longer feels isolated, as she has met friends with similar interests to her. She has recently completed a “Positive Steps” programme with the Red Cross, received Bereavement Counselling and undertaken adult education classes. She also volunteers as a genealogist at Duffryn House. A real hero.
Mair Jones – Cwm Taf Morgannwg – Social Navigator East Cluster
If you feel you may be suffering from depression, please book an appointment to see your GP who can help advise on the right course of action for you individually.
Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB now provides primary, community, hospital and mental health services to the 450,000 people living in three County Boroughs – Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf. – Visit Website