Friday, August 13, 2010

Becoming a group person

Like a lot of people with mental health problems, I lean towards isolation. The energy it requires to put on a good 'public' face is just sometimes a little too much. I also am not much of a "group" person. One on one, I do ok, but too many people, I can get anxious and overwhelmed. But I am doing reasonably well at the moment, and really trying to be proactive from a recovery standpoint. (M), my Case Manager took me to visit a Mental Health house with a Peer Support slant last year, when she first started seeing me, but it was just not the right time for me. But, (with further gentle encouragement from M) today I went along to one of the group sessions, to see how I went. And it went suprisingly well. The group was quite small, and they were very welcoming without being pushy. Just "glad you came, hope we see you back again". There are a variety of interesting groups including Art, Music, Women's and Under 30's. And it was not as I had feared (and experienced when I tried one of these places in a different city many years ago) all centred around talking about illness, or worse, competing to see "who had it worst". The focus seems to be about providing social opportunities to those of us who struggle with it, something that gets you out of the house, particularly when all your sane friends are working 9-5. Providing support that is Peer support, from people who have a lived experience of mental illness, and outside the medical framework. Which is a real attraction for me... as I feel like I spend most of my life in either a Doctor's or a Therapists office. A real chance to meet people of similar age and experience, who will accept you as you are at that moment in time. Time will see if the experience continues as well as it did today I guess. I particularly liked when one of the PS workers was talking to me about how they didn't focus on diagnosis, as that didn't define the person, their day to day experiences and general personality were more important. It wasn't denying the impact of the mental illness, but rather looking at it in a broader sense.

I'm quite proud of myself for actually going. The support I recieve through blogging is great, but to be able to get some of that IRL would be good too. And as much as I love ya'all, we can't sit down for a coffee, ciggie and a chat, ya know? So, I guess I kind of achieved two things today...a possible addition of support, socialisation and activity, and a sense of achievement for being able to stepout of my comfort zone and face my fears....

I'm working quite hard on the isolation thing at the moment... taking the opportunity while I feel well to reconnect with friends and increase my volunteer work. My friend (S) and I are going to a Farmers Market tomorrow morning, which I am looking forward too, especially picking up some oh so yummy bannana bread and cheap fresh flowers. The parentals are also coming to stay for the weekend, which means Big Sis will probably be over a lot.... which can create a lot of tension... but I'm going to try not to get drawn into it and just enjoy the time with my mum.

In other news, I am on the third day of my Serepax tapering down. We've just removed the midday dose at this time, but I guess its going well. Mostly it's just a physical anxiety in the afternoons, not really worrying about anything mentally, but the body is responding like I am. Trying to use a combination of relaxation techniques and distractions, reminding myself that its my body's reaction to the medicatio withdrawal and will pass, rather than 'true anxiety'. I've found bubble gum and blowing gum bubbles is a handy trick for redirecting the physical frenetic energy when I am stuck in a place where I can't move about, or when I am trying to concentrate on TV or something.

Peace and Love


  1. Isolation is a tricky thing. I don't have a social life, and I don't know if it's just because I'm introverted or if it's an avoidance thing. Good for you for getting out there.

  2. Good for you, Ophelia! I think it's great that you had a positive experience today at the mental health house. It sounds like the people were really supportive and unintrusive-- a very good combination. I hope that your experiences there continue to be as good.

    Wishing you well,