Page 1

ISSUE 64, 2018

MAGAZINE FOR WELLBEING

• Anxiety and Art • Coping with Bereavement • Thoughts on Nervous Illness • Local Artwork in Haringey • Interview: Bereavement and ‘Presences’


What Equilibrium means to me‌. Equilibrium Patron Dr Liz Miller Mind Champion 2008

WEB ALERTS If you know anyone who would like to be on our mailing list and get the magazine four times a year (no spam!) please email: equilibriumteam@hotmail. co.uk (www.haringey.gov.uk/ equilibrium). Equilibrium is devised, created, and produced entirely by team members with experience of the mental health system. Photo copyright remains with all individual artists and Equilibrium. All rights reserved 2011.

Graphic Design: Anthony J. Parke

I enjoyed writing a short article for the mental health magazine Equilibrium based on my personal experience of having a mental illness for the last 20 years. The office environment and people were all friendly and gave support on tap, especially when you got stuck for ideas or needed technical help using the computer. The other contributors present all shared a mental health history, so gelled well together and we were made to feel very welcome. Norman I found Equilibrium at a crucial point, where I found an open door to try a new healing form of writing and expression. Honest, happy, healthy. One thing I have to say, I go at my own pace and learn little lessons on computers, in art and writing, communicating, and ultimately a chance to get some self-confidence and self-esteem back after being belittled and degraded and abused. I found the open light of Equilibrium at the end of a dark tunnel of life. Equilibrium gives me a purpose. Thank you. Blessings. Richard The magazine means a lot to me for the reason is that it allows me to write about various aspects of mental health and wellbeing. This is one of the only places where you can talk about this sticky matter and issues surrounding wellbeing. Working here also allows me to meet like-minded people, who are passionate about talking about their experiences of their conditions. Seeing these issues being published spreads information on mental health, and other topics, even further. Devzilla Equilibrium has been a fantastic form of expression for me. I have the choice to write about what I want and I can put my ideas into practice. I have been with Equilibrium since 2007 and I never run out of ideas of things to write about. I have enjoying writing articles, and reviews about plays, books and galleries. The Equilibrium team has changed from time to time, but we still manage to produce four copies of the magazine a year. Angela

Front Cover credit: igorovsyannykov

EQUILIBRIUM 2


EDITORIAL Welcome to the 64th edition of Equilibrium Magazine. I hope that you have all entered 2018 with peaceful minds and full stomachs. This issue focuses largely on bereavement, i.e. what can happen when we lose someone close to us. Unlike previous editions, we have included an extended interview with Dr Jacqueline Hayes on the subject of ‘Experienced Continued Presence’. This is buttressed by a very poignant insight into how we may cope with the loss of a loved one. Our third contribution offers supportive words to those readers that might need comfort and encouragement. As always, I hope that you find these pieces both uplifting and illuminating. Namaste. Emily, Editor/Team Facilitator

DISCLAIMER Equilibrium is produced by service users. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly forbidden without the prior permission of the Equilibrium team. Products, articles and services advertised in this publication do not necessarily carry the endorsement of Equilibrium or any of our partners. Equilibrium is published and circulated electronically four times a year to a database of subscribers; if you do not wish to receive Equilibrium or have received it by mistake, please email unsubscribe to equilibriumteam@hotmail.co.uk.

THE TEAM Facilitator/Editor: Emily Sherris Editorial team: Dev, Angela, Nigel, Richard, Richard.

CONTACT US Equilibrium, Clarendon Recovery College, Clarendon Road, London, N8 ODJ. 0208 489 4860, equilibriumteam@hotmail.co.uk.

CONTRIBUTIONS Wanted: contributions to Equilibrium! Please email us with your news, views, poems, photos, plus articles. Anonymity guaranteed if required.

EQUILIBRIUM 3


EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 4

Summer/ Issue 38


INTERVIEW With Jacqueline Hayes and Zoe Shaughnessy

Jacqueline Hayes is a person-centred counsellor, lecturer and researcher at Roehampton University. In this interview with Equilibrium Magazine, Jacqueline and her colleague Zoe Shaughnessy discuss her current research on how people experience presences during periods of bereavement.

