I read a piece on the Scottish Recovery Network website today, and it is really encouraging. Open Dialogue is a way of dealing with people in crisis in a home and social-centred way. See here for the full article.
There is a move to develop this approach as a Peer-supported Open Dialogue approach in local areas in England at the moment. Maybe this is something we in Scotland can look into as part of the new Scottish Government Mental health strategy later this year?
What is expressive writing? Expressing yourself in whatever way you want to write. Examples are –
A daily journal where you can write about what is going on for you.
A list is an easy start for getting your pen to move on the page.
Expressive writing is used in some writing groups in the Maggie’s Centres across Scotland. Whatever you write is right! It’s not aimed to produce or create anything; it’s to allow free rein to whatever your voice wants to say, uncensored.
The only rule is that there are no rules.
If you would like some guidelines, here are some you can choose from:
1. Keep your hand moving.
2. Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling or grammar.
3. Don’t think. Forget everything else.
4. You are free to write the worst junk in Scotland.
5. Go for the jugular. If something scary comes up, go for it. That’s probably where you find the power of words.
6. Just keep writing!
Tom Leonard’s poem, Unrelated Incidents III, or the Six o’clock news as it is known, is a door-opening script for us to own our language, our accent, our truth. It had a liberating effect when I read it aloud at a group and everyone wanted to read it aloud too!See here
this is thi
six a clock
man said n
a talk wia
iz coz yi
mi ti talk
lik wanna yoo
Here is a link to Tom’s pages where he speaks of the political nature of poetry, and his full poem.
It inspires me to write in ma ain Scottish voice. Try it! It’s harder than you’d expect.
This week, I started a course about bringing a new idea into business. My aim is to take the reading and writing groups out to local communities as a cultural and community enterprise. It has only involved a few odd hours this first week. I watched introductory videos and read articles – but the main activity has been getting to know the community of people participating. We were advised to read and write comments on reasons why we’re doing this course. Also to like and follow some of the other participants, mentors and experts.
In one discussion on what is an entrepreneur, I made the point that social enterprise is something I want to know more about. I want to be a service provider, and also a peer mentor for anyone wanting to try reading and writing groups in their own setting.
Came across this video which explains in a fun way what bibliotherapy is. Although it’s typically American 😉 and dealing with young people, it’s a lively overview of bibliotherapy in general. Spot the misuse of an apostrophe!
Today was my first session as a shadow to Larry Butler, the facilitator at Maggie’s cancer care writing group taking place on the Gartnavel hospitals campus in Glasgow. I am fortunate that I will be learning by participating and observing the group. We were a new group of ten with a few people returning. Today we got to know each other in a lovely relaxed lounge setting.
Our first piece of writing was a two-minute write on one of 3 options – I chose the one “Why have I come here?”
I wrote about me achieving a long-held dream, here in Maggie’s practising therapeutic writing, and feeling privileged to be there. And it’s a great chance to do some writing, – which I love doing. We shared and laughed and later we had a twenty-five minute ‘Owl walk’ , where we all went for a wander of 200 steps exactly. Then our suggested writing prompt was to stop, listen, pay attention and write!
Here’s some of mine!
At this workshop on person-centred care we heard Jamie Andrew tell his story of tragedy, amputation, recovery and hope. Jamie told us how he endured five days perched in a storm on a tiny ridge in the Alps. Tragically, the friend with him had died. Both of Jamie’s feet and hands were totally frostbitten.
He was in a bad way when he got to hospital and the amputations had to be done.
His moment of truth in a hospital in France was when he wondered “would I be better off dead?”. What made him decide to live? For people like myself who have faced suicidal thoughts in their everyday life I wanted to ask him, was there one thing that made him decide to live? He told me it was not just the one thing. No-one offered any counselling in his darkest times. He had talked about his girlfriend and his friend who had died and these people made him choose to recover.
There was also one person – an occupational therapist, who asked him the most important question : “What Would you like?” and he said, “To feed myself”.
The person got a bit of Velcro to make a strap for his arm, stuck a spoon in it and he was off.
He was able to do Something for himself. He went on to walk and eventually climbed the same mountain again.
We all felt inspired to listen to him and he made me reflect on how mental health has a lot to do with our physical health.
The quote that sticks with me is “Every challenge is a mental challenge”.
The lesson I take is that we humans are so powerful when we allow ourselves to be the best we can be. Like the Mandela quote that says :
” our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
Lapidus Scotland and NHS Education for Scotland make Words Work Well!
13th March 2015- the launch of our new bibliotherapy toolkit marks the progress made by this network of librarians, bibliotherapists, writers, storytellers and readers over the past few years. The toolkit was launched as a pilot online toolkit – it will keep growing as practitioners add new creative writing prompts, as readers add new sessions on poetry or fiction. It has contributions from people who lead groups in activities across Scotland.
Sir Kenneth Calman wrote the foreword for us and each contribution has a distinct flavour.
Humans tell stories;
humans listen to the stories of others;
one story whether heard or read often prompts another story;
Stories, such as the stories of prisoners in Stewart Ennis’ writing group in a maximum security prison wing.
“I teach prisoners of all ages from 20 to 60 years old. Some are coming to the end of a lengthy sentence, while others have only just begun to come to terms with a sentence of 30 years or more, and of an age where it is highly unlikely they will leave prison alive.”
Out today in the Alona Hotel in Strathclyde Country Park, at an event called ‘Growing a Lanarkshire Movement for Change’ . This conference has been set up by Lanarkshire Recovery Network – for people with mental health issues, and SeeMe – the anti-stigma campaign for mental health. What a great turnout- 150 people from all walks of life and some stomping presentations, two musical sessions and the amazing Ketso- a consultation and discussion tool.
We talked about what needs to change to make Lanarkshire to break through the mental health stigma, and I did a workshop on the legal, equality and human rights side of things. I learned about Compulsory Treatment Orders and other mental health processes, and told everybody about my plans to bring innovative reading and writing groups to Lanarkshire. Exhilarating day!