Woman sets out to use “lived experience” of mental health conditions to help others

A UK woman living with two mental health conditions is training to become an occupational therapist in a bid to use her own personal experiences to help others.

Rachel Monk, Nottingham, has Asperger’s syndrome – a type of autism – as well as bipolar disorder type two.

In her younger years, the now-34-year-old struggled to seek help when she was worried that her symptoms were becoming too much to handle.

“I knew when I started working in mental health, when I was 19, that I had something else going on [other than] Asperger’s, but I didn’t feel up to going to see anyone about it,” she recalls.

“I kept on going on these highs and I didn’t know why. I knew there was something else going on.”

Around three and a half years ago, Rachel was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and everything suddenly began to make sense for her.

However, she still finds it difficult to explain to friends, family members and others what it feels like to go through a ‘manic’ episode.

“It’s very difficult because it’s hard to explain to people when you’re poorly,” she said.

“When you have real manic periods it’s hard to explain to explain to people, and how you can switch yourself off to the world.”

Looking ahead, she has begun volunteering at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust with hopes of one day qualifying as an occupational therapist.

In an interview with the Nottingham Post, she said that she wanted to use her “lived experience” to help other people living with autism and bipolar disorder.

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