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Matthew - Moving Towards Independence, One Goal at a Time

Connecting with other people on their recovery journey, through Flourish Australia, has helped me to build the confidence to go after my life goals and start living independently.

In January I achieved my goal of transitioning from supported housing at Jim da Silva Farm, to living independently at Bombaderry. Sharing farm living with others who have lived experience of a mental health issue was a step toward feeling supported and it was satisfying to complete chores like raking up leaves, feeding the chickens, looking after farm dogs, washing up and contributing to cooking for us all.

As much as I enjoyed my time with house mates, a big upside to now having a place of my own is always being the one to decide what music gets played! The move to Bombaderry has brought me to an even better place in my life. It’s a lovely area and I LOVE being close to the beach where I often bodyboard. It’s convenient to have shops just down the road, and I now live so close to work that I can ride my bike there. 

Next goal – a car to get around in 

Since I’ve connected with the Flourish Australia team at Nowra, they’ve encouraged and supported me to go after my goal of getting my driver’s license. This is something I want to make happen as quickly as possible, and they’ve been going through the book of road rules with me, over and over, to make sure I understand it all. 

Day by day my independence grows

Though I keep in touch with my mum, I don’t have a lot of family support. Whenever I’ve needed a hand with something day-to-day, I would just give Flourish Australia a call and they’d assist with sorting something out for me. Like giving me a lift to a doctor’s appointment. As I’ve grown more independent, I find myself only needing to ask for their support from time to time now.

Staying connected with a supportive network of people has been important on my journey to greater independence. I’m always up for making new friends but can become really anxious and need to deliberately manage my emotions so they don’t get in the way. Getting involved in group activities, or just hanging out, at Flourish Australia has been a safe and inclusive environment for expanding my social connections. I used to enjoy their Hearing Voices group but I work on the day that is offered now.

These days, I feel very fortunate to be employed as head cleaner at Harvey Normal Commercial in South Nowra, where I appreciate receiving a lot of encouragement and practical guidance from my employers. With the support of Ostara Nowra Disability Employment Service I secured a couple of five hour shifts here, each week, which works for my needs at the moment. It’s a really big space to vacuum and mop, and I scrub the windows and polish the chrome. 

In the past, my career path has included being a farmhand, manual labour and traineeships, and with the support of Flourish Australia I’ve set myself the goal of pursuing further studies, in Information Technology, at TAFE. I’ve also put it on my list to learn to play guitar one day.

With the right support around me, I’ve come a long way since the days when I was very down on myself for my serious dependence on alcohol, and my Psychologist supports my efforts to remain sober and not lapse back into poor health habits. I’m better able to manage the panic attacks I sometimes experience, and I’m happy to say it’s been more than two years since I’ve had any hospital admissions.

My number one goal now is the great Australian dream, to own a home of my own and I’m steadfastly taking steps toward that.

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