My name is Seth. I am 35 years old and was born in Cambodia.
In 2006 I came to Australia with my family – I have one boy aged 12 years and a 10-year-old daughter. During this transitional time, I was first diagnosed with a mental illness.
I went to live with my sister after my relationship ended but it could not be a permanent arrangement, which led to the risk of becoming homeless. It was a frighteningly unstable time for me.
In December 2013, I was offered accommodation at one of St Bart’s Mental Health Support Service units to begin my new life and journey towards recovery.
I was able to make friends with other residents in my situation, and staff were very supportive in understanding my mental illness and the challenges I faced on a daily basis.
Recovery workers assisted me to make positive changes in my life and move forward. Staff also supported me to value myself, build on my strengths and set goals. I enjoyed attending outings and became involved and engaged in recovery groups held at the villas.
For the first few years at St Bart’s I was addicted to alcohol, energy drinks and smoked heavily. I was also very unfit, I never exercised and realised my life was going nowhere.
After a few years, with staff support, goal setting and regular key work, I realised I was not living my life to the full – I was unhappy and knew I needed to make changes.
So, last year, I decided to work on the following goals to improve my quality of life and work towards my recovery:
- cook healthy meals
- walk small distances and go to the gym once a week with recovery workers
- cut down on cigarettes
- apply for Australian citizenship
This year, I achieved major positive changes towards my recovery journey including:
- giving up smoking with the assistance of the Healthy Lungs Project – I have not had a cigarette since May
- no longer drinking alcohol or energy drinks
- going to the gym five days a week and losing 16kg
- engaging in recovery groups and key work sessions to set and achieve new goals
- running my own car
- receiving my Australian citizenship last month – one of my greatest achievements!
I am hoping to move out of St Bart’s in the near future to live independently within the community.
I am proud to have been able to apply for my Australian passport so I can return to Cambodia to visit my family, as I have not seen them in four years.
My next goal is to enrol in TAFE to study English.
I just want to say thank you to all of St Bart’s Mental Health Support Service recovery staff workers who have supported me to reach my goals. It has been a difficult but rewarding journey. I have made many friends along the way and now feel my life is more valuable, I’m happier and it’s time for me to move on with my life.
I am currently waiting for independent housing in the local area so I can maintain my friendships. I look forward to the next chapter of my life.
Visit Mental Health Week website.