Emily: Jacqueline, can you describe your

there have been some controversies about

research in your own words? What were your

what these experiences mean. Are they

initial predictions?

hallucinations that are indicative of some

Jacqueline: The inspiration for this study

psychological problems, or are they normal

comes from research I did during my PhD, as

aspects of dealing with the fact that some-

well as other qualitative research in this area.

one extremely close to you has gone? There’s

As part of my PhD, I collected stories from

a polarity in the field about what this means.

people about their experiences of continued

Should we view them with suspicion in terms

presence. These included experiences of

of how the person is coping, or should we

voices, visions, a feeling of touch or a general

see that it can have a really positive function

feeling of presence which suggested that the

for some people? What I wanted to do was

deceased person was still with them. These

try and get at what individuals were going

were very personal narratives, and people

through at different stages of their grief, and I

told me some really interesting stories. This led

found a real range of consequences that this

to several different analyses. I looked at the

has had for people. We were trying to open

impact of what was happening, because

up the debate a little bit to show that this

www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 5


can sometimes be really helpful for people. For

determining which form they are taking, e.g.

example, one person told us about a voice that

voices, visions or feelings. We’re asking people

helped them solve a really practical problem of

whether it’s helpful or comforting for them, or

fixing a sink. The information that he heard came

whether it’s undermining. We’re trying to get

from the voice of his deceased grandmother. It

at some of the proportions of the people that

helped him figure out which pipe needed twist-

are experiencing these different types of pres-

ing! You get these everyday examples that are

ences, and we are hoping to get some more

really quite facilitative, where the knowledge of

general numbers on how many people in the UK

the deceased person becomes very important.

are currently being affected by this. We will be

It’s almost like having their knowledge or wisdom

recruiting people to fill out the survey very soon;

with you. There are times when the feeling of

we’re just going through the ethics process at the

presence can be so vivid that it actually magni-

moment.

fies grief, and we found this earlier on in bereave-

Some of the things that brought about this

ment. There was one woman who told us about

research project were questions that had come

her boyfriend that died, and she really felt him

out of the qualitative interview study. I spoke to a

next to her, holding her. This brought him back

colleague who had done some similar research,

so vividly, but she had to lose him again, which

and I had a hunch that the more hostile expe-

magnified and foregrounded her grief. We’ve

riences seemed to be associated more with

also spoken to people that report hearing voices

deceased parents, as opposed to other bonds,

that are undermining and hostile towards them,

e.g. partner or child bonds. I had a hunch that

perhaps because they had problematic relation-

there was a pattern there, but I hadn’t spoken

ships with the deceased. Those elements of hostil-

to enough people, so I was going for a more

ity and conflict can continue through the voice.

in-depth approach to ascertain whether this was

We were finding a range of consequences, and

a more widespread pattern or whether it was

it was too simplistic to say that it is a positive thing

only relevant to the people that I was seeing.

that we should celebrate or that it is something

I was also curious about whether these more

we should be concerned about, because it is

difficult or unwanted experiences were more

highly individual.

associated with hearing voices, for example,

Now we have a new programme of research,

hearing language that somehow insults you or

and it involves several elements. We are working

undermines you and whether that was lead-

on a wider social survey of how many bereaved

ing to more difficult consequences. It seemed

people are experiencing these presences and

from the qualitative research that these conse-

EQUILIBRIUM 6


quences, or the experiences that the person was

widespread these feelings of isolation and stig-

having, were dependent on the relationship with

matisation are in wider society.

the deceased and what that was like when the person was alive. Previous research has focused on people who have sought help for their experiences. This included sharing the fact that, during the grieving process, the person had come back to them and that was quite joyous for them, or it was very joyous in the moment, but then it made them miss the person even more. Some were experiencing these presences every day, and it was really difficult because it was interrupting what they wanted to do with their life, or the voice was putting them down when they were trying to do things. This piece of research showed that, when people brought these problems to professionals, the vast majority felt they received very unhelpful responses from them. They either felt dismissed or a little bit patronised, that the professionals didn’t believe them. This shows that we have a mismatch of how widespread this is in bereavement and the kind of issues it can bring up for people and the way in which we as professionals respond to that. One of the things we want to ask in the survey is whether people have sought support from professionals or whether they have spoken to other people in their life about them, or whether they felt they

