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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…

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk

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Reflections…Week Forty Five

canstockphoto8630797This was the week that Echo closed its doors, and although it was a service that had recognition for it’s good work, it was a service that the government failed to see.

But it is not yet dead!

Brighter Futures have taken it under their wing until next April/March, which is when their funding comes under review from the same government branch that has pulled funding from Echo and NSV (North Staffs Voice), so for a time there is hope

(The term ‘human’ from this point on could refer to any person who has the working knowledge of patients in a time spent capacity. I.e counsellor, Psychotherapist, Psychologist, Therapist etc.) 

The service will be the same but less than, in the sense the space will be shared. However the Swan Bank Church (I believe I have that right) has done the group a massive favour by waiving the fee for the room that gets used by the Art Group until March.

As for the group sessions, well their lies an interesting path that could be taken. No longer is it a CBT session created by a – lets say a ‘human’ – but it is at the moment being taken from those clinical self help books, that I personally find patronising at times. And in this transformation the sessions are getting a little more – generic.

BOOOOOO!

Or is it?

If it was possible to get someone to put the ‘human’ back into the sessions, and still have it slanted towards self harm, after all it could be said all negative behaviours that limit our growth and recovery could come under this banner, but at the same time have a platform that could be taken out under a wider range of banners, with slight tweaking, then the opportunities to fund the ‘human’ to write the sessions is greatly expanded.

This person could also, and it seems like they want more of an active participation from group members to run groups, do, what it seems like my fast becoming standard reply to this suggestion –  Training.

This is also where the evolution of ECHO could come.

What IF…

ECHO became less of a thing, and more of a package. As it stood it was the only one of its kind in the UK, so I have been told, and as it stands now, it is part of something else. As an idea, concept, movement, whatever you want to call it it could be shared. Shared between different charities, and therefore the cost for the ‘human’ could be shared as well. But it also holds that if active participation of the running of the groups is by members, and I am talking about trained/vetted/coached members here, then that could extend the reach to places outside of what is currently available.

This has the possibility of having a snowball effect and reaching many, many more people.

And unlike the clinical CBT training, ECHO membership is life long, for as long as you need it, NOT 12 weeks and your done.

It could even evolve far beyond this vision in time.

So yes, there is hope.

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Reflections…Week Forty Four

canstockphoto8630797Some weeks you just want a focal point, something routine so you know where your at, this was one of those weeks.

A lot of running around was done by members of the family, emergency trips to and from hospital followed by an emergency op, my little cousin goes through a hell of a lot, we know this because my sister does, and that’s just looking after her.

This threw out the week due to having to have ‘Monster’, her brother, getting up early was extra, plus the journey(s) to drop him off/get him, shopping was later , so on and so forth. What has thrown it all whack though is the uncertainty of one of my groups, it’s lost its funding, or at least a big chunk of it. This is on top of a drastic restructuring of that service due to a person leaving.

Drastic would be overstating it for some as the time table has remained unaltered,  but the staffing change has shifted dramatically. The person who has taken over the ‘group’ tries hard, she really gives it her all, however she has not the same level of counselling skills as the previous person, skills that we became dependant upon as part of out non-clinical clinical help. If that didn’t make sense, neither does it to us, and we have had to find the clinical therapy help in a format that came from our non-clinical support. Even if she was to be trained in counselling, the time it would take for her to complete the course would render the skills mute for us now.

And those skills are what are needed in times of great change like these.

Part of me hopes that the Psychiatrist does not find out about the funding before the next meeting in December, otherwise I fear he will try to place me back onto antidepressants, and I do not want that.

Without a focal point in the week though, I’m muddled.

 

Reflections…Week Thirty Nine

canstockphoto8630797This is a reflection of remembrance.

I found out on Thursday that a person whom I shared time with at art class passed away last week.

I did not know him well  but he, and his artistic style, will be remembered for some time.

He had earned himself the nickname of grumpy Pete, but I think it was, once you got to know him better, a tool for his own entertainment. Many a time I saw that whilst he was grumping away, he was also suppressing a smile, I have never seen a truly grumpy person do that.  And after he had said what he wanted to say, he would inevitably look around the room for takers. If none took a bite he would then direct the grump towards an individual. You could even say it was his way to start a conversation.

