Having found hope in dark places, having experienced the power of Peer-support for myself, I have returned to the world of employment.
Can I ask you to let that sentence just sink in? I felt I had lost everything and would never work again. Here I am, fully employed as a Peer-support worker.
So my recovery journey has taken an unexpected path. I work full time on an acute ward. I have a pass for the ward, after years of trying to escape these places; I now have the responsibility that comes with being a member of staff! I’ve gone from utter despair to now believing that things will be ok, that I’m ok. I feel so lucky that the team I now work with have made me so welcome. Not only that, they value my opinion and can see the key role that Peer-support plays in a ward environment.
However this is not a fairy story, I still have my dark days, and dark moments, but I have a reason to get up in the morning again, a reason to carry on and these thoughts alone prevent a lot of my previous self-destructive behaviours.
The other affirmation I kept saying to myself was that I am trained! Not only do I have my own lived experience, I am now an accredited Peer support worker. The IMH peer support training gave me a great foundation around principles of recovery. Learning how to apply these in a very acute environment can be hard. I have to remind myself that there will be steps backward as well as forward for both me and the patients! The feedback I get from patients is amazing, they are often really encouraged by the fact that I have returned to employment, and it often gives them hope that it’s possible for them too.
Some of the patients I work with haven’t even heard of the word recovery, and they are often unaware of the mutual benefit I get from talking with them, sharing stories and ideas, validating their experiences and providing them space to hear their story. They are all helping my recovery and I will always be grateful to patients for the mutuality of peer support that I get.
I work with a great team of people. They genuinely care so much about helping, and now, as a member of staff, I get to see just how busy everyone is, how many parts to the jigsaw of an inpatient admission there are. Peer support is a now a part of that jigsaw and I feel valued by everyone. They look out for me, and have welcomed me as part of the team. I will always be grateful to my colleagues on the ward who no matter how busy they are, they are always there for me too. Peer support works!
Peer Support worker, Worcestershire