THEATRE OF LIFE

 

 

Marian @ Krysan

THE WELLBEING CONSULTANCY

Planting Golden Seeds in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, and Durham

___________________________

  

"This is the Great Theatre of Life.  Admission is free, but the taxation is mortal.  You come when you can, and leave when you must.  The show is continuous.  Goodnight."

- Robertson Davies

 

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Interconnectedness.  

Welcome Dear Friend

to the

 

T H E A T R E   O F   L I F E

 

 "When life reaches out with a moment like this, it's a sin if you don't reach back.” ― Matthew Quick

 

 

 

A first-hand account of the

2014 Annual Members' Meeting of the

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

_____________ 

 

 

18 July 2014

Dear Friends

TALKING ABOUT RECOVERY

To set the scene, this is a quotation taken from 'See Me's weekly summary of mental health in the news and blogosphere in Scotland and beyond'.  It reads:

"Mental health is something that’s increasingly appearing in conversation these days. This is a huge, huge step in the right direction, because historically it’s the stigma around mental illness that has been one of the biggest obstacles for people in seeking help, or in fact, in even acknowledging that there’s a problem in the first place. I’m impatient though. I want to see this conversation go further, much further." FIONA KENNEDY

Time to talk about recovery?  I rather think so.

    • I am
    • Sincerely yours
    • Marian Moore BA/BSc (Open), CertEd 

 The theatre of life is - my playground.  

As an elderwoman, a writer and a speaker, I am fortunate in being trusted to tell stories and trusted to be told stories.  It's a responsibility that sometimes weighs heavily; but it is also an honour that I treasure with a passion. I am ever-conscious of the need to get such stories right for the intended audience, whether I am sitting at the keyboard or standing at the podium.  

To my delight, yesterday was an officially designated story-telling day of some note.  Bear with me for a while and I will tell you why this day was extra special in the history of the NHS mental health services in this region and in the country - even in the world. This was an NTW event of inspiration, revelation and revolution.  Read on.  

Where was I and why?  

Alongside around two hundred other people, I was in an hotel in Newcastle upon Tyne.  The occasion was the Annual Members' Meeting of the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW). For those of you interested in corporate affairs, I have been a service user member of the Council of Governors of NTW for close on four years - a 'critical friend' with a special responsibility for older people's services.  

That aside, yesterday we were all at it - 

  • all telling and listening to stories,
  • all players in the theatre of life, and
  • all centre stage

The theme of the day was - recovery.

It was a beautiful, sunny day in North East England; the sort of day when you are glad to be alive.  We - all two hundred of us - were celebrating the birth of a new focus in the world of mental health, 'recovery'. This was the moment I, and other mental health activists, had been eagerly anticipating (and working towards) for years.  

Some of you may know me as an expert through experience, someone who looks at life through a different lens to most people. A quotation I often use in my writings comes directly from the good people of the NTW Equality and Diversity Team: "Being different does not make one good or bad, or wrong, superior or inferior. Being different adds a different perspective or dimension to a task, an issue, or a situation." NTW Foundation Trust

If you wish to learn more of my story of recovery, try to get hold of NTWs Annual Magazine via its website and look for A Grandmother's Tale.  Read between the lines and you will find that, long ago, I strayed from the beaten track, ending up stranded and alone on the Road Less Travelled.  Thankfully, many years later, I am now able to tell a tale of hope and recovery to anyone who happens by!

In my years of recovery, I turned my life around. I taught myself to be grateful; to be mindful; to savour; even, to be happy. In the digital age, self-learning is the name of the game. It's freely available to everyone with access to a computer (or a book!). Take it from me, we are our own best teachers. Look around; attitudes are shifting; transformation is happening - and quickly. 

  • Don't get left behind.
  • The stakes are high.
  • Start now.  First step.  Love yourself.

As someone now discharged from the care of the mental health services, and as someone supportive of the values of a newly 'recovery-focussed' mental health trust, I am (in my view) justifiably delighted - on both counts. The event at the Gosforth Marriott Hotel was a 'little black dress' occasion for me, another occasion where I wore my 'governor's rosette' with pride. This was a celebration - a celebration of goodness.

