“For about eight years after that I was in and out of about five different hospitals in Brisbane. A few of those years I was in hospital more than I was out of hospital.
“My mum was my primary carer for several years and she was my main support. Unfortunately, she passed away suddenly. I was in hospital under an Involuntary Treatment Order when she passed and couldn’t move back home, so I was placed in a halfway house on the Southside of Brisbane. From there I moved up the coast to Nambour in November 2016 and found myself with no supports.
“In 2018 I moved back to Brisbane and I was extremely lucky that the service I had previously worked with were able to transfer me to Neami Strathpine and that’s how I was introduced to Neami.
“I completed the Flourish program and through Flourish I was introduced to the concept of recovery and what that looked like for me. We also learnt how to identify our values, goals and how to achieve them. I was amazed at how beneficial and well structured the program and its resources were and having a great facilitator Hellie, the Senior Peer support coordinator from Neami Strathpine was wonderful too.
“I don't have many friends which isn't an issue, but I've met friends through Flourish. Now I’ve got a great friend and we try to catch up each fortnight and say g’day and stay at each other’s houses, I haven't had that in a lot of years, that was another opportunity that Flourish created a place for me to make friends.
“I received a lot of support from Hellie, who is always happy to listen to what I've got to say, give really good advice and feedback when required with anything that I'm struggling with, she's just a wonderful person I feel fortunate to have in my life.
“I also attend the Peer support group which provided me with a safe space among other people with lived experience, facilitated by Hellie. We discuss anything that may be going on in our lives that we are perhaps struggling with, going well or want advice on. It’s a great outlet because some of us don’t have a lot of other supports to talk to or safe places to vent those things. So, the peer group provides that safe space in a structured way.
“Neami provides an environment where you don't feel judged. You feel like people understand similar things or aspects of what you're going through, you don't feel like you're going to be judged, put down, spoken to disrespectfully or nastily. Everyone's really supportive and understanding.
“For me I’m still a little out of my comfort zone because I think because for a lot of my past years, I've been very isolated and haven't been a part of the community. I'm really enjoying getting back involved in the community and it gives me purpose in life and lots of bright things in my future to look forward to that perhaps I haven't had in the past, it's helped me grow and learn how to communicate in those situations and I’m getting a lot out of it.
“Hellie was the first person I felt has ever truly believed in me and I guess saw my good qualities. She gave me the opportunity, courage, inspiration and confidence to apply for a scholarship to do Certificate IV in Mental Health and Peer Work. She introduced me to the PPIMS Network through PHN. She's also created a lot of opportunities such as attaining my Mental Health First Aid Certificate and I’ve joined two mental health lived experience committees.
“I was invited by Nicole and Chris from Neami Strathpine to attend to interview panels as the Peer Consumer Representative, that made me feel that my lived experience was valued, and my input was valued, and I never felt that before and that in itself was really empowering. I learned a lot and got a lot out of those experiences with the team as well and also got to establish stronger bonds with others.
“Just having even that one person in your life, somebody to believe in me in my corner has made the world of difference and literally changed my life for the better. Now I feel a bright future to look forward to thanks to Hellie and the staff at Neami.
“It’s been a journey, but I’ve come out the other side I believe in shining colours, I’ve really done a lot of hard work to turn my life around and throughout my recovery journey thus far, now for the first time in a very long time I’m living my best life.