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Hope, discovery, recovery, and me – World Social Work Day

15th March 2022

World Social Work Day - Hope

The following piece of writing comes from a person who has come through our services in CAMHS. They are now applying to third level education to study social work themselves.

They are an inspiration and a shining example of why social work is important in aiding service users in their recovery.

Hope, discovery, recovery, and me

When I was asked to give this talk today to share my experience with social workers & look at the ways the support, I have been given has inspired me to study to become a social worker.

Growing up life was good I had a loving family, good friends, a shelter over my head and never had to want for anything. My childhood and early teenage years felt perfect however little did I know that when 2017 arrived my life would completely change.

It all started with increased anxiety levels, stress, and perfectionism however I thought this was just the reality of going to a high achieving all-girls school. As time went on, I started to lose my sense of purpose and felt as though no matter how hard I tried I just didn’t fit in. I moved around different friendship groups continuously and began to feel that I could only truly get on with my teachers. However, I couldn’t be myself as I had to keep my mask on so that no one could see that my life wasn’t all that perfect after all as I didn’t want to worry anyone.  This caused me to feel as though I was wearing a mask that rapidly built up and eventually, I no longer recognised myself.

In August 2017 I was diagnosed with anorexia & anxiety. This was not what I expected and when I was told I could not go back to school for a few months I was distraught. How could that perfect little curly haired girl who loved to perform now be in a position that even looking in the mirror would cause me to breakdown. As time went on and the mask wore down, I was admitted to hospital where I received treatment for my eating disorder. Many admissions passed and still nothing seemed to be helping. After continuous admissions and detentions, I just gave up. I couldn’t see a future for myself and in all honesty, I didn’t want one.

However, no matter how unwell I got or how much I gave up, mental health services did not give up, from nurses to social workers, to OTs to psychologists and psychiatrists I was well supported. Yes, anytime I heard that a social worker was on their way I wanted to run as I knew the next thing would be the detention forms getting signed and I’d be back off to hospital. But now I can truly see that no matter how hard it was they always had my best interest at heart and would not leave me behind or let me fall through the cracks. Nearly 5 years on from my initial diagnosis and I truly am the happiest I have ever been. Yes, I now have EUPD, but I can live with it and lead a positive and meaningful life.

Looking back, I can see that without the endless support I would not be here giving use this talk. To that I owe it to all the professionals involved throughout my journey, my family, friends, and teachers. The more I faced the stronger I got and now I am fighting every second of every day to give myself the life I could only ever dream off.

Mental health services in NI always get such a bad name however the care & support I have received truly has been 5 star. Yes, there have been disagreements and setbacks along the way, but the support has been amazing. I often read posts on social media of people complaining about mental health services and I find it so hard not to comment but that doesn’t get anyone anywhere and I am a firm believer that life is what you make it and therefore if you approach services with a perception that it won’t help then it probably won’t instead, we need to be more openminded. Throughout all my interactions with social workers I have been pushed to look forward and its really only within the last year that this has been possible. You always hear people talking about how professionals think their advice goes in one ear and out the other but trust me we remember more than you think. I often find myself in the midst of college work or relaxing when suddenly a little comment pops into my head and the positivity from that gives me hope and motivates me to keep going.

The respect & compassion given to me has inspired me to pursue a career in social work with the hope to one day specialise in children’s mental health. Why would I sit working in a job that was not meaningful when I could put my experience to use and help others in the way services have helped me. Currently I am the most stable I have been, I’m in my final few months of college, I’ve had an interview for university and am loving life volunteering in the recovery college where I am co-producing courses and increasing our support for young people as no matter your age you are worthy of support and should not be left behind.

If I could day one thing it would be thank you from the bottom of my heart to each and every social worker for the help you give to our community as without use our current state of health would be far worse. Use are not there to simply take kids away use are lifesavers and work tirelessly to ensure your job is well done and your clients are safe.

On world social work day please sit back give yourself a pat on the back & treat yourself as you deserve it. Use truly are hidden heroes and I can’t wait to pursue my goals and you never know someday I could be joining you in showing that hope is real, and life is worth it.