Also check our Fi's earlier Reflections
A Life Changing Experience at the Recovery Retreat - CLICK HERE
It's Been Nearly 3 years since I left a Truly Life Transforming Trip - CLICK HERE
I stayed at the Recovery House on Lewis, Scotland between May and August 2012.
Since my return to Australia my life has changed dramatically.
There is no way I can sum up all the differences that exist. Overall though, I am a happier, more confident person.
I have learnt how to deal with my experiences hearing voices and seeing visions from the skills I was taught and encouraged to expand on by Karen and Ron. These skills involved voice dialoguing, a means to communicate with my voices and many other skills that have led to self-discovery and understanding. Since my return I have continued to work on these skills.
I still hear eight voices constantly but now function just like anyone else. My voices fit in with having a life, rather than excluding me from life. In fact we have a generally good relationship, like any relationship it has ups and downs but overall they aim to assist me in a constructive manner, a far cry from where I was at with my voices when I arrived in Scotland. Back then they caused pure terror, always negative experiences. Learning about them, communicating with them and having empathy towards them has been key in building a new relationship. Hearing voices is mainly a blessing now rather than a curse.
I have been out of hospital for over two years, no longer self-harm and have a life that has a fullness and richness. The things that I looked at as dreams for my future whilst in Scotland are becoming my everyday reality.
Prior to Scotland my life consisted of excessive medication, psychiatric wards, doctors appointments and workers. I was miserable and numb.
In contrast, I have taken control of my life. I have a successful, loving relationship with an amazing partner and have made supportive friendships with people who mean the world to me.
I have returned to study, competently completing my Certificate IV in Mental Health. I’m also working within the field at Voices Vic. My roles there involve training and public speaking amongst other tasks. I also assisted organizing and was a speaker at The World Hearing Voices Congress in Melbourne last year. Prior to Scotland I would never have envisaged having the self-confidence to do these things.
With the reduction I have done in medication, I have regained emotions. I don’t understand them sufficiently and find them overwhelming. Understanding these emotions are one of the skills I am learning everyday, along with other skills I missed while being ‘unwell’ during my adolescent years, such as social skills.
I’m still forming an identity. Attempting to gain independence and responsibility, (two qualities that are somewhat foreign to me) are a big part of this. Both these qualities are necessary for me to grow up into a mature, happy adult, the ultimate aim.
Life itself was somewhat of a shock. I thought that it was going to be easy. I have realized that it is more complex than I thought. To assist with this I have a great psychologist. She provides a space for me to voice my fears and assists me in solving problems that come up in everyday life. I have established supports with others in Australia and they assist me when I find an issue that I cannot manage on my own.
My voices have become less of an issue. I now own my struggles. Most of the work I do is on myself, I do not blame everything on my voices.
Physically, I am fitter and healthier than I was when I left for Scotland, the changes I made there are irreversible, keeping it up without pigs to feed is more difficult!
I now see life in a very different light. Rather than being something I’m stuck in, it has become an experience that holds opportunities and possibilities.
Life’s not perfect but apparently that’s what living is all about. I have to look at my future and work out what I want out of life. I never envisaged a future for myself. Once diagnosed, I believed what I was told, which was that I would not be able to change my current circumstances. There was no room in that headspace for dreams or any hope. All of that has changed now!
It’s weird; one of the most difficult things to do in my life is to achieve balance. I have so much going on. I would never have dreamed that would be an issue!
I am so thankful to Ron and Karen for enabling me to move on with my life by welcoming me into their lives and seeing the potential that was behind the blank shadow of the person I had become. It gave me the inspiration to live, not just exist.
I have a life that I am predominantly happy and engaged in. My life consists of the things I have strived for in the last decade.
Living on the croft was an important beginning, a step, and the event I will forever remember where I turned a corner in redeeming my life.
The Recovery House provided a safe place, routine, promoted a sense of responsibility and the time to work on what needed to change in my life. My recovery journey was somewhat fast-tracked thanks to this opportunity. Although things were changing slowly here in Australia, I do not think I would be at this point in my life if not for Ron and Karen. I did the work; they provided the opportunities.
The work I did during my stay on Lewis in Scotland has become a sound foundation for future life progress.
Fiona (Fi) Robinson