How I Envision our Future Together

Michael Tellinger : Ancient technology and the Ubuntu movement

Having been through what I have, I eventually somehow found myself upon this presentation, which led me to learn about about Contributionism.

I delved deep into it and found it to connect to my way of seeing things when I find myself in oneness with that unconditional love that resides inside all of us.
I would encourage others to watch it and then do some exploring of your own to see if you envision a future like this.

Also, for those who would prefer to read about it, there is this link:

Ubuntu Liberation Movement

T=M

The Afteraffects of Anti-Depressants

I posted this on a social networking site called ‘Experience Project’ recently. I find the place useful because I can piece together what happened to me from going through the events. Plus the people who do engage can be most helpful in getting each other where they need to go.

“About 13 years ago I had a particularly profound experience where I had my mind blown apart and expanded beyond all conceivable limits by a terrible reaction from the withdrawal of an anti-depressant medication. Ever since then I have had periods of altered states of reality on almost a yearly basis.
When my mind was blown away, it felt like the very core of who I was disintegrated into fine grains of something intangible and ever since then it’s been a journey to pull that core back to something whole.
Each time I feel I am getting closer to being put back together, truly whole within myself, I have a habit of unravelling and drifting back again into an altered state of reality once more.
Yet being on places such as EP, interacting and observing others for a length of time reminds me of what I am ultimately looking to become.
I remember the experience of being unconditional love. I remember what it means to feel fully present in the this constant moment of existence. I remember that there is that sense of being fully connected to all that happens in the “now” of the world we perceive. I can recall the memories I need to help give that insight to convey what I wish to describe.
It’s at this point, clarity returns. You start to think of what it means to be a complete person and in doing so you can start to think of devoting more of yourself to others.
You can start to explore genuine selflessness.
However the key is possibly the ability to sustain that state of wholeness in order to devote a life to helping others. You only need what brings that equilibrium to be healthy.
This is now the challenge once again. I consider this coming new year as a fresh start with a clean slate full of possibility. A way to end one cycle and bring about another. One that leaves behind any fragmentation and instead sees things as a unified whole.
With this, purpose and meaning can be realised.”

All the shifting about on a psychological level, seeing hallucinations and being lost in delusions, opens you up to a world where you can transcend Earthly planes of existence.

I feel it is very much real. Perhaps even more real than being contained in our bodies. You could consider it spirit walking.

There is a belief that this whole process and dealings with such things as Psychiatry is a path in becoming a Shaman. Unfortunately we do not have the skills taught to us anymore. However there are tribes out there fully aware of this today. For myself, I am still working on keeping myself together. Yet each time I come back from being lost, I bring that much more back with me. I’m hoping this year, I’ll be able to continue staying much more whole in order to discuss and post about my discoveries.

T=M

A New Year, New Beginnings and a Clearer Direction

Well now,

What a time 2015 was. In my exploration of self and being, I’ve finally come out with a clearer idea of how to push forward with this here rambling thingy.

Far too many people are out there right now are looking for a way to have a fulfilling life. I mean, when I say “fulfilling” it could mean different things, but I am really boiling it down to just being able to have a life. A life where you feel wanted, safe and able to get by each day feeling it’s worth it. A life where you can go to work and feel satisfied with your efforts and feel you can contribute to something more than yourself. A life that leaves you feeling as though you are worth loving and feel the love you have inside for yourself.

It’s a small thing to ask for, as I see it.

Yet, why can it be so hard to have something so small?

Now, I am ready to devote more time to answering questions like this and explain why people with mental health problems get stuck. Explain why the world as a whole is very sick with mental health issues and hopefully I can show you why things need to change and how it can change.

I am also going to shed some light on how these matters connect to the world of spirituality.

My experiences have taught me many valuable lessons which I think many people would benefit from reading about. I believe that others have the power to do exactly the same thing with their lived experience.

I hope this message touches you in some way, so that perhaps you may come to feel less alone out there or feel inspired to follow your own instincts. We all have the potential for greatness deep inside us; now we need to show one another how to achieve it.

