Hey everyone. How are you all? I hope you’re all well and in good mental health. This time, I’m going to talk to you about my dosset box, and how it’s helped me since my relapse in 2017-18.
I was first put on medication on a daily basis when I started to struggle again with my mental health. I started mixing up my medication and taking the wrong doses – sometimes taking the same meds twice – which would lead me to overdosing. (I should point out that during these overdoses, I didn’t actually want to end my life.)
One night, I fell asleep early, woke up later and thought, “Oh poo, I haven’t taken my tablets”, so I took three – which I should have done – and went back to sleep. I woke up the next morning and looked at my packets of medication, noticing that I was down one tablet, and in the other packet had more than I should have had. But the weirdest thing about that morning was that my eyes felt so wide, and my head was literally buzzing.
I was worried that I might have caused myself some serious damage, so as I lived two minutes away from the chemist that was attached to my doctor’s surgery, I walked round there, also hoping that the fresh air would do me some good. I spoke to the chemist and told her what had happened and how I was feeling. She calmed me down by saying what I’d taken shouldn’t cause me any serious issues, but she wanted me to see a nurse or a doctor. She also said I would probably feel like this for up to three days. I couldn’t get in to see a doctor or a nurse, and was told that if I felt any worse, then I was to go back to them or go to hospital. 7pm came and I crashed – I slept all the way through the night and I was up by 7am the next day, still with a buzzing head and wide eyes.
Going back to my relapse, I was good at first with my meds, but then I started taking the wrong doses again. I felt stupid, feeling that I should be able to sort out my medication, so my partner suggested to me that we either get them in blister pack or get a dosset box – a weekly one. I thought that was a good idea but also felt that I was letting myself down, because I couldn’t do my medications without help, and that did affect me for a while. However, we went to my chemist and discussed the various options, and in the end we went for the dosset box. It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s had a huge impact on my life. The only problem is when I’m feeling low, I feel don’t fill my box out correctly – and that’s bad – but I am changing the pattern.
Thank you for reading this blog. I wish you all good mental health and hope you all have a good week.
Hey everyone. I hope you’re well and in good mental health, and I hope you’re looking forward to the weekend. Today I’m going to talk to you about the film premiere of ‘The Return of Happy Times’, a documentary film about the Burgh Castle Almanac project which I’m involved with. If you want to find out more about the project, then just take a look through my blog, where I’ve posted reports on things we’ve been up to.
So, because of this stupid blooming virus, we had to scale down our premiere, which meant two screenings in one day, for which the BCA group was split in two. For me was this a good idea, as in the interview and question and answer session following each screening, there were different questions from Robert Fairclough, the interviewer, and different reactions from the director, Julian Claxton. It was also nice that some of the people who came to the premiere were the same kind souls who’ve been opening up Burgh Castle village hall for us for the last two years.
At the beginning of the premiere, Robert gave us an introduction about how the screening would unfold. The film started and… well, I didn’t expect me to be near the start of it. I was also in the rest of the film a lot more than I expected to be, so Julian has a lot to answer for! When he was filming, I felt safe with him, to the extent that Julian gave me the nickname ‘Big Man’, and not because I ate all the cakes, ha ha. I felt that he listened to all of us in the BCA, respected our opinions and listened to our ideas.
Getting a film made about our activities was always part of the aim of the project. We interviewed several filmmakers last year (we must have put some of them through hell, as there’s no Wi-fi in Burgh Castle village hall, so they had to make an impression on the interviewing panel without showing us their work). There were so many different approaches from the people we talked to, but we had one more interview to do a week later – with Julian, ironically. For me, he gave the best interview and came across as very confident and professional, so my decision was an easy one – I wanted him to make the film.
I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who made ‘The Return of Happy Times’ happen: the funders, the professionals who came in and did workshops with us, and all of the BCA group for taking part and making me feel welcome.
Hey everyone. I hope you’re all well in these trying times, and I hope you’ve had a good couple of weeks. Today I’m going to talk to you about some training I did with a company called Access Community Trust.
