24-year-old Jamie is living with autism, severe anxiety and emotionally unstable personality disorder. Six years ago he tried to take his own life, but after being admitted to St Andrew's and receiving support around the clock, he is now in recovery. Jamie was discharged from St Andrew's in January 2020, and he's now living within the community in Bristol.
We recently caught up with him to see how he's been getting on...
How have you coped during lockdown?
It has been quite hard but I think keeping busy has helped me to cope with lockdown. Now restrictions are lifting I am looking forward to getting more voluntary and paid work, going on holidays and getting out and socialising.
What are you doing now?
Recently I have been volunteering with the Covid-19 vaccination rollout, undertaking shifts at the mass vaccination centre at Ashton Gate in Bristol. I meet and greet the people who are coming for a vaccine and help the patients. I'm also due to start working as an Expert by Experience for the NHS. My first shift is on Friday and I’ll be going into hospitals and supporting patients on their care and treatment reviews by being part of the panel. I'm looking forward to talking to patients, making sure they're happy and prepared, and raising any concerns on their behalf.
What advice would you give to other people struggling with ASD?
I’d encourage them to realise you are never alone, and to seek help if you ever feel you need it. Enjoy your life as much as possible. I’m a big believer in YOLO (You only live once). For us individuals living with ASD it will always be a difficult thing to cope with and manage, but we should never let it take away from all of the positive things and people that we have in our life. ASD shouldn’t impact us, it should empower us!
What’s your plans for the future?
I've continued my mental health training since I was discharged and would like to continue this as I am passionate about educating other people about autism. I want to empower others living with autism and mental health problems. On a personal note my main hopes for the next year are to meet more people, play more football and take more holidays.