Olivia’s Recovery Journey

Throughout most of my later childhood, I knew that I was worrying and stressing too much over miniscule things, however I did not come to terms or become diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder until 2017, where I was admitted to hospital after an incident, and a period of constant depression with no real understanding of why or how. Thinking about it now, I just had no real idea of how to cope with my worries or stresses, rather just letting them envelop me and take over my rational thinking.

I have, over the years, been through a few instances of trauma, in which I experienced an assault in 2017 and then again in 2020, both of which contributed to my anxiety/depression and led me to being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Throughout this time, I had been to multiple GP’s, counsellors, psychologists, and mental health observation/psychological wards. I think it was important to experience and visit all these specialists to try and find the best fit for me, however I did not find anything long term that stuck with me or strived me to get better independently.

It was a turning point when, after a bit of a push from my family, and online research, l found GROW, which I immediately identified as one of the only peer recovery groups in my city. The first meeting was a unique and invigorating experience for me. Having met growers who had been using the Program for many years, and a well-versed and compassionate Program Worker, along with a superbly structured group meeting method, I knew that this Program would work for me. Its structure was solid and principles undeniably transformative and relevant.

I started coming to the meetings weekly, and found a sense of belonging, eventually being nominated to become the group organizer, with plenty of support along the way. A bit of Program I would consistently go back to was The Four Qualities and The Four Stabilizing Questions. This part of the Program was especially beneficial in times of crisis or high stress situations.

It would help me decentralize and slowly work thorough my thoughts and feelings to realize they were not as important as I had thought. A second set of Program I have used is The 7th Principle; Constant improvement, which discusses the notion that despite disorder and limitations, our situations can be constantly improved by good habits of thinking and acting and cooperation with help. All are effective in gaining the confidence to improve ourselves, even if just a small amount at a time when navigating through hardship.

Through my role as Group Organiser, I began to connect with others, gain a sense of leadership, and come into my own, growing from a place of introversion and nervousness into a more confident and resilient person. After holding the role of Organiser for 1.5 years, I was offered a role at GROW as a Program Worker for the region I was previously in, which gave me the opportunity to address Growers’ problems, make a difference in my day-to-day work and understand GROW from a different perspective.

I honestly think I would not be where I am today without GROW, and I look forward to everything I can contribute to the organisation, and the people I can help, who can also help me.

Published from Growing to Recovery - Readings for Mental Health Vol 2