A new waypoint laid down

I finally started work on my book today and I feel relieved that I’ve actually been able to sit down and start typing it out at last.

In some respects it was easy to go over some old wounds while recounting early memories, but in other respects it made me wonder if I have enough detail to write much of a book. “How long is this finally going to be?” I asked myself as I worked on the first few pages. “What is relevant to put in and what is not?” I thought. I guess for now it’s more a case of getting down what I do remember and waiting to see which areas of my life have more to say. If it only amounts to 100 pages then so be it. I’ll find a way some how to bring it more up to book standard size.

I also started work on a novel before sitting down to do the book. I figure a good escape from examining and analysing my life to put into words is to write about one that doesn’t exist anywhere else but on the computer screen. I like the idea that I can create a story where I set where the traumas are. Where I can make something fantastical from my own imagination without touching too much on the tragedy of my life history. The novel is about a man that has lived his whole life experiencing possession by some unknown force which makes him do things without his own will. It’s been inspired from my own experiences during psychosis.

So now I’ve set myself the task of writing these two books, I wonder if I’ve got it in me to complete them. I read somewhere once about so many people who start but never finish. Hopefully I don’t end up in that percentile.

T=M

Moving Ahead

Well I’m on the verge of starting to write a book about my experiences with the world of mental health, whether it be my own life, my parents life or others I’ve encountered – including things like the Psychiatric system, to a point.

While I have my doubts about whether it will be worthwhile anyone else reading, I figure it would lay some things to rest about what I’ve been through and witnessed. The hope there is for some catharsis at the end of it.

Much like in the spirit of my last point, I don’t care if it takes me something like 20 years to complete as long as I can write enough pages to make it worth of self-publication.

That’s really all there is to say on the matter.

T=M

 

Rebirth and Reflection

A lot can happen in a minute, an hour, or a day – so three years can mean something special to a person.

Many blogs come and go without really scratching the surface of the doorway to a group of people the author would like to reach. Many people would say “that is that” and be done with it. I’m one to think long term beyond what may or may not be possible.

Thoughts change, attitudes alter. Life continues to throw experiences at us that shape the fabric of who we are from the tiniest molecule up and outwards.

The inner world of our lives becomes richer and more diverse, after new boundaries are pushed and explored, leading to areas of ourselves we never thought could ever exist.

We find a new age of what it means to be the person we are slowly becoming and how to follow the path to become what we assumed was only a faded idea of something dream like.

That, to anyone who reads this, is where I am at right now. Looking to move forward from what has come before to what lies ahead, baring in mind there is still the present moment to be concerned with. A present moment to not be exploited in favour of wishful thinking.

What has come before in the blog itself will be referred back to at some point, I’m sure. However it will be seen in a new light and from a new perspective as it continues. The previous entries of the blog, in their culmination, have been an anchor forming a stepping stone, which I am sure will be the first of many to come over the years. It’s been a long path, with many more to navigate ahead, however with where I want to get to it’ll surely be worth it.

T=M

I’m still happy to be alive! – Part 1

OK, so I’ve been somewhat busy of late and I’ve just got back from a Charity event in Liverpool, which was in order to support EleMental and the work that is being done with those people connected to it. Robert Whitaker (author of “Mad In America” and “Anatomy of an Epidemic”) was the guest speaker, and I truly thank him from the bottom of my heart, and to those who made it possible for this event to happen.

What I have to say here will be both shocking and controversial for people to read, but I assure you, what I have to disclose is as close to the truth as possible. This is both a reason why I have gotten so very angry many a time, and why I continue to have a passion for contributing to change within and around mental health services. I am going to list bullet points which highlight what it is I have to say. Here goes:

* I have often told people that I was born to two parents diagnosed with severe mental illness. Through the first ten years of my life, my parents were admitted to Psychiatric Hospitals – at times together for up to 6 months  – and were subjected to various treatments considered to be suitable by the medical system in place. I was separated from them at a very early age, and this started what would be severe trauma for myself, and ongoing severe trauma for my parents.

