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    After discovering the benefits of massage, Graham has become a huge advocate: recommending it to his friends and speaking to the press about what Pathways are offering. Here we get the scoop on why it’s meant so much to him to receive £5 treatments, as part of our partnership with Mind in Tower Hamlets.

    Tara: Could you tell me about your experience of being on the course of treatments? 

    Graham: I found Eva calm, reassuring, empathetic, put me at ease straight away, and kind. I think she’s got magical fingers and it’s not just a flippant statement, I’ve gone away from here before feeling euphoric, and it’s like ‘wow’. I need to bottle this to carry it on! Today, once Eva had completed the massage I didn’t feel like I had any bones or muscles or anything, all that was existing was the top of my head – as I was laying there I was completely over-relaxed really, which with my anxiety and depression, it’s amazing that a massage can actually do that. It’s gone above and beyond what I could have ever hoped for. 

    Tara: That’s quite moving to hear that actually, that’s amazing, I’m delighted. 

    Graham: It’s a case of, I’m so glad that the opportunity arose to be able to have treatment, when it was first offered it was a case of – what if my anxiety kicks in and everything, but I’d already spoke to Eva on the phone and then I came here so I could relate the voice to the person and straight away I felt completely at ease as if well your anxiety can wait at the door for you to get back out. It’s about you and the treatment, there’s nothing to be anxious about basically. It’s gone above and beyond what I could have hoped for. 

    Tara: That’s a really good way of thinking about it actually, whilst you’re here you can drop in and if you need to pick those thoughts or worries back up you can do it when you go outside, but it sounds like you were really absorbed. 

    Graham: Yeah I mean as Eva’s explained, a lot of things that I am carrying in my mind I am also carrying physically. Then every time I’ve had the massage things seem to be eased for a little while until like I get out into the real world almost but even then for a few days afterwards I feel the benefits of the massage. My aches and pains now don’t actually exist, at this present time they don’t actually exist and whether in the next couple of days the twinges – I have meniscus tear in my knee, I’ve got bursitis in my shoulder, I’ve got arthritis in my hip but for the sake of this present time I feel none of them actually exist so it’s really good. 

    Tara: Wow so it sounds like you’ve experienced quite a big change? 

    Graham: Yeah and that’s why I want the treatments to go on and I’m told by Mind that it would be £5 for 6 weeks and then it would be £35 which because of my benefits situation at the moment I can actually afford that. It would be better if it was cheaper but at the same time being I’ve experienced the £5 treatment and seen how beneficial it is, the £35 will be an investment in myself if that makes sense. It’s not just seeing it as this money could go on something else it’s a case of well it’s going on me, it’s treating me. 

    Tara: Yeah, investing in yourself. It’s great that having it so affordable initially was like a way in and it made it more accessible. 

    Graham: In a way personally it’s just a pity that it’s just 6 weeks – I’ve benefited from the massage, ideally I would have liked to try reflexology and stuff like that but being it was a six-week course and now it’s £35 it’s weighing up well do I go for reflexology which I don’t even know whether it would work or not whereas the massage I do know it does work. It would have been good to have another reduced treatment to give everything a go really. 

    Tara: I hear that, it’s good in a way to stick with one and go deeper with that and I’m trying to work on getting more funding so that people have a chance to try more. 

    Graham: Personally, I’ve never actually had a massage before so I didn’t know what to expect and it’s gone above and beyond anything I could have even dreamt of so with the other treatments – what would the other treatments be like, would they be just as good. If the funding could be there in the future it would be a blue sky. 

    Tara: It’s good that you had an inkling or a sense that, even though you hadn’t experienced the massage before, that could be something that was helpful and you followed that and it turned out to be. 

    Graham: I think it was a combination of whether – well I presume all the other therapists would have been the same as well but when I came in Eva put me at ease and as I said I swear she’s got magical fingers because that first week it was a case of I walked out of hear, I almost felt taller, I wasn’t weighed down and everything. So that was like, I’ve made the right choice because if that first treatment was that good, how good can it get sort of thing rather than dip into this dip into that. It would be ideal if funding can be found so that people can test each one as there might be a case of that one didn’t quite work but that one is the magic bullet sort of thing. 

    Tara: Yeah and you obviously felt really comfortable with her which is so important isn’t it to be able to benefit fully from the treatment. Have you noticed any improvement when you’re doing daily activities? 

    Graham: Not necessarily because the anxiety and depression is a rollercoaster but for the few days after the treatment, I’ve been pain free and I’ve been sort of less anxious if that makes sense and able to really – categorise is the wrong word but think ‘ah that doesn’t matter as much’ where I’ve been obsessing about things. Putting stuff in perspective and stuff and it just helps to see the treatment again as it’s treating me, whereas all through life I’ve always put everybody else first, so it is nice to actually come in and be treated – have a treatment that’s beneficial for me as well.

    Tara: Yeah and probably having that regularly really reinforces that, great. Is there anything else you want to add – highlights/lowlights, anything more about managing your condition? 

    Graham: As Eva had said, relaxing the body is actually then treating the mind as well so it is a case of not that things are lessened but they’re put into perspective. I can’t recommend it enough to anybody, whichever psychological, mental health condition you have, or may not you may be an ‘average Joe’, I can’t recommend it enough, it is a case of give it a go and just experience it really. It might be ‘maybe another day, maybe another day’ – no while the opportunity is there grab it and it is – mindblowing seems over but it is sort of I feel, I know with the rollercoasters I’m on I’m on an up at the moment but I feel like a different person almost after this six-weeks treatment. The lows aren’t as low, if that makes sense. 

    If what I’ve experienced could actually be made available for so many people, I want everybody to experience it. It should be like a doctor’s certificate – massage. Experience this type of medical massage is sort of – I think everybody should actually experience it. 

    Tara: I think like you say it’s that thing of doing something for yourself and allowing yourself to receive that and receive the benefits and that sounds really powerful. 

    Graham: Yeah, with the anxiety it’s then like having to strip off sort of, you are exposing yourself mentally, you’re exposing your anxiety. Then your anxiety is not being taken advantage of. 

    Tara: I guess in order to do that there has to be a level of acceptance of you know, this is what’s going on for me and I am here to do something about it and that’s just such a positive message for yourself I think. 

    Graham: Yeah, form my experience with the mental health side of it as well it’s so easy to stay indoors underneath the quilt to actually then have an appointment to come out to and it being a pleasant appointment, then you’re going to treat yourself you’re not going there for someone else’s benefit its for your benefit.

    Tara: Great. 

    Graham: I’m not saying this lightly and if you actually want me to meet them [funders] – I struggle with my words but if it’s being able for someone to see how enthusiastic I am about it. It needs to be out there really.

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