After a lifetime spent in the shadows surviving her painful past, Sam has courageously forged a new path forward. Coming to terms with complex childhood trauma has been far from easy for Sam, but she’s put in the hard work to unearth a strong, resilient woman who’s now living fully.
“I’ve come to realise that recovery isn’t about being rid of an illness, it’s about reconnecting to yourself and learning how to live freely. And that is a journey – it’s not a destination or an outcome.”
Living permanently in a state of debilitating fear that she calls ‘surviving’, Sam worked closely with a psychologist to learn to trust herself and feel safe in the world around her.
“Taking that first step is terrifying, saying, ‘yes, I want something more for my life’. I got to the point where I simply couldn’t live like that anymore. But surviving is a familiar state – even though I’m terrified, I know how to be terrified and protect myself. Stepping outside that is true vulnerability.”
Overcoming periods of acute mental illness, Sam slowly found her place in the world and cultivated a fulfilling career supporting others.
“Through my work, I support people on their recovery journey. I work with them to identify their values and what drives them. We create safety plans so they can tackle challenges with greater confidence. There’s no shame in needing a plan before you go out – I like to be really practical in my support and normalise situations that people find difficult.”
“When harm has been done to a person, they don’t trust people, they don’t trust services, they don’t trust the hospital. When they allow you to be a part of their life, even just inviting you in, that is massive. That’s the thing that really inspires me – it’s a privilege to be allowed into someone’s space and connect on a very human level.”
Sam’s lived experience means she understands the layered complexities that surround mental illness.
“The process of rebuilding a life takes place one step at a time. When I was surviving, I didn’t have a sense of self, I didn’t have an identity. I didn’t know what was important to me and I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. Everything was stripped away from me; I needed to start again.”
Without support, she says there’s no way she would have come out the other side.
“The greatest gift my psychologist gave me was connecting with another person and helping me to trust. Humans are social beings, we have a primal need to connect. But when harm is done to us, we become fearful and distrusting. I’m a big believer that recovery happens in relationships.”
Sam now considers her recovery to be her greatest source of strength. Without it, she says she wouldn’t be here today.
“I could never have imagined getting to where I am now. I look at my life before and think it takes an enormous amount of strength to face those fears. But it’s possible, it happened. I genuinely believe because it happened for me, it can happen for others too.”