A 20-year-old Crowland girl is looking forward to a new life by the sea after volunteering for a local charity helped her fight her way back from depression.
Bubbly Samantha O’Brien, of Thorney Road, suffered “burnout” while at school and feared the day would never come that she could work and have a future to look forward to.
She said: “I was studying media at Peterborough Regional College and also caring for my grandparents. It all got too much and I suffered burnout.
“I didn’t realise I was depressed. I left school and was unemployed and hated being on benefits. But I was terrified of working and doing things.”
It was her driving instructor who flagged up there might be an underlying problem when Samantha kept failing her theory test.
Samantha said: “She told me to write a list that I thought was wrong with me. It was so long that I rang my mum and said I think there’s something wrong and she agreed I needed help.
“I just hadn’t realised, but I had become almost a recluse.”
Once on the correct medication and after finding a psychologist who helped her work through her anxieties, her life started to turn around.
Wanting to go back into education, she signed up for an Access to Higher Education course. She said: “That was the moment I thought ‘yes I can do it’.”
Since November last year she has been a volunteer at the Crowland Cancer Fund charity shop and got the help she needed preparing for the world of work at Ingeus in Spalding.
She said: “They were brilliant and got my confidence up.”
But then came another blow. The day before Samantha’s 20th birthday her mother died - just two weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.
She said: “I’ve been through a lot, but I know I’m stronger for it. When I got my first job at Ubu - helping people with learning difficulties live independent lives - I was so happy.
“It’s helped me decide what I want to do, which is, when I feel ready, to be a mental health councillor.
“Next month I’m moving to Sutton-on-Sea with my dad and already have interviews lined up which is amazing after having struggled to get my first job.
“I know it’s tough out there - when I was unemployed there were people who had been applying for jobs for two years.
“But there are things out there and in the end you just have to be relentless.”