Painful Contradictions in Mental Health Treatment

I’m having a contrary time at the moment.

On the one hand, I am feeling incredibly awful – dealing with dreadful anniversaries, and a whole host of guilt, shame, self-hatred and fear that go with them.

On the other, I had the most positive CPA I could hope for today in terms of recognition of the work I am putting in to my placement (& the intensive therapy that is part and parcel), the progress I’ve already made, and everyone’s hopes for the positive trajectory of recovery they are currently predicting.

This second point is also making me guilty that I can’t “just be positive” and focus on the blessings of the help and support I am currently receiving that led to as yet unheard of positivity from everyone at the meeting (including myself). But here I am feeling overwhelmingly sad for all I’ve put those around me through and struggling to cope with that guilt.

To try to help get through, I was searching for a positive quote to paint as a reminder for myself, and this one struck a chord…

“Because you are alive, everything is possible.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

A Wise Hedgehog with Important Messages

Today I created a range of motivational mental health related posters with a doodled ‘wise hedgehog’ and colourful mixed media design whilst at the Acute Community Unit.

I’m not sure where the combination came from, but out popped this first one with a message that I myself really need reminding of:

As well as one that sprung from a difficult conversation I had just had with the crisis team manager:

With 2 other mental health themed ones:

And one more to do with art/creativity:

After a lot of enthusiasm on Twitter and some requests, I have put these designs up for sale on Zazzle- whether you yourself would like a reminder of any of these messages or if you know someone whose day might be brightened by receiving one of these…Posters can be purchased from this link: https://www.zazzle.co.uk/thedoodlechronicles

Plus, if you buy in the next few days, you can get 20% off with the code JULYSAVINGS20.

Let me know what you think about my wise little hedgehog… 🙂

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

Forget All That You’re Not

These beautiful words were shared with me today and I just wanted to pass this important message on…

…I hope you can take them to heart and try to remember all that you ARE rather than what you’re not.

Just Bee

What my Occupational Therapist is trying to convince me to do

Hold On Pain Ends

Today’s Occupational Therapy activity was stone painting. I made something I need to try to convince myself:

Hold
On
Pain
Ends