Despite my nerves, I applied anyway

I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2016. At the time, I lived in the UK, but I came home to Ireland to get better. After a period of concentrating on my recovery, I needed an outlet. I was looking for something to give me confidence. Following a conversation with a friend they suggested volunteering, with Aware in particular.

I was initially nervous, as I didn’t really know what was involved in volunteering. Despite my nerves, I applied anyway. I applied for the Support Mail service, as I quite like writing. When the time came to start training, I was apprehensive. However, I was put at ease very quickly. Before I knew it, I was chatting and getting to know my new colleagues and I really enjoyed the training

The training team really make you feel part of the Aware family. I could see their dedication to Aware which I found really inspiring, it encouraged me to do the best that I can. The support and feedback they offered I found invaluable.

Then when the time came to do my first shift on Support Mail, I of course was nervous. Nerves are natural, but the team at Aware set about calming my fears from the very start. They gave me the confidence to keep going. I was put at ease and received feedback along the way, which has helped my confidence and understanding grow. You get to learn even more on the job gradually, which gives you the opportunity to develop your skills further, at a nice pace. By comparison now, I look forward to my shift each week, I feel a great sense of satisfaction in my role.

Volunteering with Aware has been one of the most humbling and honourable things I’ve ever done. It has helped build my confidence; it has opened my eyes to the world around me outside my own bubble; it has allowed me the honour of supporting some amazing, brave people who have shared their stories with me.

It has given me access to training money can’t buy, to be part of an amazing organisation trying to make a difference. Volunteering has reignited my passion for helping others. Having battled my own mental health demons, volunteering has given me the platform to use my lived experience to help others. It has helped me to be more understanding and taught me humility. Not just with mental health, but with life in general. I feel as though I have always been a good person, but I believe volunteering has made me a better person.

In times gone by I would have dismissed the idea of volunteering, how wrong was I? After each shift, I can’t quite describe the feeling knowing someone, somewhere will hopefully have benefited from my support. I could continue the superlatives but instead I will just say – try volunteering, you will see for yourself. I am a big of what we are doing in Aware and I feel the services available are a vital cog in the recovery wheel rolling throughout the island of Ireland.

It may feel intimidating at first, but just give it time. The first few weeks can be daunting, but the team at Aware want you to succeed and become part of the Aware family. Their support is a great confidence booster.

This content was originally published here.

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