Emily: Who will you be sending your survey to? Jacqueline: We’re going to have an online and a paper version of the survey. We were hoping to approach CRUSE, a nationwide charity that support people after bereavement, so we’re hoping to make links with them and use their email list. We’re going to send it out to all of our contacts, and we will also be using our Facebook page to reach people. We also want to reach people that are less likely to be online; another thing that Zoe will be doing is going into services that provide support for the elderly, so we’ll be liaising with places like AgeUK and local community centres in London and taking the paper version into them. That way we’ll reach a full adult demographic. Have I missed anything, Zoe? Zoe: As Jacqueline has already said, it’s UK wide. We’ll be able to deliver the paper surveys to people in London and it will also be available online, and we’ll using our Roehampton channels, e.g. our Facebook page, to cascade the information. It’s quite handy because we’ll have the link as well, so it will be easier for people to access it online and fill it in there.

had to keep it very private because they were

Emily: On a personal note, how did you feel

ashamed. We also want to find out what kind

when you heard that bereaved people were

of support they would find helpful, which would

being met with discouragement when they

allow us to dig a little deeper to determine how

sought support from mental health professionals?

EQUILIBRIUM 7


Jacqueline: To be honest with you, I wasn’t enor-

ety, this doesn’t have very good connotations.

mously surprised to see that piece of research,

This suggests that you’re experiencing a double

because, from what people were telling me

isolation, a double stigma, and hearing about

in the interviews, there were themes of isola-

these findings made me feel more mobilised to

tion and stigma. I think there were people from

do something. I come at this from an academic

certain cultural backgrounds that felt they could

perspective but also as someone who has had

share more with their family. For example, I think

personal experiences of these things as well,

there was one British Indian lady that indicated

and it felt good to be able to do something, to

that she could talk to her mother quite openly,

change something.

and there was another family that could talk

What I’ve found, and this is really encour-

to each other, but for many other people, and

aging, is that people are endlessly fascinated

particularly those that were experiencing the

by this topic, and people really want to know

more negative aspects of these presences, they

about it. We’ve got this strange paradox where

found it very difficult to seek support. Part of the

it’s something people are fascinated by, and a

fear was that they were worried that they were

huge percentage of bereaved people have had

going to be put on medication or have their

these experiences. Yet, people who are in the

medication increased when they were trying to

midst of their bereavement feel unable to speak

lower the dosage, so that was one of the reasons

about it with others. I find the public interest in

why people kept it private. I wasn’t enormously

the topic really encouraging, because I think it’s

surprised, because of what people had been

about opening minds, and I think when people

telling me, but it was another call to action. I

start to hear other people’s stories, they will

think there’s a double stigma for these people;

realise that these are everyday people that are

there’s the stigma of death, bereavement and

experiencing this. I think it does reduce stigma,

grief, and one of the things we’re trying to find

and I think it does reduce the judgements that

out in the survey is how widespread these feel-

people sometimes have. I think it’s also a way of

ings are. Many people don’t know what to say

opening up a different attitude to people that

to bereaved people, and, as a society, we

are hearing voices or hallucinations in other situa-

need this to be much less of a taboo, because

tions that are not related to bereavement, which

people are already suffering, and it increases

is also a deeply stigmatising experience as well.

their isolation, alienation and confusion. If you’re

There’s a lot we can do by talking to them and

experiencing the turbulence of grief and nega-

helping them work out what the meaning of this

tive voices, for example, we know that, in soci-

is for them.

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 8

Summer/ Issue 38


Emily: What brought about your interest in this

situation, and I was handing out a lot of medi-

subject in the first place? Was there anything

cation every day. Part of my role as a support

in particular that prompted you to pursue this

worker was to pop out all the little coloured pills

research for your PhD? Was it a professional/

for everybody in the mornings and evenings, and

academic interest, or was it something more

I found it quite extraordinary to see how much

personal to you?

medication people were on. For instance, if

Jacqueline: There is a personal element to it, and

someone was hearing voices, they would be on

there’s also a wider element that’s about clients

medication for that, and then they would take

I’ve worked with, and it’s about injustices and

medication to deal with the particular side effect

unnecessary suffering that I’ve seen. There are

of the medication that’s targeting the voices.

