FAIRUZ RAHIM – When there is hope, many doors open
“I was very anxious, worried about my future and I could have gone crazy in my isolation, all alone in my head. I was fortunate to find Club HEAL and really recovering and developing. I feel prepared to take on a full-time job.”
Fairuz Rahim, 35, used to despair that his life amounted to nothing. Since 15 he had been challenged with major depression. Even though he has a freelance job of 15 years as a wedding decorator, he yearned for a full-time job and ultimately, normalcy in his life.
A year after attending Club HEAL’s Day Rehabilitation programme, his wish came true. He is ready for new responsibilities as the programme executive at Club HEAL’s Marsiling centre. Fairuz excels in pottery and teaches it at Marsiling to interested peers. As a full-time programme executive, he manages the day rehabilitation centre at Marsiling and inspires people with his positive and cheerful self and his sharing of his struggles coping with his illness.
Indeed it is still a struggle to be bestowed with a mental illness but every day as he interacts with the peers, he is a living testimony that one can be a contributing member of society and re-intergrate into the community instead of languishing in isolation at home as he had been many years before.
For years since graduating from Singapore Polytechnic with a diploma in electrical engineering, Fairuz did not work and spent his days at home, sleeping or lying in bed or watching TV. He took no interest in anything, neglecting self-care and hygiene by not bathing for days. He smoked excessively and lost connection with his friends and the outside world.
His mum’s constant support and encouragement gave Fairuz hope and the strength to carry on and at Club HEAL, the constant hope for recovery and a better life made him stay focussed on what he does well and just do the job even though he is still on a learning curve.
Fairuz said, “I was very anxious, worried about my future and I could have gone crazy in my isolation, all alone in my head. I was fortunate to find Club HEAL and really recovering and developing. I feel prepared to take on a full-time job.”
Click here for more information on Club HEAL’s Day Rehabilitation Services.
RISHAH ZAINAL – Where there is empowerment there is career fulfilment
“Close to a year of unemployment and disability, today I am given a chance to be working alongside Mdm Junn as a peer support specialist. I wouldn’t trade anything for this opportunity.”
Rishah Zainal, 29, showed her true mettle when as a peer, she helped out at the Pushcart at the Institute of Mental Health (MH). Hardworking, cheerful and quick to learn, she stood out from among the peers at Club HEAL. Rishah herself felt great satisfaction interacting with the customers despite her introvert nature. She became a programme executive at our Tampines Centre and then was transferred to Marsiling. In September 2016, she received a new designation as assistant program coordinator.
But the road to recovery and holding on to a job was paved with pain and despair.
Said Rishah, who suffers from anxiety disorder and depression, “When I started as a client in Club Heal, I was working 9-5pm. I was a mess – emotionally and mentally. Socially, I preferred to stay in bed all day than to get up to work. Sleeping in the whole day and self-quarantine was an ideal thing to do. “
“During those days that I managed to get myself out of bed to supposedly get to work, I would alight half way throughout the journey to work, sit at the bus stop, and tell myself to get myself together, which I did. I called in sick. Way too many times that a normal person would. Way too many times that I came to a realisation that I was losing myself.”
Rishah had to resign from her job and stayed at home for almost half a year with fortnightly therapy sessions with her counsellor, until she was introduced to Mdm Junainah Eusope (aka Mdm Junn) and to the Empowerment Team. Part of the team does the production of pottery and other craft work at the rehabilitation centre. The rest of the team manage pushcarts at IMH and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.
“I wasn’t ready for work. I was still wondering what was happening to me and to rediscover all that was happening to me. I’ve worked all my life and to be unemployed during those periods of time was something that I cannot swallow. I felt so handicapped not being able to do what I used to do. It was extremely suffocating. And thanks to my experience, I can relate so much with my peers who went through employment issues.”
