Sat. May 21st, 2022

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A Wollongong mum’s life was scarred by mental illness and addiction – now she offers hope to others who are struggling. Tegan Taylor, 33, endured a family breakdown as a child, triggering a running battle with mental illness, including depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder. At 19, she developed a severe eating disorder and by her late 20s was self-medicating by abusing alcohol. It was not until her mental health impacted her marriage in 2017 that Ms Taylor sought help, and began counseling for her eating disorder and alcohol addiction. Read more: Campaign to shout Wollongong Hospital staff a coffee smashes target “Like a lot of people who are struggling, I became an expert at hiding my demons because I did not want people to see the real me,” Ms Taylor said. “I reached rock bottom after my marriage breakdown where I was battling suicidal thoughts … I knew I had to do something.” The counseling was the circuit breaker she needed. After a year of sobriety, and with her family reunited, Ms. Taylor was determined to use her new-found skills to help others. She enrolled in a Diploma of Mental Health at TAFE NSW Wollongong to become a mental health peer worker. Peer workers draw upon their own lived experience of suicide, mental illness and recovery to provide support for those accessing mental health care. Peer work is the fastest growing mental health workforce in Australia. In September last year Ms Taylor secured a job as a peer worker at Wellways in Wollongong. “I love the job so much,” Ms Taylor said. “It’s taught me a lot about myself and I’ve been able to help people. I learn so much, especially how important actively listening is in a counseling environment.” I know I do not have to fix someone, I often just have to be that person to listen and support them. “The experience has also helped her stay committed to her own mental health.” Completing the Diploma of Mental Health has had a hugely positive impact on my own recovery journey and has motivated me to continue on this path, “she said.” A lot of the time, people with mental health issues just want to be heard and seen, and because of my personal experience with mental illness, they know I understand what they’re going through. ” Illawarra Mercury newsroom is funded by our readers.You can subscribe to support our journalism here.


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