different elements to it. I was working in mental

There would also be medication to deal with the

health services in my early twenties and work-

side effect drugs. They might have diabetes or

ing in a supportive housing environment. Most of

high blood pressure, which is probably caused

those women had been in long-term psychiatric

by the medication they are on and the inactive

situations; some of them had been in asylums

lifestyle they have, so they have to take medica-

for a couple of decades before the asylums

tion for that. And so it goes on, and some people

were closed, and they were so institutionalised

were on nine or ten tablets, morning and even-

because they had not had their own independ-

ing, and I was seeing the effects of these side

ence. This meant they needed to be looked after

effects. People who are working in that situa-

twenty-four hours a day in the house. However,

tion, e.g. carers and support workers, especially

they had the freedom to go to the shop and visit

during cuts, are in very demanding and honour-

friends, which was an element of freedom that

able jobs, particularly if it’s long-term. I was doing

they did not really have before.

it for about two and a half years, and it was

Some of the people I worked with had diag-

really tricky sometimes, but it was also an amaz-

noses of schizophrenia and had gone through

ing opportunity to get to know the people that

regular ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) and

you’re looking after, and people start telling you

had been on high doses of antipsychotic and

their stories about what happened to them. For

tranquilising drugs for decades. Others had one

example, you may have experienced domestic

or two episodes of being hospitalised in more

violence throughout your whole life, and now

modern-day psychiatric services. They were then

you’ve been told you’ve got this illness called

discharged but were seen as not ready to go

‘bipolar disorder’, and you’re on this medication,

back into society fully. So I was working in that

and your health is really suffering, and no one

www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 9


is talking to you about the fact that you have

disentangle after some time, the effects of treat-

this huge amount of trauma caused by huge

ment can have what we would call ‘iatrogenic’

traumatic episodes, with dents in your head and

effects, which can, at times, increase suffering.

scars all over your body. This was being dealt with

So I thought there must be more that can

through medication, not through talking, sense-

be done psychologically and through talking

making, emotional processing or sharing the

therapies that would have fewer permanent side

horror of what has happened to these people.

effects. Therapies have a pretty good success

There is something very self-fulfilling about this

rate in general, so if we’re finding that these ther-

system. You’re told you have a psychotic illness

apies are not achieving that success rate with

and that people don’t recover from psychosis,

some people, then maybe we need to change

and that becomes very self-fulfilling, which was

and develop them, and there are lots of other

very striking to see first-hand.

people out there trying to do this. The client who

I remember one person, a refugee, had

was a refugee said that she was hearing a voice

heard a new voice but was trying to get her

that said, “You’ll never go back home,” which, to

medication lowered because her periods had

me, had a very clear meaning. There was a very

completely stopped for about two years, and

emotional process going on there related to the

she was in her early twenties and wanted chil-

fact that she had to leave everything behind.

dren at some point. She was sleepy all the time

She was divorced and was disassociated from

and gaining weight, and there could have been

everything she knew. Rather than giving her a

lots of causes for that, but when you look through

regular place to talk about that, her medication

the medication leaflet those are among the side

was put back up again. Her keyworker told the

effects. Somehow I feel we’ve lost the balance

psychiatrist, and the psychiatrist put the medica-

between the benefits and side effects. I think

tion dose back up. This was against the client’s

the evidence for long-term use of these drugs

wishes, but she was on the section, so it becomes

is a lot poorer than for short-term use, and most

difficult in terms of choice in that sort of situa-

people end up on it long-term because they’re

tion. I think it was seeing these missed opportuni-

told they need it long-term, and if they come off

ties and feeling there was so much unnecessary

it they will relapse, which is almost always fulfilled.

suffering going on that made me think, “Come

Whether it’s fulfilled because their biology and

on, can we do it better than this?” So one of the

neurology have adapted to having this chemical

things I wanted to do was find out a bit more.

substance inside them or whether it’s due to an underlying pathology that makes it impossible to

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 10

People’s voices, which are called ‘verbal hallucinations’ within the system, are seen as

Summer/ Issue 38


symptoms of an underlying pathology or disorder.

