Being kind to ourselves

Hi, I’m Ian – a Therapist with Harmless. The perspective I’d like to share is the importance of being kind to ourselves during this time. This is a scary situation, and if you’re feeling anxious or down, remember that those are completely normal responses to fearful situations. But also keep in mind that our emotions are influenced by our thoughts – if we’re preparing ourselves for the worst outcomes or dwelling on the things we don’t have, then we’re naturally going to feel more fear or sadness. But if we focus on the fact that every second brings us closer to the end of the lockdown and the virus, and that by isolating we’re potentially saving lives, these thoughts can help us keep calm and focused. Have compassion for yourself, and remember that this won’t last forever.

Best wishes,

Ian

One of our Therapists, Rani, talks about helping to get some perspective on our thoughts

Rani talks about helping to get some perspective on our thoughts during the current lockdown situation.

In difficult times, Suicide Crisis Service *OPEN* and accepting new referrals

The Tomorrow Project offers support to those in suicide crisis. It is:

  • direct access
  • a primary care service
  • open to all ages
  • a short term service offering emotional and practical support
  • continuing to offer both face to face and remote sessions
  • operating in Nottinghamshire

Accepting self and agency referrals – all responded to within 1 working day

Email: crisis@tomorrowproject.org.uk

Referral line: 0115 880 0282 – please note, we ask that a voice message be left and a member of the team will respond within 1 working day.

Please share this information with your colleagues, friends and family so those who need our support know about this vital service. We are here.

Introducing one of our Support Officers, Sarah

“Hi, I’m Sarah.

I have recently joined the team as a new Support Officer for Harmless.

I have a background as a support worker specialising in working with survivors of domestic abuse.

It’s an unusual time to start a new role but what has been clear from my first day is that keeping the service available for people in need during these unsettling times has been the priority for all staff. I’d also like to say thank you to the team as they helped me settle in and answered my many questions!

I believe that being open and talking about how you are feeling can be hugely beneficial to anyone struggling with their mental health, however I also believe we live in a society that does not make it easy for people to do so. Breaking boundaries and challenging stereotypes is a start to helping people and letting others know they are not alone.

I joined Harmless because I really admire the work they do and the beliefs of the organisation. I like the saying ‘be who you needed when you were younger’ and feel proud to work for an organisation supporting people in need and challenging the stigma around self harm and suicide.

I am looking forward to working for Harmless and offering practical and emotional support to people in need.”

Would you like to work for Harmless and The Tomorrow Project?

Harmless are pleased to offer this exciting opportunities to join our passionate team and help us save lives. We are looking for dynamic individuals, who are willing to develop their skills; work outside the box and challenge themselves.

We are currently recruiting for a Suicide Bereavement Support Officer to join our team.

There is no set deadline for the Suicide Bereavement Support Officer role and we will  be interviewing periodically. Once this position has been filled we will no longer be accepting applications, therefore applying early is advised.

Click here to download the application pack for the Suicide Bereavement Support Officer role

___________________________________________________________________

JOB TITLE: 
Suicide Bereavement Support Officer

HOURS: 
Up to 37.5 hours per week
(Both part time and full time available)

SALARY: 
Up to £21,819 per annum, pro rata
(Depending on experience)

Please note: Work as part of this role will take place across Nottinghamshire & Leicestershire, therefore driving will be a necessary part of the role applicants will need to hold a valid driver’s license and have access to a car to be able to undertake the position.

______________________________________________________________________

Click here to download the application pack for the Suicide Bereavement Support Officer role

 

If you have any questions regarding these roles or the application process, please contact us:

Phone: 0115 880 0280
Email: admin@harmless.org.uk.

The Day It All Went Wrong – A Story Of Strength

I stand on the brink of massive change again.  A feeling I know well enough, a feeling like I’m silently slipping without direction.  Although I am more used to it now the strength of my overwhelming emotions still completely flips me out and I am vulnerable once more.

Throughout my childhood and younger adult life I have experienced repeated trauma and abuse yet I somehow struggled through; an eternal optimist dreaming of a knight in shining armour who would rescue me and take me away from the life I had to live.  It was England in the 1980’s when children didn’t really have their own identity or rights.  I trusted in those I shouldn’t, some I should and an in an overwhelming connection to the earth through a universal purpose which seemed to somehow steer me away from adversity and into strength in the most unexpected ways.  I guess I was like a cat, but unlike a cat I seemed to have more than 9 lives!

It is this strength in adversity I wanted to talk about and I have wanted to share this story for many years but currently only have the courage to do so anonymously through the shame I feel but then I ask myself why do I feel ashamed?  I was poorly; do we feel ashamed to have physical illnesses?  Why is mental health any different?  I am hoping that by sharing about my experiences it will encourage others and encourage me to keep sharing.  I went through hell but have come out with a story I can use to hopefully help others.  The brink I currently stand on is not created within me but in the happy occasion of securing a Peer Support Role on a female inpatient ward at a mental health hospital.  It is important to note here that any massive change can be challenging; even a positive one and in my new role I will be the person I wished I had during my admissions, a person who understands and who has the time to talk.

