Kristen Northcott: Navigating life’s challenges

An image of Kristen Northcott. She is wearing glasses, a top with a red and white pattern and a silver dragonfly necklace.

Life has thrown many challenges at Kristen Northcott, and she’s faced them head on. Our team in Bunbury has been privileged enough to work with her, and we are so pleased we were able help her step into a new field. This is her story

Life growing up for me was hard. My father was in the Royal Australian Air Force, so we were constantly being posted to different places, barely in one place for more than a couple of years.

Coupled with the fact that I had Aspergers, it didn’t help making new friends and keeping them was hard.

At the age of 7, I was diagnosed with a heart condition, which meant that I struggled to keep up with everyone else my age. I would still give everything my all, but most of the time it backfired and I would end up worse off than I was before.

Navigating life

As I got older, life happened. I got married, had a child, marriage ended, became a single mum, studied to be a teacher, had a near death experience due to health issues, got a stalker, had a nervous breakdown and ended up in hospital due to my stressful job. I even graduated university with a different degree than planned.

But although I adapted to these constant changes, they still affected my self-esteem, self-confidence and mental health.

In 2008, I was finally diagnosed with depression and bipolar (although as I look back on my life, I could have been diagnosed with them earlier).

Bipolar ruled my life, from absolute highs and extreme lows, where I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t find any normal days. As I struggled to function, I joined a couple of groups: GROW support group and Community First (now known as Chorus).

Both groups taught me to look at myself, to acknowledge that I couldn’t cope and it was ok to ask for help and to not let my illnesses define who I was.

But life still happened, I struggled to find a job that was best suited to my new needs and medications. It was hard. Applying for jobs and getting knocked back fed my depression and bipolar.

I started to doubt myself and my abilities. So I tried getting jobs that played with my strengths: tutoring primary and high school kids, pet sitting. While pet sitting, I got injured, it was life yet again telling me to slow down.

It became a lot harder to find a job that suited my needs.

New skills, new job

But thanks to Forrest Personnel, things started to change for the better. The staff got to know me over time. They found that I was creative, able to teach anything and willing to help others. They taught me new skills like writing up my CV and cover letters to suit the job I was applying for, how to survive an interview and much more. The best part about Forrest Personnel was the constant support and encouragement I received.

Eventually, my perfect job was found, the staff helped me  get my CV up-to-date and sent it onto CamCan. Within a couple of days I had an interview, which I aced.

We had finally found a job that fit my need for flexible hours and days. The best part was that I could use my life experiences to help support others just like me. Although I only support one person at the moment, I’m loving it.

I am learning so much more each week, not only about myself but also new skills to help me help others. I finally have a lot more normal days and each day my mental health improves.

It is an amazing feeling. I feel whole again.

Forrest Personnel supports people with an injury, illness or disability to find and keep jobs.
If you’re a job seeker or an employer – we’d love to work with you. 
Send us an email or call us on 1800 224 548.