Janie uses one of our Community Mental Health Recovery Services. She took part in our Butterfly group, run by our occupational therapists, and worked on a project to provide boxes of toiletries to people who have been admitted to one of our inpatient wards.
How the butterfly group helped me on my recovery journey
Having a mental illness feels very isolating and frightening. There is still a huge amount of stigma attached to mental health and a great lack of knowledge or understanding. It makes life very difficult, sad and frightening (especially in the work place).
What the occupational therapy group provides is a chance to be with others who have also experienced mental ill-health. This in itself brings about a sense of camaraderie, togetherness and a break from feeling so isolated.
It takes courage to come to the group, meeting new people, learning to trust others.
You contribute as much or as little as you choose, there is no pressure.
And as the weeks progress, one person might talk about their time on a mental health ward, another about their difficulty in going out to face the world, or their struggle with depression or post traumatic stress disorder. Then soon afterwards others join in and there is a sense of liberation. You don't have to hide your mental illness. It brings the group closer together, with an unspoken respect and compassion for each other.
Making the boxes gives us something to focus on. It's easier to talk when you have something to half distract your fearful mind. There is a sense of achievement too when you see the boxes neatly stacked up at the end of each session. We did that! As a group! TOGETHER!
There is a sense of giving back too. Little boxes making a BIG difference! And imagine how you would feel when you suddenly, unexpectedly find yourself on a hospital ward, no toiletries, no change of clothes, then someone gives you a little Fresh Start box. Something to tide you over. Something to let you know people care and that you matter!
The occupational therapy groups matter, they create a caring understanding environment and a place where you are allowed to have a mental illness. Where stigma and judgement are suspended, at least until you go back out into the big wide world. The group gives you a much needed break!
Thank you to everyone involved.
With best wishes,