How are you? Thanks for deciding to read this blog. Let me catch you up with what I’ve been up to.
I have started to contact individuals that said they’d be happy to give their feedback on their personalised care and support plans. These plans were co-designed with individuals with lived experiences of mental health and addiction challenges, to be issued to people registered as having a severe mental illness having their yearly health checks. The plan is there to help people look after their physical health by setting and tracking goals. I am only at the early stages of contacting people, so it’ll be good when I start to hear feedback and find out how people have found using it. I will be getting feedback on these personalised care and support plans for the next few months to make sure we capture as much feedback to report on as possible, so I’ll be sure to update you in my next blog.
We have been busy getting ready for national co-production week, which is the week starting the 4th of July. We’re going to be doing a co-production roadshow across the county, visiting various locations, and chatting all things co-production. We’ll be sharing the details of our roadshow on our socials medias @SUNnetworkCambs so check them out if you wanted to pop along to see us or hear about co-production, you’d be more than welcome to. We’re going to be talking about co-production, a co-production game, videos and pictures, questions, and surveys to hear your thoughts, artwork you can get involved with, and things you can take away with you. We will be having a co-production celebration in August which you are welcome to come to. To join us please book a free ticket by clicking here, so we know how many people will be joining.
I have been working with individuals that have personal experiences of eating disorders, be it themselves or as a carer to create some leaflets explaining the medical monitoring aspect of the new eating disorder services. We have also been creating a video to explain the new services so that individuals accessing the support know their care is going to be personalised to them. It has been great working with these people again, having worked with many of them last year on the eating disorder literature, which you can see here, along with some new faces which is lovely. As soon as both the medical monitoring for eating disorders leaflet and the video are ready, I will share them with you all on our social medias.
It is PTSD awareness month, so Szara from Shoosh No More! has been sharing short stories on TikTok to challenge stigma and raise awareness. You can check out these videos and others on TikTok @sunnetworkcambs. If you have any ideas on what we could do on our TikTok why not let me know. Either message us on our TikTok account or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. So far we’ve done a few videos about who we are and raised awareness on different mental health and drug and alcohol challenges. You may not have TikTok and that is ok, so here are a few of Szara’s great videos she did especially for PTSD awareness month.
We had our Annual General Meeting (AGM) this week. This is a meeting where we share the amazing work we have been doing over the year, and the business side of things, e.g., finances and hearing from the board. It is a chance for us to say thank you to everyone we have worked with over the year and reflect on what is to come. We celebrate in style, over tea and cake, which is becoming a must have at our events – not that I am complaining at all. I enjoy the feeling of being in the room during our AGMs as there is always so much passion and enthusiasm for the work we do, it is a motivational boost. Here’s a collage of pictures from it.
We had our staff away day a few weeks ago and it was lovely to reconnect together as a team. I like to consider myself a reflective person, so I always find our away days very insightful for my own awareness. I learned how much my thoughts about control affect me and those around me. You might be thinking “What does Charlotte mean by thoughts about control?”, and I understand this might not make sense to everyone. But I am hoping in sharing this I shed a light for others experiencing similar, while raising awareness. A huge part of my eating disorder was about control without me even knowing. I didn’t feel like I had much control over my life or the things I did, so one thing I could control was my eating and my body. I know this isn’t unique to me and many people that have experienced eating disorders recognise this as part of their illness too. This control changed over the years as I went through therapy and worked on myself. So now I feel more in control of my life overall, I often ‘sweat the small stuff’. I can sometimes over-analyse, over-organise, or take on too much because I want to be in charge. I ask a lot of questions about what other people are doing, partly because I’m nosey, but it’s to reassure myself that everything around me is under control. This often causes me to have anxiety episodes, where I internally worry and stress about things, struggle to sleep and feel fragmented, out of touch emotionally and/or overwhelmed.
I’m learning that as much as I don’t like this part of me, it is a part of me that is responding to something in my environment. The thoughts and anxiety are there as a protective factor, believe it or not. I am reading ‘No Such Thing as Normal’ by Bryony Gordon (highly recommend this book) and she speaks about anxiety being used to protect us when we sense danger or something around us is amiss. We have done this throughout evolution to keep ourselves safe. Knowing this I am starting to consider the need for control and anxiety as a thing there to protect me. I am learning that I am safe and ok in my mind, body and environment, which is slowly changing the way I think about them. By accepting this part of myself, I am welcoming it into the light which reduces the power it has over me and gives the power back to me, which will help to reduce the feelings of anxiety or need for control. I know this is a slow process, but I am learning, and that is OK. I know I may still feel overwhelmed at times, or on edge because of the many plates I am balancing, but by practising kindness and softness with myself I know I will slowly, but surely get through it, and be stronger for it. Hopefully this reflection is helpful to know we all experience different things but being curious about our nature while being kind to ourselves can help us go far.
I want to end this blog with a happy picture from our away day because it was a glorious day, in weather, company and overall feel.
“You are stronger and more durable than you think, because of what you have been through, not in spite of it! – Bryony Gordon
Until next time 😊