Perseverance and employment support help John start a new chapter after mental illness

Perseverance and employment support help John start a new chapter after mental illnessJohn O’Shea watched his life slowly crumble after seeing his 20-year marriage break down; finding himself facing long-term unemployment and on welfare benefits after 35 successful years in the automotive industry. John was in a severe state of depression and was diagnosed with ADHD and Bipolar II Disorder.

John has worked with many mental health professionals who have enabled him to become the new, revitalised John that he is today. With an imaginary toolbox that contains the tools to tackle the constant challenges he faces almost every day, John has come out more positive and optimistic than ever.

Facing the demons that haunted his past, John decided to pick up a pen and reflect on some of these memories, one being bullying in the workplace.

With the encouragement of Brian Gaull, who was the first to identify John’s natural talent as a writer, John wrote multiple stories. John hoped his stories would not only soothe his mind, but inspire others around him. This started out purely as a coping mechanism, but soon after John decided to share his words with the Whyalla Writers’ Group and saw two of his stories get published in the Whyalla Writers Group Book, Recipes For Living.

Determined to fight the black dog, John decided to make a series of changes, the first one being reaching out to WISE Employment six months ago where he first met Dianne O’Brien.

“I remember my first appointment at WISE so clearly. Di was the first person I met. I remember going into her office and I just collapsed on the floor and burst into tears. Di was so understanding, she said to me “let’s start with baby steps” and I felt an instant connection with her,” said John.

John went on to explain that Dianne was an integral part of his success; her support and giving nature allowed him to develop the confidence to do something for himself.

Not only has John pursued a career in writing, but he has also started part-time work at local pizzeria, Rocky’s Pizza. John, adamant to take control of his life and have financial independence, worked with Dianne to find a suitable role that he would enjoy.

Working at Rocky’s Pizza 23 hours a week, John has been able to interact with the community and has a sense of normality again, “I don’t know where to start. I am so grateful for Di and WISE Employment, they’ve helped me re-enter society. Working at Rocky’s Pizza has given me a sense of stability and the writing has given me a sense of freedom. I feel like I belong.”

Following employment, WISE has continued to support John. Daryl, who works at WISE, has been instrumental ensuring John has someone to guide him in tackling the fast pace and high demands of a fast food kitchen.

“The continued support from WISE is giving me the best possible chance to stay employed for the long term,” explained John.

John, who today describes himself as ambitious, elated and complete, is a different man to who he was six months ago. Adamant to be an inspiration to others in a similar situation, John is ready to share his story.

“Thanks to WISE, I’m starting to be the success story I always knew I could be. I have a good work ethic, the tools to keep going and an incredible support network. For once, I’m looking forward to the future.”


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