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Go with the flow. Echo Update.

IMG_1618ECHO had its first group session at the new place of The American, more turned up than most of us expected, this was a welcome sight as many were wondering if now was the time to stop coming.

Thats not to say we have given up on ECHO, far from it, but the serenity that Brunswick House offered contrasts greatly to the atmosphere of The American, this does not help to ‘settle in’. I am lucky in this respect as I am familiar with the American, many are not, and the process of going somewhere new can be overwhelming, but I too was hesitant as to whether the group would work here.

Chaos was expected as no routines have been set up yet, and chaos was the format for the beginning.  This will improve as time goes by with more input from us to make it work.

Emotions were being suppressed by everyone to differing levels – anger, confusion, dejection where common but most present is probably uncertainty. We have had a letter explaining what has gone on with the funding cut and how we have been given this reprieve by Brighter Futures and the generosity of Swan Bank Methodist Church in order to keep the group going , though not the same, until the end of March.

It also tells us how they are pursuing different avenues toward funding but basically it is looking like ECHO requires a night in shining armour to save the day. Understandably this alters how one approaches the group as a whole – it now has a guillotine at the end of march.

The worksheets, have become more clinical, as I call them, or educational as another does. What we got used to was a more caring way of them being worded. For example:-

You have to take four tablets a day… A Clinical response would be something like…Take two twice a day on a full stomach. A caring approach would be more…Take two tablets at dinner time and two at tea. Both say the same thing but the styling is completely different and I believe the latter helps the info to be absorbed better.

We definitely need to get the CBT papers less clinical.

(Disclaimer).  Now the term CBT has never been used in conjunction with these sessions, but I have found no difference in these and the CBT courses I have been on and the key principles in which they both work are the same.

And in this line of thought I am sending an email to the B.F boss with an idea how we may get some written for us by a University student or two. I don’t think the person who runs the group will have enough time to do the re-writes, unless she takes them home, and none of us want her to become burnt out.

As for me, I have been keeping myself busy, avoiding dealing with it, I am currently looking a a dragons tail that needs scales painting. I know it is the wrong way to do it, especially now I have nearly read a book on mindfulness that was clear on what it means to be ‘present’, and locking myself away from the outside world only makes it worse, but the habit is a lifelong one.  I’m working on replacing it with a more healthy approach.

On the plus side however, I have discovered that writing these blogs has been part of my mindfulness journey, without me even knowing about it, and it is also one way of allowing myself to process the information of the current situation and the Poetry/Prose(new chapter) has been called a cathartic release; this stage has yet to happen, I doubt it will be pretty when it gets here.

On we plod…




Rebloged, could you please do the same for this one. These are both services that should be available throughout the UK.


Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day and as readers will know the theme this year is mental health in the workplace. Workplace bullying is on the rise and the third/charity sector seems to be a hotbed of bad practice here in Wales.


Take a look at the blog site of John Gilheaney, a former employee of Welsh mental health charity Hafal. Bullying in the workplace has been reported by many staff.


The First Minister Carwyn Jones and other key Ministers have been made aware of the serious allegations against this organisation and yet Hafal still receive considerable Welsh Government funding with no apparent move to investigate these serious complaints. This appears to be the same for other charities.

With extreme pressure on an ever diminishing pot of public money surely the people of Wales should…

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Cut, Cut, Cut…Part One #echo #brighterfutures

It’s that time of the year again, Budgets cut and services under threat.

Hi, I would like to tell you of a service that, due to it’s not being ‘clinical’, is viewed as surplus to requirements, well actually it is not just one.

The services are called ECHO (Brighter Futures) and
NSV (North staffs Voice)

First ECHO…

Echo is a self harm group (no that is not ‘just cutting’). It can cover a multitude of different ways one places themselves in harms way. Some are more socially acceptable, some less obvious, but all are a way of coping, a way to control something in an uncontrollable life, a way to ‘feel’ something that deadens the pain of something else so that the ‘healing’ process can begin. It is not a cry for attention and ECHO is not a place to swap ideas.

What it is, and probably most importantly, is a place where you will not be judged. You will however receive support and advice on how to break the cycle of self harm. This can come from one-to-one support, complimentary therapies, art groups and workshops that look at the emotions and feelings that can trigger a self harm response.

This group works! It is why if you are over 18 and in North Staffs you have a good chance of being referred to it by the doctor/psychiatrist.

However I have heard that if you self harm and have the support of this NON CLINICAL group, it has been deemed sufficient enough to STOP access to clinical support in some areas.
Just think about that for a minute, it would not be allowed to happen with a physical diagnosis, Oh you are being a sports therapist, well you don’t need the GP then.


But that is off topic. This service IS recognised for the work it does. It can
get someone off meds (saving, in my case I was told £500 a month, for one med, unbelievable)
stop visits to the accident unit, and before you judge think how drink related cases are just classed as a ‘weekend thing’,
stop admittance in the mental hospitals
and get people living their life free of self harm

As a side note, it can also improve their life in general, get someone through the educational system and improve their chances to landing a job, then being able to keep it.

If the system is relying more and more on the support that these groups offer as they cut NHS services and the support that they can offer, then where is the logic on putting all the work the NON clinical services have done at risk?

Personally it has been the support of these groups NOT the support of the NHS that have managed to keep me off the prescribed medication that has been dropped off.

I am not dismissing the work of the psychiatrist or psychologists nor the counsellors, but the waiting lists can be long and I currently have four hours a YEAR in appointments and support from the NHS compared to five days a week access to Brighter futures, with appointments not usually required, depends on what I want to talk about.

