Tag: Creativity

A Therapist’s Socks of Mindful Colour

I can’t do mindfulness.
I just can’t.

Even the word makes my heart speed up a beat, which I’m pretty sure isn’t the idea. Therapist after therapist, nurse after nurse, have told me to practice mindfulness. Some of the more mindfully inclined therapists I have encountered made me wonder if it was actually healthy.

They would say things like:
“Don’t think about cooking tea tonight. Just think about your feet on the ground.”
“And how many doors were in the room?”
“Ask each individual muscle in your body to move for you as you are doing a task.”
“…Let the happy light rise and merge.”

I once asked a therapist, bald headed and shod conspicuously with walker’s socks and sandals, if he found that things take a very long time to do due to the slow-moving nature of his art. He chuckled and said that the world is too fast paced anyway. If mindfulness was an Olympic sport he would be on the awards podium, but to me it looked like more of a disability than a honed skill. The day to day functioning of my most ‘mindful’ therapists seemed hindered. Each one that I met seemed slower and slower on the uptake. Pauses in therapy became less reflective and more awkward. They would send me a badly typed email once a month with quotes by Ghandi. As someone who likes to be quick on the uptake, I didn’t see the ‘mindful’ way of life to be even remotely attractive. If mindfulness would make me into a slow moving technophobe with bad taste in footwear I certainly didn’t want it.

When I saw colouring books were coming in trend I was pretty pleased. I LOVED colouring when I was younger and the complex patterns of mandalas had kept me busy during my time at Heron unit. I ordered ‘The Mindfulness Colouring Book’ with my mental auto-block of anything to do with the M Word turned on. But then I fell in love with it. It was addictive filling in the lines with my thick and bright felt tips. When I am stressed colouring feels therapeutic, I just mindlessly fill in the lines. I don’t think about it but I also don’t think about anything else as I try to spread colour through the pattern. My mind doesn’t feel ‘full’, it’s emptier.

So I have got through a fair few colouring books. If you want to try it, my two favourites are The Mindfulness Colouring Book and The Art Therapy Colouring Book.

My view on mindfulness could be changing.

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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.