It was a real pleasure to welcome John Arthur to the group today as guest. John is well-known around Edinburgh for the work he does in the recovery community. People who know John find him to be an inspiring and caring figure who likes to help and stand up for disadvantaged people in society. With this in mind we thought it would be really interesting to hear about John’s own life journey and what lead him to where he is today.
Upon listening to John’s story it made us realise how different situations in our lives create different paths of which we can choose to take. A good example of this is the film ‘sliding doors’ where it captures the life analogy of one door closing and another opening. While we are living in the present we are not aware of these things and perhaps only become aware when we look back with hindsight. Due to John’s life experiences he has developed a passion for helping others. Below is a list of just some of the things John has achieved;
- Director and forming the group Recovering Justice
- working with young people to involve them in changing services for other young folk
- Founding member of the Serenity Cafe in Edinburgh
- National Director of CREW which is in the field of substance use and harm prevention
- Trustee on the board of the Scottish Drugs Recovery Consortium
- Managing recovery coach training
- Senior Associate working with an Expert Witness Team
- Helping create the first SMART recovery group in Edinburgh
John talked fondly of his recent around the world trip and of the many amazing people he met along the way. From his life journey to his world travel journey it was a fascinating listening experience and made us think about our own journeys and the paths we take in life. we would like to thank him John for giving us his time and passing on his hope and inspiration!
At the group today we revisited a topic which is regularly requested for in the programme, music. We did the exercise where you ask people what music they were listening to at different stages in their lives. The stages we used were; 10 years of age, teenage years and in your 20’s. Below are the stages and the music listened to by group members;
10 years of age:
- Theme Tune (The Monkees),
- Ant Music (Adam and The Ants)
- Top of The Pops (The Rezillos)
- Holding Out for a hero (Bonnie Tyler)
- Aladdin Sane (David Bowie)
- Running in The Family (Level 42)
- Bye Bye Baby (The Bay City Rollers)
- Pride, In The Name of Love (U2)
- This Charming Man (The Smiths)
- Purple Rain (Prince)
- Can I Play With Madness (Iron Maiden)
- Lust for Life (Iggy Pop)
- Don’t You Want Me? (The Human League)
- Lip Up Fatty (Bad Manners)
- Friday I’m In Love (The Cure)
- Music Sounds Better With You (Stardust)
- Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)
- Last Boat To Cairo (Madness)
It was really interesting hearing the stories of what was going on for group members at the different stages and what the music meant to them. It was fascinating to see the way people’s musical preferences changed throughout the different stages of their lives. For some group members it brought up some unhappy memories of childhood, but it made them realise the significance of how much music had been a saviour for them. It seemed to help make the difficult times much more bearable.
The group looked at an article on the iheart.com website which shows examples of 10 songs that are scientifically proven to make you happy. Group members agreed with some of the choices but not with others. I guess musical preferences are subjective, with certain music bringing up all sorts of emotions whether they be good or bad. Everyone really enjoyed today’s group and had fun hearing some of the funny stories. It seemed that with hindsight people could now view their past with different perspectives and see the lifeline music provided. The group have made their own lists of songs that help raise their moods. Below are the songs selected:
Inviting a therapet to the group was something we have wanted to do for some time, so it was great to welcome Willow (Therapet) and his owner Barry along to the group. It was lovely seeing the way Willow interacted with Group members and the smiles she brought to their faces. If Willow did not think she was receiving enough attention from people she would simply put her head on their lap with a look of “Please pat me!” Members have regularly commented on how pets and the companionship they offer can feel like a life saver while going through hard times. Dogs can help get you out of the house and give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. When out walking your dog you can also make friends with other dog walkers. Doing these things can help your confidence and alleviate some feelings of isolation.
Willow is from the charity, Canine Concern Scotland. Willow visits a number of places including; Older Persons’ homes, Schools, Brownies, Hospitals, and Community Centres. Below is a section from the Canine Concern Scotland website describing the joy pets can bring to people.
“Sometimes small miracles occur – people who have never spoken, turned their faces to the wall in fact – magically come to life at the appearance of a dog in their ward! This to the surprise and delight of the nursing staff; in many cases the dogs and owners provide some light relief for them, too. Sadly, it has to be said that for some of the residents or patients the THERAPETS are their only visitors. We like to encourage them to regard the doggy visitor as their very own. There is no charge for this service which is organised and carried out entirely by volunteers. We fundraise in various ways to keep it active”.
We would like to leave you with the very apt tagline Canine Concern Scotland use, ” “WE care for Dogs… and DOGS care for us!!”
For more information on Canine Concern Scotland please click
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 looked at things we were grateful for. Group members commented on how being able to log things that they are thankful for can increase their sense of wellbeing. We acknowledge that this is not the easiest thing to do when we feel at our lowest point and as if living under a big dark cloud. It can feel such a massive energy sapping exercise to do but can ultimately help to knocking down barriers of self-loathing which had previously included thoughts such as, “Nobody would miss me if I die”, “People would be better off without me”, “I’m a burden to everyone”. This is why a couple of years ago the group created the ‘Happy Notice Board’ which is done near the end of the group to log good things that have occurred in the last week no matter how challenging they feel their week had been. Things that group members were grateful for included;
- Support worker
- Choose Life group
It goes to show how important it is to have some things to be grateful for in life. Having someone who believes in us can make all the difference in helping us lead a more fulfilled life.
Today at the group we looked at the recently launched Addiction Recovery Companion app for mobile phone and tablet device. The app is for people who are in recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol. ARC-Edinburgh brings together information and tools to help you access recovery services, organise your life and keep motivated to stay on track.
Group members found the many resources on the app to be very helpful in that it allows you access to information on other groups and services within the city. There are so many good and valuable services in the city which people are not always aware of it so hopefully this will go some way to alleviating this.
What was nice for members to see was that some of their ideas they had put forward while the app was being created had made it on to the app. One of the ideas that made it on to the app was the “need help” section where you can put an emergency contact in your device and once preset will automatically allow you to contact that person if you felt in crisis. Another bit of input from the group was the inspirational quotes section which can help to inspire and give you hope for your recovery.
Please click on this link for further information on this app