Supporting people to grow through peer support

Camillus has recently been joined Penumbra as a Peer Worker. In this guest blog, he tells us what draws him to this new vocation and what peer support means to him.

I do believe that recovery is real. From personal experience, with the help of family and friends and the input from various services, and ultimately drawing on my own inner strength, I am no longer debilitated by negative thoughts and life pattern.

I want to share my experience, that you can break out of the rut you can find yourself in, that you can regain hope, and re-discover your love of life, and be happy.

I had a nervous breakdown in 2001 and was sectioned under the Mental Health act six times between then and my last admittance in 2012.

When I was at my lowest point in my life, around 2005, I remember looking at myself in the mirror one day for a prolonged period. I hardly recognised myself, I was so care-worn and downtrodden by life, having gained a lot of weight from an unhealthy diet and destructive lifestyle.

I asked myself – “Will I ever be happy again?” – and after a while, despite everything, and out of a sense of contrariness, kicking against the breaks – came the answer – “Yes!”.

It wasn’t overnight by any stretch, but I held onto that notion, that I could reinvent myself and rediscover meaning and hope. Since then, with the help of my doctors, with the help of doing courses such as mindfulness, Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP), talking therapies, The Restart project, and for the last 4 years with attendance at Glasgow’s mental health clubhouse, Flourish House, I have regained my motivation to get up in the morning and get out and socialise. I get involved in the many and varied activities at Flourish House, to regain confidence, to feel the reward of contribution, and yes, even a sense of discipline.

At Flourish House, I also found myself helping other members with “informal” Peer Support – sharing experiences with the intention of helping colleagues to make sense and learn from difficult and even traumatic experiences. I know I helped, because they told me!

Now I am looking forward to doing a Peer Worker role with Penumbra. I have studied up on Scottish Recovery Network’s Peer 2 Peer materials – but how will it be in the real day to day role?

I am hopeful that my lived experienced and re-found hope and belief in the possibility of recovery will see me through the challenge of this exciting role!

I hope I can report back after some time in the new position that it lived up to my expectations, and that I can continue to grow, and help others to grow and even prosper.

Thank you for sharing your experiences, Camillus, and welcome to the Penumbra family. We can’t wait to hear from you again in a few months’ time. This story was shared from our colleagues at the Scottish Recovery Network.

Fiona Milne is the Communications Officer for Penumbra and can be contacted at fiona.milne@penumbra.org.uk