I love to write, to be creative and to share my thoughts with everyone who is willing to listen or to read. I want to hear what others are thinking, what you want to read about. Tell me about your hopes, your wishes and your dreams.
I believe in hope, and working towards a better future. No matter what has happened to you, what you have experienced, there is hope within it.
I am writing my book, and this is my journey. There are so many adventures on the way, and I want you to join me on them. Watch the highs, and share the lows, because that is what life is about. Sharing everything, and learning how to get through it together.
Be kind, be constructive, and most of all be open minded. Everyone is welcome, I look forward to sharing my time with you all.
Sometimes we all need that little bit of hope. It can come in a the form of a letter. Here is one for you, a letter of hope for all those who have had a difficult few days. Take some time to sit, read, have a cup of your drink of choice, allow yourself to think and process the thoughts and feelings you have. You are doing better than you realise you are.
I know you’ve had a difficult few days, so how are you managing? Really, how are you managing with everything?
I wanted to write to you because then you will have something you can come back and look at again later, so you can remind yourself just how amazing you’re doing.
It is difficult when things don’t go to plan, I can’t imagine how you must be feeling right now. I am so pleased you’ve taken some time to stop though to read and focus on yourself. That’s so good of you, you are important too.
Have you been able to keep yourself well? Is there anything you can do to make it easier over the next few days? I think if you can come up with two things to help yourself it’ll be amazing, then you can focus more on everything else you need to do. It’s important you look after yourself, so any extra time is going to be so good for you.
How are you sleeping at the moment? Could it be better? What could help do you think? If you try something tonight to help you sleep better will it be worthwhile? Will you try?
With everything that’s been happening for you you’ve still managed time to read, that’s amazing, what other brilliant things have you been up to? I went for a walk in the sunshine and noticed the daffodils, they were so pretty, it reminded me of springtime and gave me some hope that brighter days are coming.
I know it’s hard, but you really are doing amazing, and I am so proud of you. You are being such a strong person at the moment as every day passes you are getting stronger. If you can’t see it right now you will one day.
Keep the hope that you will get through this because you are, one step at a time. One day at a time, and you will come out the other side. When you do, you’ll look back with such an amazing sense of pride.
This blog is written with permission from my daughter, we have written this together as our way of raising awareness of the journey in getting her diagnosis, to raise awareness of the challenges a teenage girl faces but also to break down some of the stigmas surrounding young people with autism.
She was 11 years old when I first noticed things were getting difficult for her. Friendships were getting harder to maintain, every day seemed to be another drama. At first, I didn’t think much of it, I put it down to typical pre-teen hormones and a moody group of girls who just couldn’t get on. Then came the complaints, headaches, belly aches, every day there was another reason not to get up in the morning and not to go to school. Before long these aches and pains became so frequent and interrupting I had no option but to think that there was more going on than a girl avoiding school.
Fast forward 12 months and we start secondary school, brilliant right! No. That new start we were holding on to, clinging on for a new set of friends in the hope that it would help her settle down and want to be in school at last. All those excitements as a mum wanting to watch her daughter start secondary school came crashing down within a matter of days. We were still having headaches, belly aches, backaches, everything aches. Only now we were also accompanied with anxiety, crying, and sulking every morning before school. That was on the days we could get school uniform on and get to the school. Now these weren’t any typical ‘sulks’ as you could put it. When these happened, they were in one way scary, in another way sad. As a mum it felt like I was torturing my child every day, the screams were ear piercing. Hearing her shouting out, and not saying I don’t want to go in, it was “I can’t go in” and that was the worst. This was accompanied daily with multiple episodes of kicking, hitting, sometimes biting. This could have gone on for hours depending on the length of time taken to try to get her into school. It really was a battle of the wills.
Now we were really lucky, we had an amazing paediatrician who was monitoring her headaches and had also involved CAMHS (Child Adolescent Mental Health Services), so we felt like to some extent we were being listened too. Not everyone is this lucky, and getting that initial referral is a long process. However, if you stick with it, keep going and never give up you will get there. Remember as a parent your voice is your child’s voice. I had to be the voice for my daughter and at times that voice had to fight hard. Those days when we sat across the table to senior people in school being told to just bring her in and ‘let her get used to it’ and that she was just ‘being a disruptive teenager’ that voice became more determined than ever. You see deep down I knew my daughter, and I could see in her eyes that there were words she wanted to speak but couldn’t get out. As frustrating as that was for me, I still to this day cannot imagine the frustration she must have felt in those meetings.
Through all the persistence and patience waiting for appointments and assessments I continued to be the ‘good mum’ that everyone wanted me to be. I fought day after day to get my girl into that school. To no avail I may add. I learnt very quickly just how stubborn she can be, how adamant she is when she sets her mind to something and how strong she is, mentally and physically. I can honestly say now, looking back that those strengths in her are going to set her up for an amazing leadership role in the future. At times I wish she hadn’t demonstrated them quite when she did but then she wouldn’t be the person she is today.
