Beyond Recovery is an independent community mental health creative project that started in late 2011. We are a small group of people who have been gathering ‘expert by experience’ mental health art pieces and literature in the Merseyside area of England. We want to pass on the wisdom gleaned by people recovering from mental distress about staying well to other people, as well as pointing out local, national and international organisations people can turn to for help and information.
We have printed two booklets featuring articles and artwork from service users in Merseyside on recovery in mental health. They also featured a guide to local mental health services. We distributed the booklets throughout Merseyside’s shops, bars, cafes and health centers – keep your eyes peeled!
We produced our first booklet in early 2016 and distributed the 2000 copies as widely as possible in the local area to a variety of organisations, cafes, barbers, libraries and to national mental health organisations via email. For issue 2 we held creative sessions at The West Kirby Drop-In during 2016 to obtain some of the material after gaining funding from The Wirral West Community Fund. For further details you can contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org, social media or this blog.
As for this blog, please feel free to download a copy of either or both editions of our booklets from the links. Many of the personal stories and pieces of writing we received and used here in this blog are taken from written work we gathered and used in putting together the booklets. If you look through the links we have included you will see the information comes from where the authors have learned most on journeys through mental health systems, diagnoses, education and experience. This is what we aim to share with as wide an audience as possible. The website list is not exhaustive but is a very valuable resource. Above all we would like to share what we have learned about the field of mental health if possible to provide hope and support for others experiencing similar challenges to help them through, to learn and to grow from what they have been through.
The following contains extracts from some ‘SoMe’ profiles the group did for a recent event here on Merseyside. We put on a successful screening of the documentary ‘CrazyWise’ on Friday 1st June 2018 in a local arts centre. We reached capacity for the venue, something we were very proud of. There was a Q and A session afterwards. The audience were very receptive and positive throughout.
The following excerpts are from our profiles which we wrote up beforehand for an introduction to the group. We had also affiliated the event with Emerging Proud’s SoMe coordinated events. These profiles were a requirement as we combined the screening with the introduction to an alternative framework around mental distress that the SoMe events were looking to foster.
What is your greatest achievement or triumph since first becoming unwell?
I am proud of my ability to recover from a recent hospital admission. I spent ten days on the ward with a serious problem, and was back working again having taken three weeks off work.
What is the biggest misunderstanding about mental health?
The current medical framework that surrounds it.
- Caffeine related products
What would you say to someone who has recently become unwell for the first time?
Hope is really important that things can improve over the course of time. Be gentle with yourself. When ready, try to learn about wellbeing strategies to keep yourself on an even keel as much as possible.
If you could name one thing central to your ongoing mental wellness, what would it be and why?
Positive social relationships – they often say ‘man is not an island’, we all need people to turn to if life becomes tricky and having friends and family to have fun with is important for having a good quality of life.
- Music in all its wonderful formats
- Learning things
- Going round art galleries
- Falling down internet rabbit holes
- Making a prat of myself on the dance floor
What kept you going in your darkest hour?
The love, support, friendship, charity, goodwill and persistence of my family, friends and loved ones. Without them, the road would have been much the rockier, and not everyone is as fortunate as me to have such a network. You must seek and create these relationships when recovering, because it vastly improves the chances of a successful and lasting positive outcome.
How do you evaluate your illness?
A chance to learn and improve myself so that it is less likely to come back again. It has greatened my capacity for empathy and the ability to understand those suffering. I would not choose to have to if it were optional though – the trying times are not compensated by the high points. The most important thing is just to try and ‘stay in the lines’ – not manic and not depressed; an ongoing challenge!