My mentoring Story – by David*
March 5th 2022
Our mentors and mentees tell their stories about providing and receiving peer support for their condition.
This time, the story of David, someone who has received support from our type 2 diabetes peer mentoring service and how mentoring has supported him
“My journey with diabetes began following a request from my GP to attend the surgery to discuss my recent blood test results.
I was surprised when I was informed that I was high risk of type 2 diabetes, I was handed a sheet of paper that supplied a telephone number and very scant detail about joining a session either online or by telephone, with other people in a similar situation to myself. It was several days later that I decided to make contact and I was very surprised when I was advised that this was a Weight Watchers support group.
I received a card through the post inviting me to join in with a session at a time and date shown on the card. I did nothing for several weeks because I didn’t have access to the Internet which left me with the only other option of joining a session using my mobile phone. I am extremely reluctant to use a telephone as a form of communication given my profound hearing loss. I decided to join a session and struggled to understand the relevance of people describing what they had cooked for meals and how much weight they had lost.
In short, following the call I felt frustrated and disappointed thinking my only alternative now would be to try to manage my own situation for which I didn’t know where to begin, or what I should be doing to help improve my health.
Several months passed by, when I received a telephone call from Brigstowe, the call was to inquire how I was as a follow- up after being supported with an unrelated matter. I mentioned my frustration and the difficulties that I was experiencing trying to manage my situation. Without any hesitation I was immediately offered support by way of a mentor with whom I could discuss my concerns in strict confidence. This was a huge relief to me as I had made no attempt to change my eating habits. It was the following day that I received a call from the diabetes Coordinator at Brigstowe who reassured me and matched me with a mentor.
I was introduced to my mentor using Zoom with the Coordinator facilitating the meeting. I think it must have been pretty evident that my mood was low however, after the formalities were over, I was left to have a ‘get to know you’ chat with my mentor, which proved invaluable to me especially confiding in someone that I didn’t know.
The mentor seemed always to be available; her smiling voice ready to instil a strong feeling of support and understanding. This was the turning point for me. I knew immediately that I was in safe hands, which in turn enabled me to be very open and willing to share my personal information.
My first meeting went far better than I could have imagined, I felt for the first time I was actually able to speak with someone who would listen, ask questions and help me build my confidence to be able to speak out for the first time about how I felt, and the impact the diagnosis had on my mental health.
In addition to having a mentor who was able to support me, I also received further support from the diabetes Coordinator who checked in with me to make sure that things were going in the right direction. I have never experienced such warmth coupled with a very caring approach. I looked forward to my one-hour sessions each week with my mentor, who in turn would share with me their story which was very similar to mine. The meetings were fun as well as being extremely important; they enabled me to feel that I was able to do something positive to help myself in dealing with diabetes.
I’ve always kept a daily diary recording key points, and I recorded what was discussed during my meetings and agreed actions for me to undertake before the next meeting was due. The benefit of doing that enabled me to see the positive impact and importance these meetings were having on my physical and mental health.
What I liked about being mentored was knowing the fact my mentor had been in the same position as me, and that I could benefit from their personal experience with the things that have helped them, and also knowing that at the end of each meeting there would be an agreed plan of action which was achievable with some action on my part.
What made these meetings work for me was being able to express feelings and thoughts in confidence, and to know that my feedback could influence change, being able to see the change and feel the benefit of that change. Building a good rapport with my mentor was very important and being able to look forward to our weekly sessions.
I’m now eating healthier food and taking gentle exercise, all of which is important to maintain and control my condition.
I am so grateful to the staff add mentors at Brigstowe for all the help and support that they have provided me, with special thanks to my mentor who was always enthusiastic, a great listener and amazing support; inviting me to access resource that are available to me and how I can access them should I need them.
I can summarize my mentor experience as a game changer for me, at the start I was feeling very low, and I couldn’t see a future, self-esteem and confidence had all but gone, to feeling uplifted and self-assured and now able to look forward to living with a real sense a purpose.
The truth is, we have the answers within us, but the mentor has the ability to motivate us and to both identify and utilize those answers.”
If you would like to access peer support for type 2 diabetes, please contact us for more information here.