My name is Mae and I would like to share my story with you.
I started off with anxiety as a young child which progressed to panic disorder in my late teens to early twenties. For this I was on a drug which is addictive and I steadily increased my dose until it did not work anymore. I attempted suicide many times and came close a couple of times.
From then on my disorder became schizophrenia and I had more voices than I could handle. I had so many voices I had no room for my own thoughts. Because of this I lost all sense of identity, I didn’t know who I was or where I belonged until they tried me on another drug and the voices stopped. But I was left with no idea of who I was until I found Stepping Stone Clubhouse.
I began in the hospitality section and started to talk to people. Through this interaction I slowly began to get to know myself, what my opinions were, what I liked and disliked, what my morals are and all through listening to my heart and how I felt about this and that.
I am now a healthy proactive member of Stepping Stone Clubhouse. I love socializing there and my favourite thing to do are the tours. I love meeting new people and sharing with them what Clubhouse is all about. Stepping Stone is where my heart is for many reasons. I love the people, we are all valued and included, we all have a purpose and a sense of belonging, and I now know who I am.
Stepping Stone Clubhouse has a Disability Employment Service and they provide temporary employment called a T.E. A T.E is a 6-9 month contract, usually between 8 and 15 hours a week and you earn an award wage. I have had two of these now.
The first at Clough Engineering, and the second at CCU’s gardening and car detailing. A part of the T.E is that the employer knows you are from Stepping Stone and that you have a mental illness. This sounds bad but it is actually very liberating. I am a great advocate for disclosure! I believe that if my employers and fellow employees don’t want me there because of my mental illness I don’t want to work with them.
My reasons for disclosure are:
- I cannot work full time as I don’t have the stamina and I need more time for me than a person without a mental Illness;
- I have appointments with my counsellor once a week and my Psychiatrist once a month;
- Exercise is something I have to make time for because it wards off depression.
The time I had at Clough Engineering was great because the staff were interested in me and we had chit chats every day. I knew many people by name and I made a dear friend, a woman doing payroll called Kris. She initially told me she would love to be my peer referee, we would go out for coffee and I still see her.
My time at CCU’s gardening and car detailing was a lot of fun. We did not interact with the staff but we had a team of three members and one Stepping Stone staff member. I loved working as a team, it makes time fly when you are sharing the workload and also I made some good friends.
I have now been free of voices for over three years and I treat every day as a gift. I am engaged to a wonderful man, I am continuing to flourish at Stepping Stone Clubhouse, and I look forward to my next job though Clubhouse.
Through Clubhouse I am learning all about friendship, after not having any when I was sick. I have learned to make time to call and catch up, and about sharing your life with people. This sharing and caring has left me with little to say to my psychiatrist, as a problem shared is a problem halved. Friends make the world go round.
To draw this to a conclusion, I am now a lover of life and I look forward to every day and what adventures it will bring. I continue to grow as new opportunities arise. I hope I have touched you in some way and I wish you all the best on your journey.