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.
People’s favourite books varied as books were chosen from different stages in life and helped them or resonated with them in different ways. The snow kitten, about a lost kitten had stood out to a person when they were at primary school because they felt a bit lost too. Most people had fond memories of reading Enid Blyton, and for some these adventure stories provided a thrilling escape where life could be quite difficult, maybe the children outsmarting the bad adults was a very desirable fantasy; and some people did admit that Julian or Dick had become very desirable heros and protectors when the reading of these books progressed into early teenage years!
Some read to escape and others read to connect with powerful feelings, ‘Flowers in the Attic’ allowed some people to channel some very sad and difficult feelings and in a way connecting with the sorrow in the books was a carthartic outpouring. The fun of a good ‘whodunnit’ as written by P.D. James however provides a good escape from mundane life and troubles, especially when Dalgleish seems such an attractive character.
‘The Egyptian’ seemed to offer meaningful explanations of life experiences and relationships and the beautiful writing allows one to be utterly transported to another time and place, so powerfully that you can almost smell it. Finally, Michael J Fox’s autobiography of how his life changed dramatically after a diagnosis of Parkinsons and his ability to view this with dignity, strength and gratitude was very inspirational of how to cope with tough situations.
We enjoyed reminiscing about different books and I think we all felt a bit inspired to go and read either something familiar and comforting or something new and inspirational.
On Thursday 26th May 2016 some group members attended the “A sense of belonging” conference which was held at Heriot Watt University. It was good to meet up and network with people from the different mental health services in Lothian. One of the first topics discussed was people’s experiences of going to see their GP regarding their mental health. This has certainly been a common topic within the Choose life group since its inception almost four years ago. Some of the feedback included; people not being able to get an appointment as they could only phone up on the day, and by the time they got through all the day’s appointments were gone. If someone is already feeling depressed you can only imagine the devastating effect this can have on them. Most people acknowledged how stretched and busy people who work for the NHS are but would still like to see some sort of change in this area.
There were a variety of workshops which included looking at what self-harm was, using technology to reach out to others, and using music as a way to heal.
We hope that with the coming together of all the services at this conference and the mutual passion shown, positive changes can happen.
A common thread in previous group discussions was how it was felt that there was not enough information about the group publicised. Some group members had wished they had known about the group sooner. With this in mind we decided to use today’s group as a way to see what could be done to promote the group and raise awareness of the groups hopes and aims. An idea the group have is to create a video explaining what the group is all about. The group would want the video to achieve many things including;
- Raising awareness of mental health
- Allowing people to be themselves
- Reducing shame around health
- Showing ways to care for yourself
Above all, the hope is that people will identify with what the group is about and that it may be a group that can help and empower them.
The group will commence work on the video soon, watch this space!
The group would like to end this weeks blog with a quote that they thought about while discussing how to reach out to others
“Where there’s life there’s hope”
It was great to welcome a new member along to the group today. We are always happy to have new members in the group, they can bring a fresh outlook on things.
A lady who follows our blog emailed us some data from the USA about suicide. We would like to thank her for this.
(This can be found on http://www.socialworkdegreecenter.com/suicide-notes/) . We looked at it as a group and it led to a thought provoking discussion considering the fact that there are higher suicide rates in certain states and not others. Some group members wondered if one of the reasons for a higher percentage of suicides in certain areas could be due to geographical reasons, where people in less populated areas can be more isolated, as with the rural areas in Scotland. If isolation is a reason for a higher number of suicides, we considered the vital importance of a supportive community and good friends. We discussed how this can make a really powerful difference.
We looked at our ‘Safe Cards’ for making plans to keep people grounded during those times of extremely painful feelings when people just want a way out:
Someone I can contact;
Things I can do to look after myself
What can I tell myself:
How would I respond to a friend who was in a similar situation:
A quote that helps me:
Something I am grateful for:
What is my long term vision of my future:
Looking at these safe cards prompted the group to discuss how to ask for help; both being able to, and who you might speak to. For some this was a GP, for others, understanding friends and still others recognised that being part of this group helped people to feel someone was with them during difficult times even when no-one was physically present.