Today we looked at techniques that can help keep us safe and also become more self-aware of how we respond to situations. A big challenge for people in recovery is when situations happen in life which are outwith their control. If previously someone’s coping mechanism in dealing with stress or upset had been to drink for example, the real challenge for the individual is being able to have healthy coping mechanisms and to not revert back to the old unhealthy ones no matter the emotional pain they feel. The group then did a role playing exercise where a member brought a scenario that was on their mind. The group were then able to act out what may happen in this scenario so as to prepare the person for how they may react in the situation. It seemed to be a worthwhile experience with a bit of hilarity from people’s acting skills! In all seriousness though doing role playing exercises really can be helpful in preparing people for situations that may occur.
Today at the group we used some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy tools to look at issues group members were going through. One of the issues that came up is quite a common one for people sadly; taking medication for mental health. It’s such a good point the actress Jennifer Lawrence (above) makes about how it seems more socially acceptable and the correct thing to do to take medication for illness, but as soon as someone takes medication for their mental health it seems to be looked at differently by some. The stigma around this can bring shame which can then go on to affect one’s self-worth. If the right medication works for them and they are able to talk about their issues what’s the problem? Although some headway has been made in terms of reducing stigma around issues like this there is still some way to go. Below is someone’s experiences of dealing with such issues. (Taken from the healthplace.com website)
Seeing Through The Stigma of Medication
The reason why I feel a little nervous about writing this piece is because of the antipsychiatry groups that have been known to be harsh to mental health bloggers. However, I am entitled to my experience and my opinion, and I feel that it is vital to see through the stigma that surrounds mental health medication.
Before taking any new medication prescribed by my doctor, I research the side-effects as I assume there will always be some, and I ask a lot of questions, which he is always willing to discuss with me. How can I judge something if I am not truly informed about it? Medication is not for everyone, but when it comes to mental illness, well let’s face it, it is most of the time.
I accept medication for what it is. I used to curse my pill box every night before I went to bed, saw them as a nuisance, and something to be despised. I began to realize that my medications were not there to make my life miserable, but they were actually keeping me sane and healthy and I soon learned to form a new relationship with them. Taking medication soon became routine, similar to brushing my teeth or taking a shower, and now I don’t even give them a second thought.
Yes, the weight gain, dry mouth, tremors, twitches, and side-effects alike will never cease to annoy me, but in my heart I know that I have made the right decision for the ‘insanity’ has been at bay, and I am able to rise, yet sometimes groggy, to see a new day. If I am healthy enough to see another day, then I know that it has all been worth it
Due to having to make a late change to the group programme for today the group decided to have a discussion on emotions and the way people are able to show them or not as may be the case. A big part of the choose life group is encouraging others to be able to say how they feel within a safe environment and to help reduce stigma around mental health. What was interesting about the group discussion was how people feel judged by society if they were to show emotion. Some people may feel it is a sign of weakness to show emotion or vulnerability due to their life experiences. The discussion then moved on to how Men deal with this. We live in a culture and society where traditionally Men may find it hard to show emotions openly unless e.g.at a football match. Why is our society like this? When you think back to Paul Gascoigne crying at World cup Italia 1990 and all the support and compassion he received from people, why has society not moved on? You can also remember in more recent times the way the public responded to Andy Murray after he burst into tears following a Wimbledon final. The general public were very compassionate and positive in their response to him which was a massive turnaround from the dour Scotsman image some people had of him. In essence both Paul Gascoigne and Andy Murray crying brought them to the hearts of the nation. This being the case why is there still a big taboo about men crying? Certainly part of the group’s recent aims is to get more Men to access the group. We want to help change the culture around talking about emotions and show people that it is a brave thing to do and not a sign of weakness.