Reader column: Volunteering helped Rachel to recover

UGC Columnist Rachel Habergham
UGC Columnist Rachel Habergham
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Figures can be used for many purposes. Sometimes to shock, to get what we want or to brag, the list goes on.

One figure will stick with me forever. One in four of us will suffer from some form of mental illness in our lifetime. The majority suffer in silence, as it is still a taboo subject. I am happy to talk about my journey but that’s only because of the amazing people around me. For many it is more comfortable to say nothing. How would anybody know they are ill? It isn’t like other illnesses that have visible signs something is wrong.

Everyone is different and we need to recognise that. Many illnesses come under the mental health umbrella. How they are treated also differs with many factors at play, not least being what is available and funded locally. Whatever route people take it is a personal journey, I can only say what worked for me. My family have been a solid foundation on the winding road with many ups and downs but I know I’m going in the right direction.

I battled from the start against taking medication, I knew it wasn’t right for me. In spring I thanked my GP with daffodils as I could see early shoots of me returning. I thanked my friends with an evening of laughs as they had made me smile on the darkest days. My family could start to see a sparkle return to the eyes of their mum, wife, daughter and sister.

All this helped but what helped most is volunteering. I have always believed passionately in volunteering. I have volunteered over many years but this time it was different. It was the only thing that made me get dressed on the most difficult days and I will never forget that and it gave me chance to thank other volunteers. On cold January nights I welcomed people to The Montgomery Theatre and for many it was a first experience of theatre and panto. The heart warming emails and calls I got afterwards were amazing therapy and helped me to start fighting back. For many organisations volunteers are vital but it is a two-way arrangement, never underestimate what it gives to the volunteers.

We can all find time and there are hundreds of organisations in our city that would value your time. Whatever your personal reason give it a go. I know many people who have had their world turned around for the better by volunteering.