I am a strong Wiradjuri woman and a passionate Peer Worker. As an art therapist and counselling student, I am dedicated to sharing my knowledge of how creative expression can be healing.  I enjoy helping others connect to their deep inner knowing and resources – grounded in kindness.

My recovery is a conscious daily decision that prioritises mental health.  I’m open to good days, and in difficult days I connect: with family and friends, go for a walk, sit in the park, listen to music, watch something that makes me laugh, and create art.   Art transformed my life as a healing process – by getting out of my head and into my body.

During a hospitalization, art therapy became part of my own healing and recovery journey.  It gave me a voice – a creative way to express myself when I wasn’t able to verbally communicate my trauma and painful experiences.  It was a safe space to make sense and meaning of my experience.  In art therapy sessions I was challenged to integrate life processes by identifying and feeling rather than repressing matters.

The biggest challenge has been to accept that I deserve to live, that I am worthy of self-care and of being loved.  At times quite isolated from the lack of support, it has been difficult to forgive myself as well as others (who will never apologise).  My ongoing commitment to myself is to not use harmful negative behaviours and to let go of my old ways.  I have come a long way: from self-hate to self-like.

I have many good influences including younger myself and my family, and Allie Broch’s advice (author of ‘Hyperbole and a Half’).  Joseph Campbell said:

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”

I made a decision to live – to honour and take ownership of my journey, and to celebrate even the small milestones.  I find healing within myself by reconnecting to my own inner resources and knowledge, in challenging personal myths and re-imaging myself as a survivor.  I am worthy of recovery, and I am more than my illness.

Now a Transpersonal Art Therapist, I use these skills and understanding in my work with Mental Health Consumers.  It takes a deep courage to share your lived experience  – to honour it.  As a peer worker in mental health, my capacity to be able to connect with others through shared experiences is a gift.  I have strong determination and passion to improve mental health services for consumers, in knowing that recovery is always possible.

Foster children have hopeful futures – I know this because I am one of them who very recently reconnected with my birth family.  Burdened as a ward of the state, I had always been searching but had never expected to find such love, for which I am filled with gratitude.

 

Story told to Loretta Picone.

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