On the right there is a picture of me, my name and some words about me.
FeedBack Mental Health conference Shedding the Light on Loneliness and isolation, the last one was in Lowestoft this time we are in Thetford.
This is the vulnerability bit of what I’m doing, just the word domestic abuse near my name is unnerving, I’m not going to publically underline my whole experience because, well, we’d be here a while. I haven’t got the energy to correct others assumptions either way, my vast experiences come under this umbrella heading. There is still a little part of me that is scared of getting in trouble for being honest. Im dealing with it, every day. Everytime someone lets me know how i’m helping them to overcome their own challenges it fuels the courage I need to keep talking.
#Trauma #depression #anxiety
There there isn’t a cure, there isn’t one pill, there isn’t one method to make the ongoing struggle of trauma disappear. It’s not fair but I is what it is. It looks like anxiety and depression but it’s different.
For quite a while I found it tricky to stay present in an authentic way. Trying to stay connected to the things that I wanted to be connected to, rather than connected to everything in a hypervigilant kind of way. After becoming aware I had been numb completely because I had been hypervigilant in a way that didn’t seem to bother me, I had to re-adjust to cope.
Anxiety wasn’t a thing for me except it really, really was. The short tempered, hot, anger explosions when leaving the house have now turned to just crying.
And that’s ok because I’m aware and I’m engaged with it. Sometimes I might cry because there’s too much and I can’t do it anymore and I have to stop. Then I realign myself and start again, I’m 4 years on becoming aware, from understanding where my difficulties came from and understood why I was stuck there. 4 years and I’m still working things out.
Trauma sticks and it sticks to your kids and it takes a lot of growing and peeling and gentle, meticulous, agitation to wash away the bits of crud that you can. There are parts of me that I will never be able to change some reactions, wires crossed or unplugged. I’m staying engaged with it, I’m not done yet. Finding my new normal is exhausting but I’d rather this than the than lust for escape.
That’s what I think it’s difficult for people to understand that it’s a process that it takes long time that once you start un peeling this stuff there’s more. There’s no cure and it just takes time, courage, acceptance and a bloody good village.
This is more than mindfulness and good wellbeing practice, it’s a bigger more complex project for you to take on.
If you’re looking for care or therapy keep trying, you might have to pay for it, all the more reason to work hard at it.
You are worth the hard work.
You are enough.
My Village is the thing that holds me together, it is my chosen family, community, places and all the different support that’s needed for me and Dynoboy to be ok. I first plotted it out when we really weren’t ok. I talked indepth about finding it and leaning into it, as an example of recovery. I took this forward as a simple workshop task.
Post talk, in the pre lunch break out session I had a table that I filled with paper, glue, stickers, pompoms, crayons and markerpens. I had invited those who listened to the talk to plot out there village.
The audience was brave(though one of their other options was scaling a climbing wall, which takes a different kind of braveness) The interaction among the group was really interesting and valuable. There was lots of bravery and sharing
at the table and advice was given on where to access support in the area for different points I had covered.
One awesome lady said thanks for sharing my recent coping method to avoid PTSD dream hangover all day, hitting voice record and sending them to a trusted friend in order to avoid a full blown, debilitating PTSD replay loop.
There were people who were engaging in services,some that were no longer in need of services,private therapists, mothers with children like Dynoboy and a couple of young people who I thought were brilliant for being there, lots of talk about SEND education, how to navigate a Mother-ectomy. It was so good to see other people use an idea that helped me workout where I was in the world and a concept that keeps me going today.
Being in her part of the map the lovely Lizzy (seen herein the middle) a very talented artist and friend came to give me a bit of suport and went away with more to think about. Mz Cowell will also be exhibiting in Finding a Voice18, Anteros, Norwich, October 2018.
Two women separately asked how I got into the position to do what i’m doing. Which was tricky to answer, as it’s been one big strange new step after the other. I think a lot of why I got to the point where I’m invited to speak at events has a lot to do with how passionately I believe in the Compass approach, it was within that that I found my voice and was willing to do things like go to anawards bid and do a short presentation on my experience with The Compass Outreach Team. Once I had a film crew in my living room recording an interview about our experience with Compass to help promote with in the wider team how their work made a difference. Having a arts background and putting on an exhibition to celebrate no longer needing the full support of the service in 2017 meant I had a focus and somewhere to find out where to go next. Which right now is here, learning how to use my cruddy experiences to promote good practice with in services and make people feel less alone with their struggle.