His artistic style was nearly polar opposite to mine, and in one conversation he also had an effect in the way I tried to approach my work. His painting were splodge’s, dabs, an almost haphazard placement of paint on canvas, layers upon layers of paint. I do not recall ever seeing a smooth painting of his. Nor did I ever see him worrying about blending colours on the canvas to create tone or shadow. Shadows themselves were created by the texture of the pain put onto canvas. Light, and the different angles of it, had a direct effect on his work. This meant that at different times of the day the same picture could have a slightly different look about it, just from the shadows cast.

His passing was of a surprise, he was of about the same age as me, however he suffered from epilepsy and it was one of these fits that ultimately put him in a coma to which he was never to wake from.

The words that he said that altered my perspective on my art could also be applied to life as well. I may not have them as a direct quote but I will do my best.

Here’s to you Pete

You know, people often think that creating art is all about drawing the outline. That they have to draw it as one line. But I found that if you draw lot of little lines, and not worry about where you put them so much, the outline just appears.”

 

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Cut, Cut, Cut…Part Two #nsv #northstaffsvoice

Ok, you are in a charitable service that is having the funding stopped and you have issues with your Mental Health Service from the NHS. Who do you go to for help?
Luckily we have NSV(North Staffs Voice), Think PALS for mental health.

Well, we have till Christmas, this NON CLINICAL group have had their funding stopped.
Who do we have to help with unsatisfactory mental health then???

NSV are a separate charitable group from ECHO and Brighter Futures but you can see the connection I hope. If the support from these non clinical groups is ended the Support is going to be require at the budget cut hospitals, and if that is insufficient or has a problem with it, then there is nobody to help with the complaints if you stop funding the complaint enablers. Crafty really.

NSV covers all mental health services in North Staffordshire, a small team that goes a long way, and in my experience has had a profound effect to my CLINICAL treatment.

Sometimes in the mental health system a person can get stuck in a Drug Treatment program, that is to say the therapy treatments are not deemed an option.

What do I mean by that?
I have collected a lot of coping mechanisms to help me with daily life since my breakdown. This has resulted in therapy being denied due to me ‘coping’ in day to day life, to which I have ‘the medication to thank for that (according to one person),’ although the coping mechanisms themselves have been highlighted as strategies.
Positive strategies by the psych team but negative strategies (the same ones) by the couple of workshops delivered by the same service, so who is correct? Depends on who you talk to on the day.

To throw in the mix, the changes to my mood and the stability came at the time I was in the mental hospital for six weeks. Here I first developed some of the patterns I still use today.
When I left the hospital I did not return to the previous life I had before entering, everything changed. But it was the meds that got the credit.
My mood plateau’d and I kept questioning the effectiveness of the medication as my reactions are still to people, that has never changed, my coping strategy is to not mix with strangers without support or an exit plan being present, and avoiding crowds whenever possible, especially indoors.

Most of my strategies will not work in a work environment. So no, I don’t think the drugs work and I don’t think I am coping.

I was told right at the beginning, something like seven years ago, that the drugs are not the answer…therapy is the answer.
However I was left with…therapy is not the answer, just take the drugs.

I needed to be heard, without the fear of being sent back to the hospital, a real fear after being sectioned, or of being put on new meds/having the ones that you are on altered to compensate for your mood. NSV supplied that ear then became my voice. In 2014 it was a voice for over 1000 members.

If you or a loved one was ill you would want the best treatment available, and the correct treatment.
If the treatment had seemed to stall or be stuck in the same cycle that has offered no change in that persons mental state, and complaints have no effect because they are coming from the mental health patient, then yes an outside voice is helpful. If only to get a fresh look at the way treatment is received.

North Staffs Voice (formally North Staffs Users Group) is that voice for the service users. An intermediary service between service users and service providers.
Personally I think this service should be made available allover the country, just like PALS.

Mental Health problems can effect anyone at any time.
These are worth while charities that require your donations to carry on their support.

I hope that you will never need them nor anybody in your family.
However there is a 1 in 4 chance you will know somebody who will be affected and will.