When we finally received that letter giving us a date for her ADOS (assessment for autism) I was petrified. There was part of me that initially felt like I had let my daughter down, like I was admitting defeat, yet there was part of me that was relieved we were being listened too and someone didn’t think she was just being a ‘troublesome teenager’ who didn’t like her new school. It was at this point I remember sitting with her and talking to her all about autism. We spoke about how skilful and artistic people are, how talented and hardworking autistic individuals are, but also how sometimes they can need some extra help with school, and with learning how to understand things like friendships. That we were going for this assessment not because anything was wrong, but because if she is autistic it would mean we could arrange the extra help and support for her as she needs it rather than leave her to struggle. That night despite the usual bedtime difficulties I found a letter written to me,
“Mum, I want to do this assessment thing, I want to know if my brain is wired differently”.
I knew she understood, I knew then despite my initial mixed feelings I was doing the right thing.
In the run up to assessment day, school became non-existent. The fights in the morning were not productive or kind to anyone. We attempted some schoolwork from home, I faced the letters threatening court action for nonattendance, the importance was placed on keeping the peace and maintaining a safe place for my girl. I tried everything, learning all the little things that she found comforting, small spaces, the vibrations of the tumble drier, in particular under the dining table with a blanket. Using these to keep her calm and not stressed worked most of the time, but the thought of attending school still caused a great deal of stress and upset to her. All those that loved her did all they could to keep her in a routine, it all helped. Not everyone was that accommodating, and we had to make it work, I became not just a mum but her voice, her advocate, her biggest fan.
On ADOS day I do not know who was more nervous. Well actually I do, it was me. The questions running through my head constantly were, what if she masks amazingly and no one sees what I see? What if it’s all in my head and she really is just being naughty? What if she panics in the room without me and they don’t know how to calm her down? What if she doesn’t talk at all? What if?????? My daughter however, walked straight into the room with the staff members from the assessment team without even saying bye, or looking over her shoulder at me and that was that. Turns out I had nothing to worry about at all. She came out all smiles, telling me she got to draw, and they asked lots of pointless questions. I couldn’t help but hug her and laugh. That was my girl after all, blunt, straight to the point and honest. We knew we would have to wait a while for the report, I knew it would feel like forever, as for my daughter. She just wanted to get some food.
In the weeks to follow while we waited, we had the big change of starting a new school. After a year of school refusal this was a very scary thing to do, but also exciting. A new start, a school with set routines, and the preparation to get her into there had been pretty good. A phased return followed some home learning, regular meetings with the staff to check in and just the language used when speaking with us made a massive impact. I can’t tell you the difference it makes when you get your child into school, even though they are late and you are greeted with,
“It’s good to see you, I’m so proud of you for making it in today”.
Three years on I’m glad to say she’s still in school, it’s not all rosy and sparkly. In all honesty some days are tough, but I am glad for where we are now. Compared to where we were with regards to attendance and schooling. There are no more mornings with kicking and screaming, which we are all happy about. The “I can’t go to school” is now very much “I don’t want to go in today, but I’m going anyway” which we have learnt is now a routine phrase and to be honest if I don’t hear it in the morning, I wonder what is on her mind. I am so used to hearing it now.
My daughter received her autism diagnosis in December 2018, she was just about to turn 13 years old. We were also told she has ADHD and Dyslexia.
When people meet my daughter it’s easy to understand why we went so long without a diagnosis. My daughter can mask brilliantly. This means she can mimic the behaviour of others around her, like a mirror. She doesn’t necessarily understand the behaviours however as she sees others doing things the assumption that it is the correct and appropriate way to behave is made, therefore she will do the same.
This will never change, I don’t want it to, at times it is quite funny, and as my daughter has got older and become more aware of her surroundings, social groups and their behaviours, she is more receptive to times when we can say to her “do you understand what that phrase means that you said?”
Sometimes the ability to mask can come at a cost, because on the outside it looks like she is able to manage everything, understand all the comings and goings of the world around her it is easy to miss the signs of a sensory overload. Especially in larger groups such as school, or outings, or friendship gatherings. It will only be when she is back home in her ‘safe space’ when that overload can be released. Normally resulting in total shutdown and essentially having a brain break.
When we are out and about I will with confidence tell others to give my daughter some time because she is autistic. We will be looked at with quite shocked looks, at times comments have been said as “really, she doesn’t look autistic” or “but she talks so well and gives such good eye contact”. Well yes she does, but that doesn’t mean she finds it easy, or comfortable. It doesn’t mean that before she walked into that building, or that room she doesn’t do a mental checklist, ‘look at them when they are talking to me, don’t interrupt, try and listen for more than 2 minutes, don’t swear, be nice’. (this is one example)
Now the beauty of autism is that no two individuals are the same. So, although I’ve written this about our journey to a diagnosis, and some of the challenges we have faced and either overcome, or adapted too, it doesn’t mean it is the same for every family out there. In fact, it won’t be the same for any other family at all. That is okay, your family’s journey is going to be unique to you, it is going to take its own path depending on what you and your child need, and what you ask for.
