We watched the above TED talk in our group today and people spoke about their experiences of times of mental illness, either their own or a family member. Ruby Wax had made the observation that if you are physically unwell people send cards and flowers and get well wishes. However she experienced that whilst in hospital during a breakdown she received none of this, just a phone call telling her to perk up. Group members could relate to this, saying that it is hard for people when a loved one is unwell in this way as they are not as they would usually be; possibly not recognising them, engaging or relating in the same way. Some people can react very negatively to the unwell person bringing an element of shame to the fact they are ill and hold them responsible if they can’t just ‘snap out of it’ or ‘pull themselves together’.
Like any illness, mental illness can seriously affect a person’s confidence, and, once they are well, they can experience a nagging fear about becoming ill again and subsequently fearful of making decisions, entering relationships, starting a job or making commitments ‘in case I get ill again’. This can mean that fear can stop people from doing things in their lives so in future sessions we will look at these thoughts and beliefs to help people become unstuck to find their freedom and unlock their potential.
Today we looked at what happened in people’s lives and why they stopped doing the things they enjoy such as singing, dancing, enjoying music and art, being creative -drawing and baking and self-development. People explored how they had become fearful through experiences or illness; fearful of others judgment or too fearful in life to enjoy pleasurable things. Others battled with depression and other mental illness which was exhausting and kind of ‘sucked the soul’ out of them taking away the vision and energy. Others felt railroaded into choices and decisions in life which left them no space to create and develop.
So, we looked at what people felt they needed to change to get back on the road to fun and creativity. People needed to find their peace sometimes despite what was going on around them, and overcoming some personal fears about ‘not being good enough’ to just enjoy doing, even if we are not as good at it as we’d like to be. For others it was taking a step to go back to doing something they used to, to believe, and very importantly to have a vision or a picture of how they would like things to be.
We talked about what support people felt they needed, everyone seemed to say that it was important to be accepted and not judged and encouraged and to meet like minded people who understood you.
Our group next meets on Thursday Nov 24th, we are not meeting tomorrow Thursday 17th.
At today’s group we spent some time seeing how life was for group members. Most group members were going through struggles in their lives. Being able to talk about these struggles helped them feel better and less alone. When people are going through hard times in life it can feel really tough to say how you feel. This may be from fear of ridicule or that you are a burden to others. That is why it is so beneficial to have a safe space to talk.
While in low mood our thoughts and beliefs can become irrational. That is why today’s group was so beneficial in that it allowed group members the opportunity to explore their beliefs and thoughts in a safe way. In order to look at beliefs and thoughts we completed a (CBT) Cost Benefit Analysis tool. Using this tool enabled group members to break down their problems into small chunks. Our beliefs are formed from our own life experiences so it can feel such a relief when we realise that a long-held belief we hold about ourselves may not necessarily be true. Another benefit of the tool is it can aid us to see what changes we may want to make in our lives. As we have mentioned many times before, change can mean different things for different people. Some people are able to embrace change,but for others it can invoke a real fear of the unknown. The thought of change can feel more frightening than actually doing it. Many of us may prefer to remain in our comfort zone and resist making a change. At times in our lives when change has been thrust upon us it can turn out to be the best thing that has happened to us leaving you wishing the change had happened sooner. In conclusion, change can be whatever we want it to be and it might just be the right time to leave your comfort zone and take that risk!
At today’s group members looked at people had made a difference in their lives whether it be someone we knew or someone famous. Group members reflected on these important people from their childhoods. Leaders of groups like The Boys Brigade, The Scouts, The Brownies and certain teachers at school all played a part in their development, helping to build a sense of self-worth. ‘Grown-up’ leaders have a big impact on children when they treat events in the children’s lives as really important and make the effort to acknowledge achievements, congratulate and encourage. Grandparents also played a huge role in having a positive influence on them as children, providing a safe place and a loving relationship. Like we’ve mentioned in previous group, things like Granny’s soup or Grandad’s chips all provide fond memories of these loved ones. Pets also provided a sense of companionship to people.
People were inspired by those who valued equality and justice for all, who did and showed many great things and who also had their flaws in being human and in their philosophies and this too is part of celebrating them, because as Alexander Pope said: “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
Vladimir Lenin was an inspiration for some for although maybe unrealistic, his ideals for unity and equality for all were a beautiful aspiration, along with others who followed his thinking such as Mick McGahey and Che Guevara.
It was noted that those who pursued a way of peace for all mankind ironically and sadly endured violent death. The very different people who were inspirational in different ways here were Martin Luther King Jr, Jesus Christ, Gandhi and John Lennon.
What members found quite fascinating about all their collective influences were the similarities shown by these famous individuals. Most of the people chosen were seen as people who were a living example of kindness and compassion which group members have in abundance.
In more contemporary popular culture Russell Brand and Bob Geldof were mentioned as inspiring as they at times raised awareness of important issues and could speak up for those who could not.
Musical inspirations for group members were John Lydon and Liam Gallagher just for inspiring confidence to be who you are and say what you want to without fear, for some people who can struggle to be assertive it can be refreshing to see those with a bit of boldness who go for it!