ABOVE: In the back garden at Flourish Australia’s service at Penrith NSW. Do butterflies remember that they were once caterpillars? Who knows? For people, an important part of recovery is the hope that we won’t be forgotten and that someone will follow up when we are unwell. PHOTO WARREN HEGGARTY
Peter L shares how far he’s come
At Flourish Australia, we focus on people’s strengths, even though at first the people who access our services may find it difficult to see those strengths themselves – Charlene Del-Cet, Senior Mental Health Worker
When I first came to Penrith, I was very unwell and although I agreed to participate, I didn’t have high hopes. I had lost faith in mental health services, due to my past experiences and feeling like I had been let down by them. I felt like I would be “forgotten about” as I had been in the past.
So to bring a bit of hope into the picture, the staff had to do things differently.
Because I was particularly unwell and even thinking of ending my life, one of his support facilitators supported me to admit myself to a local hospital. I stayed there for the next four weeks.
“When we first met, I was at my worst, ready to give up the ghost; but, with your help I’ve today enrolled in a Certificate IV in Community Service! I am so grateful to Flourish Australia, but mostly to you mate. For the first time in a long time, I’m excited.” Peter L to a support facilitator at Flourish Australia’s Penrith Partners in Recovery service
While I was in the mental health unit, Charlene Del-Cet continued to support me by checking in on me and feeding my fish which I love dearly. I became hopeful that I would not be forgotten about and I knew that somebody would be there to “follow up” with me.
One of the challenges I faced was my isolation from other people. Contributing to this was the fact that I was severely depressed and would also become highly anxious when having to leave my home. I would regularly experience anger outbursts when in the community. In fact, it was because of this that some other service providers did not want to engage or work with me.
I am now able to identify signs that my frustration, anxiety and anger are rising. I am now able to follow strategies to allow me to deal with my emotions in a way that does not jeopardise my relations with other people. This is allowing me to reconnect with the community, to go places I want to go and to get things done.
I was struggling financially and disclosed that I found it difficult to know when to take my medications. So the staff supported me to access free medication and to have it dispensed in a Webster pack. i am now able to keep on top of my medication and I’m feeling very positive about my mental health.
Among other achievements, I have:
• Re-engaged with a GP & various other health professionals to address my physical health concerns.
• Re-connected with some of my family members with whom I had been estranged for many years.
• Expressed an interest in becoming a peer worker and enrolled in TAFE to do a Cert IV in Community Services.
• Improved my physical health, losing 11kgs and maintaining a healthy BSL from 20’s to 6/7.
Like most recovery journeys, there have been some set backs. During this time of recovery, my mother passed away from a serious illness. This is a stressful time for anybody. I went off my medication and became unwell again. However I continued to engage with Flourish Australia throughout this time and managed to get through it all and I am now back on track. The staff tell me they are proud of what I have achieved.
(Thanks to Charlene Del-Cet for helping Peter L to share his story)
Flourish Australia’s Penrith Partners in Recovery, 232 Derby Street, PENRITH NSW 2750
1300 779 270