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"I've still got so much to give"

14 June 2024
Older male

Meet Sione*, a man in his mid-60s, guided by faith and community connections. 

Sione stood as a steadfast champion for his community, renowned for his support and active involvement in cultural events. Despite his strong ties, Sione battled with extreme social anxiety and persistent self-doubt, holding onto the role of an imposter in his own life.

For years, Sione silently negotiated its impact on his work and personal life. This burden slowly led to the withdrawal from his usual events and engagements, exacerbating his mental health challenges.

At the same time, he faced the physical toll of carrying excess weight, triggering a series of health complications. Recognising the need for support, a community health professional referred Sione to our Enliven Counsellor, Lynne*, expressing concerns about his mental wellbeing.

Sione opened up with Lynne and acknowledged the connection between his mental health and body size, describing his challenge as “my relationship with food” and admitting to using food as a coping mechanism, saying, “I eat my feelings.

Navigating away from ingrained habits and reshaping deep-seated thought patterns proved to be an intricate journey. Lynne worked with Sione to unravel the impact of his long-term anxiety, exploring his family history, cultural influences, and childhood experiences, including the lingering scars of his school bullying.

Through this introspective process, Sione began identifying and understanding the emotions steering his overeating, shedding light on the root of his struggles.

Older couple hugging outside

Over the months, a remarkable shift unfolded in Sione’s life, radiating from the core of his being.

Armed with a newfound understanding, he witnessed a surge in his confidence and self-esteem, leading to a noticeable reduction in anxiety - a transformation not just felt by Sione but observed by those around him.

Equipped with coping strategies, and practical breathing techniques, Sione learned to navigate the turbulent waters of his anxiety, emerging more resilient. This transformation manifested in Sione’s daily activities.

Lynne shared “Previously, a minor incident like someone not letting him merge in traffic could have triggered a downward spiral”. Now, Sione faces such moments with a newfound perspective.

Reflecting on his journey, Sione shared, “I wish I had learned all this when I was younger, my life could have been quite different.”

Older hands praying

Today, Sione spends more time outside on personal projects and enjoys reconnecting with old friends, stating “I’ve still got so much to give!”

With the different techniques that Lynne and Sione discussed, Sione feels he has the tools to shift his negative thoughts and continue giving back to his community, standing healthier and happier than before.


*Names and images have been changed to protect privacy.

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