Feeling understood by my peer worker gave me a real sense of belonging for the first time and helped me shift my focus from what I’d lost to what I wanted in life.
Career success had been the centre of my life since being told in my 20’s that I was unable to have children so the loss of a career I loved, in my 40’s, was devastating. I was hospitalised and lived with deep shame. Sitting on a sofa bed in mum’s shed I wondered how things had come to the point where I felt so alone and after 10 months of unemployment I questioned my abilities and worth.
As an outpatient, clinical support felt like compliance. I struggled to see a way forward. Then a health worker started coming around and spending time with me each day. With encouragement, I started taking better care of myself, grew less anxious and went along to a Personal Helpers and Mentors group where I connected with peer workers. They get it at a personal level so I felt safe to open up.
The ‘aha’ moment came when my peer worker challenged me to see my lived experience in the grander scheme of my life. I was able to laugh at myself and laughing reminded me of the person I was at my core. That experience of how powerful peer support can be set me on a new career path with Flourish Australia where having meaningful work built my confidence to overcome fear of isolation.
I’m now a senior peer worker. I’ve trained dozens of others, love being part of an inclusive work culture and live a fulfilling life with a loving partner.
I experience dark moments but remind myself that I pushed through to achieve things I thought would never be possible for me again. When I share my story I can sense the ‘me too’ in others which has changed my world view completely and inspires me to always be authentic – my vision, my values, my voice!
Become a peer worker
We value lived experience and believe peer support is a powerful part of the mental health recovery journey. Flourish Australia are proud to have built Australia’s largest peer workforce.
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