How Brain in Hand helped Holly find order in the chaos


Work life, home life, and dog life too - with Brain in Hand, Holly can stay on top of it all.

Holly's story

“I was always late,” says Holly, reflecting on the difficulties she experienced before using Brain in Hand. “I’d get very anxious. I’d forget lots of things. I’d miss lots of appointments. I’d get to work and not have the right stuff with me, or not even have my keys for the office. Then I’d have to go home and come back, and then I’d be in pain because I’d walked further than I would normally have done. So everything was just chaotic. Really chaotic and hard to manage.”

When she saw a video advertising that she could get support from Brain in Hand through her local authority, Holly was most interested in the on-demand support. “I’d often said to the mental health team that if I could just have some help quickly when my anxiety starts to spiral, or when any of those things happen that trigger the meltdown process, I could often get it back under control,” she says. “Then it wouldn’t develop into a full-blown problem. So the thought of being able to talk to somebody quickly just when I needed them seemed like it would be a very helpful thing. And it is, it’s brilliant!”

Holly’s used Brain in Hand in three different ways.

She uses her traffic lights to record how she’s feeling, commenting why she’s pressed red, amber, or green so she can look back on her timeline and spot patterns. Plus, she says knowing that she can easily request a call from her on-demand support can sometimes mean things don’t get too difficult in the first place, because she knows she’d have help if they did.

She also uses it to record her pain, which she says has been helpful for when she has meetings with her pain team – it lets her see whether she’s been doing certain things that might be causing more pain.

And finally, she uses it to remind her of daily tasks. For one thing, she now always leaves her dog’s lead and a bucket and towel by the door, so her dog walker – and her dog – have a much happier and more settled routine of picking up and dropping off. And she says she hasn’t forgotten her lunch or her keys since she started using Brain in Hand to remember them. In fact, she even remembered her ID badge for the first time in three years – that might sound like a small victory, but it was enough to get congratulations from people who know her well.

It was such an achievement, because I fitted in! I had the same badge as everyone else instead of being the odd one out. It was really nice.

As a result, Holly says she feels much less anxious in the mornings and has a night-time routine now – things she knows would be basic to a lot of people, but to her, these are big achievements.

“I’m not unintelligent,” she says. “My brain just doesn’t quite work the way I would always like it to, and it was holding me back so much. I constantly had to do this extra layer of work on top of everything else just to function normally. But I’m learning, and it’s helped me to learn why it’s really good to have a system for doing stuff and how much more relaxed you feel when you have systems in place that work.”

We asked Holly how she would cope with her challenges if she didn’t have Brain in Hand. “The honest answer to that,” she says, “is I wouldn’t. Simple as that.” She’d still be relying on medication that wasn’t helping her get better in the long term, her mental health would still be more unstable, and she would still feel more alone.

"Unless you’re in total mental health crisis,” says Holly, “it’s almost impossible to get mental health support. The minute you start to get better, they discharge you, so you bounce in and out of crisis. Whereas this, actually, I think has prevented me from going into crisis quite a lot.”