When my mental health issues reached the point where travelling on public transport triggered severe anxiety attacks, I knew I needed to find a way to push past my fears so I could break through barriers in my life. Joining in group activities organised by Flourish Australia was the turning point in my recovery.
I was first connected with Flourish Australia through Nepean Anxieties Disorder Clinic, at a point in my life when simply stepping onto the platform of a train station seemed overwhelming to me. Not being able to take public transport put so many limitations on my work and social life that I withdrew into myself. I live with my parents, and while they are very supportive, the loss of independence I suffered became very isolating for me.
The Flourish Australia's Penrith Centre feels like a very safe place, which made getting involved with the groups they offer a non-confronting way to ease back into being around other people. Their Peer Workers have a very calming way and I found myself actually enjoying the pizza nights, art workshops and other activities. It helped to clear my mind and over time, I began to feel more balanced in myself and move past my anxiety.
I appreciate that my Peer Workers are so accepting. If something goes wrong, they come alongside me and support me to deal with it instead of spiralling into panic.They’re so down to earth that they’ve been willing to share a little of their own lived experience at times, which I find very encouraging.
By taking part in bus trips to The Blue Mountains and other places, I’ve reached a stage in my recovery where public transport no longer has such a negative impact on me, which opens my life up to so many more opportunities. I found the courage to push beyond my fear of heights and step to the edge of a viewing platform, and it was such a good feeling to overcome that barrier in my mind. The experience fuelled my determination to smash my fear of water next, with a trip to the beach.
Every activity I’ve been part of so far has improved my life in some way while growing my self-confidence, so that I’ve made many new friendships along the way. I’ve set myself the goal of living more independently and growing less reliant on my family.
I’m already thinking about what sort of work I want to go after, to gain greater financial freedom. I’ve attained qualifications that I’d like to put to good use, including a Cert IV in retail, in business admin, and in business management. Most recently I completed a Cert IV in Youth Work online, which was so challenging I feel proud of myself for persisting.
Day-to-day I’m supported in very practical ways by the Flourish Australia team. They’re giving me a hand with accessing the NDIS right now which will make it possible for me to continue to benefit from more of the programs they offer as I work toward full recovery.
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