My negative experiences led me to become very poorly over and over again and I can’t remember how many times I survived lethal overdoses, self-harmed significantly or ran away and I’m sure the eating disorder voice in my head will probably never be silent.  I had many psychiatric diagnoses up to 2011 including anorexia, bulimia, post-natal depression and chronic recurrent depressive disorder.  I have also had physical health issues all my life; scoliosis, hypermobility, congenital rib defect and poly-cystic ovaries then more recently osteopenia, osteoarthritis and radiologically isolated syndrome!  However, although that list sounds exhausting I am amazingly well with it all and can still walk, do exercise and enjoy life! I have fostered an attitude for gratitude and an annoyingly positive attitude.  However, this story is focusing on the day it all went wrong…

I took my first overdose aged 16 and struggled with overdoses thereafter as well as eating disorders and physical self-harm.  My early 30’s (a couple of years after the birth of my second child) I started with hospital admissions, after more acute life trauma, and by the time 2011 came around I had been in and out of inpatient mental health wards more times than I’ve had hot dinners.  One admission lasted around 6 months and I was offered ECT (which hubby thankfully talked me out of).  Every time the tablets didn’t help I was shoved on more medication and at one point I was on around 6-8 different medications.  It was amazing that I managed as well as I did because I was, quite frankly, off my face.

It was around this time the osteopenia was diagnosed after I stood up, twisted my ankle and broke straight across the two leg bones; I was put in a cast.  However, once the two weeks were up they didn’t put me in another full cast but one that could be taken off and my leg could be washed.  Sounds fair enough but it completely freaked me out and I started having psychotic breaks and hallucinations so badly that I gave up hope and I threw myself down the stairs.

In A&E I waited, waited and waited some more; eventually being sent for a mental health assessment.  I had arrived at the hospital early afternoon, had refused to eat or drink and by the time I had been transported and assessed it was around 2am (12 hours later!)  I have no memories and no idea what I said to the Psychiatrist but he let me go home (after assessing me with just us two in the room).  My Mother begged him to keep me in but I must have convinced him, somehow, that I would be OK.

We got home, I went upstairs and went straight out of the window.

I had broken my entire spine and skull needing metal rods inserting and I had three massive bleeds on my brain.  I now know that I was having a complete psychotic break on the day it all went wrong.  I received no support coping with life after spinal surgery or brain injury and because I was mentally unwell for some reason that was the medical world’s main focus.  I didn’t even know the extent of my injuries until I asked for my records a few years ago and I still relive the trauma of the fall in my nightmares and the window remains locked.

Recovery was hard and especially harder on a mental health ward not geared at all for the physical and mental health fusion; no person centred care.  It took days to get the right bed, my clothes all went missing, I struggled to get food and carry drinks, to get washed (asking for a bowl of warm water was like asking for gold) and some staff were truly horrible to me; you get the picture.  The treatment was so neglectful that when I was discharged around 4 months later my back wound was still open and infected because the nurses wouldn’t listen to me and change the dressing more frequently.  Nearly every morning I woke up with my own infected puss against my back meaning clothes and sheets needed constantly washing and changing which I couldn’t do.  It was appalling, they wouldn’t listen to me and to discuss it all I would need to publish a book.

The reason I am sharing this story though is because many amazing things came out of this experience;

  • I finally got a proper diagnosis – Borderline Personality Disorder which eventually let me access Mentalization Based Therapy which has revolutionised my life
  • Fracturing my skull led them to see a white spot on my brain which led to my diagnosis of Radiologically Isolated Syndrome for which I receive medical support
  • The complaint I made meant my local hospital started a mental health liaison team onsite which is now being rolled out nationally as RAID teams. The same hospital are now opening a separate area in A&E for people with mental health with its own entrance
  • The metal rods inserted into my back will help me stand straighter for longer with respect to my scoliosis
  • Although it was hard I got to spend a year at home with my husband
  • I joined my local service user network and helped design the new mental health hospital for our area, I co-deliver training to professionals on Personality Disorder and I wrote a course for the inpatient Recovery College
  • I am a published author on a UK website’s mental health pages
  • Plus much, much more and as an eternal optimist – there is more to come!

I am passionate about mental health and helping develop better strategies and outcomes for people who are NOT JUST their diagnosis.  It shouldn’t have to escalate to the level my illness did in order to get the correct help and diagnosis.  I am 44 years old and I have BPD, dissociative disorder and an acquired brain injury, but I am also a musician, cook, wife, Mother of two and own a very fancy cat named Oliver (my motivational kitty).  I work part-time in the NHS, am a trained Nursery Nurse, have level 2 Mental Health and Counselling, worked abroad in my younger years and love days out by the sea.  Let’s not forget who we are and who our patients are because they forgot who I was when they treated me like an animal.  I’m here to tell them otherwise and fight for those who cannot speak up!

