Turning back to my life

Glen has improved his health and wellbeing and he feels like a new person.

I worked as a lawyer for several years.

I supported my only daughter as a solo father for several years, a time I really enjoyed. I’m proud she is following in my footsteps as a lawyer.

In 2010, due to my personal circumstances and heavy workload, I became unwell and was diagnosed with Bipolar. I lost my self-esteem and started feeling worthless and hopeless. I withdrew from friends and the community and got stuck at home most of the time.

At first I was treated in St Luke’s CMHC before getting treatment at Cornwall House. The clinical team referred me to NGOs for community support and so I began being seen by the Pathways ADHB team. They realised I had eating problems, so I was linked with Meals on Wheels. But I still didn’t eat properly as I had lost my appetite. This meant I collapsed often and my health deteriorated day by day. I was referred to Pathways social worker Seyed to support me. I won’t forget that day I met Seyed and his first question was if I was happy to continue Meals on Wheels. I opened my eyes and smiled at him and said: “I’m not happy”. I wasn’t, because I didn’t have a choice – I was expected to eat the served meal, whatever it was.

At the same time, the clinical team referred me to stay at a rest home for a few months to see if my health and fitness level would improve. But my eating disorder continued – the rest home meals were cooked for older people, and I couldn’t enjoy them.

From there, I was referred to get a place at a lodge and I was told by the coordinator to give up my Housing NZ flat permanently, a decision it didn’t seem I had a say in. This made me feel very upset, agitated and irritated and so my health failed to improve.

I shared my feelings with Seyed, who supported me to challenge the decision and make an appeal to the Health and Disability Commissioner. He came with me to a meeting with the Housing New Zealand case manager and explained my circumstances. I was granted special permission to keep the house under my name for up to three months. In the meantime, I also got good news from the Health and Disability Commissioner - that I must not be forced to leave my Housing NZ house to go and stay at the lodge. This made me feel empowered and my journey of recovery began. With the support of Seyed, I set some new goals and began to look at life from a new angle.

We cancelled Meals on Wheels and looked for different ways to enjoy meals. Seyed supported me to go to different restaurants. I have favourite places to eat locally, and further afield – sometimes for things like ice creams and milkshakes. I go to the RSA for lunch every Friday, where I enjoy eating with my friends. Dining out with my friends brought me happiness in my life, and I started to regain my health and fitness. I like it that I have a lunch appointment each day.

With my eating goal achieved, I was able to focus on the second goal, to learn some cooking skills. Alosia, another member of the Pathways mobile team, supported me with this. I enjoy cooking and making some light meals for breakfast and dinner. I have also been spending time in Tio Ora  learning some art skills which I would love to carry on.

The progress of my health and fitness has proved to me that I can stay in my home on my own. Each of my days is planned, and I maintain my home with some support from Seyed. After six months, the supporting hours have been reduced from 14 to six. I have made very good progress. I see myself as a new person now.

Thanks to Seyed and Pathways mobile team.

*Glen's name has been changed to protect his privacy. Everything else about his story is real.