SWG is an artist who lives with mental health issues.

Over the past 30 years SWG has discovered and tested different strategies to managing their MHIs, this site is a way to share their insights. SWG is not a trained mental health practitioner but has the benefit of a lived experience as a service user who has done lots of reading, reflecting, therapy, group work, mainstream and auto didactic learning.

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Kindness

Acts of kindness have been shown to increase our self esteem and create a sense of belonging, they reduce our sense of isolation by building bonds with others. We are social beings but modern life can leave us feeling alone and the increasing dependence on social media can sometimes promote the idea that everyone has a wonderful life when we’re feeling anything but wonderful. (And, spoiler alert: all those people are not having fantastic lives, they’re just human and have crap days like everyone else).

Mental health issues can change the way you think, when I’m depressed my confidence gets so bad that going to the moon seems easier than engaging with others, the tendency is to become reclusive and protect myself from a world that seems too overwhelming. I tried to volunteer for the National Trust but even though it was only a few hours a week, it was still too much. I felt ashamed and my self esteem took a huge nose dive. It took me ages to feel ok again because not only was I coping with depression I was also wrestling with the internalised shame of having mental health issues and feeling a failure for not being ok because I’d done what was supposed to help me improve.

When I disclosed that I had to leave because of my illness one of the well meaning workers said “But doesn’t it make you feel better when you get here” I managed to reply that when I was depressed I couldn’t even get there and even if I did I wouldn’t have the energy to “pass” i.e. pretend to be ok.

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Coming to terms with loss

Over a period of 7 years my therapist helped me to become aware of my inner parts and how to attend to them with care and sensitivity. I continue to do this but it is a work in progress and sometimes certain parts of me(alters) take the lead and operate unilaterally, however, on the whole, my way of making decisions is radically different from before therapy. Back then it was more chaotic.

Right now I have a new therapist who was trained by my previous therapist who retired nearly 2 years ago. This is good as there is continuity, however there is the inevitable comparison and the process of grieving for my previous therapist. Since working with the new therapist there has been a pandemic, the death of my mother, and my youngest child leaving home. A lot of changes.

I’ve been working on the concept of individuation, i.e. the separating from my old therapist who I felt was like a father and the process between myself and my daughter.

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