Tag: creative writing

The Life of Robyn- Let’s Evaluate and Do Something

This is my blog following the catchily named ‘Discover’ Children and Young People Evaluation Workshop. I hasten to add that there was no ”s’ on the end of ‘people’ on the sheet I have, probably because this was a gathering mostly for professionals who work with and around the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service. It was not an event for the direct attendance of service users, but it was certainly a day with young people completely central in all points of discussion. Sitting at the tables were the people who can actually change things.

It started at *Cheery Lodge a few weeks ago with a group of patients and a pretty awesome storyteller. We were told about an enquiry into the CAMHS service which is currently taking place in our region. It is called Discover and we spent a very long session discussing the imagery used to represent the process. This was a logo of a missing puzzle piece being slotted into place within a silhouetted head. Is it too simplistic? Is it implying that there is just a missing piece that we as services users need to be given in order to be cured? Does it imply that we are broken? We weren’t sure.

Our awesome storyteller asked us to create a character together to use as an Everyman in all of our stories. We came up with the name of Robyn (unisex) and formulated the average age of sixteen. We left it at that and then set to telling our own stories through the life of the elusive Robyn. Poor Robyn had a multitude of lives- in some making a full recovery, winning the lottery and beating the system and in others being homeless and ending up stuck in an adult inpatient facility. We audio recorded our stories and then added pictures in order to create a presentation.

Myself and *Izzy decided we would quite like to go to present what we had made to the big fishes of CAMHS and other services. A room smelling of coffee and pens was the venue for all the big bosses. As Izzy said: “Adults talking adult stuff”. “They’re just people. Just like you and me.” I whispered back before suggesting we get involved in whatever they were discussing in order to prove this point.

A minor crisis occurred at the start when the audio part of our presentation refused to co-operate with us and despite our increasingly desperate pleas it continued to make demands for a file type we had never even heard of. Having only a first draft of the recording on paper we had to improvise big style by reading the transcript out and improvising the bits we had added in after it had been printed.

Unable to read the tiny words of our notes I had to reduce my non-existent professional image somewhat by borrowing a very kind gentleman’s iPhone, hastily panorama photographing some paragraphs and blowing them up. My own iPhone camera had been disabled on admission to *Cheery Lodge in order to protect patient confidentiality on the unit and such. Thank heavens for understanding and generous people because the loan of the phone was what made it possible for me to take part as planned. We made it through the presentation and got really good feedback.

Suddenly these professionals didn’t seem as big and scary. They were just people. Trying to do their best for so many young people who’s stories are so hard to follow. They did truly listen and pick up on the points that were made- early intervention is needed, more awareness and more training for physical health practitioners. We discussed how differently the subject of mental health is treated in comparison to physical health. One is the train platform, common ground and a safety zone to be observed and preserved. A talking point in a classroom and a measurement in the doctor’s office. The other is the railway track- vital but understated and yet live and silently taking casualties. Sadly the gap between the station platform and the railway track is vast. Far too vast.

When I do this kind of thing I always judge how well a presentation has been received by comparing the initial reaction to my guide dog with the end reaction to the talk. No matter how ignored I am in comparison to my furry companion at the beginning of an event I don’t mind as long as by the end people are more interested in the point that I am making than what my dog eats. Judging by this theory I think myself and Izzy pulled it off big time despite huge initial canine interest!

I did give my blog a cheeky plug at the end as the ‘Inpatient’ blogs I have done recently are all about CAMHS and the opinions of myself and others I have met. I hope they can do some good. If you are here for the first time- welcome. Please take a look around and if you like what you see I would encourage you to subscribe and hang about. The truth is that it’s all very well sitting and talking but mistakes need to be learned from and things need  to be improved. The message of today was definitely one of hope and change. One size will never fit all, but we need to stop so many people slipping through the net and I am so honoured to be a small part of trying to make that happen.

Pickle in her Prime

What if there were little monsters living under your bed?

What would they look like and what would they say?

Would they be comatose at night or would they fidget and get rowdy?

May I present Pickle…

A small monster with a human like body covered in red spirals. She has blue antenas and large red eyes made from boiled sweets. She is holding a large question mark.








My resident monster.

She is a creative writing exercise, not a sleep deprived mind’s hallucination. She is a little monster with a lot of energy. She has springs under her feet and a tendency to draw attention to herself… In fact once she is noticed it is very difficult to get her out of your head. And not in a good way. She will bounce up and down in front of your pillow and throw you questions and ponderings which never would have crossed your mind beforehand. Pickle has big eyes which she uses to watch everything you do whilst the sun is up, and at night she will spin fact and thought like a multicoloured roundabout so it all blurs together. She is a very inquisitive soul and will question each and every decision and interaction you made during the day. However Pickle does not have ears. She does not hear me when I tell her that I would really like to go to sleep now, thank you very much. Out of all of those who live under my bed she is one of the happier monsters, and she is thankfully not like the more sinister ones with harsh dial-up tones for voices. Pickle can sometimes be lulled to sleep using Radio 4 or long and boring podcasts; she has too much energy to sit and listen to those. Instead she will bounce back under my bed and leave me in peace. On other nights she will stay up and natter away to me, despite my best efforts to block her out. Sometimes she is still sitting on my pillow as the sun wakes up. I fear that tonight is one of those nights.

To summarise:

It is 4am and Pickle and her friends are keeping me wide awake. They have visited me every night for quite a while now and I am beginning to get tired of their antics. It is to the point where I am considering asking Lai to pretend to be my solicitor and to write them a letter, asking them not to squat here and to move on. These monsters are excellent gate crashers…

I made my portrait of Pickle out of boiled sweets, blue tac, sharpie ink and a fidget toy. I’d love it if you could let me know all about your own little monsters…!