Our journey is not over, not by a long shot. To be honest this part of our journey is only just beginning, I am learning more about my daughter’s little quirks every day, the whole family are, and so is she. She is now beginning to learn to use her own voice which I couldn’t be prouder of, this means that I can now step back a little with some of the battles for support and requests for help for her, instead I am now her biggest cheerleader. My main role now is help, support, and encourage her as she grows to embrace her individuality, her talents, her skills, her quirkiness, her totally bonkers moments (which are hilarious by the way) and to help her love herself just the way she is, (not to mention embarrassing her at any opportunity possible). In return I have a daughter who shows empathy, consideration for others, emotion, a wicked sense of humour, and who is embracing her differences and utilising them to help others.
I couldn’t be prouder of how she has faced each hurdle or overcome each challenge. I wouldn’t change her for the world.
If you are battling with school refusal, I know how disheartening and disappointing it can be, the constant battles, and never-ending fights with local authorities and schools. You are your child’s biggest advocate, they will remember what you say more than the schools, always think what message would you want them to hear you putting across for them, what words do they need to hear you say?
Finally, despite the challenges of the day, the words that are passed between people, even if you have one of those ones (teens) that stay in their room. They will always hear you tell them you love them and remember it. (Advice from my teen)
Our journey has not been easy, it has not been the hardest. It has however been our own journey. We are beginning to own it, and by writing this together we would like to let others know that there is hope. There is a light at the end, and it is journey you can travel along with the support of the right people around you.
More specifically from my teen, “Autism isn’t anything to be ashamed about, it makes me who I am, and no two days are the same. Some days can even be quite funny, especially those days when I am super sensory and I cant tolerate anything touching me, and I jump all the time.”
I try to keep this website as real as possible. In order to do that it is important to understand that not every day is good. Not every day following weeks/months/years of mental torture is day full of smiles, and positivity. Sometimes it is more than a day. These slums can last days, sometimes a week or so. They are exhausting, but they are the reality of life. This is the life I have to live and manage on a daily basis, as hard as it is there are times when I want to say enough. There are days when I am great, and confident enough to shout from the rooftops. Although the slums are what many people struggle with. Over time there are ways to light the way out of them, they become easier to come out of, which is why now I can share this.
“I’m done fighting, fighting with everyone around me to be heard, fighting with the people who care because I want to be understood, fighting with myself because I don’t want to be the person I am. I have no strength left to fight these battles anymore, someone needs to hear me now.”
This is something I’m finding myself saying more and more these days. Despite using all the techniques and coping strategies I have been taught through the numerous therapy sessions I have attended I can’t understand why I am finding myself saying this.
“What do you need?” Is something that I get asked quite frequently and the only answer I can give is “I don’t actually think I know.” When the reality is, I do. I need time, and patience. Someone who is able to sit with me without a time restriction, who can just listen and help figure out the spaghetti junction of words, feelings and emotions that have tangled themselves up in my head. Someone who can just sit there and hold me while the tears fall and not feel uncomfortable, or the need to try and ‘fix’ them. Just to understand that they need to fall at that moment. The need to be held, comforted, and feel not completely alone at that moment, that despite the words ‘you are not alone’ being heard, for someone to understand that the feeling of loneliness outweighs those words on a daily basis.
The true facts are though, this isn’t a reality that can happen. I do actually understand that, despite the understanding being there doesn’t mean my head can accept it. Unfortunately for me my head still says, ‘I’m not ok, why can’t anyone see that?’ This then gets followed up with ‘why am I bothering if no one else is?’ Yet the truth is, I know people are bothered. I’d give anything for someone to truly understand what is going on in my head. So that then I might begin to understand it better. At the same time, I wouldn’t wish anyone to experience it, because it is scary and lonely. There is no happy medium here.
So why am I feeling like I have no fight anymore? Why are these feelings all coming flooding back like a tsunami when on the outside I am so close the end of one step of this journey? Fear? Is it the fear that it’ll all get taken away again? Maybe. Fear that I’ll be more alone? Maybe. Fear that if it goes wrong again this time it will be all on me? Maybe. Fear that I have been fighting all this time for the wrong reasons? Maybe. Fear of being forced to live this life when there’s still part of me that doesn’t want to? Maybe. Fear is a big part.
Exhaustion? Mentally exhausted from all the realisations of how much the last few years have damaged everyone. The exhaustion from trying to please every single person around me all the time. The exhaustion from trying to figure out who I am and the realisation that I still don’t understand, and will disappoint those I’ve learnt to care about? Not to mention the physical exhaustion of trying to create this person, to be the person I want to be, to do the right things, to push back the bad person I really am and develop this nice person I want people to see. The physical burnout from forcing myself to be at all the places I need to be and make sure I am mentally present despite knowing I need to take some time away.
When everyday becomes a constant battle, a constant fight, and then a constant reminder of a life that was, it becomes a constant nightmare that never ends. It chips away at the reflection and before long that’s all I am able to see in the mirror. A nightmare, that has nothing left, that knows what she needs but knows she needs to find an alternative before she gives in.
