‘When I tell people I’m studying nursing, it feels like I’m talking about someone else.’ Shawnie, 28, can’t believe how much her life and future have changed.
*Please be aware this post mentions suicidal feelings*
When I first arrived at Right There’s supported accommodation, I was 18 and homeless. I was, what people called, ‘a handful’. I’d just come out of foster care and I was rebelling. I thought I knew what I wanted, but I was in denial that I had serious issues I needed to face. I was carrying the burden of trauma and mental health and I needed help; I just wasn’t ready to accept it.
In all honesty, I didn’t want to carry on. My behaviour was out of control. I was using recreational drugs, as I didn’t want to deal with the serious issues life was throwing at me. I came close to ending my life on several occasions, and there were times when police or paramedics struggled to control me. I’d just had enough of life.
I soon moved away from the area and I became pregnant. Eighteen months later, I was homeless, my baby was in care and I was back at Right There. This time, however, I was ready for the support…and I wanted my wee girl back. This was the real turning point in my life.
A welcome back
What I will never forget, is how my support worker always had my best interests at heart and she cared for me no matter what stage I was at. When I returned to Right There, the staff didn’t judge me; they welcomed me back. I felt nurtured and loved. The people there felt like family.
One of the most important things for me at this point was to get my daughter back, but I genuinely thought this would never happen, and it certainly seemed that way. But my support worker spent time researching the legal issues and my rights. She came to meetings with me and supported me, as we tried our best to get my daughter back. And it worked.
I also began to look at my own mental health properly for the first time. I confided in my support worker about my traumatic childhood. I was sexually abused from the age of four to 17 by my foster sibling. My support worker gave me the courage to report this and talk about what I had never told anyone in all those years. I genuinely thought it was my fault. It took over my life, but she showed me I was strong enough. Now justice is done.
You can do it
My self-confidence continued to grow and I began to recognise positive things about myself for the first time. I realised I had the qualities to consider a career in nursing. I usually thought ‘you’ll never do this’ and ‘you’ll never do that’, but my support worker showed me ‘You CAN do it.’
I applied for a nursing course and I was amazed when I was accepted! I’m taking it slowly though, as I want to do things properly in my life now. There’s no rush, and I don’t want my daughter to have upheaval. I’ll be doing training in hospital wards soon, which I can’t believe. When I tell this to anyone, it feels like I’m talking about someone else.
Making a home
As well as my studies, I’m enjoying having my own home (which my support worker helped me to access), and my girl is now 8-years-old. There was a time when I didn’t think I’d ever see her again, but now I’m taking her to school and to clubs and activities.
I’ve been involved with different services over the years, but nothing ever made an impact like Right There. It’s the only organisation where people actually did what they said they’d do, and they stuck by me. They gave me the cuddle I needed and showed me life isn’t all bad.
Even a year ago, I thought I’d be nowhere now…or I wouldn’t be here at all. Hand on heart, Right There is the reason I am where I am – and I’ll be forever thankful for that.
If you need help
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, you are not alone and help is available. Whatever you’re going through, you can call the Samaritans free at any time from any phone, on 116 123