Today we share Katie’s amazing story from feeling hopeless as a teenager in a mental health hospital through to the confidence and self-belief she’s now found curating her own radio show. We find it inspiring, and hope you will too.
When I first started working with Second Step I had just come out of hospital. I really struggled with the thought of working with another team. I had worked with other mental health teams and found that they didn’t really help me, so I didn’t have a lot of faith when it came to working with Second Step.
Eventually I found that actually Second Step really helped me in terms of getting me into a routine and finding me things to do to help my mental health.
Finding the thing you love
It took a while to find what I actually love. I found a mental health music group followed by a drama group. Eventually I found a more permanent acting group close by. I didn’t even know about it until Second Step told me. When I went there, I could see myself acting at this place for a long time to come.
Second Step used to run a mental health radio group; as a group we planned subjects surrounding mental health, such as healthy eating, sleep, Christmas and so much more. We would then go on the radio and do a show about it.
Unfortunately, the group ended, which was a shame. But as I say when one door closes another door opens. As we did the last group, the person who did the tech told me I should come back and volunteer. Surprisingly I didn’t go straight into volunteering at the radio station, but this person’s words stayed with me. For a few years I drifted around trying different things from doing maths at college and trying to re-study at the Open University. However, I found these things too stressful, and I ended up stopping.
More good days than bad
During all of this I worked with Second Step on and off. I still get bad days, bad weeks, bad months but I also have good days and at the moment there have been more good days than bad days and I’ll tell you why.
Over the last couple of months, I started working with Second Step again, even though I felt I didn’t need anything from them. After a few weeks I realised I needed to find something to do, as I had once again drifted from thing to thing. Also with the pandemic happening, I found it really hard to be inside all the time; I know that most people that read this probably feel the same and I want you to know you’re not alone.
One of the recovery navigators at Second Step made me think about volunteering. I had done some volunteering but never really thought about it again, apart from what the person from the radio station had said.
Pushing through anxiety
I was still kind of unsure when my recovery navigator phoned up the radio station to ask about volunteering. Feeling anxious and nervous, I went with my recovery navigator to see the station manager to talk about what it would involve, and it sounded too good to be true; the opportunity to go and see plays, as well as eventually getting my own show. The only thing I was anxious about was whether there were going to be loads of people in the office and doing interviews, as I feel like socialising and meeting new people was not my strong point.
I was really surprised when I started, I was so anxious but the people there was so lovely, the atmosphere was amazing, and the excitement of what was to come gave me so much joy.
I started off small like typing up announcements of what was going on in Bristol, to editing the news, to then going on to do my first interview. Luckily my first interview was with the drama place I was involved with, and I knew some of the people which was a great start.
Eventually days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into seven months! I started going one day a week, then two, and eventually extended it to 3 days a week.
I now have my own show on Wednesdays from 10am-12pm. This is a cultural show called Express Yourself. It is all about theatre, art, music and so much more. Not only am I on the radio, but I’m also covering the subjects so close to my heart and which have got me through some really tough times. When naming the show, express yourself came to me almost instantly, for these are some of the ways that we express ourselves, when maybe we can’t find the words to talk about things or to take our minds off the hard times.
I never thought I would enjoy doing radio, but I have found something I absolutely love and can see myself doing for years and years to come. And one day I hope to be able to move on to the BBC.
So my message to all of you is that there will be hard times and there will be good times. I came from a bad place thinking I wouldn’t amount to anything, and there’s still days where I think I won’t, but if I can do it so can you.
Believe in yourself, follow your dreams and don’t let anyone stop you. Do what makes you happy and try new things even if they feel a bit daunting at first. You might just surprise yourself and find the thing you love to. Getting into a routine and keeping busy is the best thing that we can do for ourselves. You have got this! You are stronger than you think.
To end, I’d like to share my favourite quote: “Shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”