But when the cracks seem too wide, and it feels like the reflection is falling into them, quicker than any alternative can be found.
So, what do I do? What can be done to beat this, to close the cracks before it’s too late? To re-establish that level of control which will allow the functionality of everyday life. To allow myself to be able to turn that phrase around from “no fight” to “willing to fight” and stand up long enough to say it out loud.
Well first things first, I do what I do best. I write, write down the things that are going well. It isn’t always nothing, it is a case of stopping and thinking hard. Ultimately when I am writing I will eventually get to the point when I write “I am still here fighting.” See the hypocrisy there?
Every slum comes to an end, eventually. That I do know. Managing it, figuring it out, I haven’t quite solved yet. One day I might have a better understanding, in the meantime I rely on hope, virtual hugs from those that do care, my reliant on being able to write (even badly) and a cosy blanket.
Asking myself one question, “If you heard about someone else dealing with all you are, what do you imagine you would think of them?”
You see, the bad days do happen to everyone. They can creep up when we least expect it, or they can begin to build over a while. They happen because they are part of every single person’s life. No one on this planet has a good day every single day. There are parts that don’t go to plan, that don’t resolve the way you wanted. That change your future and turn your world upside down. The realisation comes when you learn how to refocus, grow, and learn from these changes. Hope is a powerful thing, and the hope that when these low days happen that you have the strength, motivation and will power to keep getting up and to keep moving forward. Even if it is at a slower pace than other days.
On the 5th March I had a wonderful conversation with Emma Jane. She runs a fabulous Instagram page @Jerseybean1307 which is where I first met her. Running her page from Jersey, whilst juggling studying alongside she manages to keep posting frequently and interacting with many people daily. Her posts are focused on positivity, mental wellbeing, kindness, and helping others. I invited her along to have a chat, to learn more about her story and the person behind @jerseybean1307. Here is how it went.
So, the reason for having this chat is to hear more about the people behind the accounts.
Ok that’s great.
So, what is it that made you start yours?
I’ve always loved the Instagram platform and view it as a community where many of us can join together no matter where we come from or what our background is and I like to connect and share experiences with others and for me this the perfect place to do so.
It is a great platform isn’t it,
So what are the most valuable messages you try to get across?
That it is ok to not be ok, we all have good and bad days, flaws and scars and we need to feel free and be confident to share them rather than pretend and maintain an image that usually most of the time isn’t always real. To make people see they are not alone and there is support. Don’t be afraid to reach out, talk and ask for help and it will get better no matter what your situation is, keep faith and hope. Also don’t compare yourself to anyone you’re unique and special as you are. Mental and physical health are critical topics we should all feel able to share without judgement or fear.
To be able to talk openly about everything is something I hope for too.
Yes it takes time, but it will come at the right time took me years.
It’s a long process (I’m still getting there I think)
Step by step is all you can try to do.
Exactly, Baby steps at times but they are still steps.
I know you said you are studying at the moment, what are you studying and how to you manage to keep your page up to date and keep up with your work?
I’m a night owl lol, so I work most hours as don’t sleep well, I’m working from home on shorter hours which allows me to manage my page as well as study, I currently study mental health, psychology and also a digital course all online. I also am just newly appointed a peer support worker for mind. My passion is to help people and share experiences to give others hope, it can get better.
Oh wow. That all sounds amazing. So, this is something that you are literally doing full time then?
It’s not my full-time job but I want it to be. I’ve always been empathetic and a giver and helper to others be it family friends or strangers. I’ve had a lot of issues myself and I’ve always thought I need to take it all and put all the bad stuff to use and help others.
That sounds so good, to do full time I mean.
Definitely. It’s what my purpose is I feel. Using your own experiences to help others is very kind and strong of you too. It’s taken me a while to get here and share but I made it. It takes time.
That is amazing, Which kind of leads onto my next question, What are your hopes for the future for your page? Where do you want to see it going in the future?
I just want it to continue giving strength love and support to others, if it touches just one person then am happy. I want to use it as a platform to speak of my struggles to show others it does get better and that bad times don’t last but tough people do. For the future would love it to keep growing far and wide.
Love that, people need to hear more of that. It does get better.
People can gain a lot of hope from others I think,
Definitely. I love and believe that sharing is key as your story is another’s survival guide.
Growing far and wide, I think you’re doing quite amazing so you should be pretty proud with what you’ve achieved.
Thank you so much.
I would normally ask what keeps you motivated but I think you have answered that,
But what is it that motivates you on a difficult day? Like you said we all have them?
lol helping others and developing my mindset to learn new tips and skills to allow help to others and Myself. I also love to write and photography.
Motivation on bad days is faith knowing it will pass I’ve been through the worst it can only get better I also use and practise grounding techniques.
That’s lovely. And very true,
Writing is my thing lol you’d never have guessed.
Is there anything that you would like to share in my blog about yourself, your account, or anything that you want me to add?
