Posted in Weekly Blog

Looking at the Pros and Cons of life

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Following on from our group a couple of weeks ago when we were looking at the battle between wanting to live and wanting to die, we went a little deeper in this session and discussed what happens when people get to thinking ‘what is the point?’  We had a bold discussion looking honestly about what the perceived costs and benefits are of living and dying.    Please see the table below showing the lists discussed during the session and the positive conclusion that the group came to after having done this exercise.

Costs and Benefits of taking my life

Taking my life  costs 2

Costs and Benefits of continuing to live

Continue living costs 2

What was encouraging was that as the group looked at these lists, they realised that the benefits of continuing living were bigger than they thought they would be, and they realised how final the option of death was and that there would be no further opportunity for healing.  The group were able to also have some humour in doing this exercise because of the honest and non-judgemental environment.  Also this week we were delighted to hear from two group members who have not been able to come for a while and we are really looking forward to welcoming them back soon.

Posted in Weekly Blog

Relaxation

relaxation 2

A constant theme for people who attend the group is how they how they suffer from constant negative thoughts and worry.  Having these can leave people feeling so tired and emotionally drained.  In light of this, group members thought it would be a good idea to look at relaxation techniques.  Below is some of the theory behind mindfulness and also an example of techniques used in the group exercise.

Mindfulness is a way of training yourself to be more accepting of your own thoughts and emotions.  When you stop trying to control your emotions you will find that they become less extreme and difficult to manage. It also helps you to be calmer, able to reflect on situations and make decisions with a clearer head.  The technique is based on an ancient meditation practice but has been shown by research to reduce stress, depression and improve wellbeing. Mindfulness courses are being run by the NHS and you might come across this in other services you use. It is a simple tool, but to get the full benefit you need to practice this regularly.

Sit in a comfortable upright posture, with a straight but not rigid back. You might be sitting on the floor or on a chair, but try not to slouch as this affects your breathing, and breathing is an important part of meditation.

Breathe slowly through your nose. Fill your lungs. Notice how your diaphragm expands and your tummy sticks out when you breathe in. Put your hands on your stomach just below the belly button to feel this sensation.

Close your eyes. Take three deep, long breaths, noticing how it feels.

Now, let your breath settle to a normal rhythm. On the out-breath, silently count “one.” On the next out-breath, count “two,” and so on up to 10. When you get to 10, go back to one. If you lose count, just start again at one.

Feel the physical sensation of your breathing. Thoughts will enter your mind. Don’t try to push them away or pretend they don’t exist. Simply recognise their presence but don’t engage them. If you find your mind wandering, gently turn your attention back to your breathing and counting.  Don’t judge yourself or your meditation “abilities.”  Do this for the time you decided in advance and try not to give up early. Set a timer so you don’t have to check a clock.

Meditation takes practice. At first, you may only be able to meditate for a few minutes, but the more you do it, the longer you’ll be able to do it. You’ll meditate better some days than others.  That’s normal. It helps if you do it the same time and same place every day.  You also can practice being mindful wherever you are, noticing what you feel and think, the taste of your food, the presence of other people; just being aware of the world around and within you.  Pay attention to the present and those excessive emotions and troublesome thoughts will begin to trouble you less.

(Taken from SMART recovery tool box 2014)

Relaxation music

Posted in Weekly Blog

All working together to raise hope

working together

As per one of our group’s aims – we want to help shape the way that other services support people affected by suicide.  Over the 2 years since the group has been running we have been very fortunate to have met up with and made many good links with lots of excellent services who all seem to share our common goals of; reducing stigma, empowering individuals, and encouraging people to talk about their feelings.   While out visiting other services it has been so encouraging to see the good work that is being done and the opportunities for others to access these services.  It can only be a good thing to give people more choice and opportunities that can help them while they feel in such a desperate place with no hope.

Today we welcomed Mark from Edinburgh Contact Point as our guest.  Edinburgh Contact Point is a mental health service that offers many things including group work and one to one support.  Some of the different group activities include; an art group, a games group, a walking group, singing/music group, gym and swim group and a well-being group.  We would like to thank Mark for giving up his time to be at the group today.  To find out more about the Edinburgh Contact Point please click the link below;

 http://bit.ly/1NSqU5Y

Posted in Weekly Blog

The battle between wanting to live or die

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We discussed with people what it is at the point of wanting to die that has become so unbearable that the desire to die becomes stronger than the desire to live, and then what can bring hope back again?

People said that they experienced feelings of worthlessness, uselessness, overwhelmed and that life feels pointless.  Other feelings people experienced at that point were of failure, shame, tiredness, being weary and exhausted.  People get to a point where they feel that they just can’t do this anymore and feel they don’t have the fight to keep on going.  People experience feelings of frustration and sometimes anger towards others.  So people can be experiencing all of these things…and then…something happens, a tipping point.  This may be a bad phone call, being let down, or a stupid comment, this becomes the final straw when action is taken towards ending life.

What has helped people when they have been at this point is having a safe place to rest, some support and not having to fight on their own; to have a rest from the fight which rages between the desire to live or die.  It is helpful when the people around you rally to give you support and try to help.  Talking to someone can really help, as verbalising things can make it smaller when you say it out loud than it seems in your head.  It was said in the group that the experience of speaking to an understanding doctor was particularly helpful, and for some literally a life saver.  This is refreshing to hear as people have spoken previously of experiencing a lack of understanding about mental health from their doctor.  People also said that when they can understand themselves a bit more this helps and it is also helpful when those around you have more understanding as they are more able to support you.  People expressed that having struggled with mental health issues and suicidal feelings they now have a greater knowledge and understanding to support others as they can identify with the feelings when people have a low mood.

We talked then about the subject of how to respond to stigma. There are many reasons why people say things that can feel unhelpful.  We all talked about how we, when seeing someone in a difficult situation, can feel we don’t know what the right thing to do or say is.  So sometimes we maybe say something which we later realise is unhelpful, or we say nothing at all because we are afraid of upsetting someone, but actually they can then feel rejected or abandoned.  We have all done this at some point in our lives whether knowingly or unknowingly. So, often the reality is that when people say things like “Its’s a sunny day are you better yet?” It may be that there is ignorance, fear and a lack of understanding. People may have their own issues, and may fear that someone is different and they just don’t know what to say.  This is why we feel it is important to educate and encourage people to be able to talk about mental health and suicide as a better understanding, from all sides helps everyone, and ultimately may help to prevent suicide.

Posted in Weekly Blog

Escaping into Storytelling

storytelling

I wonder what sort of images start to form in your mind when somebody begins to tell you a story, of a castle, a beautiful princess and a peculiar one. Of princes, kings and battles with trolls. We had the experience today of hearing a story being told, in the old tradition passed down from Nordic and Scottish tradition, where thousands of ancient stories with layers of meaning, all relevant to our modern day lives were learnt by generation after generation of folk who learned them from what they saw, what their mind conceived and how felt their heart. For a group of people with some troubles this was a relaxing experiencing, a different kind of place created for the mind to wander into, and around, and explore, and maybe even find some comfort or wisdom for their own situation.

The group would like to thank Ruth Kirkpatrick for coming and telling us a story.  More information about Ruth’s storytelling can be found by clicking the link http://www.storiesallways.com/