This portrait is part of a project I’ve been working on with suicide respite house Maytree. Maytree provides befriending support for people experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings in a non-clinical and unique space. The project is comprised of portraits and interviews with volunteers exploring their own experiences with mental health and how they came to be at Maytree. Some of whom have previously been guests at the house. Click here to read all the posts from this project.
I used to work in IT and had my own online business. Before that I worked in the city designing risk systems. I did that for about 20 years. However, I was always interested in what made people tick. When I was younger I wanted to understand the mechanics of the brain but as I got older I realised I didn’t care about the mechanics, I was more interested in how people arrive at different points in their lives. I know it seems like an extreme switch from working with computers to working with people but it’s been quite gradual for me.
I think my own journey has been important as well. I feel like I’ve been constantly pushing and exploring myself every year. I started retraining 16 years ago in psychotherapy, philosophy and mindfulness. There have been a few bumps in the road along that path, but I’ve found that having a spiritual component in my life has been helpful.
When I was a first year student Maytree was one of the placements that was on offer. I felt I could really empathise with where people were, how difficult things can be and how depression can grind you down. I guess I was attracted to Maytree for that reason. I remember being at the interview, and when they read out some of the suicide scenarios my stomach lurched. It was such a strong reaction and I felt this was the place for me. I still feel like that.