Before being introduced to Extern, my life had not been perfect. I had survived domestic, sexual, and mental abuse. I allowed my brain to almost hide these things. Then I lost both my parents in traumatic ways, and my life fell apart. I was 31, and had lived a rural life for all this time.

I froze, as a person, in mind, in living, I was barely surviving. I couldn’t speak. All I wanted to do was to remain in the past I missed so much, with the deep love of my parents.

I tried everything, even suicide attempts. I was begging for help, yet no one could hear me. My own self destruction was all I could focus on. If I didn’t care about myself, why would anyone else? Why would a stranger, why would a company, why would a charity help me, if I couldn’t help myself?

Depression suffocated me, blinded and deafened me, for those years. You’re isolated to extremes you can’t imagine. You live like a feral animal. I committed a crime, and was given probation for a year. I was asked when was the last time I had spoken to anyone. I was shocked that it had been almost four years.

Middle-aged brunette woman in a light coat in autumn park alone.

Then I was introduced to Extern. They had to take a feral person, who didn’t have hope, who didn’t know how bad or mentally ill she was, and break 30 years of abusive behaviour. They had to break down every barrier I had made. They had to get me to listen, to make me understand that they could and would help.

At that time, I was being evicted from my family home. Extern found me a home, yet stayed with me to make sure I could sustain it, and start to live. My recovery is daily, and has been the biggest and hardest fight of my life. I owe my life, my self-worth, my health, my hope, my beliefs – and most importantly I owe my home, my journey to recovery and my journey to living - to Extern.

Thank you, Extern; thank you for giving me the skills to live, and most importantly to have hope for my life; that my journey will be long, that my life will be longer. That I can help others by telling them about Extern.

Claire, (40) Floating Support