Partners in Recovery

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MY Story

I have always had a love for every kind of art or activity that allowed me to be creative. Music, singing, drumming, fire twirling, theatre performances and much later in life I rediscovered my love for art.

Earlier in my life, throughout my school years, I experienced some quite severe intracranial hypertension problems which put me in hospital for a huge part of higher primary school. This meant I was instantly the focus of every bully in every school I attended as I was always a bit behind the 8 ball compared to most.

Even so, my ADHD, Anxiety and Depression, remained undiagnosed until I was in my 30’s, after the successful removal of a Brain tumor in 2013 ( which was a completely separate condition from my first hypertension problems). It was during my 12 month recovery, which I did living on my own, with little support after the first few weeks, that my Anxiety, depression and PTSD became quite severe and quickly out of control.

I was displaying such severe symptoms, that when it was time to quit my job as a Disability Support worker, which I had done for 17 ½ years, no one was surprised. They were in fact relieved I was for the first time in my life attempting to look after myself first. It was during this recovery period of my life, where my lifestyle, and my life’s work as a support worker, was all turned up-side-down. I lost most of my friends, and my family went from complicated to super complicated, and then my ability to talk and communicate my feelings and thoughts with others seemed to just fly out the window with dust in the wind. My world was becoming silent, however, my thoughts were deafening getting louder and faster, I was trapped in my own world, in my head.

This is when as part of my recovery plan I was doing drawings on my Samsung tablet device. Each of these drawings represents a different emotion, feeling, a nightmare, or a message that I simply had lost the words to say.

Art had given me a voice when I had lost mine.

Through encouragement from wonderful staff at PIR & MIFQ I started to do art therapy classes, mental health support, social and karaoke groups. I learnt about mandalas, Zentangles and many other forms of art. By drawing endless patterns, I had discovered a way to slow down my super Anxious fast overthinking brain, I had discovered a way to give myself a break from the 100’s of tv programs of life playing all at once in my head. I learnt that in fact I am not alone. I learnt what it feels like to be properly supported. I learnt that feeling of relief when you find someone who says “yes, I’ve experienced that too”, I know a little bit of what it’s like to be you. I for the first time in my life discovered what it’s like to not be judged, I am still learning what it’s like to be “allowed” to be me.

I had no idea my art was worth displaying until I got the invitation to show my collections at the Artbeat show. I then won a Highly commended for my Mandala magic and sold the entire Digital collection. This gave me not only the confidence to meet new people and make new friends through art but gave me a sense that I belonged to a community again and gave me something fantastic and exciting to put all my energy towards. Doing my art and attending the many different groups at MIFQ, gave me a reason to wake up in the morning. Thanks to the many different forms of Care and support from PIR I have a reason to live again.

I then decided to start all my other forms of art again. I started going to my old Fire twirling and African Djembe drumming groups, I started to dance again and now I am for the first time in many, many years learning about what it’s like to enjoy life

I hope that my story, and many different forms of art portrays to the world that your never alone. There is always a way to find your voice again, and there is always someone out there who can hear you.

For other Gold Coast events and activities visit the Gold Coast Primary Health Network’s website:

PIR is a Federally funded program. Other consortia members include Gold Coast Health and Mental Health Association QLD