First off, I had to get the bus to town, and it was a weird experience being on it with other passengers who were all masked up. I find it strange that we have to wear masks, as the drivers don’t, but I can understand why they don’t wear them. I got off the bus and walked through town to the railway station, where I had a snack which filled me up for my train journey. What an awesome journey it was through our countryside, seeing all the leaves and wild animals in the fields doing their thing. I must admit, though, I forgot to get some photographs to share with you… I got off at my stop and was glad to stretch my legs, and I have to say the new trains are very posh and smooth.
I was meet at the train station, as my sense of direction is not the best. We got to Saxhouse where I was doing the training, and I asked the Access people if they’d had a spillage, because there were loads of towels on the floor because someone had dropped the water dispenser bottle while changing it. I couldn’t help but laugh, and they laughed too, so that broke the ice a little. That made me feel at home and helped calm my nerves a lot.
We started the session with the questions ‘What does mental health mean to you?’, ‘What emotions do you link with mental health?’ and ‘What is the deteriorating effect it can have on you?’ We opened this up into a group discussion, and we came up with some excellent answers to all the questions posed. We then talked about four real case studies and two others that had been brought to Access recently. I also used the sixteen year-old me and the 30 year-old me as models for study, and some of the suggestions of what the team would to do for me were really insightful.
I then told the group about where my mental health journey had started and where I am today. Sharing my story and getting some positive feedback from them was brilliant. If I can now help someone through a bad time, my Access training has been especially worthwhile.
Thank for reading, I wish you all good mental health, and remember to make some time for yourselves when you can.
Hey everyone. How are you all? I hope you’re all in good mental health, had a good weekend and managed to get some you time to relax and recharge yourself for the week ahead. Today, I’m going to talk to you about panic attacks, how they affect me, how I deal with them now and how, sometimes, I can’t find what triggers them.
I’m going to talk you through my first ever panic attack: I woke up that morning and felt fine. I was slightly nervous, as I had to play in a football match that day with the disabilities team I played with at my my local college – I used football as a positive boost for my mental health.I finished my game and went back to college, where I waited for my friend. Then, I started to feel strange: my breathing started to get quicker, I couldn’t catch my breath and there was a tingling sensation all over my body. I started to cry, worrying that I was having a heart attack. The receptionist of the college rang an ambulance; the paramedics were very good, talking to me gently to calm me down. I started to get my breath back, then they said, “We think you’ve had a panic attack” and explained it a little. That was great, because the paramedics took their time to go through what happened.
Over the years, I went on to have more panic attacks, some more stressful then others, but the thing that really gets to me is that I can’t pinpoint a trigger for some of them. I find myself obsessing over that, and I would feel stupid because I couldn’t work out a cause. So, my question is: should I be obsessing over it, or should I leave it alone and move on?
When I start to go in to an attack, I try to distract myself to stop it in its tracks. I do a few things that help:
1. Listen to music, or watch something on YouTube
2. Count sheep
3. Talk to my partner
4. Write or doodle
.I would love to hear what helps you through a panic attack – please feel free to write in the comments section.
I’m now a firm believer that panic attacks make us stronger, and that we learn something new from them each time. We must remember we’re all unique, as they affect us in different ways. What works for me may not work for you, so it’s good to have several things lined up to try and help you through one
Thank you for reading I wish you all good mental health and a good week ahead.
Hey everyone. How are you all? I hope you’re all in good mental health and enjoying this sunny weather we’re having in the UK; it’s too hot for my liking today, though… I’m going to talk you about one of the communities I belong to through gaming on my PlayStation, and how it’s helped me when playing, together with the help and the support it’s given me outside gaming.
It must be four or five years now – maybe longer – that I met a group of online players while playing Grand Theft Auto on PlayStation 3. We’d just muck around getting to know each other… there are around seven of them that I keep in contact with offline, and we we’d talk about anything and everything, putting the world to rights in just a couple of hours, while also taking the Mickey out of each other.
