Listening to a story; we don’t do it so often anymore, but we definitely like stories, it’s why we go to the cinema or watch T.V and we all tell our stories day by day with friends and family, but the art of telling a story or even the art of listening to a story can sometimes be a bit lost among the flashing images and soundbites and 160 characters and concepts reduced to 15 second ideas. So today we just listened, maybe as we did as children, to a story being read and engaged with the words we heard and the images our mind conjured.
We listened to a children’s story by Dr. Seuss of the 500 hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. People had a different experience of listening, some wandered at times in their minds but found the space relaxing, others related to aspects of the story and interpreted within their own personal context and found meaning. People heard a message of perseverance in this story. And hope, an illustration of recovery and not giving up.
Dr. Seuss himself was rejected by 27 publishers himself before his first children’s book was finally published before becoming the worlds bestselling children’s author, so maybe the theme of not giving up was an important one for him to share.
One of Dr. Seusse’s themes in his books was about an abuse of power and strongly sticking to angry rules. In the story we read we see the rules being applied to an unprecedented situation with unjust and unfitting consequences and an authority not earned but built on expecting respect.
This week was a week of celebration as we had our 4th birthday of the Choose Life group starting. It was good to reflect on the people who had been through the group over this time and what they have achieved; we have seen people arrive in quite a suicidal place who overtime have worked through things and moved out of being suicidal. It is also good to celebrate just what group members mean to each other and how important the group is as a holding place, whether people are able to be physically present or not.
As well as the lovely cake baked for us above, we enjoyed things on sticks like cheese, pineapple and sausages! We played some of the groups favourite party games because sometimes it’s just good to be light and have some fun and laughter as we did today.
We now look forward to where we go over the next few years, things have changed; the number of people attending the group is very healthy, we are beginning to see more men at the group and have learned as a group different ways to approach depression and suicidal feelings and what works. We have discovered new understanding and hope that future meetings and discussions will reflect this and make the best of changes and more understanding in society and use these to contribute to supporting people.
Relaxation is always popular in the Choose Life Group and over the years we have tried different sorts; breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, mindfulness and guided scripts. This time we imagined a walk in the forest to the accompaniment of birdsong from the YouTube video above. Some people followed the script and enjoyed the forest, others ended up in different places. This is ok it’s your own imagination! As long as it is a relaxing experience. Some found it a bit harder to leave the stresses of the here and now, and we discussed that while relaxation tools can be great, if you are in a very heightened state you may not be able to benefit from them at that time, sometimes relaxation can work if you catch yourself becoming anxious early enough to use it. If you are very anxious it is still worth trying to to take a few long, deep breaths as this will help your body to calm down.
We also found the birdsong very relaxing and calming, what a beautiful thing it is that the birds provide a soundtrack to everyday life.
At today’s group we looked at what can help someone who has hit rock bottom and needs support. Some things we may deem as basic such as getting out of bed or having a shower may feel too much for someone in this situation. What things can help someone like this?
Some things group members felt could help were;
- Having more crisis services
- Not being alone so much
- Harm reduction policy
- Support worker
- Social worker
- support worker
The group are aware some of the above are already available but would like this information to be more widely known to give people options and hope.