Melissa's story

I would say that counselling was crucial for me. Somehow it makes you able to carry on, because you know someone is there to talk to.

I was in my early twenties and things were looking good. I was in a training agreement and leading up to my final assessments. Obviously that's quite pressured, but I was living in a nice flat, and I was in a good relationship - or so I thought.

I'd been friends with my boyfriend all the way through University, and then when I moved near him for work, things very quickly developed. It was my first real relationship and we were very close. We weren't living together but we saw each other all the time. I trusted him completely. Then suddenly, he just stopped calling. For nearly 4 weeks I couldn't seem to get hold of him. I was so focused on my assessments, I tried not to think about it too much. I knew that he was also in a very stressful situation with his work, so I thought, let's just get through the exams and then we'll sort it out.

Then, 5 days before my final assessment deadlines, he just dumped me. It was awful, I just didn't expect it. He just turned up and said 'I've decided I don't want to be with you anymore'. He also said some very hurtful things that just devastated me.

I don't know how to explain it, but when you've really trusted someone like that, then, out-of-the-blue they just destroy you, make you feel so vulnerable, it's the worst feeling in the world. I had so many unanswered questions, but that was it. He ended it and I basically never heard from him again.

I couldn't stop crying. I felt so betrayed. I've never felt so alone, and I knew I had to get through my assessments. I really didn't want to tell work what had happened, I didn't want to unravel and end up losing my job.

In the middle of the night, I was crying and crying. I had a lovely flat-mate, but you can't wake people in the night about things like that. I didn't want to be a burden to anyone either. So I thought, I'm just going to call caba. The advisor that answered the phone was really good. She talked through some breathing exercises to calm me down and got me in a state where I was able to sleep and go to work the next day. They said I could call back whenever I needed, day or night. I have to say that the people at caba must be some of the most patient, understanding and kind people you can imagine.

caba arranged for me to have telephone counselling - I mostly did it in my lunch breaks by going into one of the meeting rooms. I would say that counselling was crucial for me - I really think I would have ended up signed-off work or hospitalised if I hadn't had that. Somehow it makes you able to carry on, because you know someone is there to talk to, that you'll get a chance to go over all the unfinished business again.

I also found some of the advice the counsellor gave me really helpful - like the idea of being kind to yourself. I was so hung up on what I'd done wrong, what was wrong with me to make him leave, but I see now that whatever it was, it wasn't to do with me, he must have problems of his own to treat someone so badly.

I think if you're ever in trouble, you should call caba. They're so good and helpful.

I got through the exams and passed them - thankfully, and now I'd say that for the most part, I'm okay. It's taken nearly a year, and I still get upset sometimes, but really I'm fine. Work is going really well and I'm about to become qualified, which is a great feeling. And I've learnt from this. I think I've become more aware of myself, my own emotions, and I'm also more resilient. I don't think I would react quite as badly now, if it were to happen again.

I've been building my confidence back-up, and actually just recently, a really nice guy asked me to go out. And I've said yes. So I must be back on track, ready to try again and trust people.

how caba can help

caba supports the wellbeing of past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and their spouses, partners and children up to the age of 25. For advice, information and support please:

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Who is eligible for support?

We support past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW), ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and the family and carers of members and students. 

  1. No matter where your career takes you, past and present members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England Wales (ICAEW) are eligible for caba’s services for life, even if you change your career and leave accountancy 
  2. ACA students (ICAEW Provisional Members) who are either an active student or have been an active student within the last three years are eligible for caba's services 
  3. Past and present staff members of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's services for life, even if you leave either organisation. Please note, for former employees, our financial support is only available to those who have had five years continuous employment with either organisation 
  4. Family members and carers of either an eligible past or present ICAEW member, ACA student or past or present employee of the ICAEW or caba are eligible for caba's support. We define a family member as a: 
    1. spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner 
    2. widow, widower or surviving civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    3. divorced spouse or civil partner who has not remarried or cohabiting with a partner 
    4. child aged up to 25. Please note, children aged between 16 and 25 are not eligible for individual financial support 
    5. any other person who is dependent on the eligible individual supporting them financially or are reliant on the eligible individual’s care 
    6. any other person on whom the eligible individual is reliant, either financially or for care 

You can find out more about our available support both in the UK and around the world on our support we offer  page. 

Are your services means-tested?

If you need financial support, we carry out a means test where we consider income, expenditure, capital and assets.  

*Please note none of our other services are means-tested. 

I’m an accountant, but not a member of ICAEW, can you still help?

Unfortunately not. We only support past and present ICAEW members, their carers and their families. If we are unable to support you, where possible we will point you to help elsewhere.

caba has supported me in the past; can I receive support from caba again?

We understand that circumstances change. If we’ve helped you in the past there’s no reason why we can’t help you again. You can contact us at any time. Please call us if you need our help.

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