I felt that I could open up to some of these lads about my mental health, and they wouldn’t judge me at all. Sometimes I would log off without saying ‘bye, and that was because I was starting to have a panic attack. But, if you asked the lads, they would say I was scared because my partner had just come home, and I was making it look like I hadn’t been on the PlayStation. This was always a shared joke that made us laugh.
I then started talking to them about some of my mental health issues – not too much, as I didn’t want them to think I was a mad man, or weak, or useless. The voices I hear in my head would really play me up at times like these, and make think that my friends wouldn’t be interested; they would also tell me I was weird and a loner. But once I started to open up to my friends a little bit, some of them revealed they had suffered their own battles with life. It was nice to know that I wasn’t the only one that struggled, and that we could help each other if need be.
One of them set up group for UK players and made me admin, which I loved, and this made me feel a part of a community; that was awesome, giving me a sense of belonging. I’ve never met a single one of them in person, but I now count them as lifelong friends. I hope we have many more years of gaming, talking and laughing.
Thanks for reading, everyone. I wish you all good mental health and, once again. thank you for all the support you give me.
Hey everyone. How are you all? I hope you’re all well and good today. I’m going to talk to you today about my first visit back to the Burgh Castle Almanac Gathering, where our guest was Doctor Peter Lovatt, a.k.a. Doctor Dance. As you’ll see,I think he needs to be prescribed on the National Health Service.
I’d been 50/50 whether I’d attend at all, as I’m not one for dancing, although I do love watching all style of dance on the TV and internet. I had visions of a person coming along who took his dance seriously but would have a laugh with us, or get involved with what we were doing, but perhaps that’s me over-thinking things, my anxiety taking over and telling me I wouldn’t be any good at joining in.
But when Doctor Lovatt started speaking, he made me feel at ease immediately: I could see that his body language was positive, and when he spoke he smiled from ear to ear. To begin with, he got us marching up and down on the spot, then took us for a march in circle around the field we were in. His passion for what he was doing was infectious.
With Doctor Dance guiding us, we took 3 steps forwards, clapped, then took 3 steps back and clapped again. We all did this a couple of times, then stepped to the right, clapped and repeated the moves to the left. Peter then asked us “do our own thing”, then it was spin, clap and back again. It was a little confusing, but because I felt relaxed I didn’t feel stupid or self conscious. This was a small victory for me, and I felt good about that. We then had to perform the moves to music. Well, I’ve got no rhythm or timing, so it was hard, but, once again, I kept at it and really enjoyed myself.
The group then went for are a walk around the ruins of the Roman fort, where we caught up on what had been happening to everybody during lockdown, and took our fixed-point photographs. I think being able to meet in person – rather than through a screen – lifted us all. I feel that we’re a really tight-knit community; you could even say we’re a family.
Once we got to the Roman fort, Peter got us doing the haka, the dance the New Zealand rugby team perform before a match. I’m a big sports fan, so this was one of my favourite moments of the day. Thanks to Doctor Dance making a dream come true, I was buzzing afterwards. We then got a chance to make something with streamers supplied by our resident artist Ian Brownlie, which the wind blew through, making a lovely sound that made me feel even more relaxed and grounded.
While having lunch in the field next to Burgh Castle village hall, I had a chat with Doctor Lovatt and his wife Lindsey. I told him about the podcasts I’ve been doing and was delighted when he agreed to be interviewed on one in the future. Then, there was more dancing, with the last one performed in bare feet so we really felt in tune with nature.
I can’t wait to see all my friends again soon. I hope you all found this a good and positive read. Wishing you all good mental health and a great week.
Hey everyone – how are you all? I hope you’re all good and have been enjoying this lush weather we’ve been having; I hope you’re all in good mental health, too. I’m going to talk to you about my new venture – a podcast – that has helped strengthen my confidence.