Sure, please feel free to share my link and I’ve a vast experience with many mental health experiences and physical illness, also with chronic pain, so anyone needing support or a boost or to talk can just check me out am happy to help anyone
That’s great, having additional, reliable people who are able to share their experiences are an amazing resource to have access too. This is one benefit of using a social platform like Instagram, the vast number of people who can access it easily.
I’ve a Facebook page as well, it’s called Daily Kindness which I can try to send a link for, anyone please feel free to join.
I will share the link for sure. Do you have any questions for me?
No questions but thank you for your inspiring page and what you do.
Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me, I look forward to writing this up and sharing it on my blog.
Meeting Emma Jane has been brilliant. Her Facebook page Daily Kindness is available here, https://www.facebook.com/groups/621614252124789/?ref=share It is a brilliant page, and just like her Instagram page is frequently updated. All while studying. With the brilliant positive mindset that is shown, and the hopes that have she has for future I am sure this isn’t the last we have seen of @jerseybean1307. I wish you all the best for your studies and your future career, the hope and positivity that you spread across your social media pages is simply amazing. Thank you for meeting with me to share the person behind the page. It has been a pleasure getting to know you.
There are more conversations to come, getting to know the stories behind the pictures that are promoting a positive, hopeful environment across social media platforms. People are using their own personal experiences to help others, to encourage others, and support those around them. The community of people we have around us is a powerful thing, and together it is amazing what we can achieve. Even with us all taking baby steps.
Today is a day where many are celebrating the title of becoming a mum. Many are hugging their little ones, or not so little ones.
Today though isn’t a day full of smiles for all, there are many people out there who, for a variety of reasons, are alone. Without their babies which makes this a difficult day.
This is for you all.
I know it’s a tough day, it’s one you’ve been dreading. Whether it be the first, second or even tenth Mother’s Day on your own I know it doesn’t get any easier. People say it does right? You are waiting for that year when you wake up and it doesn’t hurt, or when you can walk past all the cards in the shop and not feel sad. When you can watch the TV and the adverts won’t make the tears in your eyes burn, or the constant reminders on social media won’t make you feel like a complete fool. It’ll always feel a little different, maybe always a little sad. That’s alright, because you are a human being, and you have feelings. Nothing will take that away.
Sometimes the hardest task in life is learning to accept our emotions and feelings, teaching ourselves to listen to them and learn from them. Understanding why we are feeling the emotions we are and using them to boost our strengths, rather than fuel our weaknesses.
This isn’t the first Mother’s Day I am spending without all my rainbows, and the guilt is overwhelming. I am not going to lie; I hate the run up to this day. I feel like I am letting them down, letting the people supporting me down, and that I have failed in my role as a mum. One thing I have been learning on my journey to recovery though is that some guilt is non-controllable. The guilt that is being felt is not out of doing something intentionally, therefore is this a ‘guilt’ I should be carrying? Can that guilt be turned into something different? Maybe remorse? I am truly sad that I can’t spend another Mother’s Day with all my rainbows however it is beyond my control. I cannot change this. Somehow although the sadness remains, it is less of a burden to hold on my shoulders than the feeling of guilt.
So, when you are sitting there thinking about your rainbows, and the reason why you cannot hold them in your arms on this day. Embrace the emotions for what they are, they are real, they are justified. For you are a mum, and you deserve to have these feelings. I hope you are able to hold on to the positive memories you have and look to the future. Utilise the strength that you can gain from this to increase your momentum on your journey, day by day the finish line will become clearer.
I would urge you to still mark today as a celebration for yourself regardless, celebrate your motherhood, celebrate your tenacity, your fight, your strength, your love. Write a card, letter, poem to your child so that wherever they are, you have had the opportunity to tell them how you feel.
I included in my letter how grateful I am to have been made a mum, and even though I can’t hold my youngest again this year, I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to have seen all my babies demonstrate just how much like their mum they really are over the last year. Sometimes a bit too much like their mum, but I guess that’s ok too. Thoughts, emotions, and hope combined are a powerful thing. They can create such a boost in motivation, in your drive to succeed, and fight.
However you are spending this Mother’s Day, I wish you the opportunity to take some time to celebrate being a mum, in being you, and being brilliant at it, because it’s hard and you’re amazing.
Do you ever just stop, to take in your surroundings? Sit somewhere to really slow down? It is such a magical thing to do sometimes, and can really make you wonder, and think. The beautiful sunshine we had the other day was just the perfect weather to take a nice long walk. It wasn’t too hot, but at the same time it was not that cold either. So I was able to take that much needed time to just sit on the bench, by the river and observe the world going by. For those few moments completely switch off from the craziness of everything, to observe a sense of ‘normality’ in a sense. For those few moments there were no worries running through my brain, no anxieties making me shake, and no fears telling me to run away. For those few moments it was just nice to sit, watch, listen and write.
I am writing this to you, to all of you. To the new mums sitting on the bench with your babies tucked up so neatly in their prams. I’m so glad you got out the house today, to meet each other and have your chat. To see you both smiling while rocking your babies, you both seemed so at ease. I hope you manage to keep it going and carry the example of friendship forward as your children grow.
