What it is like to not be involved in risk management, care planning or significant decisions in mental health care

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

Compassionate Other: The Muggle’s Patronus (Or How to Create Your Own Source of Compassion)

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!

When Getting Support Doesn’t Feel Safe

I had a therapy session today that I don’t know whether to describe as a good or bad: I had an awful time, explored some very painful things, discussed extreme hopelessness, cried non-stop (which I never do when people can see) and shook violently with fear but my psychologist was amazing. From the moment I… Continue reading When Getting Support Doesn’t Feel Safe

Am I Embarrassed?

TW Self Harm/Suicide  Last night I took quite a large overdose. It felt like I was powerless to the ‘monster’ within in a way that I can’t explain; but suffice to say, it is and was a terrifying situation. And one thar endured much guilt: for causing worry and a sleepless night for my mum,… Continue reading Am I Embarrassed?

Tales from General Hospital: When General Nurses Beat Psych Liaison Hands Down

24 hours into an emergency stay in general hospital, at least 16 more hours until we know if there’s any permanent damage…  Psych liaison nurse, bounding on to the ward with her most projecting voice, no hello: “I’m from the psych team! So are you embarrassed and ashamed about what you did?”  General nurse jumps… Continue reading Tales from General Hospital: When General Nurses Beat Psych Liaison Hands Down

A Poignant Piece on the No-Win “Good”-“Bad” Psychiatric Patient Spectrum

This is a really poignant piece.  Just one short quote out of the many I considered sharing with you: “I struggle to be seen as a patient, whereas other mentally ill folks struggle to be seen as human.” Please take the time to read this whether you come into contact with the mental health system at… Continue reading A Poignant Piece on the No-Win “Good”-“Bad” Psychiatric Patient Spectrum

Drawing Through Darkness

It’s tough at the moment. More than tough and more than I can cope with. The only tiny bit of positivity is that a crisis nurse dragged me out yesterday to get some art supplies and, in the few brief bursts of minimal concentration since, I’ve been trying out a new technique: charcoal drawings. They’ve… Continue reading Drawing Through Darkness