Tag Archive: emotions

CAMHs Staff Helped Me Find Hope When I Thought All Was Lost

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By Nina Martynchyk

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“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

– Thich Nhat Han

 

 

When I think back to my time in hospital, the only thing I really remember are the relationships that I had with the staff that looked after me. There was a period of time when the staff were the only people I could rely on.

A couple of weeks after being admitted to the Royal Free for Anorexia, my placement with my old foster carer broke down.  My mum had died two years before, my attempt to start a relationship with my dad broke down catastrophically and with the exception of my brother, I had no family to visit and support me until my current foster mum came along six weeks later.

Sue Gerhardt is spot on when she said “The qualities of good parenting (and of close relationships in general) are essentially regulatory qualities: the capacity to listen, to notice, to shape behaviour and to be able to restore good feelings through some kind of physical, emotional or mental contact, through a touch, a smile, a way of putting feelings and thoughts into words.”  Despite being bruised by the collapse of many of my past relationships, the support, time and care the staff gave me meant I could feel that they genuinely wanted to help me which in turn eased the loneliness I was feeling. Even though they carried out my medical observations and blood tests, they also went the extra mile which showed me that I wasn’t as worthless as I thought I was and that I deserved care and attention.

When I had nobody to wash my clothes for me, I recall the lead nurse sitting on my bed and offering to take it home for me.  I remember the health care worker that shared my 16-year old hormone fuelled obsession with One Direction listening to my favourite songs with me. I was also obsessed with magazines which resulted in many afternoons of conversations about the current state of celebrity affairs.

I remember having to create an impromptu art portfolio to hand into my college which would determine if I would get onto the art course there or not. One of the nurses spent her afternoons teaching me drawing techniques and admittedly doing quite a bit of the drawing for me.  I was accepted!

When I was about to start sixth form, one of my nurses came in on her day off to take me to my open day. It was a great day- we had lunch at Nando’s, went to visit the college and then met up with my foster mum who took us out for a snack. Having two meals out of my unit was a very big achievement for me. That day, not only did I tackle my Anorexia but I also realised that I really did mean something to those looking after me. When the staff would do nice things with me, such as help me with art or go with me to buy One Direction posters, I would also feel like I wasn’t only a patient but a ‘real’ person with real interests too.

The professionals who worked with me also helped me build my relationship with my foster mum. By the time she came along, I had very little trust in people. I needed constant reassurance from the staff that she was as nice as she seemed, she wasn’t lying to me about taking me home with her and that she really meant the lovely things which she was saying. The hospital also made sure that my chosen health care assistant was there with me at my first meeting with her.  Starting any relationship with anybody isn’t very easy, let alone when you are in crisis in hospital and have been through four previous failed placements, bereavement and trauma. Without the amazing help from the staff, setting up a relationship with her would have been much more complicated than it already was. Now we get on really well, I still live with her and we have spent my previous four birthdays together. Not only did the staff help me within the hospital setting, but they also helped me on the journey of creating a life out in the ‘real’ world.

Thich Nhat Han says “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” For the majority of my stay in hospital, hope was very hard to find within myself. I am so grateful to the staff for giving me with hope when I needed it the most and eventually helping me find it within myself despite the fact that I thought it was permanently lost. The professionals who worked with me helped me see that I was worth more than what my anorexia, depression and my anxiety made me feel.

I have now recovered from an eating disorder that once nearly took my life.

Thank You.

Nina Martynchyk

 

 

This blog relates to the Caring Relationships theme – click here to take a look

Here are a few extracts…

The Caring Relationships theme focuses on ward staff members’ relationship with young inpatients. It touches on how staff are compassionate experts who build-up, empower and support young people’s relationships with everyone involved in their lives, including families, carers, friends, schools and even pets.

Young people love it when caring adults commit (with flexibility of course) to their request for individual quality time. The ‘therapeutic alliance’ is the ability to form and nurture therapeutic relationships in which staff create a ‘bond’ with young people and their family, so they can work together to reach shared decisions. In this sense, it’s primarily about supporting healthy attachment, so young people and those involved in their recovery can have trust, and are able to be honest about their needs. The healthiest relationships are those which are honest, flexible, committed, warm and safe. What matters most is that these purposeful conversations and interactions take priority, are young person-focused and caring. Every action communicates something of importance.

All of us are open to powerful emotions that we can’t always ignore or switch off. Instead of shaming ourselves when these emotions are triggered, we need to step back, work out what we’re thinking or feeling, and identify the underlying source of what we’re experiencing. You can teach a young person that their feelings are not enemies or threats to their existence; that each one of them deserves kind and uncensored attention, exploration and integration. Sometimes powerful energies just need to rage in them for a while. Sometimes the tender tears and emotions need to flow or stream out of them in order to accommodate more hope and love.

Applauding the ‘small’ achievements is one of the simplest, but most effective ways to boost young people’s happiness. Positive feedback is the most powerful tool you have to improve a young person’s behaviour and self-esteem. Warm and sensitive validation of their thoughts and emotions helps them work out what triggers their feelings and can neutralise difficult parts of their experience.

