62-year-old Glastonbury-based Theresa is a body builder, pole fitness enthusiast, works three days a week at West Mendip Hospital as well as being a mum and grandmother. She’s also a Samaritan.
As a Samaritan, she dedicates three hours a week to being a listening volunteer at the Yeovil, Sherborne & District Branch.
How does she make time for all these pursuits?
Whilst you wouldn’t traditionally put Samaritans and body building into the same camp, in lots of ways the two things are interconnected’ says Theresa.
Five years ago, my son, who had suffered from mental health issues for some time, tried to take his own life. It was, as every parent can imagine, the most terrible moment in our lives.
As he was recovering from his attempt in the Bristol Infirmary, I had to take myself in hand. I recognised that I couldn’t crumble. I needed to be there for him, as well as the rest of the family, to be a rock, and hold us all together.
And that requires strength. Not just mental strength, but physical strength too.
I started meditating frequently using app to help with my mental well being. I’d always been a bit of an exercise nut but I’d never done body building and pole fitness before. Once I tried it, there seemed to be a connection for me between having core strength and feeling mentally strong too.
I now train for three hours regularly at the gym, do ballet and perform pole fitness once a week Pole fitness is definitely not pole dancing (number one I can’t dance, and number two, I’m a bit old for that) but there’s a real beauty to the art. It requires precision control and balance, all skills that focus on your abdominals.
Once I’d achieved that core strength, and my son was on the road to recovery, I felt it was the right time to start volunteering – something that I’d always thought about doing. I knew about Samaritans as my son had leant on them quite heavily in his darkest days – when he just felt he couldn’t open to those around him. This is very typical of callers to the Samaritans helpline. Men don’t want to burden those who are closest to them.
When I went along to the selection day, I thought I’d be rejected because I just couldn’t stop crying. But in fact, it was completely the opposite. Samaritans don’t judge either their callers or potential volunteers. Everyone is assessed on an individual basis. I got through the selection process because I was able to show empathy, and because I’ve had experience of being at rock bottom.
I’ve been working as a Samaritan now for 18 months. I get so much out of it. It makes me realise how lucky I am. I’ve also made great friends with fellow Samaritans who are genuinely kind, supportive and thoughtful people.
Kindness is at the heart of every Samaritan. It’s so easy to be kind. I try and be kind every day. If a friend is wearing something that looks nice, I’m the first to tell them. It makes them feel good, and it makes me feel good too.
Samaritans don’t judge either their callers or potential volunteers. Everyone is assessed on an individual basis. I got through the selection process because I was able to show empathy, and because I’ve had experience of being at rock bottom.