"Wish we could spend longer here."
The following is the personal story of one of our Wellbeing course participants:
“I am a 34 year old, educated, physically healthy woman. I lead a lucky lifestyle with a nice home and a loving family. To others I come across well-balanced, confident, one who seems to ‘have it together’.
But as it happens, my modern-day, social media drenched, competitive brain decided not to make it that easy for me. I had my first out of the blue panic attack three years ago whilst picking the children up from school. Then the attacks kept coming and with them my fear growing. I thought I was dying, or at least going crazy. My mind fogged up, I was on constant autopilot. – a functioning nervous wreck. My insides trembled, my heart raced, I kept feeling faint, out of breath and always on the edge of losing control. I was constantly worried and spiraled with negative, catastrophic thoughts until I would make myself so scared, I’d cry. I would exhaust myself with a need to appear perfect on the outside and pleasing others but would actually be screaming on the inside whilst getting tangled in the barbed wire of fear.
I went to see my local GP and voiced my concerns only to be told to ‘get used to it, as it’s just life’.
After seeking a second opinion, I finally got some help through Let’s Talk, where I learnt that my biggest fear is not being good enough – for anyone or for anything. I fear being judged by others and not being worthy of other people’s respect or indeed, love.
My Let’s Talk sessions ended and after a few months of feeling OK, the symptoms began to creep back into my life and threaten to yet again take control. I’ve lost a close friend because of my issues, which was a big enough blow to drag me down to the deepest pits of anxiety again. This time though I was lucky enough to have a forward thinking boss, who listened and recognized my need for a therapeutic solution, The Cart Shed Charity.
I signed up to a 12-week Wellbeing course, hoping for at least a little bit of difference to help me feel me again. But I got more. A lot more.
Once in the woods, my phone signal was non-existent and I was left with being surrounded by nature, non-judgmental people, a sense of calm and creativity. I learned useful green wood crafting skills, but for me the biggest benefit of the course was being in a completely different and safe environment where somehow none of my negative thoughts followed. I actually found somewhere where I had ‘head space’! There were no expectations; if I wanted to talk about my problems, I could, if I didn’t, there was no pressure. My thoughts were channeled away from rumination and self-loathing towards a sense of belonging. I truly believe that this liberating experience should be a part of everyone’s healthcare to keep mental health issues at bay that increasingly more of us seem to be struggling with.
Through my approachable and absolutely amazing Cart Shed occupational therapist and the kindness of the volunteers, training manager and fellow participants, those twelve Fridays a week helped me recharge my coping mechanism enough that I started dealing with the rest of the week like the strong person I appear to be”.
An Occupational Therapist story - Occupational Therapy away from traditional clinical settings
“As an Occupational Therapist new to Cart shed, one of my pleasures has been how the beauty of our natural surroundings enhances everything we do, almost imperceptibly but constantly in the background.
For example, while undertaking a simple assessment with someone I already knew, they stopped to comment on how much easier, richer and more valuable it was to have our conversation by a stream with a robin nearby, rather than enclosed by four walls in a clinical room, having to think of things to say, feeling under pressure to perform.
Similarly, when we explored simple concepts as a group around well-being such as continuous learning, being more active, giving or volunteering, noticing, being aware and connecting with others, we noticed that opportunities for these were continually happening around us throughout a normal Cart Shed day.
Rich conversations, realising how much shared experience we all have, walks through the woods, constantly stretching ourselves to learn a new skill or how to develop and take it further and then finding chances to help someone else develop that skill too in their unique way, are integral to an effective journey towards recovery”.