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About the author

Hi, I’m Nina. I’m 20 years old and will soon be starting university to study Psychology. I’m passionate about spreading awareness of mental health and the foster care system. My interest in inpatient mental health care stems from the period of hospitalisation I experienced for Anorexia Nervosa, half of which was spent as a detained patient. I now live with my foster mum and foster brother. My biological brother spends a lot of time round at ours’ as well.  I am now in recovery from Anxiety and Depression and have recovered from my eating disorder. 

https://ninamartynchykblog.wordpress.com/

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Even if the young person were to ‘lash out’, the team endeavours to reframe the emotions that drove their behaviour or acting out, and work with them to find a resolution.

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How we respond and relate to the young people on the ward influences their emotions, behaviour and developing personality.

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Sometimes clear, balanced, logical thinking is reliant on us being able to regulate our own emotions as staff members. It is possible with practice.

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Various groups run throughout the week, such as ‘managing emotions’. During this group, the young people are in whole-group setting and discuss a variety of feelings such as, anger, frustration, worthlessness, suicidality, self-harm etc. It allows a safe avenue for being able to express their emotions. The group also aims to provide them with new skill set in order to approach these feelings differently.

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Understanding emotions and events

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“…it’s important for kids of all ages to tell their stories, as it helps them try to understand their emotions and the events that occur in their lives.” (From The Whole-Brain Child)

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The Emotional Thermometer by Alistair Cooper and Sheila Redfern

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A tool for parents. 

What it is..

The Emotional Thermometer is a way of keeping in mind how strong your feelings are at any given moment. Use this thermometer as a gauge of when it’s best to act, and when it might be better to wait.

 

It helps you by…

The Emotional Thermometer helps you become more aware of what you are feeling and how intensely you are experiencing the feeling. This awareness will allow you to find ways to reduce the impact of your feeling and bring you into a calmer state of mind.

 

It helps your child by…

The Emotional Thermometer helps your child because the more regulated you are feeling when you interact with him, the less likely you are of overreacting. Your child will see that you take responsibility for your feelings.

 

It helps your relationship by..

Keeping in mind your emotional thermometer makes it less likely situations will escalate beyond control and will help you to understand your child’s feelings and bring you closer together.

 

Keep in mind…

  1. Use the concept of the emotional thermometer as a gauge of when it’s best to act, and when it might be better to wait.
  2. Notice your thoughts and emotions to develop your ability to be a more reflective parent.
  3. When you start to notice your own feelings, you can then reflect on how you are coming across.
  4. Use friends and networks to help you.
  5. Be accepting of how you feel and how your child feels.
  6. Remember your child is just a child, with a separate and totally different set of thoughts and feelings from you, which represent both his age and the things going on in his life.

 

© 2016 Alistair Cooper and Sheila Redfern.

From Reflective Parenting: A Guide to Understanding What’s Going on in Your Child’s Mind by Alistair Cooper, Sheila Redfern

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The Parent Map – by Alistair Cooper and Sheila Redfern

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A tool for parents.

What it is…
The Parent Map is a way of reflecting about yourself and how you parent your child. It encourages you to map out and think about what influences your parenting, such as current feelings, your past experiences and wider influences, such as beliefs and relationships.

It helps you by…
The Parent Map helps you become more aware of yourself and how you relate to your child. It also helps you to be more aware of the difference and separateness of your emotions from your child’s. It helps you identify times when you are more likely to have strong feelings, which can be unhelpful in some situations.

It helps your child by…
The Parent Map helps your child because the more reflective and aware of yourself you are, the more stable your relationship can be. Your child will experience you in a more regulated and considered way.

It helps your relationship by…
The Parent Map makes links between past and present, which helps prevent past negative experiences impacting strongly on how you interact with your child. Your relationship benefits by being more stable and less reactive.

Keep in mind mind…

  1. Think about the need to be aware of yourself.
  2. Think about what influences your parenting, include your thoughts and feelings, the influence of past experiences.
  3. Use strong feelings to trigger self-reflection and make a connection with how this influences your parenting.
  4. Identify times when you think there might be a link between current and past experiences.
  5. Build a story of how you got to feel and think the way you do now:
    1. Did your level of emotional reaction fit the situation?
    2. What do you think may have contributed to you reacting in this way?
    3. How might a friend have experienced you in this situation, what would they have seen?
    4. Can you link your reaction in this situation to previous situations?
  6. Use your awareness of your ‘triggers’ to help guide you during future interactions; imagine, predict and reflect on where and how similar feelings and thoughts may arise.

© 2016 Alistair Cooper and Sheila Redfern.

From: Reflective Parenting: A Guide to Understanding What’s Going on in Your Child’s Mind by Alistair Cooper, Sheila Redfern

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Listening for Holistic Wellbeing

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It’s well known that music can lift our spirits; but now science has shown it also has a physical effect on our bodies. As we listen, music works on the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for controlling blood pressure and heartbeat as well as the limbic system, responsible for feelings and emotions. A review of 23 studies involving almost 1,500 people found music helped to reduce blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety in heart disease patients.  Music can benefit our psychological wellbeing too. Research from the University of Missouri, published in The Journal Of Positive Psychology, found for the first time that upbeat music could have a very positive effect on our wellbeing.

More: psychologies.co.uk

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Young people’s emotional and intellectual growth is often affected

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“Young peoples’ emotional and intellectual growth is often affected. Daily interactions on the ward, school work and the therapeutic programme is used to collect this information which is discussed in MDT ward rounds and management meetings. The delivery of the different levels of stimulation can then be tailored to the individual’s needs.”

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