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Proud mum-of-three Alison Hill, 53, was reluctant to ask for help or share her problems when her home life became turbulent. The qualified textile designer is now enjoying a new lease of life and is urging others not to fight stress and anxiety on their own.

So Alison, how did the struggles at home begin? 

I separated from my husband about nine years ago and had been privately renting for quite some time but it was getting extremely expensive and the stress just kept building up and up. My son, who is now 15, had moved school several times and for a short while I schooled him from home independently. I found this very demanding however and it was having an impact on all of our lives at home.

And how did you feel at your lowest point?

It was a very stressful time and it became quite a hidden problem because I was constantly blaming myself for different things. Looking back it was silly really but as a mother you always want the best for your children and I was reluctant to ask anyone for help because I was always in the mind-set that I should be able to cope on my own. The stress and anxiety really did get on top of me though and this affected not only myself but also my son and two daughters (aged 12 and 10).

Are things starting to look more positive now?

Yes, very much so. Eventually my son was moved into the alternative provision centre for six months and they were absolutely brilliant with him. His current school is in Cirencester where he’s now completing his GCSEs and is far happier than at any point in the past five years. He’s actually doing really well as are the two girls.

We moved into a lovely Bromford terraced house in Stroud last August (2015) and things at home are so much more settled now. Currently I’m helping teach art classes to people with mental health issues for two days-a-week and the rest of the time I’m trying to develop my own textile design business from home. I’ll be coming up with a name for the business soon and I’ve been trying out a few things to test the market – at the moment I’m focusing on made-to-measure curtains. I also buy and sell designer and vintage clothing, complete clothing repairs for people as well as creating handcrafted gift cards and fine art pieces.

And what support are you receiving?

I’ve had an initial chat with a skills coach at Bromford and we agreed that I needed some help on being better on computer stuff as I’m not on social media or anything yet and I know it can be a good way to build your audience and develop your business. They’ve signposted me to an enterprise business course near Gloucester to build up my management skills and eventually I hope to secure some start-up funding which will enable me to have my own workshop in town. I feel like I’m ready to do my own thing again now that the kids are far more settled.

I do have family fairly close by and I’m now getting far better at reducing the burden on myself by sharing any problems I may have rather than keeping it bottled up inside. This experience has taught me that it’s okay to ask for help because nobody is perfect and we all have issues which can often be resolved simply by opening up and talking about it.

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