 

To contact either charity follow these links

info@brighter-futures.org.uk
http://nsvoice.org.uk/contact-us/

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

Brighter Futures Donations
http://nsvoice.org.uk/donate/

 

 

Written by
https://www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk

#Lloyds Bank – Warning!

Aaaaaagh, could be one way to put it, #@%$#^$! #%@^*&^% Lloyds Bank could be another. And I had been a near lifelong customer.

Not one for being diligent with money, or partners, in the past, I, like so many others with mental health problems, ended up in debt. Last month I finally managed to sort things out with the help of CAB (Citizens Advice Bureaux for those not in the UK), I would recommend enlisting their help on a range of subjects. The route I took avoided Bankruptcy, so the bank accounts I have, with little money in, were not affected.

Then along come Lloyds Bank, Without notification, they decide to close my main bank account, the one money gets deposited into and refused to let me have the funds held in it. Saying that it was the insolvency team that did it at first, they had no idea what the bank was talking about, and then saying it was standard practice. To unlock the funds I had to go back to the CAB who contacted the Insolvency team to get a letter stating they had NO interest in the account.

Then how did I find out?

My mobile provider sent a text that the Direct Debit had not come out, I went online (Lloyds Internet Bank) to find that there was the money in at that date, but no transaction was showing, I assumed that it was a problem with the DD. I needed some money out so I thought I would sort it after visiting the cashpoint.

Notice how I went onto the Online bank!

The cashpoint would not let me get cash or let me see my balance, so off to the bank to find out why my card is not working and why the DD failed. They thought it was the card at first until something was flagged on the account. Long story short – This is how I found out, No telephone call, No text, No email, No letter and, this is the best part I think, No message on the Online Banking, on that everything appeared normal, I found out standing at the counter, trying to keep calm.

The thought then was that it was an account that I could have credit with, I love how they say I could have credit with (overdraft), when in reality I could apply to have, or, be refused, without the banks approval it’s a mute point. The option to apply for one is on my other two accounts.

One is for Main DD’s plus a little floater for when they get taken out early with a standard amount going in to cover. The other was opened to control my spending whilst shopping, with a set budget. The main account (Lloyds) was to send the money to each account and build a little extra up with the leftovers.

So now I had to go into each of the other banks and ask the question…“Is my bank account being closed?”

I got strange looks until I explained what was going on, turns out, they are not, so not quite standard practice then.

Lloyds have in the past changed my address to one that I never lived at, no I was not hacked, My EX had changed her address to this one, and because in the past I once had a joint account with her, closed at this point, they changed mine to her address and sent my mail to her. She was just as confused as me. Internal error! I can honestly say I will not miss this bank.

It is their right, as it is with any bank, to close an account, I am not disputing that right at all, I just think it should be my right to be told about it, by the bank doing it, so I can alter my finances and make alternate arrangements for money going into and out of an account. I would have had to open an account with another bank if I did not already have that option in place.

So WARNING if you bank with Lloyds Bank – It appears to be STANDARD practice for this bank to CLOSE your account WITHOUT letting you KNOW about it. 

Who are my other banks?

Santander and the co-op Bank.

My complaint is in the post!

 

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/

 

Reflections…Week Thirty Five

canstockphoto8630797At times one feels as though life expects one to be permanently medicated, but I don’t.

The fat assed black dog has been doing its best to weigh me down, and to be honest, with how the last couple of months have gone, I have noticed him there.

Apart from the personal situations that have changed, an influential figure on my recovery has left, and with her leaving comes uncertainty on the groups future. Luckily this leaving does not have the almost violent sense of loss as a former influential figure, retirement is far calmer than redundancy, but the loss is felt.

Now here is where the black dog works his poison. Uncertainty leads to the fear of the unknown. When something is unknown all manner of horrors are true, happy thoughts whilst being under the shadow of this dirty, stinking, slobbering beast are not a many. So inwards I go, like a tortoise into its shell, and like the tortoise I find protection within.

And like the tortoise one will starve if one never comes out again.

However, retreating inwards for an introvert offers a sanctuary. A place to think, contemplate and work out a response, but it only works if the dog is kept outside behind a door. That is the difference this time, I have locked him out!

Sure I can hear him howling outside the door, I have to invest in double glazing, but this time he is outside. He is outside – without the use of medication.

One step at a time.

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017