I was lucky enough to talk to Ivan about those,

They seem to have these clear links with what

because I knew he wouldn’t be scared. I also

has happened to people in their lives. It seems

know that going to therapy and talking about it,

so clear and simple. There’s been some really

and being free to talk about it, actually helped

interesting research that looks at voices in terms

me to work that out and decipher what it meant.

of people’s biographies, but there’s still much

I think that it’s an area that also says a lot about

more that needs doing in this area. I spoke to

who we are as people, how separate we are

someone that had been my professor during my

from other people, and when you start looking at

degree, and he said why don’t you come back

the grief voices, those links become even more

and do some more research with me on hearing

apparent. These intersections between ourselves

voices. His name is Professor Ivan Leuder, and he

and other people are talked about by develop-

and a psychiatrist called Phil Thomas had writ-

mental psychologists; people like Vygotsky talked

ten a book on it called Voices of Reason, Voices

about how the child internalises the speech of

of Insanity. Part of this looked at the meaning of

others into their own inner speech, and this is

voices and how that meaning has changed over

how children start to regulate their own activity

time and in different societies; they have a chap-

and form their own sense of self. There are lots of

ter on Socrates, for example, that looks at the

theories out there from different areas of psychol-

meaning of what he would call his ‘demon’. It’s

ogy, social psychology and sociology that really

kind of a sketch of the history of voices, but it also

point towards the importance of others and the

looks at how voices are presented in the main-

other in the self, and yet, when we treat prob-

stream media now. They interviewed people

lems, we treat them as very individual matters

who were hearing voices about what the voices

and as something that’s pathological, and I

were like, what language was used, what that

think we miss the point when we do that; there’s

language meant and how it related to people’s

something much more relational about these

biographies and histories. And so that was really

problems. It’s always to do with relationships with

part of the inspiration as well.

others at some level.

On a personal level, I’d had occasional expe-

As well as the survey, we’re working with other

riences of hearing voices, but there were times in

researchers like Pablo Sabucedo, Chris Evans,

my life when it was actually quite useful informa-

Anastasios Gaitanidis and other researchers at

tion, and actually being scared of it could have

the Centre for Research in Social and Psycho-

closed down that information. It was telling me

logical Transformation. We have a research

something about my situation at the time, and

clinic at Roehampton, where we try brand new

www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 11


therapies and recruit clients. The clients that we

mid-February.

see get free therapy and, in return, they take part in the research, which usually involves filling in a couple of forms and agreeing to the recording of sessions. So we’re starting a new project there. We’re investigating how we can help people who are experiencing the presence of the deceased person in an unwanted or unwelcome way and in a way they find distressing. The presence might be hostile or it might be because they’re seeing visions of a person who was ill towards the end of their life, and they’re seeing them in pain, which is hugely difficult. We don’t want to say that it’s a problem, but it is for some people, and we felt that the needs of those people were being missed. This is a minority of people, but it is a significant minority of people whose needs are not really being met, from what we can gather from research. For this project, we are trying to recruit those who are experiencing the presence of a loved one who has died or someone close to them who has died that is finding it unwelcome or distressing in some way. We’re offering person-centred relational therapy in the clinic, and we were just about to start recruiting our clients for that. Part of the research programme is the survey and part of it is the clinic study. At the moment, we’re also putting together a radio documentary with Ed Lawrenson for Radio 4’s Short Cuts, where we’re presenting people’s personal testimonies of their experiences of presence and grief. This will air in

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 12

Emily: You talked about how these people often feel dismissed by mental health professionals. Do you think the results of the study will help equip mental health professionals with the right tools to help those that are experiencing these presences? Jacqueline: Yeah, I think we’re hoping to produce some basic guidance and training for health professionals, such as counsellors and therapists, but also other medical professionals like GPs and psychiatrists, so they feel better equipped when a client or a patient does go to them with this issue. It’s not about blaming these professionals, because there’s obviously a gap in their levels of training, knowledge or comfort. We’re hoping to provide more information about what we’ve found helps people within therapy and provide some methods for helping, just some very simple guidance. I suspect that, actually, giving people the very accepting, empathic space to discuss this is what’s needed and what’s missing, and I think it’s probably going to be something as simple and as human as that. I suspect we won’t need to use many fancy techniques, but we’ll see.

Emily: I was wondering how people have responded to the idea of this particular study? Jacqueline: I find that people are endlessly fascinated by this topic. When you tell people about

Summer/ Issue 38


it, they just want to know more. I think it has a

what’s going on for them and what they need in

personal resonance with some people. Psycho-

order to support people in this situation. I think we

therapists often say to me, “I had a client in the

could go down the route of exploring people’s

other day that was talking about this,” and it

experiences of hearing voices more generally

really does pop up quite a lot in therapy sessions.

and looking at their life experiences. There’s

So I’ve found that other professionals have been

been some great research on this in recent years,

very welcoming and embracing of the idea, and

and I think we can expand on that so that we’re

other people are passionately behind it as well.