First off, I need to give Laura Drysdale from the Restoration Trust – and the organiser of the Burgh Castle Almanac Gathering I belong to – a shout out. I emailed her, asking if she knew if there was any funding out there for me to create create my own podcast; I didn’t think the recording equipment I had would be suitable.
Laura got back to me within a day or two and said, “Why you don’t use the Burgh Castle Almanac laptops that aren’t being used at the moment because of the lockdown?” Laura then mentioned about getting a microphone, which she could loan out, so I immediately said, “Yes please, that would be awesome!” I just want to say a very big thank you to her, and the Restoration Trust, for supporting me. I did a podcast with Laura and we talked about all things mental health, lockdown and Burgh Castle Almanac, which will be my next blog post. I’m excited to report we’re going back to Burgh Castle on the 28th July, where we’ll be meeting with Doctor Dance. please find the link to the podcast here: https://anchor.fm/john-durrant3/episodes/My-interview-with-Laura-Drysdale-from-the-restoration-trust-eernq0
My second podcast was with a role model I look up to and share my #livedexperence with. He’s the amazing Josh Connolly. I first met him at a mental health conference in my home town of Lowestoft, a couple of years ago now. I thought I was pushing my luck when I asked him to participate in my podcast. but he said “Yes” and I was really buzzing, as his talks on alcoholism and how he beat it are truly inspiring. We also talked about the different mental techniques you can use when you’re struggling. Please find the link to Josh’s podcast here: https://anchor.fm/john-durrant3/episodes/My-interview-with-Josh-Connolly-ef52sm
I feel these podcasts have boosted my confidence, and I look forward to improving with every one I do.Thanks for reading and listening to my blog and podcast. I wish you all good mental health and hope you have a good weekend.
Hey everyone, how are you all doing? I hope you’re all well and in good mental health today. I’m going to talk to you about Burgh Castle and my recent visit there without the the Burgh Castle Almanac Gathering group and how I felt about that. I’m also going to discuss my podcast with Laura Drysdale, the BCAG’s organiser, in which we speak about all things mental health, as well as how we want to take the Burgh Castle project further when it officially ends.
I was asked by our film maker Julian Claxton for a few clips of me at my favourite spots in Burgh Castle, so went there together and followed social distancing rules. I nearly snapped his hand of at the chance to go, as I hadn’t been to Burgh Castle for over three months and have missed the place so much. When I’m there, I can ground myself and I feel that all my worries just float away with the sound of the wind through the reeds, and I come away feeling really good.
The only disappointing thing about this visit to Burgh Castle is that the rest of the group couldn’t join us. That made me feel a little low that we weren’t all together, sharing the experience. Burgh Castle was looking beautiful and our visit there was lovely. Julian made me feel relaxed and chilled and we talked a lot about my journey, about how far I’ve come on the road to recovery, as well as living with mental health issues. We also talked about local sports and how we’ve missed watching the football.
Nearly three weeks ago I recorded a podcast with Laura Drysdale, a director from the Restoration Trust that runs our project. We talked about how far the project has come and I asked here if she would still take part in the group when it officially finishes. I’m going to leave the link to the podcast here so you can have a listen. Here’s the link to the podcast episode https://anchor.fm/dashboard/episode/eernq0
Only a short read this time, so thank you for reading. I wish you all good mental health and a very good week.
Hey everyone, I hope you’re all well and in good mental health. Today, I’m going to talk about medication and why it has such a bad reputation. I’ve also started to do a podcast, with a couple of people lined up to interview in the coming weeks.I see so many people slating others for being on medication. Some people need it to help them get back on an even keel, and only for a short period of time. I also know people need to be on them for a longer period, or maybe even for life, because of their mental health issues. When I used to go to the doctor, it seems like all he wanted to do was stick pills down my neck, but now this attitude is changing for the better
Social prescribing is now being used in a lot of areas, and I think this is a positive thing. A doctor can help or suggest different ways of getting help, or put you in contact with support groups in your area, or even help you to rejoin the community by recommending you take on a volunteer position. This will help you gain confidence, or even just connect you to social groups you may be interested in. You might not be offered any medication at all.
