So where to begin, well let’s go back to 1996, when my youngest daughter at the age of 16 years, took a different path which led to drug addiction, this was a major turning point in both our lives.

At first, I found it a struggle seeking support from the AOD (Alcohol and Other Drugs) services, endeavouring to make a connection for my daughter and myself, which wasn’t an easy task.

I decided to study at TAFE (Technical and Further Education) - Certificate IV in AOD and upon completion, my first employment was in the AOD sector working at an adult residential rehabilitation centre, followed by two youth residential rehabilitation centres, yet there was a longing to do something else.

Over time my daughter was admitted to different In-patient Units (Psychiatric Wards) due to drug induced psychosis and then was finally diagnosed with Schizophrenia, so this was my introduction to Dual Diagnosis, not just AOD or MH (Mental Health), but both, which need to be treated in tandem.

Endeavouring to navigate the MH services was a confusing and challenging time with limited ongoing support for my daughter and me. I know first-hand the bewilderment, loss of identity, despondency, and the isolation a carer feels, when entering the mental health system, it certainly feels like a roller coaster of a ride.

Carers can be invisible, forgotten about at times, yet they play an important part of providing support in treatment and the recovery journey for themselves and their loved one, preferably from the first initial contact. The importance of having a lived experience is now recognised within the health and community sectors and this can be offered, as support, empathy, understanding and non-judgement for carers and significant others.

Self-care is very important for the carer. In the beginning my daughter’s behaviour and actions had a devastating effect on me, but these days I set strong caring boundaries – my life, her life.

Discovering a meditation group many years ago has made such a difference, I learned how to find peace and harmony within myself and my life, very therapeutic. These days I hold morning and evening mindfulness classes on a Tuesday, sharing with others the meditations and processes that were so beneficial to myself.

Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health issues, yet I bring the reminder that Mental Health doesn’t discriminate – it can affect any person, any time, no matter the gender, age or cultural background.

Being on this journey with my daughter has been like a light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what the despair, there was always a glimmer of hope.

Diploma of Counselling (Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors)
Diploma of Mentoring, Coaching and Interpersonal Facilitation (Global Coaching Academy)
Alcohol and Other Drugs Course (Technical and Further Education)

Belle has worked in the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health sectors for many years, as a Residential Duty Worker (Windana Therapeutic Community), Residential Youth Care Worker (Tandana Place, The Salvation Army Eastcare), Dual Diagnosis Carer and Carer Peer Support and Carer Peer Support Worker (Eastern Health).

The classes Belle offers which are about finding peace and harmony within yourself and your life, focusing on mindfulness meditation, relaxation, as well as, how to manage stress, with an opportunity for peer support.

Belle offers a weekly morning and evening class on a Tuesday, mindfulness with a spiritual flavour called, Journey of Self-Discovery - Conversations with Belle. To find out more, contact Belle on +61 438 100 452.