Earlier this year I found myself in the most unexpected position of being invited to talk with the Prime Minister! Ms Gillard and various other Very Important People came to visit MIFSA (Mental Illness Fellowship SA) and have a chat to some of us participants. Someone thought of me and I found myself with an invitation to one of the most nervous and awkward afternoon teas I have ever been a part of! There were a small group of us, sitting in the staff room on the comfy black lounges, with all the media people standing on the other side of the room with very big camera equipment. I kicked off the conversation and talked about how much the PHaMs program had helped me out, and how difficult I’d found things like continuing at university with my mental illness. It was unbelievably nerve wracking, I tend to talk with my hands and I was super anxious that I might wave them about and hit her by accident. She was very down to earth and polite and easy to talk to, with the kind of formal, upright posture that suggested that she too was painfully aware of all the cameras and taking care not to put a foot wrong or scratch her nose or anything.
This experience was quite thrilling, and really launched me into the advocacy and education role I now find myself playing more and more. I’m tremendously appreciative of being given opportunities like this, they’ve increased my confidence and really helped me to believe that I have something to contribute to discussions about mental health.