Help with Emotions

Emotions are tricky little buggers. They really are.

And for some of us they feel down right impossible to cope with, understand, recognise and even simply to have. I struggle in many ways with emotions…others’ but mainly my own. I also give myself a hard time about that fact and expect myself to ‘do better’ or ‘feel the right thing’. Knowing this, and knowing that I’m facing a particularly turbulent time*, last week the crisis team manager had me do an exercise where I stood in the middle of a room surrounded by different sized pieces of paper and alotted emotions to those pieces of paper according to how much I was feeling them at the time. We then went through several different scenarios and changed the emotions around accordingly. This was to show me that even if I was being hard on myself and expecting to feel the ‘right’ emotions (e.g. happy or relieved that the placement is definite rather than scared or anxious) or feeling that I would feel one emotion forever, in fact recent history shows that emotions fluctuate massively in their presence or size and that I can feel many things at once without invalidating anything else that’s going on.

I found the exercise incredibly helpful (although it felt quite painful at the time) and today decided to recreate it in a portable and reusable form. I already have benefited from this – working out what is actually going on inside me rather than just a broad ‘overwhelmed’- and thought it’s a concept worth sharing in case anyone else wants to give something similar a go in any of its forms.

So here is a concept borne of the crisis team manager’s work with me:

This is in my visual journal but could be on a standalone piece of card or inside a diary or something similar, with very basic boxes drawn on the page, and colour-coded emotions cut out in card and blue-tacked to the appropriate box at that moment in time.

Let me know if you’ve used something similar or gave this a go!

*in the latter stages of preparing for a long-term specialist hospital placement, hours away from home/family/care team, in a locked and mainly unknown environment, after my last placement collapsed for financial reasons with just 28 days notice and after not fulfilling their promises/purpose

“Please, tell me more about my own Goddamn experiences”

Well this really struck a chord; unfortunately I think it will with anyone suffering from mental illnesses, and especially those with the more stigmatized ones such as personality disorders. I genuinely couldn’t even begin to count the amount of times that mental health professionals, with confidence and certainty, tell me rather than ask me (AKA… Continue reading “Please, tell me more about my own Goddamn experiences”

A Befuddling Day

Trigger warning: discussion of suicide.  I was supposed to die today. My plans were firm, my reasoning was definite in my head, I’d found ways to say goodbye without actually saying the words. I was meant to be dead.  Then, in a frenzy, I had a phonecall from the crisis team manager who didn’t have… Continue reading A Befuddling Day

A Gift From an Amazing Crisis Nurse

It’s a small gesture but in this situation means more than it seems and definitely more than she realises. 

Metaphorically Dumping Guilt and Self-Hatred

Following a conversation yesterday about the fact that it will likely be guilt that’s the final nail in the coffin (sorry for the dark pun) towards my suicide, the crisis team manager went searching for some boulders for me. Today she turned up hauling these with her and together we wrote ‘GUILT’ and ‘SELF-HATRED’ on them then metaphorically dumped them outside. 

I thought this was a wonderful gesture, some amazing ouside-the-box thinking by an already stretched mental health professional, and a great idea. Definitely well worth a try!

Let’s hope even part of those torturously heavy boulders can stay out there. 

Living in Limbo

It’s a funny time at the moment: I’m waiting to move in to a new placement which is described as: “a 24-hour CQC-registered accommodation service for adults who experience severe mental distress. Residents have multiple and complex needs and are entering the service from high-level support and secure settings or as an alternative to hospital… Continue reading Living in Limbo

An Example of Crisis Team Excellence

TRIGGER WARNING: DISCUSSION OF SUICIDAL IDEATION This week has been horrific. So many horrors, for so many reasons. An all-c0nsuming urge to end my life, fed into from different triggers and factors.  But this week I have been so impressed by the response of my local crisis team to me. On Thursday, for the first time ever,… Continue reading An Example of Crisis Team Excellence