Well, it turns out that if someone had actually listened to what their problems were and cared to help them with what were simply their “basic needs”, it would have been unlikely that they would have needed to go into hospital at all. I’ll look to point out why this is significant as I go.

* I remember visiting the Psychiatric hospital that my parents would become familiar with, at around the age of six years old. On one occasion I got to see my mother after she had received a “dose” of ECT (Electro-convulsive Therapy). It was very shocking and disturbing for me to see my mother this way, as she appeared to have been, what I can only describe as being “beaten up”. Her speech was slurred, she was wobbling about as she walked and generally had trouble standing up to spend time with me.

ECT works by damaging the brain – it is designed specifically so that this happens. It destroys areas of the brain which affect a person’s memory, and it supposed “helps” when especially traumatic memories from the person are lost – memories which can become a difficulty to live with. Unfortunately, because the brain is damaged, it has obvious cognitive side-effects for the individual and also prevents efficacy with more holistic approaches, such as therapy, where it can be essential to remember these traumas for healing to take place.

My father also received this method of “treatment”, although I had never seen him after it had happened.

* Due to my parents difficulties, it was a great struggle for them to make a living. The stress of unemployment and the responsibility of taking care of themselves – as well as their only child – would often become too much and trigger their “mental illness”. One thing I started to develop early on as a child, which I was not given the diagnosis of, would be what is considered ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). This is something I have trouble with – even today – and have never been given help to cope with the troubles it presents. As a result of this, I struggled through most of my school years, underachieving in the large class sizes which were too much for me to settle down in. I knew I had a problem – I just didn’t know how to verbalise it or know how to be any different. Teachers and tutors would often report that I was “disruptive” or something along the lines of not showing enough attention in class. Hmmm I wonder why?

Of course, if I had been given this unfortunate diagnosis, I would have been put on Ritalin almost straight away (and I almost did get put on it – but fortunately my mother saw sense). We now know today, that long term use of Ritalin (which is prescribed to children fairly often in some places) has a significant potential to develop “Bi-polar Disorder” and other major problems, in those who use the drug.

I’ll take the struggling I had with school over the drugs that create mental dysfunction.

* On the topic of drugs, both my parents have been given a large percentage of the drugs that have become available through the Psychiatric industry, produced by the pharmaceutical companies. This usage of bio-chemical drugs would span over 30 years. This was also in a time where – at least in this area of the world – there was a lot of experimentation and no clear idea from professionals in mental health services on how these drugs worked. Yet they were using them regularly.

My father was at one point given an overdose of the mood-stabilizer commonly used by those who were “manic depressive”, by the name of Lithium. It has been shown that high levels of this particular combination of chemical salts, becomes poisonous in the blood stream and could eventually result in death due to it’s toxic nature. My father experienced an OBE (Out of body experience) at this time and if left any longer, would have likely been killed by it.

Also another range of common drugs used as a choice for people like my father, and also my mother (diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia) are that of the neuroleptics (anti-psychotics). These particular drugs work by disabling specific areas of the brain, associated with the functioning of neuro-transmitters, and prevent the brain from operating the way it is suppose to naturally. These medications have recently been shown to “shut down” such things as the Basal Ganglia (or more recently referred to as the Corpus Striatum) which is significant because there have been indications that dysfunction of this particular set of nuclei, or atrophy, has been linked to certain diagnoses, such as OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

Also, long term neuroleptic use, has also been associated with a drug-created disorder called “Tardive Dyskinesia“. Signs of this disorder can be seen in a person, through involuntary movements of the body, such as muscles spasms; twitches; difficulties controlling the tongues movements; and general difficulties with other areas of the body.

My mother has these problems. It becomes difficult for her to do something as simple as holding a cup of tea, so she can enjoy a hot beverage. It also presents problems with sleep, as there is little respite from this disease, so this adds to the ongoing discomfort. Pain throughout the body often tends to be fairly chronic. At this time, it is unclear if this is always permanent damage, but it is considered that it is likely. However due to the plasticity of the brain – and how amazing an organ it is – there is the potential for repair to be made over a period of time. One can only hope.