To me, the journey of the soul is about connecting, disconnecting and re-connecting with ourselves and the world around us in a deep and meaningful way, as many times as we need.  It’s OK to have days we hide and days we shine and it’s OK to be silent as well as speak.  Without the pauses there would be no melody to our tunes.  Thank you for reading about the day it all went wrong for me and how it led things going right.

A massive THANK YOU to Joey Collins and everyone involved

From everyone here at Harmless & The Tomorrow Project, we would like to extend our thanks to Joey Collins and all those involved in the mental health fundraiser which took place at Rough Trade in Nottingham last week.

The event brought together 5 music acts who put on a gig to support mental health and raise money for our services.

It is with support like this that we are able to continue supporting those in the community who need us most, helping us to create a brighter future for many.

The acts that performed on the night included:

The event helped to raise awareness of mental health while also raising money meaning we can help to support more people who self harm, are in suicide crisis or who have been bereaved by suicide. Your support really does save lives!

‘You’re stronger than you think you are’ – One of our clients shares their journey towards recovery

I will never forget the date and exact time that my life imploded, 23 June 2018 at 2:55pm. My partner of 16 years came upstairs and looked perturbed, I followed him downstairs and asked if he was OK. “I can’t do this anymore” were the words that came out of his mouth “It’s over.”

Those words haunted me for a very long time, and still do to some extent. I would cry myself to sleep and wake up in tears with the words ringing in my ears. Whilst I didn’t initially move out of the home we had recently bought together, we lived separate lives and seeing him every day inevitably brought about much grief and anxiety.

I started to up my drinking and without warning, I spiralled very quickly and the inevitable happened, I took an overdose.

I woke up in an emergency room, hooked up to machines and cried when I realised what I had done, but more so that I had survived. Full of remorse and regret I went home and was visited by my local mental health team, who advised me that I needed help, but a psychiatrist appointment was two years away, and that I should consider going private. I wondered at the time how many people survive that two years.

The months that followed were tough, and as anniversaries came and went, my anxiety levels became worse and I made three more attempts. Thankfully I survived and am here to tell my story.

I was introduced to Harmless through a friend of a friend, who was seriously concerned about me. I went to my first meeting and met Katie. I don’t remember much about it, as I cried throughout and poured my heart out into the room. She sat patiently, never once interrupting and listened intently. I left Harmless that day, got in the car to drive to London for work, and cried again, but it was an outpouring of relief more than sorrow. I remember calling a friend and telling them that I’d made the first step to recovery.

Whilst the journey hasn’t been easy, the glimmer of a flickering light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel kept me going. I would visit Katie weekly, sometimes I would laugh and others I would cry, but she was there, listening and helping.

Since the New Year, I believe I have turned a corner. I have a new job; my confidence is higher, and I am enjoying life once again. Don’t get me wrong, there are bad days too, but I know what I must do now to escape that temporary dark place. I refer to the safety plan that Katie and I put together, I use distraction techniques she taught me, and I make plans to stay safe.

If it wasn’t for Harmless and the wonderful Katie, I wouldn’t be typing this today, and in simple terms I wouldn’t be here. I owe my life to this amazing organisation, and I will never ever forget that they saved my life.

Stay safe out there, and remember, it’s always OK, to say I’m not OK.

You’re stronger than you think you are.

Upcoming Catch up Cafe dates to be held in East Leake

Harmless & The Tomorrow Project will be running multiple Catch up cafe’s in East Leake over the upcoming months.
 
The catch up cafes are for those who would like to access some informal, drop in support from our service and for those who would like information about our service.
 
So whether you’d like some information on how we can support you or someone you know – if you’d like to come in and chat with a member of the team or to catch up with others – we will see you at the Catch up Cafe!
 
Upcoming dates:
 
For those aged 21 and under:
 
  • Thursday 23rd January 2020 – 11:30am to 12:30pm
  • Thursday 6th February 2020 – 3pm to 4pm
  • Thursday 26th March 2020 – 11am to 12pm
For those aged 18 and over:
 
  • Wednesday 29th January 2020 – 1pm to 2pm
  • Friday 21st February 2020 – 10:30am to 11:30am
  • Wednesday 11th March 2020 – 2:30pm to 3:30pm
These catch up cafes will be held in our East Leake office at: The Tomorrow Project, Unit 1, Lighting House, 3-5 Station Road, East Leake, Nottinghamshire, LE12 6LQ.

Meet Helen, our new Suicide Bereavement Support Officer

Hello,

My name is Helen, I have recently joined the great team at Harmless as a suicide bereavement support officer for the Tomorrow Project. I am currently training to be a counsellor and I hope this will help me in my supporting role. Most of my previous experience has been people facing and connecting with people is something that I find is rich and rewarding. My background is varied from sales to health and fitness, so well-being is something that is of particular interest to me. This experience has given me an understanding of the importance of self- care, both physical and mental.

I am looking forward to supporting people through the tomorrow project.