For some people, this might be enough to help them through their problem, and they won’t need to go back and see a doctor again because they’ll be in a better place. But some people still might need to, because they’re still struggling. A doctor might have to try various medications out on them to get the right balance which, in my opinion, is the right thing to do.
I had a lot of changes to my medication because initially they didn’t work. My psychiatrist told me one drug would work great, but instead it made me angry; I was snapping at people a lot, and that isn’t me, so I had to come off it straight away. I have been on tablets that made me eat a lot, but I don’t need any help in that department at all. I’ve been taking the pill I’m on now for about six months; they were increased by one a day to help me sleep better, and they seem to be the right mix for me. The hardest thing for me to deal with was that I wanted an instant fix, but when it was explained to me they take about six week to start working, I started to relax and not panic so much.
Thanks for reading. I wish you all good mental health.
For Mental Health Awareness Week, we asked John about his experiences with the project before and during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
How did you become part of the Burgh Castle Almanac project?
I began hearing voices from the age of 12 and as a teenager tried to take my own life. I was diagnosed with a mild form of schizophrenia, but it wasn’t until 11 years later following a psychotic episode that I discovered I had been misdiagnosed and I actually have emotional unstable personality disorder.
Since then I have been trying to understand my illness.
“I don’t drive, so the fact I was offered transport to get to the castle was a big factor in my decision to join.”
A facilitator of the Burgh Castle Almanac project contacted me to see if I wanted to take part. I don’t drive, so the fact I was offered transport to get to the castle was a big factor in my decision to join.
The first time I went I really didn’t feel like it was for me and didn’t think I would be going again, but my partner persuaded me to give it another go. Now I am part of the furniture! The group is so non-judgemental, you aren’t judged if you miss a week, but they also care and see if you are OK if you do.
Before lockdown, what did you do?
So many things! We met every fortnight, sometimes small groups and sometimes more of us – it was really flexible.
We had different professionals visit to help us relate to Burgh Castle including a writer, a geologist and a butterfly man.
“In my life I went through a long time not feeling connected to anything. The project gave me that connection back.”
Another time, we visited the Thames Foreshore project in London – walking right along the riverbed was phenomenal. That same trip we went to the British Museum. One of the other members of the group actually has a Saxon find on display there. He also found a Roman coin in a molehill near Burgh Castle when we were on one of our walks.
Mindfulness walks were another thing. I was sceptical at first but walking and paying real attention to the sounds of birds, the wind blowing and taking in the smells really did help me reconnect with nature.
I’ve lived nearby the castle for so many years and had never been, now I don’t think I will ever stop going.
Has the project impacted your mental health?
In my life I went through a long time not feeling connected to anything. The project gave me that connection back. I looked forward to going on a Tuesday and being laughed at (good naturedly!) for getting stressed about art projects.
The group is like a big family, if we see each other struggling we take notice and offer support. I’ve made friends I never would have met if I hadn’t joined.
Now I’m connected to the world again I want to take this experience as far as I can and I want to give back to the project and people what they have given to me.
How has coronavirus (COVID-19) and the lockdown changed things for you?
I work to manage my mental health by trying not to get weighed down by too much news or social media. Each day I say something new and positive to myself including the fact that this situation will not beat me – I will beat it.
In terms of the project, we have definitely not stopped.
We meet on Zoom every week where we talk and complete challenges such as mindfulness maps to stay in touch with each other and heritage.
We also have a closed Facebook group with more than 50 members where we post creative challenges. In fact, lockdown has meant the group is more active than ever and remains a way we can pick up on if someone is having a down day.
“The group is like a big family, if we see each other struggling we take notice and offer support. I’ve made friends I never would have met if I hadn’t joined.”
I’ll admit, the situation was disheartening at first, but the communication and support is still there and so helpful.
When lockdown ends, we will meet up again and there are so many positive things to plan and do for the project. I’m excited and so thankful we will have the opportunity.