I repeat, the theme of the whole ground-breaking afternoon was 'recovery'. And so, at long last, we are witnessing a paradigm shift in mental health matters, this across the board.  For a little more as to why, what and how, go to this page on this website:  

  • (See MIRACLE RISING)

An inspiration, a revelation, and - a revolution

In the course of the event, I spoke to many people - NTW staff, service users, carers, and members of the public.  Collaboration is what it's all about, but please do note that there is nothing 'official' about my writings here - or anywhere else for that matter.  All views expressed are my own, something said not altogether in jest! Point made, I now proceed with due diligence to mention:

  • An inspiration -  values shaping care  √

Prior to the formal meeting, there was ample opportunity for guests to converse with NTW staff from various departments.  Everyone I spoke to had a tale to tell and all inspired me. This included friends (some new; some old) working in:

  • Research (Mental Health Care Coordination & Recovery Project)
  • WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan)
  • Falls Prevention 
  • Dementia Friends Training
  • Website Design (and re-design)
  • Sunderland Recovery College 
  • Peer support, training and education

But, if I had to choose one area of NTW for a special mention, it would be the NTW Communications Department whose expertise was in evidence everywhere I looked. For instance, their first attempt at an Annual Magazine was professional and inspirational, being concerned throughout with: The Values of Recovery: How our values are shaping the way we care.  

Starting with Hugh Morgan Williams - the Chairman - each member of the Executive Team was given space in the magazine to have their say on recovery.  Early on in the magazine, John Lawlor -  the Chief Executive - very wisely (and very sensitively) explored the tensions around the concept of "recovery", itself:

"We recognise that the meaning of the word "recovery" is a very personal one for our service users. As such, we are aware that we will not be able to arrive at a uniform definition that works for everyone equally.  We will respect this when discussing and promoting a greater "recovery focus" with our staff in their day-to-day interactions with our service users and their carers." JOHN LAWLOR

John spoke of the greater emphasis on partnership between all service users and front-line staff.  He also spoke eloquently of the importance of promoting hope in every aspect of care, recognising this as 'a grand ambition'.  He then clarified the challenge(s) for everyone of turning the ambition into a reality.  

Change doesn't happen in a vacuum.

It is my hope (and intention) that you will follow the hyper-link to the NTW website at the end of my blog. It is via this link that you can gain easy access to the Annual Magazine, a very worthy read either in print or electronic format.  The choice is yours.

  • A revelation - a road travelled  √

I turn now to the Annual Members' Meeting, itself. Here in the Marriott's well-appointed lecture theatre, an attentive audience listened to 'the business' of NTW. In a beautifully-crafted meeting that held all in its sway, the atmosphere was electric. Not only did the Chairman, the Chief Executive, and the Executive Director of Finance (James Duncan) have an opportunity to demonstrate their true mettle, but there was also a worthy recovery video to watch and an equally worthy raffle to enjoy!

Significantly, we also heard from a young mother called Claire Keys. In identifying Claire as one of the stars of the proceedings, I am not alone.  Claire's account of her journey through the NTW mental health system was a celebration of courage and resilience. It also spoke to the endurance and compassion of those who devote their lives to caring for others.  Claire's story - A Road Travelled - was a revelation.  

Here's how Claire's story began:

"My first contact with NTW was in 2007 following the birth of my daughter when I spent five months on the Beadnell mother and baby unit; I was given ECT, medication and lots of talking therapy but thankfully recovered.  I spent a period of time receiving out patient support but was then discharged. 

"When I became unwell again a few years later and was subsequently admitted again to have another course of ECT, I felt like I had 'failed at recovery' although I now accept this was due to my negative cognitions at the time with illness.  Recovery is a journey and it's vital to define what recovery is for yourself before you can move forward.". CLAIRE KEYS

Claire's journey of recovery, one that has taken her from service user to staff nurse, is an example of grit and determination. She, too, serves as an NTW service user governor.  In her address, Claire Keys made a special reference to NTWs investment in recovery-focussed services, one example being the new Recovery College Initiative. True to form, Claire ended on an optimistic/hopeful note: "... that one day mental illness will not be seen as the life sentence that it is still often seen as."  CLAIRE KEYS

There was more, of course, but again I am out of space, and would once more respectfully encourage you to follow the link below to the NTW website and thence to the Annual Magazine where you will find Claire's speech given more weight than is possible here. Look out too for the recovery video mentioned above.

  • A revolution - in thought, word and deed √

Having now brought the NTW Annual Members' Meeting and related resources (especially the NTW website link) to your kind attention, I finish my blog today by directing you to the following Open Letter written by me some time ago. It is self-explanatory and takes the revolution in thought, word and deed spoken of above a tad further, that is directly into the Theatre of Life.