Rishah elaborated, “Coming out to man the pushcart was something new. The disability was new to me too. But I had to start from somewhere right? Being at the pushcart was a hands-on learning of what I had learned during my sessions with my counsellor – to achieving my goals of managing my fear of interactions and socialising. With the guidance and support from Mdm Junn even up till today, things got easier. Close to a year of unemployment and disability, today I am given a chance to be working alongside Mdm Junn. I wouldn’t trade anything for this opportunity.”
NUR HAFIZAH KAMARULZAMAN – With acceptance there is recovery
“I feel blessed to be in this community and I have since learned to accept my strengths and weaknesses and work with them to be a better person.”
At 19, Nur Hafizah Kamarulzaman gave birth to a boy, with no family by her side. Being a teenaged single mum was difficult especially when four months after her delivery she was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder whereby she has a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
She heard voices to harm her baby, succumbed to it and abused her four month old baby who is now four years old. Now 23, she helps people who face similar mental struggles that she had and is a part-time programme executive at Club Heal.
Recalling her darkest moments, “That’s when I started hearing all the voices. I even saw a tall lady in my bedroom. The voices asked me to hit my boy, who was crying. The voices told me my baby was to blame for the situation I was in.”
Hafizah added: “But each time the voices come, I would do it again. I thought I was a bad mum. No mother would beat her children like that. I felt useless.”
The vicious cycle went on for two months before she sought help from her social worker and psychiatrist at the IMH. That was in 2012. Diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, Hafizah was warded at IMH for a week.
When Hafizah entered Club HEAL as a client, she did not expect to be chosen to lead her peers. Leading and sharing at the Rehabilitation centre at Bukit Batok East has helped Hafizah concentrate on building a satisfying career that allows her to help others like herself. She actively participates in various activities such as being the Master of Ceremonies, dancing and teaching Malay dance and acting in dramas. Indeed, she feels like she is blooming at Club HEAL.
“I feel blessed to be in this community and I have since learned to accept my strengths and weaknesses and work with them to be a better person,” said Hafizah.
Today, Hafizah is an active mental health advocate and speaks at forums. She regularly reaches out to her peers as a programme executive at Club HEAL. She also volunteers as a HEALing Friend under its befriender programme to help those with mental health care needs.
With the knowledge and her job, she is also caring for her mother who has the same illness she has who attends the day rehabilitation centre where Hafizah works.
DARYL TAN – Moulded with love
“Feeling loved and encouraged can contribute as a major healing factor.”
Like clay, Daryl Tan, 30, is malleable and adaptable. Started as a HEALing friend at Club HEAL, Daryl learnt to work with clay during the pottery sessions at Club HEAL’s Day Rehabilitation Centre at Marsiling. It is part of his recovery journey as a person with bipolar disorder for 12 years, having been admitted into hospital for more than five times since he was first diagnosed. He had been in High Dependency Unit at the Institute of Mental Health and has had Electro Convulsive Treatment.
Daryl is now a peer support specialist, empowering other peers.
Said Daryl, “Our recovery progress is just like clay. We may be broken, damaged and hurt but when we are soaked into water we become reusable clay, our lives might not be the same, and we are not looking to live a life when we were well, but we can create a new life, live a new kind of life. Time can even move mountains, and sometimes it may be just time that heals. Feeling loved and encouraged can contribute as a major healing factor.
At Club HEAL, Daryl believes that the love for each other as peers, as family even, is palpable to all that enters our three centres. There is empathy as we know what each other has gone through in their years of tackling their mental health issues.
“Like clay, we need to be pressed on, to be rolled on, by people, medication, moisture and time. We can add colours, show our personality and also, we apply a glaze, to make us shine. We strengthen ourselves by baking in the oven, going through stressors and life events like getting a new job, getting married, having children, new responsibilities, or grieving over the death of a loved one,” Daryl said.
With love, the potter brings forth new lives.
Click below to learn more volunteering as a HEALing friend:
How do I sign up to be a HEALing Friend?
General guidelines for volunteers in interacting with persons with mental illnesses
Also, check out pottery and other handicrafts made by peers: Club HEAL Gift Shop