Talking about mental health is a great way to break down barriers and stigma surrounding it.
That’s why Darnell is telling her story.
She hopes that it might help someone.
She hopes that it might help encourage someone to get help.
She hopes that they may be able to feel useful and productive again, just like she is.
Darnell was born in California and raised in the Midwest. Her accent is soft and mild after so many years living in Australia.
Darnell is a mother to four grown children. She’s also mum to two dogs – lab crosses. All six of her babies got her through her darkest days.
I was in psychiatric care for four weeks. It wasn’t a wonderful place to be, but on the other hand you heard stories just like yours and could relate.
I was referred to Rise from Community Health while in hospital. I was put in touch with support worker Paul. We met twice a week to start, and then once a week.
After being released from hospital, Darnell wasn’t in a good place mentally.
I didn’t want to be around people, I didn’t want to go out. I wouldn’t leave the house at all.
Some days I would call Paul and tell him I wasn’t well because I just didn’t want to interact with anyone.
When you feel lousy it’s a bad feeling. My dogs were very protective of me and were never far from my side.
Road to recovery
A change in medication dosage was the catalyst for Darnell to start feeling more like herself.
She was keen to contribute to society and give back. Darnell started looking for opportunities, and connected with the Swan Volunteer Resource Centre.
I thought that if I can’t work for someone, I’ll work in a different capacity.
I looked through the files and found People Who Care who needed volunteers urgently. I made a decision and took an opportunity – I haven’t looked back.
Darnell drives people to activities and also provides one-on-one support to clients. Initially she was rostered to help for two days a week, but often volunteers up to four days a week.
Before I used to avoid people but now I look forward to it. Just last week I found myself telling a joke to everyone on the bus. That’s something I wouldn’t have done before.
I’m interacting with people more and getting back into my hobbies. I like charcoal drawings and my dogs are happy I have more energy.
For Darnell, the act of helping others has helped with her journey to recovery.
I’m one of the lucky ones who has seen the light. Even when I finished my support with Rise, it could have gone either way with my path in life.
I’m happy with where I’m at and what I’m doing now. My challenge now is working to keep my mental health at that level.
I like helping people and I hope by sharing my story it can help someone else.
Darnell has now be exited from Rise services and we are so pleased to see how well she is doing. We wish you all the best for a healthy and happy life as you balance volunteering with your many hobbies!
Rise provides a number of mental health services. This includes individual support, peer support and housing. For more information click here.