Another common problem with the neuroleptics, is that it works much like a “chemical lobotomy“. It tends to disable the frontal lobes of the brain, which are associated with what tends to make us different from animals, allowing us to be human in this respect. What comes with this is a profound sense of apathy. People simply stop caring about what they are doing, even if they had previously enjoyed something that they were gifted and talented at. There may be a tranquillity, however it is at the expense of what contributes to making us the passionate human beings that were are. I’ll refer back to this section again.

* For a majority of my life, I have had to deal with what is considered to be chronic depression. I have also had difficulties with anxiety, especially in social situations (related to trauma around bullying when younger) and a number of bizarre or eccentric behaviours due to my difficulties coping with the outside world.

At one point, I was at a loss as how to cope with this overwhelm, and although naive and ignorant about the medications that were available to help someone like myself, I decided to give the anti-depressant medications a try. All I really wanted was someone to talk to, who could understand.

I tried my first drug, Cipramil (citalopram) and developed unexpected difficulties. I experience what would be considered to be a panic attack, and for a time was scared that I may actually die, due to my heart failing. It’s safe to say I left this drug alone after that.

Then, I was given a drug called Dothiepin (or Dosulepin) which I remained on for roughly six weeks. This was a drug that tended to cause a lot of drowsiness in those using it, especially at high doses. It turns out that I was prescribed a dose of 450mg (the maximum recommended to be 250mg safe usage) by a then junior doctor. After experiencing no recognisable side-effects, or feeling any difference for better or worse, I consulted a different General Practitioner for advice on what to do. I was told that if it was not working for me, then I could come off the drug – and that’s all there was to it. Little did I know, that going “cold turkey” on medications of this nature – especially at high doses – were potentially dangerous. This would trigger my first (but not last) episode of what is considered to be “psychosis“, where I experienced much of a three or four week period blacking out, along with auditory and visual hallucinations. I also experienced a number of delusions.

I hope that this is starting to paint a picture of something fundamentally wrong with what had happened to us as a family, and why I feel so strongly about disclosing this information. We are not alone in this: many families across the world are put in danger through ill treatment deriving from careless use of Psychiatric treatment.

I will look to do my best to finish this story or account in the next part, which I’ll look to complete soon.

Unconventional Wisdom: Experiences Away From the Mainstream – In Reflection by Lee Watmough

The serene scenery that surrounds the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells for this year’s conference, welcomes you to a day filled with hope and inspiration. With walking through the main doors to the arena where the stage is set, it is immediately clear to see what holds the promise for a successful day. DIY Futures – which is the lottery funded charity that has proven itself effective in and around the Powys area here in Wales – acts as host in celebration of world mental health week. We are here to explore the breadth of ideas surrounding mental distress, in order to generate discussion and debate away from the conventional mainstream.

As the set-up continues in preparations for the 9:45am start time, while people begin to arrive and sign in, everything is running smoothly. Refreshments are readily available while everyone waits, and the relaxed atmosphere gives those old and new – familiar and strange – a chance to socialise and interact with one another. The room steadily becomes busier and the sound of vibrant chatter fills the scene with anticipation. Seats at the various round tables are taken, just out in front of the speaker’s panel, and we’re almost underway.

Up first, our chair people run us through the necessary introductions, with support added to clearly identify what the aims are for the day, and then we are ready to meet our opening speaker to really kick things off.

We start with Marion Aslan, who is a qualified teacher, author and mental health activist with over 30 years experience working in the Healthcare sector. Her thread of work runs through a number of arenas including Mental Health, Learning Disabilities, Drug & Alcohol Services and Homeless projects. It has taken her to a variety of places in the world, such as Italy; Germany; Africa; Australia; America and Denmark, where she has spent time developing mental health programmes, recovery and person centred planning tool-kits, as well as establishing “The THRIVE Approach to Mental Wellness” with her co-author and long time colleague Mike Smith. Having a background of lived experience herself – with at one time being diagnosed with postnatal depression and puerperal psychosis – it is through her own personal pathways to recovery where she has found the inspiration to create this influential and eclectic body of work, that has taken her further forward.

