Today I work for a mental health charity as a Recovery Practitioner, but it’s not so long ago I was in a dark place and felt I could barely see the day through, let alone see a future.
I want you, when you read this to understand if you or a friend, family member or colleague are experiencing mental illness, it’s not something you choose, it’s something that happens and we can’t control who does and who doesn’t get mental illness. 1 in 4 people have a dog, 1 in 4 people have a tattoo, 1 in 4 people have mental illness. It really is that common!
When I was at my worst, I felt like there was no hope and felt now I was labelled with a mental illness that would be my way of life – like I should introduce myself to others by my condition and not my name. Having heard all these behaviours people with mental illness will have and how problematic they are, it made my life easier at times to go with the flow. Living from crisis to crisis I thought that was what it would be like for life and I wasn’t encouraged to think differently. But just as I thought my role in life now was a “revolving door patient”, I found a new word called Recovery. Where in the past, I thought “getting better” was going back to my old life, my old job etc which no longer interested me, this new thing of recovery was acknowledging that experiencing mental illness had meant hopes and dreams for the future had shifted and getting better was not that of returning to how life once was. I had never worked in mental health but thought with first-hand experience this was something of interest.
I feel so lucky to be working where I am today, I have enjoyed jobs in the past but this is a job where I have felt the greatest job satisfaction!
Having experienced stigma and discrimination when first diagnosed with mental illness it made perfect sense to get involved with Time to Change Wales. At first, I was quiet and had lost confidence; but as I went along to events, I started to become more involved. It wasn’t long before I became an educator – a volunteer who goes along to deliver basic facts and figures on mental illness to community groups and workplaces but also shares their own experience of stigma and discrimination so that people can see for themselves we are normal everyday people!
As I did more for the project as a volunteer, I networked with different organisations and it was also perfect to add to my CV. The fantastic feedback from the Time to Change Wales team and from people who I came face to face to at events and when doing presentations gave me the confidence to try for work, something I never considered I’d do ever again. I attended conferences, training and meetings as well as helping out at information stands and educating. Having this purpose in my life as well meant that huge overwhelming void in my life was gradually being filled and I knew employment was the next step. As they say, the rest is history! I had plenty to write about for my application and to discuss at interview thanks to my experiences with Time to Change Wales and I’ve learnt so much from other educators and volunteers too.
Having this purpose in my life as well meant that huge overwhelming void in my life was gradually being filled
I feel so lucky to be working where I am today, I have enjoyed jobs in the past but this is a job where I have felt the greatest job satisfaction! Within the charity, people know me from my educating role initially within Time to Change Wales, I don’t feel like I have to hide my past of experiencing mental illness, its life, it happens and actually for my position it certainly helps me having that insight. It’s not a secret and there was never that uncomfortable feeling of, “do I or don’t I?” Put it down on the job application form.
– people can and people do recover from mental illness, get the facts from https://www.timetochangewales.org.uk/en/mental-health-stigma/myths-facts/
Time to Change Wales