reaching a better understanding of exactly how

It’s been very positive.

people are hearing voices, when it becomes a problem and when that meaning makes it prob-

Emily: Finally, do you think the results from this

lematic for some people. We know, for example,

particular study will influence further research?

from wider surveys of society that there are a lot

Jacqueline: Yes, we’re certainly hoping so! We’ve

of people that do hear a voice at some point in

got a PhD student working with us now who will

their life, but only a very small minority of those

hopefully be taking it forward into his own career.

people end up with a diagnosis or end up in

I see this research programme going on for

mental health services. In fact, 10% of the people

quite a few years. I think there’s a massive field

that do hear a voice actually receive some kind

of research questions that we need to answer.

of treatment or help for it, which suggests that

I think there are so many routes of enquiry that

there are lots of people out there that do not

we can see already, and this is something that

experience it as a problem. One really interesting

can generate a lot of new, different research

avenue of research concerns when this becomes

projects. So I see us building on this research

a problem and when it doesn’t, and if we can

programme that others have also contributed to

understand that better, then we can help people

for at least a decade. The survey project will be

in better ways when it does become a problem.

a fairly short project, and I’m really excited to see

We can enhance and build on the good prac-

what we’re going to find in terms of the patterns

tice that is already happening.

and trends. I suspect that will lead to in-depth research that would explore those patterns and trends further. For example, if we find patterns within the help-seeking or the responses from

If you would like to take part in this study, please contact Zoe Shaughnessy: Zoe.Shaughnessy@roehampton.ac.uk.

medical professionals, that could lead to more research with health professionals to find out

www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 13


EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 14

Summer/ Issue 38


www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 15


Image: James Garden

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 16

Summer/ Issue 38


Nervous Illness The following tips come from self-help books, professionals and are based on my own experiences. Ricky Writes

D

r Claire Weekes is, in my view, the author-

out of it!” She says that what she advocates is

ity on nervous illness, and her books Self-

simple but not easy. There is no such thing as

Help for Your Nerves and Essential Help for Your

Dr Weekes’s method; it is nature’s method.

Nerves are still available. Susan Jeffers’ book,

She hasn’t cured anyone; she has shown others

Feel the Fear and do it Anyway, is recom-

how to cure themselves.

mended. These books explain how the nervous system and its tricks work, and so, as you

These are some of her treatments and tech-

come to understand it, they take away your

niques:

bewilderment and help to remove the “fear of

• Face the situation or fear, and don’t run

fear”. Anxiety and the myriad of other ghastly

away

feelings are likely to become more manage-

• Accept the feelings; don’t fight and practise

able, less overwhelming and are more likely to

a relaxation technique

go quicker.

• Float over the feelings as best you can

Dr Weekes’s books contain a lot of repeti-

• Let more time pass; try to be patient.

tion, but she makes no apology for this. As she says, “You have repeated the wrong advice

If you have an anxiety attack or fear grips

enough times to get into the mess, so you need

you, try to let the feeling of fear and anxiety

to repeat the right advice enough times to get

happen without adding ‘second fear’ to it,

www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 17


e.g. “Oh my goodness, it’s happening!”;

Cope with yourself, not a situation. Eye

“What if this doesn’t end!” etc. ‘First fear’

contact is very useful and important when

will always die down on its own after reach-

talking to, or in the company of, another

ing a peak if you do not add second fear

person or a group of people. Having this

to it, as this prolongs it. Recovery lies in the

pointed out, and by putting it into practice

places you fear; seek them out with utter

myself, has helped reduce the feeling of

acceptance. The only way out of fear is

depersonalisation and has encouraged

through it, which is, of course, the title of

reintegration, thereby making me feel

Susan Jeffers’ excellent book.

more like a part of humanity and a person.

Do not expect to get the hang of the

I have listed some more observations

suggestions straightaway. The important

from Dr Weekes. I find it so useful and

thing is to try to do them first. A thousand-

comforting to hear them and have them

mile walk starts with the first steps.

explained; you then don’t feel so alone.

The same applies to panic attacks. If you try to let them happen, they will not last as long and will become further apart. “Peace lies the other side of panic.” However, just when you think you’re cured,

“Well one day, ill the next. Fine one week, not the next.” “A difficult morning need not mean a difficult day.” “I know how possible it can seem on

one can come out of the blue and strike

Mondays and impossible on Tuesdays.

you bitterly. When you’ve got over the

Float past those impossible Tuesdays

shock of it, apply the same acceptance

until all those possible Mondays come

technique and the panic/anxiety will

along. I know how possible it can seem

subside.

on Mondays and impossible on Tuesdays.