The calibre of someone like Marion, is what helps to establish the foundation and overall mood for the day, so it can reach it’s full potential. The message she has to communicate is a very important one and is expertly delivered. She speaks in a way that directly addresses the issues faced, in and away from conventional systems of treatment, clearly showing why it is definitely necessary to have alternatives as an option, regardless of what stage we may be at. The way in which she speaks, gets to the root of what needs to be said, without holding back anything. There is a refusal to shy away from the major themes in this area – that have to be acknowledged – and this in turn strengthens the impact of what it is that is being put across. Her work with Elemental Wellbeing in particular demonstrates that there is a large demand for people to look away from the contemporary mainstream mental health services and find something that is actually tailored for those unique individuals in mind, where they will start to explore and find the specific therapeutic help needed for their own personal requirements. It is here where people are able to reject the notion of being diseased or ill, throw away the chains of stigmatization that Psychiatric diagnoses carry, in favour of being accepted for who they really are, with what they truly believe, without being judged or criticised for it. People are not expected to come together in a clinical environment to be analysed and inspected by specific medical professionals, but instead enjoy a more open and free place to support one another, in community settings such as cafés for example, where there are no extra costs to take into consideration or preconceptions about who they are as people.

It is not to say that Elemental is the only way to go, and that the mainstream mental health services have no use at all for people, but that it caters for a significant part of the population who will only really discover the true means to overcome mental distress, by looking to the point beyond recovery, where the use of the core elements in this approach are thoroughly tested and found to be essential for that to happen.

As the talk concluded, there was a short period of time afterwards for a Q&A session with the speaker, giving people a chance to raise any issues or offer any feedback in response to the talk. Something that is common at a conference of this nature, is that people have the opportunity to spend time with our speakers throughout the rest of the day to take things further where felt needed, which is certainly appreciated by all parties involved.

We move on to hear what’s next from the designated chair person, before the break for refreshments. In and following on from this, there is the opportunity for people to explore the ‘Drop in and Find Out More’ area of the conference on the other side of the building, where various groups and organizations from the surrounding area, have the chance to bring awareness and information to those who are interested in what they have to offer. I personally didn’t manage to find the time to explore this, even though it would have been appealing, perhaps due to the structure of the conference, which I’ll go into a bit more shortly.

During this time frame there were also ‘Workshops’ available for people to attend, with a total of 6 to choose from. The workshops were around the areas of: The potential of lived experience; the effects of trauma at different stages in our development; learning to live with hearing voices; projects that tie in to DIY futures; and the understanding of care plans in mental health services, specifically the Care Plan Approach (CPA). While there was an excellent standard to what was on offer, problems arose around the time allocated to explore the themes in these workshops. There was a general agreement and consensus that more time was needed to participate in them, in order to make them properly effective. In the one that I attended, we were only just starting to contribute something to the group as it was abruptly being brought to an end. It was not a workshop per se, but more a taster of what it would actually be like if it were to be fully realised. In my opinion, I feel that in future either the workshops would be better called something else, closer to what was experienced, or that the actual workshops take place on a separate schedule, happening multiple times throughout the day allowing for people to pick and choose easier, with the possibility of attending more than one.

Moving on, it was time for the next speaker of the day.

Pete Sanders had come to talk about his work involving the Soteria Network, and there work in establishing Soteria homes within the UK. He is one of the trustees for the network, and the project has come about from what was originally created in the 1970s, over in California, USA. Aside from work with Soteria, Pete is the director of PCCS Books who specialise in literature on counselling and psychotherapy and Pete himself is a retired person-centred psychotherapist and author. Originally pioneered by the notable and respectable Dr. Loren R. Mosher, Soteria House was set up to explore a new way in which to help individuals labelled with a diagnosis such as Schizophrenia, to find alternatives away from a predicted lifetime of Psychiatric treatment. Viewed and realised as ‘a home away from home’, and as an alternative offering a more holistic approach, it was a place to be integrated directly into the community, where people could feel safe and be supported away from the medical models available at the time. People were not forced to take neuroleptic(anti-psychotic) medications – nor helped by people who were medically trained in the usual conventional way – but rather by people who had a capacity to empathise with others and a true sense for how to care for the people in need, without prior professional experience or training necessary.

