GPH Real Stories - Vanessa's Story

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July 04, 2019

vanessa with Phil and Sue

Vanessa is a woman of few words but her paintings say it all...

Vanessa was referred to Grand Pacific Health’s (GPH) Integrated Recovery services (IRS) program with a clear goal of being able to confidently engage with her community. While she had the supports of a Psychologist and Psychiatrist in place to help manage anxiety and depression, her social isolation was exacerbating her condition.

“I would go for weeks without seeing a single person,” said Vanessa.

Vanessa first engaged with Phil at GPH who encouraged her to join a local art group as a way of pursuing her passion for art while meeting new people.

Vanessa was later connected with Sue - a Peer Worker at GPH who she immediately bonded with over their shared experiences. Sue became a source of hope and inspiration for Vanessa, as she could see how far Sue had come on her own recovery journey.

Together they walked, talked about Vanessa’s art and practiced techniques like breathing, mindfulness and ‘worry time’ - where they pick of a time of day to think about the things that are bothering them and push away those thoughts at any other time of the day.

Phil describes how Vanessa’s increased social connectedness has impacted on her wellbeing: “It provides a distraction from her own dark thoughts.”

“When she is interacting with others, Vanessa is not concentrating on her own worries, which otherwise build up to the point where she catastrophizes about the future, hears voices and can at times feel suicidal.” Added Phil.

While Vanessa can still experience episodes of anxiety, she is certainly getting out and about more. She now catches up with people for coffee, goes for walks and regularly attends art group.

Vanessa even painted a picture for GPH representing all the things she has done, the things she has learned and the people she has met – as a way of expressing her gratitude. She describes what is depicted in a section of this artwork (pictured above) as her ‘on the other side of her chaos’ with the help of GPH.

Vanessa’s peer worker Sue says the whole experiences has been extremely rewarding: “Vanessa has come so far and I love hearing the stories she tells through her art.”

“Her hands might sometimes shake with her anxiety but her precision is incredible when a paintbrush is in her hand!” Added Sue

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