I was about 10 years of age when I first heard voices. They were two girls a bit older than myself. I thought I was dying and that they were angels. Everyone thought I’d had a bad dream and thought no more of it, but the voices came back. These voices were positive, and became almost like friends, filling the void in my life. I’d talk to them whilst I was at school but the other kids called me a freak and so I learnt to hide them from other people.
At the time I was also a gymnast. After an accident on the vault my teacher told me I was too fat to be a gymnast and so began my love/hate relationship with food.
I came to Australia with my family just before my 16th birthday and I was looking forward to a fresh start. However the voices came with me and a new one materialised. This voice was very negative and would tell me to harm myself and how to do it, it got to the point where I began harming myself just to make this voice go away for a while. Along with the self harm my eating patterns had escalated to bulimia. I studied accounting at university and became an accountant but found that I hated the work, the long hours and the environment, mostly there was no job satisfaction. At the age of 23 I had my first depressive episode and finally sought help for my problems.
I became a client of community mental health services and despite a good treating team I continued to decompensate and a year later I went into hospital for the first time. Here I was diagnosed with depression and borderline personality disorder. During my next admission I told a psychiatrist about this new voice, his response was that I was imagining it, but at this stage it had been around for 15 years. So once again I hid that I heard voices. This was easier said than done. During this time my self-harm escalated as did my suicidality and I began to spend a lot more time in hospital.
In 2002 I began to reconsider my career and the treatment I had received over the last two years inspired me to study psychology myself and so I applied to university and began what has been a 12-year labour of love.
It wasn’t until 2005 that I met a psychiatrist that I trusted enough to confess I heard voices. This time they believed me and my treatment was changed as I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. The next 3 years are a jumble as I was in and out of hospital, trying different medications for the voices and ECT treatment for the depression. I know at this point some people had given up on me considering that I would never recover and for that point, so had I. During this time I had to defer university but when I came out of hospital in January 2009 I was referred to the June O’Connor centre. Whilst I had a very supportive husband at home and a degree to study there was still something missing from my life, friends, particularly those that understood what I had been through.
One of my earliest activities was the recovery mapping group, which was essential for me, I had come out of hospital with very little idea of any direction and so I began to goal set. Another important activity was the new “hearing voices” support group that was just being established. For the first time I got to meet other people just like me that heard voices and suddenly I wasn’t feeling so alone any more. For the next year I engaged in many activities, including outings and camps, and creative writing courses which turned out to be a lot of fun. When the original facilitators of the hearing voices left I took over the role.
Now I am very close to completing my degree and have just commenced paid employment for the first time in 10 years. I have two beautiful young children and I am well and truly in recovery. I still hear voices but i have learnt to work with them not against them and am now in control.
I guess my main message to everyone is never give up on anyone because with the right help anyone can recover.
JOC Wellness & Recovery services are for individuals living with mental illness who require support in relation to community living, education, employment, and their wellbeing.
Entry to the service is initiated by referral. The referral form is to be completed by a GP or Mental Health Professional.
Pathways to Recovery takes you on a journey, a process of self exploration & self discovery, as you progress through a strengths-based recovery program.
Massage therapy involves the use of pressure that is deeply relaxing but not painful. A treatment that is designed to soothe and relax, increase circulation, mobility, help with relief of pain and stress management.
Meditation is the guided practice of quiet sitting in a comfortable up right position with attention to slowing down breathing, relaxing and release of the body tension. Calming the mind helps greater clarity to emerge and encourages self-awareness. Meditation is a great tool to develop physical and mental wellbeing. It is an excellent holistic approach to managing stress and anxiety.
JOC is currently funded entirely by the Mental Health Commission and by the generosity of grants from Lotterywest. Unfortunately, programs that we offer are limited by the funding we receive.
Donations will be used to support or expand existing programs, and develop new initiatives for our members. All programs delivered by JOC aim to improve the mental health, social wellbeing and overall quality of life of adults living with a diagnosed mental illness.
We respectfully acknowledge that we work on Aboriginal land and pay our respects to community members and elders, past and present.
Individuals pictured are models and are used for illustrative purposes only.
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Ph: +61 08 9381 7727
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Ph: +61 08 9301 1227
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