Jodeci’s Story

Twenty-year-old Jodeci is in his second year at Hertfordshire University in Hatfield, studying Human Geography, and things are going well. He is part of a group that does motivational speaking in secondary schools to raise young people’s self-esteem – a remarkable achievement given Jodeci’s own past struggles with low self-esteem, and one of the reasons why he sought support himself from Norwood.

Having gained top grades in his year for his GCSEs, Jodeci went on to do A-levels at school but soon started to feel the pressures of school life academically as well as socially. He says: “I felt this pressure to continue getting high grades to get to university, but no one in my family had been before. I was also trying to keep up with my friends who were from wealthy families. Towards the exam period, I started to experience extreme stress and anxiety. Some days I couldn’t go to school. And it just got worse and worse. I wasn’t eating and I would stay in my room all the time. After a three-month period of having real highs and then lows, I was diagnosed with bipolar. Just being around people made me feel very anxious and I lost a lot of friends during this time. The medication I was prescribed also made me gain a lot of weight and I lost my self-esteem.”

Jodeci was then introduced to Norwood Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist Sue. He was familiar with Norwood because his mum and three siblings had received a range of support from the charity for a number of years, including financial support, parenting advice and advocacy. One of Jodeci’s siblings, who has a physical disability, had also seen a social worker for one-to-one therapy for over a year.

Seeing Sue on a weekly basis for three years had a profound effect on Jodeci. He says: “Sue really understood me. I felt like we clicked straight away. She was the light in my week. I would only get up and go to school if I was seeing Sue that day. I always felt comfortable talking to her. She didn’t make my diagnosis seem like a massive issue. She made me see things differently and made me believe I could get out of the mess I felt I was in.”

Despite Jodeci’s mum being Jewish, Jodeci didn’t find out he was Jewish until he was 11. As a child with mixed heritage – his father being black African – Jodeci felt he was different and did not feel accepted by the Jewish community. He says: “Sue made me realise this wasn’t the case. We worked on improving my self-esteem and she made me see things differently. Sue created a belief system in me, empowered me and, together with Norwood, turned my life around.”

Today Jodeci embraces his Judaism wholeheartedly. He keeps kosher, Shabbat and learns with Rabbis. He also spent the summer at a Yeshiva in Israel. “Judaism is a big part of my life,” he explains. “After seeing Sue, I started to analyse my life and this inspired me to get involved in the JLE (Jewish Learning Exchange).” He is also thriving at university. “My first year exceeded my expectations about how well I coped. It’s fantastic.”

“Without Sue and Norwood’s support, I may never have gone to university. Sue laid the foundations for me to pursue other things in my life. When I hear her words in my head, I can cope with things now. Sue has been like an angel in my life and I owe so much to Norwood.”

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