Nicky Murnin & Tod Sullivan about the effect on the body that ACEs have and how they affect our behaviour and our bodies. It was so interesting to dig further into a subject I find fascinating anyway because my score is high and it’s the kind of stuff that helped me process my experiences through therapy. What struck me most is acknowledging the community responsibility to stay connected. I was nodding and smiling a lot throughout Nickys talk.
I joined in discussion later as the event was quieting down, which I wouldn’t have done a few years ago. Thankfully Nicky can talk for days about his subject of the day but the thing that hit me, full on in the gut, was when he turned his example of a real “hello, How are you?” with eye contact. It totally freaked me out. I shuddered and stated that it did and we continued in depth all kinds of human behaviour, autonomic and parasympathetic nervous system, we were literally chatting shit. Very enjoyable all in all.
In the lead up to my 2015 crisis I was speaking more than I ever had before, I had one friend from my teens that would know when I wasn’t ok and she would ask me till I broke and talked. She was traveling the world and I hated skype, so I had to learn to talk to other people. I started to hear myself answer questions I never asked myself before, stuff was spilling out of my head with no correlation to my feelings until I heard the words. I had planned and read aloud my talk a few times, but saying it all out loud to an audience changed my bigger perspective on some things. Linking that to what I was hearing throughout the day I realised and understood in more depth the part of my family relationships that made it easy for intimate relationships to become abusive even down to being primed to be financially manipulated and dominated. Not all things can be verbalised, sometimes it’s not safe to in some moments, but it’s definatly part of what I’ve needed to take big recovery steps.
Keep an ear and an eye out for more to come from me and the FeedBack Team !
There is no hiding, anyone can get lonely. New parents, children, cared for young people, older people, retired, self employed, bereaved or carers can become chronically lonely and it’s one sure way to become enveloped by a wave of depression. I have had bouts of loneliness while being a new mum, being a childminder and after a fantastically, spectacular bout of depression.
The isolation that comes with having a baby can knock a persons life totally off kilter www.huffingtonpost.mums-feel-lonely Loneliness hits the eldery it really hits hard on health www.campaigntoendloneliness.org However, Young adults are more likely to feel lonely than older age groups, says a study from the Office for National Statistics. The research found that almost 10% of people aged 16 to 24 were “always or often” lonely – the highest proportion of any age group.bbc.co.uk/news/education
I have sustained myself and avoid loneliness only because I have learnt how. It takes a bit of courage to ask for help and wait. It started small, a cuppa with neighbours who offered, asking those I trusted for dinner, one a week at least. I joined online groups and forums and found I wasn’t alone in many of my struggles. I found places to go where I felt safe, these are often libraries and coffee shops. I found where routine had often made me feel bored and hemmed as a teen I now found it comforting, Even micro moments with people I pass on the street has become predictable, tiny connections with others, proving I am visible and not alone. Slowly I felt better because I was more confident that I am enough.
A really good way to get out and be amongst things happening around you this time of year is The Great Get Together
There are pockets of excellence , perhaps these skew the average across the UK’s services, but it’s the foundation of these that need to be looked at and formulated into what is basically a product to share between and across services to enable communities to thrive. I suspect it is where there is good linkedin care, carers passports, communication between social services, NHS and education within county, between cases, within timelines that don’t impede the health and success of the “service user”.
Where the services have been able to collect honest feedback and been able to improve one area without neglecting others. That can happen right? It’s not just an imaginary ideal where the lived experience isn’t totally alien to the professionals. Where the professional is supported within a safety net of their own, a sensible workload given and job security, enabling an amount of professional vulnerability and ability to have prolonged human contact in their role with honest dialogue and co production of care. Imagine that.
I honestly think if the services worked better together and more for the people within them than for targets, the communities needed to help lessen the load of loneliness would form naturally with less need for funding.