Setbacks are to be expected and are

Strange how all those possible Mondays fail

part of recovery. If you are faced with a

to convince when one impossible Tuesday

sudden problem and mental shock hits

comes along.”

you, as soon as you realise it is shock, ride it.

“Unhook” your mind if necessary. You

When it has died down, you will be able to

are not your thoughts. You may be able to

deal with the problem, or what has caused

let unwanted thoughts out of your head

it, more effectively.

from time to time, but the best way to

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 18

Summer/ Issue 38


remember is to try too hard to forget.

Rule 2: When you can’t take one more step,

If you have an anxious thought, half-smile;

refer back to rule number 1!

it takes the edge off it. A full smile might be asking for too much. If you’re feeling anxious, try and work out what you’re actually feeling anxious about, and then you will be better able to tackle it. Exercise is extremely beneficial (I like swimming in particular). It doesn’t necessarily cure, but you should feel better afterwards. With a clearer head, you’re better able to tackle any problems you have. My coping mechanisms for stress, anxiety, tension, nervous illness etc., built up over the years, are: acceptance, relaxation, meditation, medication (I’m on olanzapine, which was originally on the market for schizophrenia but is now also prescribed for mood and anxiety – check with your doctor), faith, exercise, healthy diet (thanks,

Confidence with specific things comes from doing those things you think you cannot do. It comes from doing the difficult thing again and again, until it becomes an in-built part of oneself. The price one pays is doing the difficult thing, and you must expect a reaction. This will get less as you practise, as a result of doing it. Don’t wait for confidence to come before doing something difficult. It comes whilst doing it or afterwards. What you need first is to try and pluck up the courage to do it, despite the feeling of fear. Confidence earned by your own experience will never leave you completely. As Dr Weekes also says: “In the end, no way can bring confidence more effectively than

GP), keeping to a routine, going out, being

recovery from nervous illness, when it has

with people (even if I’m not interacting with

been coped with the right way.”

them), some occupation such as volun-

Failure is not finality; it has no legs to

tary work (incidentally, occupation in the

stand on, unless you give it yours. The great-

company of others is also another very

est failure is the failure to make the effort.

useful major crutch), eye contact and talk-

The only people who never fail are those

ing. Not everything all at once!

who never try. Or as Churchill said: “If you’re going

Two rules for winning:

through hell, keep going!”

Rule 1: Take one more step

Good luck!

www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 19


EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 20

Summer/ Issue 38


Dealing with Short-Term

BEREAVEMENT Dev Chatterjea

D

ealing with the passing of a family

This is then followed by panic and possi-

member who is close to you, or

ble crying. It takes a long time for the

that you look up to, can be very trau-

original shock to reduce; it may take a

matic to say the least. Hearing the shock-

few days. To put it in a nutshell, there will

ing news can cause a wide range of

be uncontrollable feelings. For instance,

feelings such as horror, panic and confu-

anger (“Why did you leave me?”); frus-

sion. It can give you the shivers or force

tration (“What do I do now?” “What’s

you to consider what to do next, etc.

next?”); guilt (“Why didn’t I look after

It’s a massive jolt to the system. A close

him more?” “Why didn’t I see him more

friend once told me it’s like a thousand-

often?”).

volt electric shock hitting you in one go.

People deal with grief in different

At first, the brain does not know what to

ways. Grieving can become a lot more

do with the news and may not accept it.

devastating when you have mental

www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM 21


health issues. The feelings are more

someone to listen and/or comfort you.

heightened and more difficult to

It will be difficult to come to terms with

handle. In the worst-case scenario, it

their passing, and it will feel as if there

could cause a person to lose contact

is a massive gap in your life. In time,

with the real world; they may experi-

you may want to find ways of filling

ence denial, believing that the death

that gap. You may want to take up

of their loved one has not happened.

new hobbies such as art, sports, walk-

In some cases, a person may think that

ing, going to events, socialising. This will

he or she is in contact with the dead

help you with filling the void that the

person’s spirit. A possible sign of this is

person has left.

