It was a really thought-provoking group today. Once again it was very encouraging to hear group members learning to trust themselves and to be honest with others about how they feel. Members have also learned to say what they feel would help them in their recovery.
Today our guest was Simon Hay from the Recovery Essentials Project. Simon was talking about the work he provides in groups and in a one to one setting. Some of the work he does includes:
- Managing your money
- Getting the best utility plans
Group members found the talk very useful and enjoyed having the opportunity to ask any questions. It can be so challenging for everyone in these tough economic times. The changes in welfare reform are a big concern for a lot of people, and knowing who they can turn to if they do not understand the changes. A lot of documentation regarding these changes can be lengthy and hard to understand, which in turn can begin to affect people’s health.
The group would like to thank Simon for coming to the group today to explain the work of Recovery Essentials.
If you would like any further information on Recovery Essentials please click the link below
It was nice to welcome a few group members back who had not been for a while due to being overseas.
We continue to do our “Happy notice board” exercise every week. It is really encouraging to hear how much this helps people. If people can put something positive that has happened to them on to the notice board it can really help give people a fuller sense of perspective. This can help us hold up positive aspects when feeling low, as it teaches us not to dismiss the good things that have occurred.
We looked at the stigma surrounding mental health/addiction.
Below are some very unhelpful comments people have heard;
- “Just pull yourself together”
- “You don’t look depressed”
- “Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone you were in a Psychiatric Hospital”
- “If you’re depressed you’re being a negative person”
- “You’re a time-wasting attention seeker”
- “What have you got to be depressed about?”
- “It’s very selfish to feel suicidal”
- “It must be so depressing going to the choose life group”
- “How can you do this to your children”
Below are some helpful tips from members on how to help deal with stigma;
- This illness does not define me as a person
- I can learn to tell people how I feel without feeling a sense of shame
- People may make unhelpful comments due to their own fear over a lack of understanding
- We can increase awareness and share helpful pages on social media
- Due to my own experience, I have a greater understanding, and can help others
Today we had a smaller group but certainly no less productive. Members have been going through a lot of challenges in their lives but acknowledge the massive support they receive from fellow members. People have a sense of being there for one another through these developed friendships. While in the group people can use this safe space to explore and unpack things that are on their minds without fear or ridicule. A member commented on how she was advised by a medical professional to reduce her medication as her condition has improved due to the support of this group. We are delighted that people feel so supported by other members and that the group is well established and more health professionals know about it.
- “Where do you go when you’re feeling suicidal or very low?
- where do you go for help?”
The group asked these important questions and saw the need for society and for those who provide resources to address them, as well as creating more awareness about what might help. As mentioned in previous posts isolation and stigma can be hurdles in getting help. Members thought that having friendships was one of the biggest factors that could help in these situations.
Today we had a little party to celebrate the group having achieved its 100th meeting and 2nd birthday. It was great to welcome two new members along and to give them an introduction to what the group is all about. We played some fun party games and icebreaker games to make new members feel part of things. While as a group we are always looking forward, we though it would be good today to look back over the 2 years and ask what people have got from the group. Below are some comments;
“It has helped me learn how to deal with my depression”
“It has given me support and hope”
“We don’t hide or dwell”
“We share problems, drawing the sting from them”
“We can voice our fears”
“We are here for each other”
“It provides safety and security”
“We’ve come a long way”
“I feel stronger”
“If I did not have the group I don’t think I would be here”
“It gives me a routine”
We would like to thank everyone for being part of this amazing group, here’s to the next 100 meetings!
Today we considered how this group is very helpful to people, both face to face and online. The group were encouraged to hear that the blogs of their experiences had sometimes up to about 90 views. That means that 90 other people are being helped and encouraged by shared experiences. Imagine if we had 90 people all sitting in the group room! The friendships in the group really matter, and often people find that physically attending the group really helps their mood, they leave feeling better and more grounded. This is a good reminder to us that sometimes if we push ourselves to do something which feels difficult we end up being so glad that we did and we have a good experience.
We continued our discussion around intrusive and unwanted thoughts. A lot of advice out there around dealing with such thoughts is that it takes time and is an uncomfortable process, but people do learn to manage their thoughts. Some key elements in this are:
- Gradually learning to confront unwanted thoughts and allow them to be there without doing what is called ‘relief seeking rituals’ e.g hand washing, checking, ruminating. This is uncomfortable in the beginning and may increase anxiety.
- Learning to challenge unhelpful thoughts. e.g Is that true? Are you sure you would do that? Have you ever even done anything like that before? Remember that our thoughts are not always accurate and do not always have any real basis.
- Be aware of how much significance we attach to our thoughts. If a person thinks the thought is very important and must therefore have a lot of meaning, the more likely, they are to act on compulsive relief seeking rituals and feel anxiety and worry.
This information is a much paraphrased snippet from a self-help guide called ‘Obsessions and Compulsions’. For the full document please see:
Group members said that it would be helpful to spend some focused sessions on how to manage and control unwanted and intrusive thoughts. We also had a chat about mindfulness as people are learning to practise some of these techniques and finding them very helpful.
During the group we also had a look at:
This is a campaign run by SAMH and headed up by Sir Chris Hoy to address stigma, reduce inequality and improve mental health. Group members were encouraged to sign up on line.
Next week is our second birthday and celebration of 100 meetings. We look forward to this meeting which will definitely involve cake.
Finally check-out this cheery YouTube video, we enjoyed it and hope you do too: