Posted in Weekly Blog

What is self-harm?

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It was nice to welcome Merrick Pope to the group today as a guest.  Merrick works for the NHS in the self-harm service.  Merrick explained what her role entails and what the different services are within the self- harm service.  The group went on to have discussions around the different forms of self-harm and what the differences were between cutting yourself to drinking/eating or staying in an unhealthy relationship, if you knew they were all bad for you.  We talked about the stigmas surrounding self-harm and mental health in general. As well as the stigmas out there there are also unhelpful myths.  people in our society may make the assumption that self-harm only affects teenage girls, when in reality it affects people from all ages and walks of life.  While things in our society are much better than say 30 years ago, there is still some way to go.  We can all play our part in making a change by encouraging others to speak out about how they feel and help raise awareness of these issues. We would like to thank Merrick so much for giving up her time to be at the group today and for the way in which she made people feel at ease to ask questions.

Below is an interesting article from the http://www.selfharm.co.uk website about the difference between self-harm and suicide;

People who self-harm normally do not wish to kill themselves[1] . Suicide is a way of ending one’s life, but for many people, self-harm is a way of coping with life and being able to continue with living despite the emotional difficulties they may be experiencing. For some, the physical pain of self-harm reassures them they are still alive – this might be because they are experiencing emotional numbness or feeling disconnected from the world around them, or at the other end of the spectrum, feeling more connected and alive than they did previously.

Self-harm can also cause changes in the brain chemistry, which, although ‘satisfying’, can easily become addictive and therefore dangerous.

Sometimes people do die as a result of self-harm. This may be because they have taken an act of harming too far, and they lose their lives before help is found, or it may be they engage in something such as self-poisoning, which carries an incredibly high risk of death if untreated. There is believed to be an increase in suicidal intent if someone is prevented from self-harming. As difficult and challenging as it can be to understand, sometimes self-harm may be the safest option, if the alternative involves a desire to end life. It’s dangerous to prevent someone from harming without providing them with a realistic, alternative coping mechanism that they are willing to engage with.

It is important to know a bit about your body in order to keep yourself safe. Self-harm is never, ever completely safe or free from risks, but there are small things that can make a big difference and maybe save your life. If you are still going to hurt yourself, then it’s important you try and do it in the safest way possible. Losing you would be a tragic waste. Every life has value.

Today the group received a piece of music via twitter by the musician Mark Storey.  Mark performs music about his lived experience with mental health.  Group members were  touched by this beautiful song and could relate to the themes in it.  The song is entitled “I know you’re in there somewhere”.  Enjoy!

Posted in Weekly Blog

Talking about it helps

believe in yourselfAs group members today shared about different issues and problems going on in their lives, it was refreshing that people listened objectively and could offer and suggest solutions which maybe hadn’t occurred to them.  Sometimes we can keep things in our head and they can seem heavy for us but if we share them they can become lighter.  Being able to talk can also help alleviate self doubt and help you to believe in yourself.  If the people you associate with are always critical of you and put you down it may be best to disassociate from these toxic people.  It is better to move away from negative words over life and it is better to be with people who will speak positive and encouraging words into your life. These will have the power to heal and set you free to live to your full potential.

Posted in Weekly Blog

The Power of Storytelling to Release a Personal Journey

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We told two stories today from two different cultures but both with the same message about how the common experience of grief can relieve the isolation of bereavement.  In both stories the realisation of the individual that no home is without a story of sorrow is what sets her free to grieve and accept the loss.  People in the group listened to the stories in different ways; some identified with the character’s experiences of grief and then reflected on how being able to talk about it allows them to start on a new leg of their journey.  Others enjoyed the relaxation of being told a story, and still, others appreciated the story without necessarily identifying with it.

After the stories we were able to talk about the process of grief and loss, in a culture where people are often afraid of this subject, yet it is important that people are able to express whats going on for them in that process and the group today provided this opportunity.

Posted in Weekly Blog

Hormones Affecting Moods

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Not that any of us are Endocrinologists, in fact I can’t even say that word, and only very recently learnt what it meant, but we could commonly acknowledge that we are affected by our hormones.  Women perhaps (stereo-typically?) are more likely to acknowledge mood changes affected by hormones than men.  However, we all have about 200 hormones doing different jobs around the body, and only a small number are gender specific.  So we just had a quick scan of a few really to see which ones maybe affecting our mood if they are out of balance, and how we can regulate them and make them happy again, so we feel better.  We looked at this page from the Institute for Optimum Nutrition as it gave a nice overview.  Please click the link below for more details. http://www.ion.ac.uk/information/onarchives/hormonesbalance Basically, what we learned was that a balanced diet, regular exercise, sleep and relaxation should regulate our hormones.  However, if we have symptoms causing fatigue, mood swings, disturbed sleep or skin and hair changes this may signify that some of our hormones are out of balance and medical advice should be sought. What we noticed is that a lot of information is geared towards women, most of whom will be familiar with how they are affected by the female hormones throughout life.  However men can be adversely affected by a drop in testosterone levels causing mood swings and irritability, this mostly occurs as men get older (grumpy old man?)  but can occur in younger men and can be treated.  The condition is called ‘Irritable Male Syndrome’. It is not just the male and female hormones (aka estrogen and testosterone) which affect mood, again please refer to the above link which explains some other effects. As a group we discussed the difference we felt when at times having had hormone imbalances regulated by medication e.g. maybe thyroxine or ‘the pill’ it helped us to see how powerfully our hormones can affect how we feel, and how strong and despairing our emotions can become and how effective it is when we get proper treatment for this, and we can feel back to ourselves again.

Posted in Plans

Future Plans

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The group are looking to arrange a time away to discuss plans and hopes for the future.  If you are an existing group member or maybe have not been at the group for a while and would like to be involved can you please email Paul at paul.nicholson@crossreach.org.uk or alternatively Liz at liz.forrester@crossreach.org.uk

Thanks!