Anthony Plunkett has been attending our Buckingham House Day2Day Living Centre at Surry Hills for about 4 years, and he tries to make it there Monday to Friday every week. Tony volunteers to keep the facilities clean, and he also takes the lunch orders and helps out in the kitchen when it’s short staffed, and especially likes showing people how to use the machines in Buck House’s awesome gym. Be sure to let him know if you need help pumping iron!
Making new friends at Buckingham House
I first learned about Buck House during one of my many hospital admissions. After deciding to give it a try, it wasn’t long until attending the programs became a major part of my routine. Going to Buck House is often what gets me out of bed in the morning, and I even go when I’m feeling flat. Seeing the staff and other members can really help to pick me up when I need it.
Attending Buck House has been a great way to learn how to make friends. I’m still getting used to talking more openly with people, as it can take me a while to build trust and lower my shields. I’ve found that the more I get to know somebody, the easier it is to share a deeper friendship. I know how to show people the right amount of respect, and that’s an important part of any relationship. And while I enjoy talking with my friends at Buck House about everything from movies to football, I’m also learning how to talk about mushy stuff, which isn’t easy.
Another reason I enjoy socialising with the other members (sometimes even outside of the usual Buck House running times) is that it’s a great opportunity to be supportive of their mental health issues. Of course, I always treat people as people, not as an illness. Being able to help the other members to build on their confidence is also very fulfilling and gives me a sense of meaning, and I like to try and make people’s lives easier whenever I can.
Attending the recovery groups is one of my favourite parts of going to Buck House. They’ve taught me a lot, such as how to talk about what’s bothering me instead of holding it in, which is what I always did in the past. Buck House has helped me stay on top of my recovery and progress in many areas. Looking back on when I first started attending, I’ve made a lot of progress and I believe my recovery journey is going really well. I started off with a lot of problems, such as not being able to relate to people, but that stuff is all very different now. I’ve continued to work on my recovery both inside and outside of Buck House.
And while I like ALL the programs Buck House has on offer – everything from how to cook vegetables so they’re easier to eat, to how to avoid being scammed – I especially like hitting the gym. I usually work out with Ceda (Cedomir, Mental Health Worker), and he’s been helping me to deal with my stressors through exercise. Other staff members have also given me a lot of support with other elements of my diet and fitness routine, and this has helped me lose weight and manage my diabetes. When I train in the gym, I find it helpful to play music to keep my stress levels down a lot.
Every day at Buck House is an active one, and I’m always learning all sorts of new things from both the members and the staff. For instance, I’ve learned how to deal with my stress better. The staff have taught me to take time for myself when I need it, and to not always put other people first. Sometimes I need to focus on myself, or I won’t be able to help others.
I like to joke with the staff and the members at BH. Some days can be a bit stressful for anybody, so joking around can cheer up anybody who is having a bad day. I like to put a smile on people’s faces and make their day a bit happier. I grew up in a boys’ home instead of a family environment, so I know how to look after people.
“There’s something inside me that won’t give up, that keeps going even when I don’t feel like it. My family and friends are a big part of what helps to me keep going.” – Anthony
Connecting with Buck House has provided opportunities to link in with other services in a consumer role, including a Masterclass at St Vincent’s, a consumer advisory workshop with Being, and Take Charge with Belgravia.
I have two major stressors in my life: the first stressor is that I have spent a huge part of my youth in boy’s homes and many of my adult years in hospitals, and the second stressor is that I’ve had to deal with a lot of illnesses in my family.
Despite how much time I spent in boy’s homes and hospitals, I always knew that I would survive it. There’s something inside me that won’t give up, that keeps going even when I don’t feel like it. My family and friends are a big part of what helps to me keep going. Thankfully, since I’ve been coming to Buck House, I’ve been going to hospital less and also been thinking of harming myself less. I definitely get more value and benefits from attending Buck House than from being admitted.
Since my Father died of cancer, a lot of illness has gone through my family, and I have had to take on the role of looking after everyone. My family situation has been really hard at times. I worry a lot about all of them, and I’m especially concerned about how they would get by if I passed away, too.
My recovery journey
Looking back to when I first joined Buck House, I have come a long way in learning about my illness and achieving my goals. In addition to the recovery groups, the staff at Buck House have been able to support me in all kinds of matters. They’ve helped me gain a greater understanding of my own recovery, and this has allowed me to move forwards in life. For instance, when I’m feeling flat or down, I know that speaking about it with the staff will help me. My doctor has actually recommended that I should reach out to the people who run Buck House before considering any medication adjustments.
My advice about recovery is to keep working on it in whatever way you can, and you will get there. If you keep going forwards, you will get positive results. Never give up hope: you will get there.
I appreciate Donna and all the other staff at Buck House for the support they’ve provided me, all the work they do to help the other members, and the impact they have with their many recovery groups. If you have had any experience with mental health issues, you should come visit Buck House, find out about the programs on offer, and let them assist you. The members are always happy to see a new face and make a new friend, so don’t be shy!
Quick facts about Tony
What do I do for fun besides Buck House?
I like going to the movies, hanging out at coffee shops, and seeing the sights in new places. One recent highlight was taking a trip down to Melbourne on the sleeper train.
What’s my housing situation?
My housing situation is stable. I’ve lived in an apartment with my flatmate and friend, Cheryl, for a long time. This situation works for both of us, and neither of us are planning on moving on anytime soon. We know how to support (and put up with!) each other, and it’s good to have the company.
Who’s in my support network?
In addition to the Buck House staff and members, my support network includes my housemate Cheryl, my local coffee shop, my doctor and my pharmacist. I have a wellness plan, and everyone is on it.
Study and work
When it comes to employment, I spent 23 years doing shift work at the Royal Women’s Hospital as a hospital porter. I tried to return to open employment a while back, but it was too much for me. I’m planning to try again further down the track when I feel better prepared. When it comes to study, I’m thinking of getting my NDIS funding allocated towards improving my literacy skills.
I’m a lifelong Manly supporter.
Flourish Australia Buck House
43-45 Buckingham Street, SURRY HILLS 2010
1300 779 270