Posted in Weekly Blog

It’s a WRAP

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Key Recovery Concepts

Today we were focusing on how people can take care of themselves when in a very low and difficult place.  For some this may be the achievement of just managing to get out of bed and get dressed, for others its things like being able to find distraction in a good book.

To develop such strategies more fully in life we invited Lorraine from Support in Mind Scotland to tell us about WRAP (Wellness and Recovery Action Plan) and the work of the Stafford Centre and the Carers groups.  She told us about how WRAP has five key recovery concepts.  These are:

  1. Hope – People who experience mental health difficulties get well, stay well and go on to meet their life dreams and goals.
  2. Personal Responsibility – It’s up to you, with the assistance of others, to take action About Image and do what needs to be done to keep yourself well.
  3. Education – Learning all you can about what you are experiencing so you can make good decisions about all aspects of you life.
  4. Self Advocacy – Effectively reaching out to others so that you can get what it is that you need, want and deserve to support your wellness and recovery.
  5. Support – While working toward your wellness is up to you, receiving support from others, and giving support to others will help you feel better and enhance the quality of your life.

We strongly identify with these concepts as our group often discusses the benefit of these.   Hope is our foundation, and today we considered this idea of self advocacy as we often talk about how we would be able to assist and care for others, but we find we are not able to be kind, showing the same compassion to ourselves.

Lorraine explained how each WRAP plan is unique as each individual develops their own plan to be very personal to them.  Lorraine also explained that it’s not about achieving massive goals everyday, but some days it could be about doing the minimum to keep yourself safe.  People seemed keen to do a WRAP plan in the future.

We would like to thank Lorraine for giving up her time to attend the group today.  Please click the links before for further information on the organisations we have mentioned.

Support in mind Scotland:  http://www.supportinmindscotland.org.uk/

The Stafford Centre:  http://www.staffordcentre.org.uk/

Posted in Weekly Blog

Getting back up when you’re down

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People shared about difficult times today; when life feels unbearable and the urge of suicide is luring.    As ever, we encouraged people to share what can be really helpful at these times, and just simply sharing hard times can make someone feel better because they realise they are not alone in feeling low as others have been there and have come through it; this can raise hope.  When we are in the experience of being in a dark place we can believe that life will never feel any better, so something which can shift this perception is helpful, for example; others who believe in you and for your recovery, or remembering your previous experiences of coming through hard times.  Some people remember to tell themselves ‘this too will pass’. One of the ideas for a future meeting is to explore the common thought which assails many, asking ‘What’s the point of me being here?  Who would even miss me?’

Some shared about their use of social media sites and how supportive this can be, whilst emphasising the importance of taking great care with whom you allow to be friends with and see your page.  Others were encouraged to get connected on-line.

We realised today that the ongoing work of reducing stigma is vitally important as many in society respond to those in distress by suggesting things like when the sun comes out they will feel better, rather than recognising that the anguish and turmoil is internal.

During the meeting energy levels were raised  as we did some future planning.  This created a lot of enthusiasm and productive ideas for the future.

Posted in Weekly Blog

Learning About The Benefits Of Exercise

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Today, our guest was Katie, from the Healthy Active Minds Programme.  She came to talk to us about what she does as part of Edinburgh Leisure and how exercise can help to improve our mental health.  Anyone with mild to moderate mental health problems like depression, anxiety or stress can be referred to the programme by their doctor, where a Healthy Active Minds Instructor will gentle introduce someone to a fitness programme which suits them and is individually tailored.

For further information please click this link; http://about.edinburghleisure.co.uk/what-we-do/physical-activity-health/healthy-active-minds/

We talked about how important it is that someone can start exercising at a level they feel able to manage and build on it from there; for some people this may mean that they begin with a five minute workout.  Katie said they get asked what is the best kind of exercise to do; the best kind of exercise anyone can do is something they will enjoy.  Some people love team sports where as others prefer to plug in their music and escape into something they do by themselves whereas others prefer group exercise because there is a social aspect to this.  For other people, their chosen activity may not be recognised as a sport, such as gardening or even housework, but being active in these ways will still achieve all the benefits.

So what are all these great benefits and how does exercise actually help us? 

Hypothalmus

Our very scientific sketch of the brain shows that drugs (such as heroin) latch onto opioid receptors in the brain giving us a nice warm pleasant feeling and blocking out any kind of pain; the problem is that this stuff hangs around in the hypothalamus and this can lead to addiction. What happens when we exercise, is that the brain releases endorphins.  These natural pain killers latch onto the opioid receptors creating pleasure, (sometimes known as ‘the runners high’) and lessening pain.  But, it’s all natural, and unlike opiates, endorphins are dispersed by the body and so do not cause harmful addiction.

We also explored some of the benefits of eating more naturally.  Highly processed and sweet foods contain something known as a high glucose index (G.I).  This means that these foods quickly release sugar into our systems rising our blood sugar quickly giving us a burst of energy, followed by a crash which leaves us reaching for the next sugary snack. Follow this pattern and we find ourselves on a roller-coaster and it’s hard to get off, but not impossible.  We get addicted to sugar, so we do have cravings and if you are trying to eat better and feel awful it’s helpful to know why, but cravings pass and our systems even out.  Katie’s nutritional advice to us on this was to eat as naturally as possible, anything which grows from the ground or lives on the ground, or grows or lives in the sea is probably a good guide, as is anything with less than five ingredients listed.  We learned that while fruit juice is good, a piece of fruit is better because it contains all the range of nutrients and not just the sugary juice, and some were disappointed to learn that sausage rolls do not fall into the category of a natural food.  We all tried a beetroot dip for lunch because it’s good to try anything healthy once! (Beetroot is becoming popular for aiding good blood pressure and blood flow to the brain)   The verdict was that we’d eat it again.

 

The group would like to thank Katie for giving up her time to be at the group today.

Below is a fun, lighthearted look at using the gym!

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Stigma and discrimination

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Following on from last week’s meeting with Rebekah from the “See me campaign” the group talked about their experiences of stigma and discrimination regarding their health. Below are some of the unhelpful things people were told;

  • “Depression is just a bad mood”
  • “People that go to that group must be loonies”
  • “You’ll maybe feel better tomorrow”
  • “What have you go to be depressed about?”
  • “Just pull yourself together”
  • “Stop feeling sorry for yourself”

To balance the discussion, someone actually commented on how they gained employment through their depression being classed as a disability.

The group will work further with the “See me campaign” to help make stigma and discrimination a thing of the past.

Finally, we looked at the challenges being a parent can bring.  At times people can question their ability as a parent and be very hard on themselves, forgetting the qualities they bring to their children.  That is why it is so beneficial  for parents to have the space to talk about how they feel without fear of judgement.  It is so helpful for someone to know that there are others who have gone through similar experiences and came out the other side. Having these feelings while dealing with the challenges of parenting does not necessarily make you a bad parent.