Real Life Experience
My mental health difficulties have impacted on my education and employment throughout my life. It began with dropping out of university after I was sectioned and admitted to a psychiatric hospital for an extended period of time. When I came out of hospital I received support from the Occupational Health Department and this helped me to reach a point where I was able to apply to do some voluntary work. Even though I wasn’t being paid, just having something to go to a couple of days a week, where I felt like a valued member of the team, really helped me on my recovery journey. It was far from going back to university but it was a start. It was manageable and realistic and it really built up my crushed sense of self-worth and my confidence. After about a year I felt ready to seek paid employment. Having done voluntary work meant that I now had access to invaluable references which helped me to get a paid job. I worked part-time and to be honest I found it really quite stressful and anxiety-provoking, but I did manage and over time I began to feel more confident in my abilities and also had more faith in my ability to stay well. I had several part-time jobs over the years that preceded my next period of serious mental health difficulties which saw me hospitalised again. It was really hard coming back out of hospital with no job to go back to. Being at home with no focus was really bad for me and my mental health remained up and down. An opportunity to do more voluntary work came up and again this provided the impetus to my continued recovery. It was at this point that I decided that I wanted to go back into education. I started a Level 3 course at college and combined this with voluntary work. The combination was stressful but also really rewarding and I really began to believe in myself and could see new possibilities opening up. This eventually led me to signing up to a degree course and moving into part-time paid employment again. I don’t know what the future holds but what I do know is how much education and employment have helped me in my recovery and even though at times it has felt really hard, it has been worth it.