Women’s Profiles – Liridona’s Story15 March 2022
In this next instalment of our profiles for International Women’s Day – week, we share Liridona’s story. Liridona’s challenges with mental health gives her a unique insight into what the people she supports is going through when they are in crisis. She is able to empathise and to offer common sense solutions whilst encouraging them to set and achieve their goals. This is her story.
Liridona Ahmeti, known to everyone as Liri, came to England as a one-year-old from Macedonia. The family settled in North London, where Liri grew up and still lives.
Liri’s parents are her biggest influences and have supported her throughout her life. They raised her to be extremely caring of others, their backgrounds in nursery care and social work a reflection of their ethos. They instilled in her a drive to help others and to give back. “My innate need to help people is at the core of my being and is my driver. I recently helped my brother through an interview process, with practice questions etc. and he got the job! If I see a need and I can help, I will do so.” Liri said.
Liri worked in recruitment and studied marketing at master’s level and was successful in her chosen career. But she has now made a career switch to her current role as Activities Coordinator for SIG Lewisham.
Mental health challenge
Liri feels that she was not initially taken seriously or given the right diagnosis by the male doctors she saw when she became unwell. She believes they didn’t have the insight. She was presenting to them with physical issues, but her physical manifestations were symptoms of her mental health challenges. The doctor who eventually diagnosed her (a woman) just ‘got her.’ She had the insight and recognised that Liri was in crisis and prescribed anti-depressants. She did not always take them as prescribed, however, which led to her hospitalisation.
Hospitalised, and suffering with mental health issues, Liri met an Activities Coordinator with whom she built a bond. She was inspired by her and the Occupational Therapist and Psychiatrist she encountered at the hospital. She found them so inspiring that she felt that she too wanted to work in a role in which she could help people reclaim their lives. This sparked the switch to social care.
When she left hospital and felt well enough, Liri applied for voluntary positions. She began as an activities volunteer where she led online sessions in health and wellbeing, mindfulness and other activities. She did this alongside an Activities Coordinator whilst she built up experience. She then applied for a role in SIG after researching the company and liking what it stood for.
She got the job!
SIG Support & making adjustments
Because the medication that she takes impacts her sleep quality, which in turn makes her drowsy in the morning, Liri struggled with fulltime hours, especially starting early in the morning. She had to navigate this schedule, with varying success. But her manager has been supportive. Liri said: “SIG and my manager have been great. My manager put me forward for an Occupational Therapy assessment, which led to the decision that I should work part-time as that is more manageable for me.”
Liri feels like she is finally on the right track career wise. Her biggest achievement in her new role so far has been getting two of the Service Users she supported into university. She said: “I think this is a massive achievement to have been able to get them to the position to achieve this milestone from living in supported accommodation and all the challenges that comes with it. It makes me proud.” Liri is also proud of the Monday lunch club, which was Bunmi, her manager’s idea and which she runs. It’s a great opportunity for the service to share food in a social setting and have fun and laughter.
Liri has also recently been working with the Prince’s Trust to try to set up a business. This is something that she has found that she has a talent for.
Having mental health challenges helps Liri to be empathetic to Service Users when they are unwell and need additional support. If they are going through a rough time and lashing out, she recognizes this as their mental health, having been through those challenges and been supported and coming out on the other side. Understanding challenging behaviour and that it is not the person but the illness, is a cornerstone of her support.
Liri wants to get married, buy her own flat, have a family and be in a role where she is helping people to reach their goals and living the best life they can.
“I am in a good place,” she said, “…I would say I am the best that I’ve ever been. I’ve moved into my own rented accommodation; I am working in a role that fulfills me. I am getting into fitness. I am in a job that I absolutely love and feel like this is the beginning. I have found my comfort zone and I am building on it.”
Liri has encountered many women throughout her life, who have been great points of contact for her. She has also met very strong women and been inspired by them. One such woman was the doctor that diagnosed her. She thinks this is because women have great insight and empathy that comes from their biological instinct to nurture.
As for her future, Liri is taking things as they come, knowing that she is strong enough to ask for help when she needs it. “I actually feel like I’ve found my home at SIG, really making a difference and fulfilling my need to help people,” Liri concluded.
Liri, we are lucky to have you! You are an asset not just to your service but to the entire SIG organisation.