I have always loved helping and supporting others. I was particularly interested in working with children, having grown up in a large family with over thirty cousins. I started to learn about social work because my auntie was a foster carer. I built relationships with the children she cared for and I was able to get an insight to what social work was from a young age.
Despite this, I was often told I wasn’t good enough and that I wouldn’t make it past my GCSEs, but these comments only made me more determined. I’m one of those people, if someone says I can’t do something I want to do it even more. I wanted to prove them wrong. I knuckled down and revised as much as possible to get in to college and then university. During this time, I went through many transitions and experienced friendship breakdowns.
In 2017, I was assaulted and this led to my mental health deteriorating, which meant I had more challenges to face. Mental health was something I struggled with for many years and I wasn’t really sure how to deal with it to begin with. I kept it quiet for so long, but people had started picking up on signs, especially within my cohort.
Before I struggled with mental health, I didn’t really understand what it was. When I was diagnosed with an eating disorder, I was terrified of the stigmatisation around mental health. My cohort were amazing and were always empowering me, which made me stronger and more confident. One of the social work values is about being honest, speaking up and asking people how they are and that’s what my cohort did. It made me more confident to speak about it and they didn’t judge me for it.
I began to fight back and speak openly about mental health. I think when you speak out and say that you want to recover, it makes you more determined to succeed. I learnt what resilience really was and how important self-respect is. It only made me more passionate about helping others and I was able to use my own experiences to do this.
This year, I recovered from mental health and as a thanks to those who helped me, I did a skydive for Mind and was able to raise nearly £500. It was scary but I did it to give back to those who enabled me to get better.