• Mental Health awareness week 11th – 17th May 2015

    It’s been a busy week for me, first I expanded my mental health awareness at the ‘Expeerience Counts’ Development Day on Tuesday in Wishaw . Met lots of people working in mental health across Lanarkshire. We had workshops to talk about the Peer support workers’ role, the Well -Informed service, and the Tools for Life course and related subjects.  It was a good learning and networking experience for me. My thanks go to Ann Ronald and the others who made this an interesting morning!

    Later, I completed an online course at  mindSET discovering the myths and facts of mental health. I was chuffed when I printed out the certificate.Good course.

    Wednesday was a meeting with  See Me staff, to  chat about the anti-stigma work that Wee Read is proposing to do. Thanks to Laetitia for her support. The guidance was really clear that my project needs to be led by at least 50%  people with a personal, lived experience of mental illness and recovery. I am glad about this – the roots-up approach is what I have wanted to try for ages.

    Thursday,  I met local staff at the Lanarkshire Association for Mental Health  (LAMH) at their shop and offices on Cadzow Street. Learned that they did have some writers and poets a while ago, and a  book was published, called ‘Fine Lines’.  I’d like to see a copy, and so would Hugh at LAMH! If anyone out there has a copy, please send it in!  Happily, I will be giving them a taster reading and writing session in the near future! Thanks, Hugh!

    My plan for Friday is – Read a good book! Some homespun bibliotherapy for me. May even write a poem.

    What are you doing this year in Mental Health Awareness Week?

    Here’s some See Me activity:



  • Talking about Mental Health

    Today I was reminded that I made a pledge a month ago with Time to Change, to help change the stigma about mental health. I pledged to talk about my experience more. So here’s a blog I read today, ‘Depression Does not define you’,  followed by my response to that.

    …”Last week was Depression Awareness Week and to raise awareness myself I’ve decided to write a blog post about it. It shouldn’t just be one week that everyone talks about depression it should be every day because if we talk about mental health a lot more we can tackle the stigma in a more effective way. People choose not to talk about depression because of the lack of understanding and compassion in society today. Depression doesn’t define who you are as a person.

    They ask “Are you okay?” and the answer is always “I’m fine” because you don’t want everyone to think that you’re weak.

    So imagine this and put yourself in someone suffering from depression’s shoes.”Read more

  • Bank Street Writers

    I rejoined my old writing group this week, after an absence of  a year due to being over committed time-wise. It was so good to be back with old friends, sharing our home-written poems and prose, in a gentle and supportive setting.  We take turns to facilitate the group, which has been going for many years- it was founded by Larry Butler and Kay Carmichael and we used to meet in Kay’s kitchen in Bank Street.

    This group has helped me to find my voice, with much encouragement from the others. We usually bring a copy for everyone, read it aloud then the author stays quiet while the rest of the group are talking about it. We follow a format asking : what it is about; then what we find striking about each piece; then ways we may change it if it was our poem; the author responds to comments at the end.

    We spend time writing on a prompt from whoever is leading that week. Someone also prepares a new writer to bring to introduce to the group. Tonight we heard about William Stafford, and I was inspired by his journalling for many many years of his life.I recommend his poems to everyone.

    Ask Me

    Some time when the river is ice ask me

    what mistakes I made …

    William Stafford



  • Open Dialogue

    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?



  • The only rule is that there are no rules.

    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!

  • Your own voice

    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
    news thi
    man said n
    thi reason
    a talk wia
    BBC accent
    iz coz yi
    widny wahnt
    mi ti talk
    aboot thi
    trooth wia
    voice lik
    wanna yoo
    scruff. if
    a toktaboot
    thi trooth
    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.

    Let me know what ye come up wi.

  • Futurelearn course with the Enterprise Shed

    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.

  • Maggie’s cancer care writing group

    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!

    Steps outside

    A garden intervenes

     two rocks sit,

    substantial,  sittable-on,

    ground-hugging ivy is scrawling , scrabbling,

    attaching, garlanding,

    And the fuzzy fizzy fir tree

    is right in my face.

    Seagulls bleat repeatedly

    and the rain spits at me


    The snowdrops have wearied;

    their heads wrinkled and brown.

    Their spring has passed;

    will come again.