To the grandfather chasing their toddler grandchild up and down the riverbank, while she screams at the ducks. I love you; you are amazing. You haven’t stopped playing with that little girl and she hasn’t stopped laughing. The amazing memories you are creating, and you may not realise it, but they will be cherished forever. The patience while teaching her to ride that scooter, when dragging it is obviously a lot more fun, it’s to be commended. I hope your family appreciate you.
To the couple sitting on a bench, taking selfie’s like no one’s watching. You’re amazing. Living life and enjoying the weather. Documenting your walk with some pictures of you both and enjoying each other’s company. You look so happy together. I wonder how long you’ve been a couple for. You do look cute together.
To the mum who’s feeding the ducks with her little boy, trying to convince him the bread is for the ducks and not for him. You’re doing great. I love hearing your laugh, and your words of encouragement. You keep saying the right things to make your little one giggle, helping him to be brave enough to feed the ducks. You seem to have a good bond and that’s so nice to see.
To the fitness fanatics getting sweaty and running around. I am watching in awe, with slight jealousy, and nothing to do with that fact you might be cute. Keep the motivation going, you actually have no idea how many people you inspire or who you inspire. Or make smile! Keep going, I’ll be watching for the next exercise, and maybe take some notes.
To the lonely looking person sitting on their own with their headphones in, are you ok? You’ve been looking at your phone for a while now. I don’t think you have looked up at all. Even though it is a lovely day you have your hood up, and your sleeves pulled down over your hands. You look sad, preoccupied, there aren’t many people alone here, but I see you. I hope the rest of your day goes ok.
To the person reading this, just to say there is always someone, somewhere thinking of you, wondering if you are managing ok. Hoping that you are able to do all you need to do to get through the day. Who can manage a smile when they think of the things they have achieved. Who can hold on to that hope, that even if you don’t think you are doing ok, you are doing better than you realise. That if you recognise you are doing ok, you have the confidence to celebrate that.
I thought I would write this blog on how much the Solution Focused Approach has changed things for me. Although I have a long way to go, I have learnt so much, it has been a journey and a half. I have not loved every step of it, and I have fought some steps. However, I believe in this approach and can see the benefits, as a result it has changed my daily life, in many ways as you will see.
I had never heard of Solution Focused Approach before I met the team at Family Based Solutions (FBS). So, when I was referred to them my initial thoughts were along the lines of ‘great another therapy to fail’ (sorry guys) but it is true. You see at the time I was referred I was in a terrible place, mentally, socially, and physically. I had nothing really to encourage me to keep going so the motivation to actually engage with anyone wasn’t there.
I won’t ever forget the first phone call I received; I was actually at work. That call changed my perspective almost immediately. I say almost because like anyone who has been let down, hurt, and left alone I assumed that the same thing would happen again. The only difference this time though was that call. There was something about the words that were used, I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, however now I understand it better. The phrases used, the words used were hopeful, they were planning for the future, and despite not knowing me I was spoken to like a human being and not a patient. Only being one phone call, and me not knowing who it was I spoke to on the phone I went back to my office with a little bit of hope that day, that someone might be able and willing to help.
Those first few meetings I had where a bit of a whirlwind, but the remaining memories of them are how the focus was always on what was going well. For me this was no mans land. This was something no one had asked me before, and I can’t tell you how many times I would annoy people by answering with “I don’t know” which believe me when I say that, if you say it enough you get a response like “Can’t you think of anything, even a small thing that’s gone well?” I still say I don’t know now, but only when I don’t know the answer to something which is massive!
With a Solution Focused Approach I quickly learnt it isn’t needing to look at where you have been on your journey. Like the many types of therapy that I have been to previously where the history of events would be scrutinised and examined in great detail, sometimes meaning I would leave the sessions more traumatised than I started them. It is more about looking at where you want to go, what can you do to get there, and how far you have come. The achievements and how you have overcome the bumps in the road.
The wonderful people at FBS soon discovered I can be quite stubborn though, and still get stuck on the history of stuff, so I make them work. I’m learning this is all part of recovering, and moving forwards, one step at a time. Having the confidence to work towards your preferred future. Most days I can now look back purely to see just how far I have come, it isn’t an easy view admittedly, but it’s a personal journey and the different way of thinking has helped massively.
Learning to look forward and change my own focus and perspective has definitely been an interesting experience. I still have not got used to being asked how I am doing, and what do I want to do. Allowing me to have the choices and to be in control of my own journey. These are all the steps which get broken down into even smaller than baby steps, but I have learnt that that’s okay.
So, on an individual basis this approach has helped me massively, in my confidence, without which this blog page wouldn’t exist. I would never have had to confidence to share parts of my story, to speak to others about their stories. It has even given me the confidence to throw some of the questions back at the FBS guys at times, which is quite humorous I must admit. My view on life in general, on the importance of hope, and keeping that alive in everyone. That hope goes hand in hand with motivation, without the motivation to keep going hope will fade, yet without hope the motivation to keep going will soon diminish.
