When I was a student in England, life was good. But then I took ill with depression at the start of the third year of my biology course. I returned home and attended mental health services, who put me in touch with my local AMH unit. I started off by attending an art class once a week, which was good fun. The art class got me out chatting with other people and meant I had something to get up for on a Monday morning. Despite an unstable mood, I persevered with the art class and about nine months later I decided to challenge myself by trying out some voluntary administrative work. I spoke to the Employment Officer Stephanie McKeating who found a small, friendly and down-to-earth charity Good Morning Down that welcomed and supported me. This added more routine and structure to my week, and I felt like I was helping someone out and being useful.
I have a real interest in technology, and so a few months later I embarked on the ECDL computer course at AMH. I thoroughly enjoyed this and achieved a recognisable qualification too. As my mood slowly began to improve, I felt that I could manage some part-time work. After discussing my options with Stephanie the Employment Officer, I started applying for a couple of jobs and to some recruitment agencies. I managed to get two interviews for admin posts – it was nerve-wracking but I chose to battle on and try to manage the anxiety. I was unsuccessful in securing both posts which was disheartening, but as my brother says, “nothing can take the place of persistence”. Months later, I received an email out of the blue from one of the employers asking if I would still like the job, as the successful candidate had decided not to take it. I was absolutely thrilled and said yes! The job is going really well and has meant my week is much busier. I feel like I have a real sense of purpose.
The team at AMH have been brilliant. Along with the wonderful mental health services, they have supported me through some difficult times, and helped me to get my life back on track. It has taken a long time, and has required much patience and determination, but I’m getting there. Not every day is a breeze, but I’m in a much better place now than I was three years ago.
The New Horizons project Ben participated in is part-funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy