dear diary

Having a lived experience has really transformed me as a person. I’ve learnt so much about myself particularly in the last few years, and now realise that I have incredible strength, resilience, and courage to have faced all the challenges and setbacks. I’ve had in my life no matter how many times I get knocked down I keep picking myself up again and again I have overcome many adversities and have come out the other side a better person, my life has improved significantly.

I am more confident, motivated and determined to succeed I now have the knowledge and skills to help others in the mental health sector, more and more opportunities have opened up for me as a volunteer, consumer representative and as a speaker/author.

I am now able to tell my story and make a difference by inspiring and encouraging others. I am a role model for so many people, I have a more positive outlook and am proud of all my achievements no matter how big or small. I’ve grown as a person since going through this experience.

The biggest lesson I have learnt is to take one day at a time, accept the past, live in the present and embrace the future.

If I could give advice to someone who was struggling I would tell them there is help and support out there, a big thing is to accept and acknowledge what has happened and realise it’s not the end of the world there is a light at the end of the tunnel, do not give upon yourself, take baby steps, sometimes it might be one step forward and two steps back, never stop having a go, you can do anything you set your mind too,
and most importantly keep believing in yourself.

Jenny

Saturday following closure

What  a journey it has been over the last 10 years; thankfully I am now in a secure place where I can reflect on, and describe, difficult times associated with my mental health, in the process reaching out to other affected people, to give them, perspective and support.

In sharing my story, I have been able to describe my, lived experience,
in having suicidal thoughts.

With proper, professional treatment, I have recovered.

It has been an exercise in self-care, where upon I needed to de stress my life and retain an interest in everyday things.  And yes, to maintain perspective and balance in my own life.

With my experiences in life … circumstances from my childhood, farming and a flyin/flyout background, I am very aware of the effects those work scenarios have on our decision making, …and wellbeing. Childhood traumas can cause serious health problems in our mature years. In any event it’s important to be aware of any anxiety and stress and be prepared to get help!!

So it has been that journey of self-discovery and recovery, for myself, which has made me aware of similar debilitating issues in other people. Damaging stigmas for instance, which create negative thoughts, can be a very real part of most recoveries.  And now, in doing presentations, which I am privileged to do, I am able to reach out to the broader  community, in doing so, reducing the stigmas I mentioned, but also encouraging people to listen to, and further discuss particular issues.

People also need to know that there is help out there with the likes of Lifeline and Beyond Blue, your doctor, …. as well as your friends. You are a good person, so be kind to yourself … and have pride in yourself.

I’d like to share a poem which I wrote some time ago after completing what turned out to be an emotional therapy course. It was time for me to return home; to finally leave people with whom I shared  life stories … and the special  emotions.

Saturday following Closure

As I lie here this morning, with feelings exposed
Awakening and loving I realise that this is the time for myself
I cannot be there for anyone else
I struggle to realise
I’ve come from a place,
to where I am now

My feelings exquisite
all touchy and bare

A fire in the hearth
I sit by its side and the shadows play over my feelings and soul

I go in there further, and look to my thoughts
For the moment … I simply reflect
on the times we have had…
The highs and the lows
my tears run free
Of poignant reminders
yes those things that we shared!

I savour the moment and think of you now
we’ll gather once more, together again
For this moment
the best friends that I have
For you see me …. and know who I am

But now it’s time to move on …
my plane will be waiting, and the car is warmed up
My heart is unfolding
as I think of the people, waiting for me

However, before that, I want you to know
that no matter how distant
no matter how far
A small part of my soul remains with my friends
In concert somewhere
To soar and to fly
To mingle and laugh
To hug and recall
But for now
It is time …to move on …

My journey of suicidal crisis

… was over a twenty-five-year period.  The main theme was my struggle with my sexuality knowing from a young age that I was gay. I was in environments that included a domestically violent home, bullying at school and moving into adulthood having a faith and being constantly told from the pulpit that my faith would not be valid if I did not adhere to the norms written down.

When I was in my early twenties, I fell ill with chronic fatigue syndrome. I was told from the pulpit that all my issues, both physical and mental, were the result of all the decisions I had made, and this was my punishment.

Life became very dark. It was compounded by the messages I received about my situation being all my fault and no matter of outside help was going to “cure me”. What did not help was conversion therapy.

For many years I would search online for help, someone to talk to who would not think that I was evil. I had more failures than successes. I would find organisations online, but when I tried to contact them their emails would bounce back or I would not hear from them.

Over time, I finally thought I found some help – a counsellor that I connected with.  However, the phone counsellor resigned. I was told I would be given another counsellor, but this never eventuated. Stops and starts made things more oppressive.

One thing that would be spoken about at our church pulpit was love and that the only love you can find is the love that a church environment can supply. For me that was not the case. The love that I did find was a LGBTQI community group that was run by Sharon Jones, who listened and treated me as a human being.

It took another two years or so to even become comfortable enough to share my most inner fears and suicidality. One weekend, I turned to Sharon and said I do not want to be here anymore. Sharon said she understood, and I finally felt that a lifetime of anguish and pain might have a chance of being sorted out. That conversation, those few words spoken to me by Sharon, started a three-year journey of being able to start to look at the pain and the hurt, and step by step, or even three steps forward one step back, move ahead.

I was able to get long term counselling.  My counsellor helped me to realise that what had been spoken into my life was not truth or love but fear. I went through stages of anger that I had been lied to and grief that my belief system was twisted. Slowly I felt a sense of freedom that I might be able to live a life that was true to who I was. I was able to rekindle my passion for singing. I started a Facebook page to share information about relevant topics and social events so that maybe I could help one person not to have to go through as dark an experience as I had.

The most loving, caring people can be the starting point of a person’s healing journey.  They are the ones who show unconditional love and compassion.

Rob Tierney, Tasmania