This is under threat and studies have shown an increase in self harm and it is not a teen thing, far from it.

Echo can help, for now, but it requires support to be there for the next generation coming through and to be there for the generations just starting to ask for help now.



To contact either charity follow these links

To donate to either of these charities please follow the links bellow.

Brighter Futures Donations



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Reflections…Week Thirty Two

canstockphoto8630797I feel tired, not only physically and mentally, but spiritually, for want of a better word. Some times you can get good news, sometimes not so good, and sometimes the good just gets lost in the humdrum of the not so good. The latter is the last couple of months.

A trying time when you have just come of one of your medications.

Life at times feels like trudging up a really steep dry sand dune that keeps growing. Each step is a trudge and you can slide back down if the footing becomes unstable. It can be tempting to sit down for a spell, but then you remember the feeling of sand in your pants, and think better of it.

But like the dunes of Wales it can be possible for things to set root, therefore giving stability and a platform to rest up. Now the grass on the welsh dunes is sharp on the tip, so not the most comfortable place to place ones buttocks, however, when you can sit just out of the wind for a cup of tea – sand free – whilst overlooking the sea, the pin cushion bum is worth it.

So onward I plod, not looking to clutch at straws but rather, trying to reach the strength of the green grass that has planted roots, helped shape the dune and called this place home.

I shall have to sit a while when I get there.

Reflections…Week Thirty

canstockphoto8630797I’m getting a Ukulele!

I had to sell my Seagull Merlin to afford it, but then I never got around to playing it anyway. It didn’t help that I didn’t know anyone else who had one.

The Jam factory, music therapy, has people that can teach me how to play the Ukulele, picking style, as the biggest hurdle I have had is not hearing the tone of a strum but rather all the notes of a strum, dependant upon the number of strings. So the idea is to utilise what my brain is trying to do and keep the notes separate and pick them individually. Maybe the tone will come later.

Originally the Ukulele was a no go, I grew up with the old films on a Black and White TV and the ones I was allowed to watch starred Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and George Formby, whom I didn’t find funny. I was drawn more to the Marx Brothers, Abbot and Castello, and the Three Stooges, these were deemed unfunny and off the watch list when supervised. Too be honest I know that George Formby is classed as a genius on the Ukulele, but it is the Banjo Ukulele/Soprano sound coupled with his voice that, well, turned me against the idea of playing one.

Twas by chance that I came across a review for a Clearwater Roundback Baritone Ukulele that got me curious, my Youtube recommended idea formula is worn out and struggling to find me new suggestions,  so I just pressed play on random this odd pick, not really paying it my full attention.

The sound from this instrument was not what my mind recalled, the Soprano size is more akin to my memory, but there are very few videos for the Clearwater Roundbacks – period. However there was a video of the Concert size, and this is what I am getting.

I’m not really musically minded, it has become more a tool post ‘breakdown’, a way to cope with background noise. And the playing is also a tool in a way, trying to engage and exorcise a different area of the mind. No wonder I find it difficult.

One tune I won’t be playing on it is probably the one that is going to get mentioned the most – when I’m cleaning windows.

It still gives me the chills…

Reflections …Week Twenty Nine

canstockphoto8630797There was a plan for this week, a goal was set…It was not even close to being done.

Severe Laryngitis one did awake with , if one could call it that, throughout Monday. It knocked me sideways, I felt as though for some insane reason one had been sliding down the stairs – minus the sledge, head first, repeatedly. With banging head and swirling brain, throat swollen and on fire the trio was completed with a fever and then chills, bed covers on, bed covers off, comfortable was not an option.  Whenever my eyelids did part open – the brightness was but stabs of pain, even vampires have more tolerance to sunlight than what I had.

Four hours one saw of that day, two cuppa soups and a few honey and lemon drinks and not much water, I got in as much as one could, but nowhere near enough that was needed. Tuesday faired not much better. By Wednesday I just wanted to get out of the house for a little bit, so went up the allotment to pick beans. Made the world of difference, I came back tired but refreshed.

The antibiotics have started to kick in now, but I still feel drained.

The plan this week?

The same as last, with an added bonus of putting things onto Ebay. There are things that one wants, but first have to get the funds, and make the space for.

Without ‘Monster’… #poetry #poem

With my headphones on,
and the iPod charged.
I check in my wallet,
for my list prepared.

Music then selected,
a fast beat is the track.
This time I remembered,
spare bags in my backpack.

Trolley coin inserted,
fasten wont let go.
People now glance over,
putting on a show.

Trolleys they do clatter,
chain it makes us stop.
If released by magic,
I can start my shop.

I don’t want to be here,
So I will go round fast.
Memorised where items live,
so grab em on way past.

Why do people stand right there?
Block the isle and chat.
Don’t they have a cafe here?
Thats the place for that.

Would I like to go on past?
Why yes I think I would.
Why are you even asking me?
I’d pass you if I could.

I’ve done my shopping quickly,
I’m almost through the till.
Payment process just as quick,
card tap pays the bill.

Another shopping trip complete,
another trial is passed.
It never used to be this way,
twas simpler in the past.

But now my mind plays tricks with me,
and alters my perception.
Puts a danger everywhere,
I know not what’s deception.

So if you see me fly on by,
like if I’m on a slalom.
I do it not to be “How rude”
Bad day, I beg your pardon.

‘Monster’…Poem 1 of 2
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