After a day of shut down silence, I just spoke to one of the most awesome HCAs from the ward I spent 5 months on, now working for the crisis team and still as awesome. Unlocked some emotion. Many tears (actually a good thing for me). Got me to communicate where there’s been just detached… Continue reading Relationships Matter in Mental Health
With the right patient and the right professional (and I really do mean that – it has to be a good balance and appropriate) a bit of dark humour can go a long way. My keyworker from the crisis team came to check on me on the ward this evening. I told him that my… Continue reading Well Placed Dark Humour in Mental Health
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
Now this is a piece that must have a story behind it…
And it does. The crisis team and I were trying to work out what strategies I could use to get through the evening. Art is a favourite of ours and, having just spoken about how I struggle to retain people’s actual appearances in my head but instead retain feelings and facts, the support worker suggested I might try to draw what comes into my head when I picture her. Now this might seem a bizarre collection of things but she’s a unique lady: loves unicorns, Disney and horror, and has lots of qualities that make her very good at her job. It was a really interesting challenge and something to explore for me…I just hope she is happy with the outcome!
Recently, the manager of my local crisis team was invited to talk to post graduate nurses working in mental health and A&E about service user involvement in care planning/risk assessments and suicide prevention. She asked if she could use my case as an example both of how badly things can go wrong in this area… Continue reading What it is like to not be involved in risk management, care planning or significant decisions in mental health care
A brilliant nurse in my crisis team has recently been on a Compassion-Focussed Therapy training course and met with me the other day brimming with ideas.
Self-compassion is something that feels entirely intangible and unachievable for me, so we’ve got our work cut out, but thankfully she’s willing to give it all a go with me regardless! I’ll share some of the different exercises as I embark upon them… first up is creating a ‘Compassionate other’.
The notes I took from our session explain this as: Try to come up with a ‘compassionate other’ based upon the following…
- this other will have the three core elements of compassion-focussed therapy: courage, wisdom and dedication
- humans are fallible, so don’t use a real person, although you can think about which characteristics of real people you find comforting/safe/helpful and incorporate those
- could be a person, an animal or a mythical creature [I like the thought of a protective mythical creature, like a dragon or a unicorn, personally]
- use this compassionate other to counteract negative self talk
As drawing things helps me, we decided that maybe the best place to start was drawing this potential compassionate other to give me a visual prompt. Humans don’t feel at all safe to me, so I knew straight away mine wouldn’t be in the form of a human, and very quickly my mind jumped to mythical creatures and, more specifically, dragons. I thought of this dragon as being both gentle and strong, comforting and protective, and something that I could carry with me wherever I go…thus, the ‘Palm Dragon’ was born!
I think he’s rather sweet, but you can tell in his eyes that he can stick up for himself and for what he believes in, too. Now I just need to narrow down and foster his compassionate traits, and see if I can somehow implement him into coping mechanisms to counteract the never-ending, overwhelming negative self-talk and intense self-hatred.
I’m hoping this concept can also be fostered into something protective or safe-feeling that can be carried with me for other uses: my idea of a Muggle’s Patronus (for anyone who isn’t a Harry Potter fan, a Patronus is a “guardian or protector, which takes the form of an animal…one of the most powerful defensive charms…a pure, protective magical concentration of happiness and hope”.
I’ll fill you in when I get further along creating and cultivating my compassionate Palm Dragon. I’d love to hear of any of you have already or will now try to create one for yourselves, too!