Decision-makers are asked to bear in mind that, whether transforming services, designing a new hospital, or selecting courses for a new recovery college, ordinary people's experience, knowledge and skills do matter - and they matter a lot!  As does local knowledge.  Don't ignore that which is hidden in plain sight.  Mahatma Gandhi urged us all to be the change we wish to see in the world.

So, here I go again bringing in reinforcements. They are especially for you (and yours) and come with the Compliments of the House.  Please, take time to read a final update, a respected social commentator's contribution to the wider debate: 'Mental disorders should not be hastily defined' by Mary O'Hara. Mary O'Hara is my friend - and yours.  

Mary, too, is on the side of goodness.  Need I say more?

  • (See AUSTERITY BITES)

"This is the Great Theatre of Life.  Admission is free, but the taxation is mortal.  You come when you can, and leave when you must.  The show is continuous.  Goodnight." - Robertson Davies

 

  • Marian Moore
  • email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • 20 July 2014

 


  • OPEN LETTER
  • FROM ME
  • TO YOU

STORIES MATTER

Give a drop, and take this Sea full of Pearls! 

Marian @ KrysanPeople's stories matter and this is particularly so in mental health training.  Stories bring life to the dustiest of lecture theatres, dullest of conference rooms, and greyest of meetings. I've seen this happen time and time again. People sit up.

But, I'm also aware that sometimes our stories are uncomfortable to listen to and can even make you squirm - sometimes leave the room! Sadly, that's just the way it is. No one ever said that the troubled waters of mental illness, anxiety, and depression were pretty or easy.

It is ignorance of the facts that promotes the stigma and discrimination that I and others experience - daily.  Take it from me, it's hard to talk about the pain of it all to a live audience of total strangers.  Likewise, I know it is hard to sit and listen to real passion and real emotion from people you are seeing as if for the first time.

Listening to a real-life story with eyes, ears, heart and mind is not the same as looking at a person's brain scan or a person's diagnosis or even a person's electronic record. Not forgetting, of course, the sacred ground of the medical textbook. Sorry, but if I don't remind you to dig deeper, think harder, and take less 'as read', then who will ... and when?

Issues and cherished beliefs around mental health are, without a shadow of doubt, highly contentious, controversial and emotive - even messy.  But, there are sound ethical and practical reasons why it is time to change.  Things (people and theories) move on ...  

Miriam Akhtar, Peter Chadwick, Mark Ellerby, and Paris Williams are all respected authors with something interesting/profound to say on the subject of mental health.  Like me, they would urge you to become an expert, follow your heart and then, 

'Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.  -  St. Francis of Assisi

Good advice.  Please listen ...

Marian

  • (See I AM WHAT I AM) 


 

FURTHER READING

*AKHTAR, MIRIAM (2011), Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression: Self-help strategies for happiness, inner strength and well-being, London, pub. Watkins Publishing.

*CHADWICK, Peter K (1997), Schizophrenia: The Positive Perspective: In search of dignity for schizophrenic people, Hove & New York, pub. Brunner-Routledge

*ELLERBY, Mark (2007), The Stages of Schizophrenia: Part One, pub. Brentwood, Essex, Chipmunkapublishing 

*WILLIAMS, Paris, (2012), Rethinking Madness: Towards a Paradigm Shift in Our Understanding and Treatment of Psychosis, pub. San Francisco, Sky's Edge 

   

   QUESTIONS

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what good am I?

If not now, when? 

 

UPDATE

Mary O'Hara writes

Mental disorders should not be hastily defined
The Guardian – 28th May 2013

An article examining the social and clinical significance of being given a mental health diagnosis mentions the work of Time to Change to tackle stigma around mental illness.

Read more

 


 

As promised:

YOUR DIRECT LINK TO NTWs WEBSITE

NORTHUMBERLAND, TYNE & WEAR NHS FOUNDATION TRUST (NTW)

http://www.ntw.nhs.uk/ 

 

 

NTW NEWS FLASH

If you click here you will have access to a digital copy of our annual magazine and video, both of which are on the theme of recovery.

A digital version of our annual report can also be viewed by clicking here.

WILL GREEN (NTW)

 


 

  • Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  
  • Live the life you have imagined.  
  • - Henry David Thoreau

 

 ENDS | 4,225 hits | 2017-05-06


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