21 May 2016
One Achievement at a Time...
I have done it! I have completed my business administration apprenticeship! Granted it has taken longer than expected, but with an incredibly supportive team of colleagues, I have managed to come out of this hellish period of my life with an achievement that I can be proud of.
Leaving university, I was at a complete loss as to what to do with myself. I felt like a failure, I had no motivation and unbeknown to me, my health was taking a frightening turn for the worse. Oblivious of my current mental and physical state, I began researching my next move. I decided that I wanted to learn about business administration, as I thought that it would provide me with a range of skills that would be applicable to any future job role. Specifying my search with this interest in mind, I came across an apprenticeship opportunity that really grasped my attention. The job was situated at a school specialising in helping children with special educational needs, behavioural difficulties and medical needs. I felt that gaining some experience in such a challenging environment would not only be interesting, but it may open my eyes to a potential career path. I filled out my application form, attended an interview, and within the space of a few weeks I was starting my apprenticeship.
Now, this is the point when I knew I was going to struggle writing this piece, as I can already feel myself tearing up. I cannot help but acknowledge a question that is continually circulating around my head, which has been present since the moment I began trying to find help for my illness- How am I ever going to be able to show my appreciation and gratitude to my work colleagues for being the most patient, supportive and compassionate people that I could have ever asked for?
No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to explain just how much my work colleagues mean to me. They have had to experience this entire journey with me, and as guilty as I feel about that, I know that I could not have done any of this without them. They were there for me when I would return from every assessment, in floods of tears. They were there for me after every rejection, discussing with me what avenue for help I could look at next. They were there for me when I was in hospital, driving all the way to Grimsby just to come and talk to me. I never would have expected this from anybody, let alone the people that I work with. It is their patience, understanding and caring attitude that put my mind at ease whilst I was enduring my hospital and outpatient treatment, in the knowledge that I would be allowed to return to complete my qualification. They never put any pressure on me, which was exactly what I needed, as not one of us, including myself, knew how long this process was going to take. When I say that these people have been exceptional in aiding my recovery, even I know that this is an understatement. They are special, and I hope they know that.
As mentioned in a previous item about returning to work, I was extremely nervous about reentering the environment that I can only ever remember declining in terms of my health. However, once again, it was the support from those around me that helped me stay on track. I hear of so many people experiencing discrimination for their illness whilst in the work place, and I find that extremely upsetting. I am with my colleagues 8 hours a day, 4 days a week- if I did not have their continual encouragement, I cannot imagine the rate at which my health would have declined.
Apprenticeships have a huge stigma attached to them in terms of academic level, and this was an additional issue that I felt impacted on my health. I had decided not to pursue the expected degree route, and turning to work based learning made me feel like a failure, purely because of what everybody else thought about this method of education. However, this decision was the best decision I have ever made. I dread to think what state I would have been in if I had have tried to stick that first year of university out. As much as I doubted the choice at the time, I know that I made the right move for that point in my life. I consider myself to be very fortunate for being accepted for the apprenticeship at the school. It has allowed me to learn so much about work, life and myself, which is absolutely invaluable.
If you are a sufferer reading this, I want to encourage you never to let your illness get in the way of your goals, motivations and achievements. If you are an employer reading this, I want to encourage you to always be supportive of the people that work for you; your support can be vital in their recovery. Finally, if you are one of my work colleagues reading this, thank you. I can never express how grateful I am to have you all in my life, and for your ongoing support throughout all of this. It is down to you that I have managed to take the steps to overcome this illness, and consequently succeeded in gaining this qualification.
I was not going to mention any names, but I would like to say a special thank you to Shen, Vicky and Diane. You have been my rocks throughout my entire journey, and the reason that I keep smiling. You manage to turn every bad day into a good one, and if I had the choice, I would take you all to university with me. Thank you.