Graded Exposure to the World

A year ago to the month, the Crisis Team Manager took me to a nature reserve to take some photos as a therapeutic intervention (I didn’t actually manage to take photos that day, but we still went out and spent time in nature). Today, she did the same things as part of a programme of ‘graded exposure’… Continue reading Graded Exposure to the World

Cautious, Guilt-Ridden Gratitude (and the O word that shall not be named)

Oh the complexities of very poorly brains. Guess what? I have news – good things – that should make me want to dance or at least crack a little smile, but instead I am riddled with guilt…wishing that I could sacrifice myself and give others – the dozens of others that I know personally, the… Continue reading Cautious, Guilt-Ridden Gratitude (and the O word that shall not be named)

THE Assessment

*Trigger Warning: Explicit discussion of suicide attempts, self harm and suicidal ideation*   For 6 months now, my care has been focussed around and towards a long-term placement in a pilot therapeutic-community-come-recovery-house-come-something-all-of-its-own. The placement would be tailored towards high risk patients with long term complex needs (e.g. me), providing 24 hour CQC approved specialist support… Continue reading THE Assessment

‘The Crisis Team Cure: A Parody of Advice Commonly Given to Vulnerable & Distressed People in Mental Health Crisis’

The Crisis Team Cure.jpg

Oh how I wish I could say this was a complete fantasy or massive exaggeration, however it is scarily close to the truth. In fact, in the past week alone, every single one of these things (and more) have been suggested or said to me (minus pouring the tea directly over my head whilst in the bath…but I’ve felt like doing so out of sheer desperation and frustration) and I have had constant responses such as this in the past. And it isn’t just me; what prompted me to draw this were several posts in the Mind Our Minds and Doodle Chronicles Peer Support Groups.

Time and again, highly vulnerable and distressed people are dismissed with condescending suggestions of having a bath/cup of tea/walk (even when certain of these things at certain times actually pose an additional risk) and/or are criticised and blamed for being acutely unwell, rather than being offered even a short amount of therapeutic interaction or appropriate assessment/intervention.

I do want to finish by saying that by no means am I suggesting that all crisis team staff act in this way (I have had 2 simply outstanding phone conversations with crisis team nurses over the past week, as well, which I hope to write about when I am able – this past post demonstrates the confusing and opposing approach of crisis team staff) and I want to say a huge thank you to those of you who do this demanding, undervalued and underpaid job with kindness and professionalism – you are true superheroes.

Tonight’s Crisis Team Wisdom

​Tonight’s crisis team wisdom: “If you went for a walk, you’d come back a different person – you could volunteer in school next week!” I’ve been housebound for 2 months. I haven’t gone out unaccompanied for 18 months. My risk level was raised to the very highest level with the Community Mental Health Team today… Continue reading Tonight’s Crisis Team Wisdom

Shut Up or Complain: A Terrifyingly Flawed Mental Health System

Time and again I come across the same rhetoric in mental health care: if you have any queries, concerns, ideas or wishes other than what is presented to you exactly as is, you are told to complain. Notions of personalised, patient-centred care – though frequently promoted – are often nowhere to be seen in reality,… Continue reading Shut Up or Complain: A Terrifyingly Flawed Mental Health System

A Thank You To My Care Coordinator 

I just wanted to share a thank you card that I made and wrote for my care coordinator – highlighting the true value of dedicated and empathetic mental health workers such as her. Lives are not only changed, but saved by people like her every day.  I made this card for you and saw nothing… Continue reading A Thank You To My Care Coordinator 

The tricky subject of ‘like’ in mental health care

I’ve been concerned by comments from some mental health professionals about myself and others both within and under the care of mental health teams – at the insinuation of feelings of ‘liking’ or ‘disliking’ each other from the perspective of both the patients and professionals in question, and the importance that this is given. If… Continue reading The tricky subject of ‘like’ in mental health care