As a parent this approach has made me so much calmer, in the fight to get my rainbows home it has allowed me to listen better. I hear what they tell me and can respond to it in a much better way. The best conversations happen when you end up with a child who looks at you and says “what, you’re not going to tell me off?” and you can simply say “No, are you going to tell me what you have learnt from this?” To recognise things that as a family we are doing well. Like any family there are some terrible moments, don’t get me wrong. There are teenagers, a pre-teen and a toddler involved which means no day is ever completely smooth sailing. However now it is a case of looking at each day, thinking how we overcame each obstacle, and being proud of what we have achieved.
The work FBS has done has spread across my entire family, not just with me. This has included the amazing online chats that are available to everyone to watch on their Facebook page and YouTube page, I would recommend watching them. They are the best conversation starters if you watch them with others, and good if you need a laugh at times. They have a great sense of humour and outlook on everything. The confidence and ability they have instilled with my children to enable them to use their voice, as well as allowing me to support that as well has made a remarkable difference. All this by only focusing on the future family we want to be. The image in our minds that we wish to be like, and that we can achieve, one day.
I wonder at times why it took so long to find FBS, as I think things would have been much easier if I had met them a long time ago, however I am more than grateful for the impact they have made and continue to make today. The changes are long lasting, and something that will be instilled for years to come. Hopefully something that I will be able to pass on to others as well.
I hope that you can see how much this approach has changed things for me, from hopeless to hopeful, from unmotivated to mostly motivated, and not wanting to give up. The willingness to want to improve, and change for the best, to recognise strengths not just within myself but in all those around me. To recognise that it is ok to reach for your dreams, and in order to do that you will take steps forwards, backwards and hit bumps in the road. The craziest thing of all is that this all started from one question that I had never been asked, what are your best hopes?
Donations to Family Based Solutions can be given through this link, this will enable them to continue to do the work that they do, and help the families that they do. I am only one family of many that receives help, and would love to see this help continue on for others.
Family Based Solutions supports families where there is child to parent abuse and families recovering from domestic abuse. We adopted the solution focused approach in 2014 and quickly saw the difference this approach made to children, young people and families. The approach allows families to identify and expand on their existing knowledge and resources by exploring instances of success and individual strengths
Shooting stars are hard to come by. When you eventually see one it’s so quick and short lived, that by the time you pull your camera out or called someone else to come see it, well, it’s all over. In order to get others to believe you saw it you rely on trust. Trust that your eyesight didn’t let you down, that you didn’t imagine it. That when you re-tell the details of that amazing moment when the light darted across the night sky before your very eyes that others will listen in awe. They will imagine they had been with you, standing there seeing with their own eyes the magic unveil in the sky above.
The magic of a shooting star happening when you least expect it, when you are just looking up for whatever reason, is something quite special. It can leave you feeling so unique and special, like no one else in the world experienced that moment other than you. Igniting that spark inside to lift you up, to give you some passion, motivation and hope to keep going. It somehow magically makes a smile appear on your face regardless of how you feel inside, yet you have no idea why. Despite all these amazing powers a single shooting star can have, how often do you see them?
If only there was a way to encompass these powers, package them up so you can let them out on those dark nights when you look up and see no stars to guide you on your way. Carry them around with you and share them with your closest friends and loved ones when you see they need them more than you do. Those magical powers from one small natural phenomenon would be worth holding on to forever, and be so valuable wouldn’t they?
The thing with shooting stars is this, you have to get to know them, to understand them. If you take some time to learn more about them, then you will find out that shooting stars actually can be seen more often than we all think. By taking some time to look longer, taking the time to use the right tools, and look in the right places, you can see a shooting star every ten to fifteen minutes. Can you imagine feeling that internal rush? of energy that often? Can you even imagine being able to feel the smile across your face every time you see see what you you’re searching for?
That natural phenomenon, travelling through the sky at thousands and thousands of miles per hour, leaving a trail of light behind it, has the power to restore hope in many. Yet no one knows quite how, and that’s ok.
You see, the shooting stars you can only see if you have all the right tools. So if you don’t have everything you need to see those shooting stars tonight does it mean those stars aren’t there? Does it mean you can’t look up and smile? They are still there, shooting their way across that sky, you can still look up, you can still smile.
You can still share with your friends and loved ones your hope, because you know it is there. You already have the tools to see it, because to them, you may be that shooting star. Passing on the tools to others for them to be able to see clearly enough, so they in turn can be a star for someone else.
Shooting stars are very much like some of the closest people you will ever get to meet, they shine brightly in the darkness to shine your path, yet never seek attention. Only when you know them do you really see them.
Shooting stars may be a natural phenomenon, but they will always be there, just look up.
On the 24th February I had the pleasure of virtually meeting with Hanna. She runs her page @TalkingMattersMost on Instagram. Hanna is from South Wales and started her page in 2020, she keeps this up to date posting messages to promote positive mental health, promoting positive wellbeing, and with over a thousand followers now is keen to continue to share her positive message across her platform.
We met and had a lovely conversation covering the history of her page, and how it came about. Including future hopes and dreams. We even got talking about current thoughts and feelings about being in lockdown across the UK, and how that feels. Here is how our conversation went.
