Estelle - one of our Peer Facilitators - shares her recovery story

Estelle has had mental health issues in the past which she has worked hard to overcome. She has turned her life around, and now inspires our patients through her work as a Peer Facilitator. Here's her inspirational story.

"As it is Mental Health Awareness Week, I thought I’d use my experience and share it.

I’ve been working on my recovery nearly a year now after a nasty relapse.

I‘ve never looked that different, but being mentally unwell isn’t always visible. When I was really poorly I was in a locked psychiatric unit for my own safety after months of being on self-destruct. I couldn’t see a way out and I felt trapped inside my own mind that was torturing me every waking second. I worked so hard on my recovery, started back on medication and attended all the therapy and groups offered to me. I was then discharged back into the community having spent nearly 2 months in secure care. This was really scary as I felt I had become safe in that hospital and I didn’t know what to expect on the outside. I’d have to get a job, manage my own money, socialise... and this was all so overwhelming for me. How could I possibly manage on my own and not slip down the wrong path again?

This being said, I am a very determined person and when I put my head towards something nothing can get in my way.

Fast forward 10 months of literal blood sweat and tears...

I am now working at St Andrew's as a peer facilitator. I use my own experience to bring hope to those struggling. I am part of the Learning and Development team who deliver training for staff and day to day I offer the view from an ex-patient's eyes. I wake up every day at 6am and commute to work. I do it because I really do love my job. I’ve always been passionate about working in mental health since I was first admitted to a psychiatric unit when I was 16. I always wanted to give something back to the world and by doing this make a difference to other people’s lives.

It hasn’t been an easy journey and it is far from over. But I have been able to turn my whole life around and make better choices. I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I am no longer ashamed to talk about my mental health and I really want to challenge the stigma around it and abolish the taboo.
If me speaking about it can help even just one other person to know they’re not alone then my job is done. I hope doing the job I do that I can offer a beacon of hope to the patients here at St Andrew's and show them that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Being mentally unwell isn’t a choice. Recovery is.

It’s okay not to be okay. There is always someone you can speak to. Don’t suffer in silence. Speak out and be heard.”

Thank you to Estelle for sharing her story!