If you have had a naff time or an awesome experience, it could make a difference to how the service is run in the future, which would be great, like not taking people off WellBeing waiting lists if they haven’t responded to a call or email!
This painting is incredibly private, its one of the first where I was trying out full figures, and flesh with oils, I was attempting to stay true to some of my pencil and ink drawings. It hangs im my bedroom, unseen by the world but reflects back to me every day. A full circle of paired down concepts.
Last week I saw a brilliant woman courageously show her vulnerability and she rocked it 🖤 Lowestoft babe @kelllyannbrooks you are a massive source of awesome & I will never forget the strength and kindness you have given me.
Just last week ideas telling some one that you gave me your mum’s advice “just hug him, every day, just keep hugging him” And I do & always will as long as he’s happy for me to🖤🖤🖤 Mumming done right.
What ever you are sitting in or running from #youarenotalone there is some one who has seen it and felt it to, maybe not exactly the same but enough to share common ground and authentic empathy. You may only ever read about it, but some times thats enough.
This week Im spending time thinking how to best utilise my time and words when Stepping way out of my comfort zone, on my way to making big waves 🌊 Speaking at Shedding The Light conference in Lowestoft. 22ndJune
I’ll be telling parts of my own lived experience of struggles and how I over came them, with a little #creative breakout too. Looking forward to it.
⬆️ follow the links or search Facebook and eventbrite.
How many people that I know, know that I’m a carer? Probably not many, I didn’t know I could be for a long time and really struggled for different systems cogs to get in the right gear.
I’m a parent, of a young man who we like to say is a bit EXTRA, non full time table, non mainstream school and a few other things in the mix. Business in Art and illustration will come second for a few years longer, I’m doing what I need to do all in my own pace, it’s my choice. Some Carers don’t get that choice.
A carer is someone who is thrown in at the deep end. Often it’s a spouse, often it’s grown ups. It can also be young people too. There are an estimated 700,000 children and young people across the UK, some as young as five-years-old, who are caring for family members. Research* shows this is a conservative figure as many are hidden from view. Which I almost didn’t mention because it’s sad, but for me that’s what is important this week, pointing out that it’s not fair and it’s not pretty but there are good things that can be done.
The Benjamin Foundation runs regular young carers’ groups around the Norfolk. Young people need to be able to hang out and have a laugh in a safe place with out their extra adult responsibilities. These groups are people who really understand what they are going through, it allows young carers to share their concerns with and to seek help for any problems they may be having. To just be themselves.
A while ago I took part in a closed group webinar focused on adult carers tools for well being, Through the NHS wellbeing service. There are webinars to introduce Learning, Work and Wellbeing Toolkit for young adult carers like this one www.learningandwork.org.uk/events/webinar-positive-career-choices/ To help support them to achieve the same level of success in education and employment as their peers.
Have become a carer? Know you aren’t alone, you don’t have to be lonely, you can still be you. If you think you might be eligible to be a carer but no ones pointed it out, get a cuppa and look at gov.uk/carers-allowance
If you want to get involved with helping to support The Benjamin Foundation they have a verity of fund raisers, volunteer placements, or absolutely brilliant pre loved furniture stores! Or perhaps The Butterfly Treasure hunt, A fun trail around Norwich to support The Benjamin Foundation, finishing with a gourmet BBQ in the beautiful Rooftop Gardens. @benjaminfoundation.co.uk
Here are some other useful links to learn about and get involved with Carers week
Throughout this event we will be hearing from a range of speakers on the subject of loneliness and isolation, we know that mental health is made worse and can be caused by isolation. Including my self, giving a talk on my varied lived experience of loneliness, with my own brand of gritty and playful break out session too.
I have once before spoken at a conference, I had my work to back me up, Making a pop up Exhibition from work from Finding a Voice 2017 I wasn’t speaking alone on stage either. READ further thepsychologist.bps.org.uk This time it’s just me and Im jumping in with two feet.
I could continue only exhibiting my work in an ordinary but vibrant standard exhibition format, it would be valid and worth while. However I found this voice, a way of speaking and making that playfully gets uncomfortable truths out in the open.