In the last ten years I’ve struggled with my mental health and have been unable to work. I’ve tried to make my time count during that period though and managed to graduate with both a first class honours degree and masters in journalism. I’ve lost so much time but if I look back and reflect then I can actually see that I’ve contributed a lot through different voluntary work. I’ve previously worked with St Mirren FC, See Me Scotland, RAMH, SAMH and MIND. I reached out to the third sector as I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer regularly and slowly adapt to going back to work and that is when I joined Bipolar Scotland as a volunteer.
I’m still very new to the charity and slowly trying to get to grips with everything. I’m now in a place though where I hope regular voluntary work can propel me back into a position where I may be able to work full time but at the heart of everything - it gives me a purpose, a routine and a reason to get up in the morning. My aim is to share the experience I have built up through working with other organisations and whilst obtaining my academic qualifications. I hope that both myself and Bipolar Scotland can mutually benefit.
My role is to assist the communications team in building content for both the charities website and social media outlets. I have vast experience in producing video, audio and social media content and the hope is that I’ll be able to create unique and engaging content for the different platforms. I also hope to bring new ideas to the table like introducing animations to the service so that we can expand our multimedia content. As I’m new to this role there is no content I can currently share but I’m enjoying planning what will hopefully come in the next few months
During my short stint volunteering with Bipolar Scotland I’ve learnt that I still have a long way to go. Although I have the practical qualifications done and dusted, the hard part for me is now regaining my confidence as an individual and proving that I’m worth something and can achieve things here or anywhere else. It isn’t uncommon to experience imposter syndrome and I do struggle with that, the mismatch of your experience and the constant worry of how others will perceive you. All I can add is that the staff here have been very welcoming and that helps you adjust, you start to take bigger and more confident steps - in the end you’ll get to where you want to be. I’m taking myself out of my comfort zone where I’ve been sitting so long.
I’d encourage anyone to give volunteering a go if that is something you think would help you as a person. It helps me to develop and set a routine but every individual will have their own aspirations that they hope to take from volunteering. It may be that you are just looking for company, some structure to your day or the chance to give something back. Whatever your reasons for getting involved then I do think it is absolutely worth it and you’ve really got nothing to lose.
It was the right time for me to get involved. I’m sure many people can relate to the darkness that living with mental illness can bring and I was looking to bring some life back into my world. I’ve worked hard with mental health professionals to get myself back into a position where I feel working is right for me. It was a long road and many times I never thought that I would ever get to this particular crossroad. I was stuck at that red light for a long time but now I see myself transitioning from red to amber (get ready). In the not too distant future it’ll be time to press down on the accelerator and go when that green light shines.
by Holly McCormack
If you would like to volunteer and support people living with bipolar in Scotland, check out our volunteering page to see what roles we are currently recruiting for.