This week Group 5 reach the end of their art sessions at Project Ability.
Despite the initial thoughts of “I can’t draw” or “My teacher at school laughed at my work, “everyone has really enjoyed the experience, even if they’ve pushed outside their comfort zones.
Though this block of eight sessions is ending, the participants have realised that they can challenge their own unhelpful thinking habits with the evidence of their own experience.
Vicious circles of thoughts/feelings/behaviours
This learning is being reinforced during this part of the programme, as the group learns how to spot how their inner critic attempts to undermine them.
Over the month of January, we have been combining “Living Life to the Full” sessions with “Write to Recovery Topics”.
Thus far we’ve looked at
- “Why do I feel so bad?” combined with the topic of “Surviving, Thriving and Recovery”
- “Why does everything always go wrong?” combined with “The Inner Critic”
- “I can’t be bothered doing anything!” combined with “What makes me happy?”
The realisation that it is very common to get into these cycles of negative thoughts, emotions and behaviours has been an eyeopener for the group.
Talking about experiences and sharing strategies to deal with them is helping participants to find new ways to dealing with anxiety, low mood, and low self esteem,
Knowing that it’s a safe, supportive space where we focus on solutions, the group members are slowly opening up as they realise that they are not alone in carrying negative thoughts about themselves, their epilepsy and their day to day lives.
This security is allowing individual participants to examine some deep seated thinking habits about areas of their lives that they feel epilepsy has had a negative impact, for example independence, travelling on public transport, re engaging with hobbies and activities.
Feedback from the group has included
- I have learned about how to try and not think of bad thoughts all the time. Never give up and keep on believing in myself, and to ignore my “inner critic”
- Everyone has their bad voices, it’s not just me
- I liked listening to other people in the group, realising I am not alone in my thinking
- There are other ways to do things
In a couple of weeks we will start on a short programme with Sharon Miller of Joy Works, where we will use creative exercises and role play to practice having positive conversations with other people.
This will help the participants to find ways to ask for what they need, learn how to say no, and learn how to not worry about things that are outside our control.
Epilepsy Futures Coordinator