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30 October 2010, 18:36
Make Me Happier was a revealing six-part documentary made by STV last year in which six Scots livjng with emotional health issues tried to make positive changes to improve their lives. One year on, three of the participants of the programme spoke to The Hour about their experiences and how things have changed for them since taking part.
Tommy Furay from Glasgow was an alcoholic for many years. He had lost his job and his wife through alcohol, but after beating his addiction he had replaced it with overeating and had become obese. His physical and emotional health were being affected and he needed to make changes fast. The 52-year-old was taught how to cook healthy meals and was encouraged to get fit. Cognitive behavioural therapy was also used to help him understand his feelings:
“I’ve cut back on curries a lot. I have them probably once a month or every two months. Before, it was four or five times a week. I was really obsessed with this type of food. Once I got the eating thing sorted out I realised that my depression was getting better. I started going out instead of locking myself in the house so I could see things changing.
“I know other people in Scotland must be struggling with the same thing and I feel that it hasn’t cost me anything to get where I am today. I’d like to think that maybe people out there will learn from what I can do. With my two kids, I saw what they wanted to say and realised they were struggling with me. I literally stood up and thought, I need to get something done about this. I really didn’t know how much it was affecting them.”
Sarah Ann McGill had been living with panic attacks and anxiety after the death of her mother and the robbery of her hair salon. The 31-year-old was encouraged to do Pilates to improve her fitness and to help her relax and she was taught diaphragmatic breathing techniques to manage her grief and panic attacks. She was also encouraged to face challenges to get her confidence back:
“I was getting an awful lot of physical pain and kept going to the doctor. Taking part in the show made me realise that it was the stress in my mind. Acknowledging that just helped me calm right down.
“I took part in a challenge at the SECC working backstage at the wedding show and then running a stall at the same time. Because of all the bad stuff that had happened in the past I never thought I’d be able to do anything like that again, and it just gave me that push in the right direction. It was a work-life balance so there was no socialising. I just slowed myself down and gave myself a bit of a social life again.”
Jason Anderson from Livingston was suffering from stress and depression, which made him angry and gave him insomnia. Cognitive behavioural therapy was used to help Jason cope with his emotions and he was encouraged to take up salsa classes to increase his confidence and to meet new people. The 32-year-old was also encouraged to become more motivated in life. He told The Hour:
“I was locking myself in the house and not going out. I was just going to work, coming back and staying in the house. The programme basically got me out of my comfort zone and started pushing me to go back to things like badminton and swimming. They [the show] took me into a social group at Edinburgh Zoo and had me go for a meal in Glasgow with people I had never met before.
“It was good to get out of the house and just challenge myself to do it. It would be nice to know that what I went through and the things I learnt could help other people as well. I’m not 100 per cent by all means but the good days are getting more and more and the bad days are getting less and less.”
Watch Make Me Happier on STV now.
Last updated: 31 December 2010, 12:42