With complex physical and mental health needs, I was referred to a mental health service and was on a treatment order but was essentially bounced in and out of hospital – eight times in the past few years.
Eventually, I was referred to a homeless service who allowed me to spend time in a mental health recovery home until I was told I had been there too long and needed to move on. Essentially, I was kicked out of the mental health recovery home into homelessness.
It’s been very difficult to maintain treatment without a stable place to live. I did have a regular doctor in Lismore, but they were away on holidays, and then their clinic was wiped out by the flood.
I tried finding accommodation, but eventually stayed with a friend for a few weeks, then ended up back in hospital. The hospital needed the bed, so they paid for a taxi to Byron Bay, and I was stuck there for six weeks.
I was linked into some health support in Byron Bay, but they were not appropriate for my needs. Essentially, I had no support and no access to ongoing medical treatment.
Byron Bay was far too expensive and during Splendour in the Grass there was zero accommodation available, even in hostels, so I came to Brisbane and started calling around homelessness services.
It was really difficult trying to find somewhere to sleep, I just sat methodically working through a list.
Many boarding houses I phoned asked if I was a single female by myself and what my age was. I guess they were trying to work out if it was safe for me. Eventually only one was available but it was disgusting.
I was there for 3.5 months but I hated it. When I arrived the room was filthy, dried pee all over the walls. They seemed more interested in housing older men who were sexually harassing me, than helping me stay safe.
I even showed the hostel owner a letter another older resident had written me, and they pulled me and the man into a room and confronted us. He glared at me, I felt very intimidated, and then she ripped up the letter and told us to work it out.
I asked homelessness services if there were any other boarding houses and was told the one I was in was considered the safest.
I had no curtain; this man would stand outside my window and watch me. I felt so violated all the time. Even after the boarding managers saw him on camera, they didn’t make him leave.
It was during this time that I linked in with BYS who worked on trying to find me new, safe accommodation.
I loved working with my youth worker Ari, he was the one that first mentioned there are doctors at BYS, so I felt comfortable to make an appointment.
I met with Dr Mairaed and now finally have ongoing support from someone I trust. I need someone who specialises in eating disorders and complex therapeutic care. But to access a normal GP is virtually impossible as they don’t bulk bill and don’t have the expertise.
I need someone I can feel safe with, and being able to receive ongoing medical care at the one place with someone who knows my history means that we can identify any risks or red flags early.
The trust keeps me coming back to check in, it keeps me engaged. Even when I’m not feeling the best.
Dr Mairaed has also been able to recommend times when I need to consider checking in with the hospital. We are able to work together.
Through my job provider, I eventually managed to find some accommodation. Ari supported me with this and even borrowed the BYS ute to help me move!
I’m now taking driving lessons through PCYC’s breaking the cycle program.
I have been in my accommodation for 8 months now and they are being quite supportive. I am in my own self-contained unit but the support workers check in and make sure I’m ok. We’ve had some impromptu game nights which has been fun. I like ice breaker games as they give me something to do with people, otherwise I can find social interactions tiring.
Where I’m living at the moment, I have a good view of planes coming and going which I love as my dream is to be a commercial pilot. I love aviation, it’s always fascinated me. I love going to expos and learning as much as I can about the industry.
I still have a list of things to work through, I want to get my health right so I can pass the medical exams with ‘flying’ colours. Eventually I will study aviation, hopefully within the next 12 months.
My favourite other thing to do is pat dogs, it’s good for my mental health! Dogs are my favourite people.