Have you ever felt like you were making history? Not because you are Napoleon Bonaparte, but simply because you are YOU? Michael White, peer worker at Flourish Australia’s Flowerdale Cottage, Liverpool was recently involved in a project that recognises the historical importance of the experience of living with mental health issues.
After seeing Michael give a talk about his lived experience, Mardi Haworth of One Door Fairfield-Liverpool suggested he might make a good subject for a project being undertaken by the State Library of NSW. So she put him onto Louise Darmody of Sound Memories, a company which has been contracted by the library to record the stories of today’s people for future generations.
Hopefully, when future generations hear Michael’s story they will already live in a world where mental health issues no longer come with stigma. They will be able to learn about Michael’s ancestry (there were some convicts there!) and about how his original apprenticeship had to be abandoned ‘because the tools were talking to me’ as he puts it.
They will hear that doctors had told Michael’s wife that he had paranoid schizophrenia and would never recover. And they will hear how Michael eventually went to work for organisations such as CAN (Consumer Advisory Network) and Flourish Australia as a peer worker, walking alongside people in their own recovery.