I work for one of the largest non-clincial mental health services in Australia.
47% of those employed in our organisation report having a lived experience of mental illness.
By 2017, they aim to have 50%. How cool is that! That’s called walkin’ the talk.
One of the ways our organisation supports people with a lived experience of mental illness is to work through a ‘Personal Situation Plan’. It is a generic plan you complete with your manager to identify your personal and professional goals; strategies for bringing them to fruition; barriers that may limit your ability to achieve these goals; significant people in your support networks; activities, interests and resources that assist you to maintain your own wellbeing; situations that exacerbate a personal issue or illness; actions that can be taken to manage the situation; early warning signs or indicators for others that you may not be coping; and actions you would like taken in the event you need support.
As a mother, do you have goals and aspirations? My goals are to be loving, calm and engaged. There are days, many days, when I am so far off this, but I keep trying.
As a woman, do you have goals and aspirations? I want to be stimulated, I want to be challenged, I want to contribute, I want to be grateful. I want balance.
What are your limits? What are your barriers? What can stop you from achieving your goals and aspirations? For me, its trying to be all and do all, over-reaching the limit of my physical, emotional and intellectual resources. I do it all the time and when I do it for too long, the black dog lurks. But I’m getting better at kicking that dog in the guts.
Who are your people, your tribe? The people you go to in times of need? The people that give you energy rather than take it? My husband is my safe place, my immediate fall. No one hugs like him and no one is as patient. I hope that patience never runs out. There is also my Mum. What would I do without my Mum? She’s real, she’s wise, she’s unconditional love personified. Then there’s my sisters and my friends. They see my ugly and they pour me wine and make me soup.
What activities give you energy? Time-out gives me energy. What I do is not important, so much as not being pulled on or demanded of in the process. Physical activity also gives me energy, but I’m terrible at prioritising it.
What gives you a stress response? What exacerbates personal issues or illness? For me, it’s the lack of time-out. The constant push forward, forward, forward without time or space to breath.
What are the warning signs to others that you’re not coping? For me, I get short and snappy. My patience evaporates, and lately, I break out in rashes. Yes rashes! I kid you not. Just call me Princess Fiona! So bootiful!
What actions do you need to take when you’re not coping? For me, I need to talk. I won’t openly ask for help. But I will hover around my people until I get the opportunity. I also need that time out, the occasional big long walk and a bloody good bottle of wine.
Having a plan for your own wellness and sharing that with others is a good idea. Give it some thought.