It is no exaggeration to say that getting involved with the college through the student development programme has been life changing for me. When I first started attending courses I was at a very low point but I soon learned that recovery was possible. I realized that everyone’s recovery journey was unique: for me it was about accepting that I couldn’t change my situation and diagnoses, but I could live the best life I could in spite of my challenges. I learned skills and strategies to help me self manage my emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing, then I cherry picked the ones that worked best for me. As a lover of diagrams, I developed a visual representation of my own recovery ‘tool kit’, which I still carry around with me to draw upon when needed.
Through the college’s student development programme I identified my strengths and goals, which I broke down into manageable steps as part of my development plan that the college helps me review termly and annually. I have also taken part in a range of involvement opportunities including co-facilitating and co-producing courses and workshops. As an Expert by Experience I hope that by sharing my story I can give others hope that recovery is possible for them too.
Involvement with the college has been a hugely rewarding experience for me. Not only have I learnt new ideas and recovery strategies from others, but I have also tried to practise what I preach, which was particularly helpful during lockdown. Some long dormant professional skills have been revived, and I have also picked up some new skills, including overcoming my technophobia and Zooming like the rest of this brave new world. I feel more resilient now and am able to bounce back when things don’t go as well as I’d like. I hope I may have made a contribution to others’ learning and recovery, which gives me a warm glow of fulfilment. All this has increased my self-esteem, which was on the floor when I first started as a student with the college, and I feel a valued member of the college ‘family’. Most of all, I have met some amazing people and had some fun along the way. Thank you New Leaf recovery and Wellbeing College!