Pete was very thorough to give details on what Soteria was about, but as someone who has previously been aware of Soteria before now, I was more interested in what he had to say in other respects. I liked hearing about the difficulties faced in getting the project off the ground, to be aware of what it would take to make it a reality. I also liked the way in which he made it clear to say, that this is but one choice for an alternative, in respects to exploring new methods of treating people, who experience such things as psychosis. While my opinion is that the Soteria Project has it’s place – especially in parts of the country where the evolution of services hasn’t really progressed much at all or had little impact – there is still a need to evolve and transform the model itself to accommodate and suit the current paradigm of the age we live in. I certainly believe this is possible, providing the power is in the hands of the people for who it is looking to focus on and benefit – as well as finding the continuing funding required, independently of larger governing bodies.

Following the Q&A session, it was time for lunch and for people to digest the morning’s events.

Another area that presented a small problem, was that of the time allocated to the ‘Round Table Discussions’ which were to follow. Each table containing a set number of people were allocated a host, to discuss and explore people’s opinions and feedback on how the day was going. Again, the time allowed was not adequate enough for this, and while we had the option of scribbling down our musings on the table clothes provided, it would have been more welcome to get into a deep discussion about it with our fellow attendees. There was time set aside for another session similar to this before the day closed, but by then people were ready to leave.

On to the next speaker.

David Clarke was presenting “Wales Mental Health in Primary Care (WaMH in PC) Network and Exploring Realistic Outcomes.” David comes from the background of working in conventional arenas, such as with the Royal College of General Practitioners in Wales and healthcare bodies in statutory and voluntary sectors concerning the development of business planning methods, the delivery of good practices, and the assessment of performance. He has worked as a senior manger in the National Health Service (NHS) and in more recent years has become self-employed. He is also the chairman of two registered charities, both of which seek to relieve poverty and hardship in overseas Countries, with India in particular. Also, with his wife Jane, he is a carer to their grown-up daughter who herself lives with a mental illness.

The impression that I got from David, was that he is very sincere and enthusiastic about bringing in unconventional methods and ideas into the mental health services that are currently accessed in primary care, in order to help initiate change and transformation towards a more suitable medical model. A model which focuses primarily on person-centred approaches, with emphasis on healthy relationships in order for that to happen. I have to admit, that as a person who is primarily coming from the background of being a user of the mental health services that are provided in primary care, secondary care and beyond – it felt that this presentation was not aimed at someone like myself. I felt that it was looking to reach out to those professionals currently involved within the conventional services available, who are working with the current NHS models, in order to facilitate the changes desired to truly make a difference.

However, shouldn’t we already be at the point where patients have this healthy relationship with their chosen general practitioner, given how long primary care has been in place?

Why not look to employ different professionals to join the primary care team, to address the areas of mental and emotional well-being away from regular physical treatments?

I imagine most people are aware of why these questions are probably not worth asking. Where the money and the resources are concerned – and the constant demands on medical professionals to do more with less – is it really any wonder at all?

In my opinion, the problem with trying to integrate something unconventional in an already long established conventional system, is that most people are only trained, conditioned and attracted to the field based on outdated traditions and systems of that conventional nature. Any deviation away from that, threatens the foundations put down so long ago – which are religiously maintained from one generation to the next – through fear of having to start all over again from scratch. However, there will always be exceptional people in unexceptional places, and it’s to those people that I say “all the power to you!”

Following the Q&A and refreshments, it was time for the last speaker of the day.