when the person starts to talk to the

Saying this, grieving is a natural

deceased as if they are with them.

process and can vary from person to

They may try to deny their death franti-

person. There are people who don’t

cally.

show what they are going through, and

If you know someone who is experiencing this or if you are having difficulties coping with the grief, then

some people find other ways to grieve. There is no textbook way of grieving. Memories of the person, good or

maybe you should consider speaking

bad, will come to you. Not being able

to a friend, work colleague or even

to deal with these memories, and the

your doctor. You may be surprised by

fact that the person is not physically

what sort of support you can get. This

there, can be traumatic. At first, it may

is when you need support from friends,

be unbearable to even think about the

co-workers, family and other people

person; this could mean the shock of

you trust. What you need most is for

their death has still not faded. You may

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 22

Summer/ Issue 38


want to lash out angrily, or, in extreme

about the deceased, a wide range of

cases, you may flow in and out of

extreme feelings reappear. Imagine

psychotic episodes.

the shocking feelings you had when

For those who don’t have ‘mental

you first heard about their death, reap-

health problems’, it is several thou-

pearing when you think of that person

sand times worse than you might think.

or see photos of them. In some cases,

It may cause your condition to get

this can cause psychotic episodes. I

worse, and you may think that your

would say that if you suspect you may

current medication dosage is not

be experiencing this, or know some-

working. When you don’t have mental

one else who is, you should consider

health problems, you have ways of

seeking medical or psychological

knowing when the memory is not real,

support.

and when you are just thinking of the

Sometimes when you are griev-

person and what they used to do.

ing, you don’t know what to do with

Dealing with that memory may still

yourself, especially in the following few

be painful, but you may find different

months after their death. There is the

ways of controlling it. But for a person

matter of dealing with their day-to-day

with mental health problems, the abil-

affairs and what they have left behind.

ity to control that thought might not

This may be trickier if you lived with the

be there. Putting it in simple terms,

person. On a personal note, when I

the person with mental health issues

came back after my father’s funeral

may not know how to deal with the

abroad, I found it very difficult to deal

thoughts or what to do with them.

with him not being there. The follow-

Each time he or she has a thought

ing two months were full of empti-

www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM 23


ness. I would always expect him to walk

can be traumatic, even more so when

out and do something funny. I would

you have mental health problems. This

desperately wish he was still around.

is mainly because you have minimal

Every day I would tell myself he is not

control over your thoughts and feelings.

coming back. It wasn’t until the third

George Orwell said: “They say that

week that both my mother and I real-

time heals all things!” In short, grieving

ised that we had to deal with his affairs:

takes time to heal. Mental health issues

banks, pensions, telling friends, photo-

or not, it is likely you will slowly want to

copying the death certificate, mailing

go back to your usual routine. If needed,

information to all the required places,

maybe you could take up some

etc. The next thing was dealing with all

bereavement counselling. This is some-

the things he had accumulated. Each

thing that will take time. You will always

thing would bring up a good and a bad

have memories of that person.

memory of my father. There were also times when we would forget that he was no longer around. We would talk about

There are two comforting thoughts I would recommend keeping in mind

him as if the last few weeks and months

1. They are always watching over you.

had not happened. It was obvious that

2. Think of what they would say to you

both of us were missing him a lot.

when you have done something.

I would say the worst point was when I had to take his last remaining clothes

Think of all the good things they have

to the charity shop. Saying that, the

done and how much they loved you.

saddest thing about grieving is that all

As my friend once said, a person never

you have left are their memories and a

dies. He or she continues to live in you,

few possessions that you have kept as

and each time you think or speak of

a memory of that person. Yes, grieving

them, they are with you.

EQUILIBRIUM EQUILIBRIUM 24

Summer/ Issue 38


Local graffiti art in Haringey...

Parkland Walk, Crouch End

Wood Green

Tiverton Primary School

Carlingford Road, Turnpike Lane

www.haringey.gov.uk/equilibrium

EQUILIBRIUM 25


Equilibrium Magazine for Wellbeing, Issue 64  

Welcome to the 64th edition of Equilibrium Magazine. I hope that you have all entered 2018 with peaceful minds and full stomachs. This issue...

Equilibrium Magazine for Wellbeing, Issue 64  

Welcome to the 64th edition of Equilibrium Magazine. I hope that you have all entered 2018 with peaceful minds and full stomachs. This issue...

Advertisement