Orla was diagnosed with meningitis and sepsis in July 2019, at the age of 19. She was left with after-effects like fatigue and issues with concentration, but also anxiety, nightmares and flashbacks from her time in hospital.
While over time her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has improved she has still been left with anxiety that impacts friendships and her decisions about her future.
In 2021 Orla became part of Believe & Achieve, our programme for young people affected by meningitis that aims to support them to reach their goals. Through the programme she undertook a course of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).
Orla told us:
“CBT has allowed me to understand that my experiences and the after-effects of meningitis and sepsis have not decreased my value in any way.
Work through thoughts and feelings
“It was the first time I was able to work through my thoughts and feelings in a safe space with someone who helped me in a positive and understanding way.
“It has brought me a greater understanding of myself, my trauma and the coping techniques that have allowed me to heal in a way I had never been able to until now.
“Also, the knowledge of coping techniques and what was covered in each session are things I can come back to and always incorporate into my life at any stage.
Laid out my goals
“During my first CBT session, we laid out the goals I wanted to achieve and over the course of our sessions I achieved each goal. Tracking my process was helpful. Counselling has allowed me to gain confidence and belief in myself again.
“My family has also noticed a huge difference in my outlook and acceptance of my trauma. I don’t experience the severe PTSD symptoms I previously experienced when thinking, talking about or seeing things that brought back negative memories. I now understand fears that I have struggled with for a long time.”
Orla also said she felt more positive, motivated and in control of her life as a result of CBT.
Grateful to Believe & Achieve
“I found counselling very valuable, and I am very grateful that Believe & Achieve allowed me this opportunity,” she added.
Believe & Achieve is for 14 to 25-year-olds who have been impacted directly or indirectly by meningitis. The programme pays for ten sessions of counselling/CBT. Please contact B&A Programme Manager Becky Hartwell in the first instance and also get a recommendation from your GP for this type of support.