MercyCare is sharing stories of young people in our community as part of Youth Week WA. Youth Week WA is an annual state-wide celebration of the positive contributions of young people to our community throughout Western Australia.
When there is a bump in the road, it can be hard to keep moving forward, so when there are quite a few bumps, one after the other, staying on track can feel almost impossible.
That’s a little how 15-year-old Ashleigh was feeling last year.
As well as dealing with the death of a number of family members, both of her parents were going through issues with their health and her relationships within her family were not good.
Ashleigh’s dad had recently had a heart attack and her mother lives with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia, a form of cancer that, while managed with medication, has no cure.
These types of issues would put an extra strain on anyone, and together with constant arguments with her older sister and conflicts with her parents, Ashleigh started experiencing depression and anxiety.
By working with her MercyCare case workers, Magdalena and Julie, Ashleigh was able to get a clearer perspective of the roadblocks she was coming up against.
She was given emotional support by her case workers which helped her work through her grief and loss and work on her relationships.
Working with Magdalena, Ashleigh learnt about how to better communicate with her parents and sister.
Ashleigh gained a better understanding about how her negative thinking was affecting her and worked on strategies to deal with them.
“It’s about working on things that I can control and not stressing about the things I can’t control, that doesn’t help anyone,” she said
Ashleigh spent time working on having realistic expectations and boundaries and her Reconnect case-worker Magdalena even mediated between Ashleigh and her sister.
“Now I’ve got the relationship with my older sister that I’ve wanted my whole life,” she said.
Ashleigh’s outlook on life is more positive than it was a year ago.
“It’s been a massive change. I’m focused on self-care, I have routines, I’m enjoying myself and have even lost some weight because I’m healthier,” she said.
Ashleigh’s mental health has improved, her relationships with her sister, mum and dad are better and she is generally just more actively involved in life.
She keeps busy with martial arts, in which she has a black belt, theatre, singing, police rangers and is now part of a Canteen Program: a group for young people who are affected by or have a family member who has cancer.
Her commitment to her martial arts practice has also seen her start her first paid job as an instructor.
This year Ashleigh is in Year 10 and her own experiences have had her thinking she wants to get into work where she can interact and help other young people such as youth work or policing.
She said if she’d learnt one thing throughout the past year it was that often “your worst enemy is yourself, usually things aren’t as bad as you make them out to be in your head.”
- Reconnect supports young people aged 12-18 years and their families who are experiencing family conflict or other issues which could eventually lead the young person being unable to stay at home.
- The Family Wellbeing Support Service offers free, practical counselling and support for children, young people and their families who are experiencing different life issues that are making them feel sad, stressed, angry or anxious.