You can probably imagine that any place where lots of teenagers are, there's lots of rules. This is extra-true when it's a heavily regulated mental health hospital and specialises in eating disorders. At one point we had to scrap the dining room rules completely and start again because, due to a tendency to specifically write a rule against each new problem, we were onto 4 sides of A4.
Sometimes, though, we can find amazing ways to rebel against things We used to take the people who it was deemed could cope for an afternoon out once a week. On one of these trips, I realised I'd absent-mindedly left my gloves somewhere. So many possibilities there for something to go wrong . . . I turned out to have put them in the dayroom, the communal lounge, where all the folk we had had to leave stuck inside were all afternoon.
Upon spotting them I realised one was suspiciously full. Oh dear. When you work with people who have issues with food, you learn to approach certain circumstances with trepidation and, ideally, hand sanitizer, because when you hate food, you will get rid of it anyway, and anywhere, you can. To this day I can't look a freusli bar in the face, having cleaned too many of them out of unexpected hiding places.
I pocked up the glove gingerly between one finger and thumb. It was heavy, clearly full of something dense that was shifting about. Oh no. That can mean vomit. Or worse. At this point I can see two sets of previously-bored eyes hovering over the sofa line, waiting for a reaction.
I peered inside.
It was completely and utterly packed with multicoloured glitter.
It still makes me laugh to this day - and i hope you all find a happy, glittery solution to whatever constraints and frustrations you have to deal with!
(and no, I never did eradicate the glitter!)
When I was a therapist, I loved working in person; it seemed so much easier to feel what people were feeling and think about that (they hadn't invented mirror neurons back then, so I had to rely on psychodynamic theory instead, which was terribly upsetting for anyone with an enquiringly sciency mind).
But lets face it, most health problems mean we have extra problems managing to sort out appointments and get ourselves there on time and in a fit state to use them. In fact there's a whole brand of therapy theory devoted just to how to interpret such issues!
So what about support online? I saw a recent rash of posts about it and, of course, most of my life is now lived online. It's certainly got it's limitations - definitely no empathising with people based on their none verbal communication, so it's hard if someone can't or won't talk much (maybe snapchat therapy will become a thing for online art therapists?!) but it's clearly much more accessible in practical ways.
Do you use any online methods? I've always found twitter incredibly limiting, but in the Telegraph today there's a man who found it to be wonderful for his depression!
But not all exercises work for everyone; I can't create a safe space these days and yes, I know that's worrying.
In the meantime I fall back on an old favourite from an American physiotherapist I worked with, to make you concentrate on breathing. But no counting, nothing complicated. Just imagine a candle, several inches in front of you, the flame burning bright and straight. When you breathe in and out it will waver and flicker - so you try to breathe slowly enough not to blow it out.
It's not for everyone, but it works for me. Do you have a favourite exercise to still the mind and body?
My flatmate thinks I'm living with depression, I think it's anxiety (based mostly on the symptoms of "I really want to puke and can practically feel my adrenaline spikes').
Given that the recommended treatments are largely the same, at least since benzodiazepines fell out of fashion, and that I managed to work most days and see friends and keep on top of the laundry, it's not obvious that the diagnostic label matters much!
We've got to the stage where the labels have such complications that they don't really communicate what the symptoms or issues are, what treatment is needed, or what might be causing the problem.
Do you have a label? Is it useful to you?