Mike Smith presented “If not hospital, what can we do? The evidence and experience.” Dr. Mike Smith is a mental health professional with 30 years of international experience, and certainly has the credentials to prove it. He has been the Director of Nursing in North Birmingham from 1997 until- 2001, when he left to become an independent freelance trainer/consultant. He has been a champion of recovery since his early days as a psychiatric nurse. He has a special interest and breadth of knowledge in the areas of self harm and voice hearing. It’s within these areas that he continues to work with young people in the voluntary sector. He has an expertise in risk and crisis management and oversees training in these key areas in many parts of the UK. He has worked extensively with his colleague Marion Aslan, introducing fresh concepts that challenge the psychiatric services to re-evaluate recovery and what lies beyond…..and while I could continue to write about his long list of remarkable accomplishments (which stretch even further and wider) what I really want to do here is talk about the man which I saw for the first time this day.

Mike was the top highlight of the day for me and I’ll explain why that is.

It’s one thing to be someone of an academic background, mastering particular areas of expertise, with a large scope of knowledge and understanding to bring to the field of mental health. It’s another thing to receive awards and recognition for the contributions made, where there has been progressive advancements in the field due to that, all of which applies to Mike. Yet what I feel stands out the most – and why he is able to inspire and uplift people like myself very effectively – is that he also has the lived experience of mental distress on a very deep level, to fully compliment all of that academia.

There is a very fluid nature to his speaking, that blends together his different experiences seamlessly, so that he can convey what he wants, when he needs to. He comes across as someone who is comfortable to be himself as both a renowned teacher and as someone who is an everyday person we can relate to, while utilising the combined wisdom he has derived from these different walks of life. There is a strong confidence that is noticeable as he speaks, delivered what he knows to be certain. As well as this, there is something that has to be said about bringing a good sense of humour to the role.

Is it more interesting and enjoyable to learn when we can have fun and laugh during the exploration of the more serious themes and issues? or better that we remain serious as much as possible through out it, paying close attention to every detail on the Powerpoint presentation or being reminded of the importance of note taking and how crucial it is to read through every piece of literature that we’re given?

We have had enough monotony in our lives to weigh down our hearts, which is why it matters so much to have them lightened up any chance we get.

To touch on the contents of what was being addressed in Mike’s presentation, amongst the wealth of wisdom being shared, there was one particular point that has stayed with me. When we look to the evidence that explores the benefits of a number of these projects and systems created as alternatives to what is currently established in the conventional mental health services, it’s quite clear that these alternatives work very well indeed. They work at least as good as what’s available in the mainstream, and in a number of cases they actually work better. However, while there is funding made available from the appropriate governing bodies to be invested in these projects and systems, the money is taken away once they have proven themselves to be successful. Yet the thing is, these alternative projects and systems which have proved their high level of efficacy compared to the mainstream options, are actually financially cheaper to keep running. Knowing that, it would seem like a solid and feasible plan to make a transfer to the better option – the alternatives that were created – than to keep investing in something worse which appears in our conventional mental health services. As a result of that funding being taken away from the alternative projects, the resource is then lost to the people who benefited from it, and it’s value has been dissolved. It’s very rare that these alternative projects survive, regardless of the greater good that they generate….so what is the real agenda here?

Mike is also the Executive Director of crazydiamond which has been formed through his ongoing collaboration with Marion Aslan, and this gives further details of their ongoing work.

It was with this, that the conference drew to a close and we were left to figure out where to go from here.

As someone who acquired lived experience of mental distress from the moment of being born; as someone who has seen both his parents go through a lifetime of conventional mental health services, baring witness what that has entailed; and as someone who has in turn looked to those same mental health services for help and in search of answers – I needed to know whether it was still worth searching for them, instead of just giving up. I needed to know for sure that there was still hope for a better future, where we are seen for who we are and not for what we appear to be. Where someone cares enough to help us better ourselves, so that we may feel alive, instead of being resigned to merely existing and made to feel useless. It’s a day like this which makes it possible for me consider thoughts of true happiness, because I know that we have a chance now.

We have a choice – do we want to keep giving over our power to a system that keeps letting us down when we need it the most? or do we want to take that power back for ourselves and prove to those that would doubt us, that we are worth the time and that we are more powerful than they would have us believe?

What do we want our legacy to be?

The time to decide, starts now.

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