Jane’s story

Jane Carey - Dorset Mental Health Forum

10th April 2022

Hello, I’m Jane and I am Peer Lead for Education at the Forum. I have lived in beautiful Dorset for over 30 years. My husband and I love living by the coast and have two beautiful daughters and three amazing grandchildren. Along with Chilli, our Siberian husky.

My job gives me purpose and meaning, I love making a difference. It is a privilege to work alongside people, sharing experiences, learning together, and promoting wellbeing.

In the past I have been a perfectionist, a workaholic living with acute anxiety, and I kept this hidden in my previous work environments for over 25 years. I live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). My anxiety was difficult to manage and my OCD even more so. Counting rituals completely took over my life. I believed that if I didn’t count and check a multitude of things then something bad was going to happen to my family. This was exacerbated by the stress, fear, and embarrassment of being found out and being judged. Eventually this took its toll, and along with some immediate family loss, I was admitted as a Mental Health inpatient in 2008. This was an incredible overnight shock, extremely distressing for me and very much so for my family. Until then I had been super organised, in control and juggling lots of responsibilities in my work and home life. Overnight I had lost control of my choices and I really felt like giving up, seeing no hope for the future. My OCD ruled my life.

Whilst staying there I started to tell my story after the years of keeping it hidden. I finally accepted that I needed help, guidance, and treatment. After three years under the local Community Mental Health Team, courses of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and much soul searching and tears and frustration, I felt stronger. My family throughout have been incredible, loving and supporting me even when I couldn’t see a way ahead. I was able to accept my mental health conditions and learnt that coping strategies and wellbeing tools worked for me as a way of managing this anxiety.

In 2011 I met a Peer specialist from the Forum for coffee. From there I met my Operations Director Sarah and Chief Executive Becky at the Forum HQ. They listened to my story, what I had learnt and the experience and transferrable skills from my previous jobs. I joined the Forum and gradually built my confidence and strength. I met with people in hospital and the community explaining my recovery journey, and in 2012 started delivering courses in our Recovery Education Centre. I completed an Education and Training degree as well as many very valuable training courses in my role. I have a job which enables me to be myself, use my lived experience and reflective practise to keep me well. I work with my amazing team of Peers, learning, motivating, and supporting each other.

Recovery means to me living a worthwhile and meaningful life whilst managing my mental health and wellbeing. Recovery is different to each and every person. My journey is unique to me. I have found that by holding the hope, practising gratitude, and connecting to my strengths and personal values I can thrive and be happy. It is important to me that I challenge the stigma around Mental Health by investing time in my community and the people I meet.

Recovery has taught me to accept myself. I live with OCD and anxiety every day, but this does not define me. I feel I am stronger because of this and not a lesser person. I am more forgiving of myself and others, I have more humility and compassion. I don’t fear change anymore, I view it as an opportunity to learn and try new things.

If I could go back in time, what would I say to my younger self knowing what I do now? I would say don’t try to be super woman, take time out, me-time is precious. Have more balance, have more fun and be curious. Notice the little things because these can very often prove to be the big things when you look back and reflect. Be real, be honest, be genuine.

I am proud to say This is Me!

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