Sidney’s story: My mentor helped me value life again

Sidney benefited from our Mentoring programme, it helped him find the joy in life again

“Thanks to my Back Up mentor, I’m very passionate about gardening,” says Sidney. “I enjoy growing lots of vegetables and I also have lots of indoor plants. Growing vegetables helps me to have a healthy diet, and it’s been educational for me because I’ve learned how to look after my plants.”

A minor stroke

“I woke up one morning and noticed the left side of my body was numb. I think I’d had a minor stroke.”

“After this, I kept falling, often while at work. I went to a private hospital to see what was happening to me, and that’s when they told me I have a C4 incomplete spinal cord injury.”

“I knew little about spinal injury. I kept thinking: I’ve not done anything like contact sports, I’ve not been boxing or wrestling, so I didn’t understand how it happened. I was in denial.”

The impact of my spinal cord injury on my mental health

“It had a huge impact on my life. I was suicidal and attempted suicide multiple times.”

“I was really depressed and didn’t want to live another day.”

“It affected my relationships with my friends and family. I felt like no one truly understood what I was going through, the pain I was in, or my condition.”

“Then I met Back Up, when I was at the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.”

“I remember they ran wheelchair skills sessions, but I had no confidence back then. I kept getting phone calls from Back Up. The guy was really polite and kept checking in with me and letting me know the activities they do. He mentioned mentoring and other services that were based online, but I’m not great with the computer, so I thought I’d give mentoring a go.”

My mentor changed my life
“I’m a lot better since starting mentoring at Back Up. My mentor said he’d been in a wheelchair for over 20 years and was very optimistic. He told me all about his adventures and things he’s done. He inspired me to start gardening.”

“I’m so passionate about gardening now, I get really excited to do it. In the summer, I’d wake up at 4am and start gardening. I enjoy it more than anything.”

“Before, I didn’t want people to see me, a disabled man doing gardening. But now I’m proud of it. People who pass by see my garden and give me compliments on it. It makes me really happy and confident.”

“I can’t thank Back Up enough.”

“I still have bad days, but I now just take each day as it comes. I value life a lot more now. I have plans, and I take better care of myself.”

“My mentor shared things about himself and made me feel comfortable about opening up to him. If you’re thinking about signing up for the mentoring scheme, it’ll be challenging, but you will feel better by the end of it. It’ll make you more confident.”

Get in touch with a mentor that understands spinal cord injury.