I think I explained to you the other day about my website and the blog posts I am writing after talking to people behind the accounts on here. I think this is such an important thing, and people have a wealth of knowledge, and such important stories behind their pages.
I agree, I think it’s fantastic what you’re doing.
So the first question I have, is quite broad. Can you tell me how your page came about? How it started? and why it started?
I decided to start the page after many conversations with my friends and colleagues. Everyone I was speaking to was struggling with their mental health during lockdown-as was I- so it gave me the idea. My outlook has changed drastically over the past few months too and it’s important to me to try and stay positive- the account helps me do this whilst (hopefully) inspiring a little positivity in others too.
The name came about because it’s exactly how I was feeling at the time, talking to people about what’s on my mind seems to help me the most. And after speaking to others, it seemed to help them too.
That makes a lot of sense. I agree with the name choice. It is a very true statement as well.
When you say your outlook has changed, in what way?
I think my outlook has changed because of the way life has changed since last March, think I’ve gained a lot of perspective- what really matters and what I really need in my life.
love that, looking at it all with a different positive perspective rather than a restrictive perspective.
What keeps you motivated to keep your page active?
What keeps me motivated is the fact that people are following, commenting, and liking what I post, I suppose as long as people continue to engage with my content, I can see the value in carrying on.
Definitely. That is a great motivation isn’t it.
That leads quite nicely onto my next question. What are your best hopes for your page in the future? Where would you like to see it going?
To be completely honest, I haven’t thought about it- I’m sorry if that’s not the type of answer you were after, for now, I would like to just keep posting content that people like. If there’s an opportunity to grow it into something else, then I’ll likely pursue that.
I think that’s perfectly fine. Not everyone thinks about these things.
I think reading your answer the fact that you want to keep posting content that people like, is a hope.
And that’s pretty amazing.
I am really glad that you have managed to make something positive come out of this lockdown period. Even though you and the people around you were finding things hard, you had the courage to do something about it. That is so inspiring. Is there anything you want to ask me?
Is this something you’re hoping to do more full time?
I work part time, but with events that I have experienced outside of work over the past few years I have decided to put it into words and start my blog. Everyone has a story, the passion behind the content people share, which is what makes me interested in knowing why others have their pages, and why people do what they do. What is it that inspires people to keep going, to keep motivated?
Everyone is different, and we all look for inspiration, and by talking to others, posting blogs on different profiles, telling these stories, I am hoping to create this safe place where people can read the blog click on the link to your page and see your posts.
Everyone does have a story, but I think it can be dangerous to think like that sometimes- don’t let that undermine what you managed to achieve.
I hope this will encourage others to avoid the negative posts which are sooooooo easy to come across online.
Some people are of the mindset that someone’s always worse off…which is true but in a sense both get hurt. Does that make sense?
Exactly. we might all be in the same storm. but our boats aren’t on the same wave.
@talkingmattersmost shared some amazing insight with how everyone does have their own story. Knowing our own story, learning from our story, and using our story to inspire others is a powerful tool. @talkingmatttersmost was developed out of listening and recognising what the people around one person needed. The courage, tenacity, and bravery for one person to take the steps to react to those needs, to encourage conversations and create something to meet the needs of others in such a difficult time is inspirational. People like Hanna are who will continue to spread the kindness, and message of hope. To keep the faith in human nature going, that there are kind people who will listen, encourage others to talk when you need too, and empower other to do the same. As we discussed, there are times when we all may be in the same storm, but that doesn’t mean we are sailing the same wave. Everyone will experience it differently. All we can do is be kind, listen, and remember that talking matters the most.
It has been a busy few weeks, as you have seen by some of my posts on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages I have been writing lots of little quotes and phrases. I have been enjoying doing these, sharing the little phrases that have been helping me through the difficult days, or even the good days when I think its just all too good to be true! (we all get moments like that right?)
I have started to have some virtual conversations with some amazing people who are running pages over on Instagram, these people are posting positivity quotes, promoting healthy self-care tips, and wanting to share their own experiences of managing their own wellbeing during difficult times. Many of these pages are run by individuals, and I couldn’t help but wonder what their story behind their page is? So, I asked, like I do. Sometimes. Actually, to be fair it took a lot to send those first few messages, but I did, and I am so glad I did.
When I get an idea, I think things over, and I keep thinking until I convince myself it isn’t going to work. Some of the brilliant people I have been talking to over the last year have been helping me to have the confidence to follow my dreams, and to aim for my best hopes. So that’s what I did. (I need to write about their impact on the path my life has taken, and how much it has changed. See another idea!!!!!) As a result of this I have spoken to some of the kindest people, who like me, want to share kindness, empower others to have hope, and encourage people to never give up.
My hope is to be able to create a safe place online, using Butterflies with Rainbows to accumulate these interviews so that everyone can see these accounts, why they were created without having to go trawling through the internet. To boost mood, self-confidence, encouraging people to be proud of themselves, and their achievements.
Now there are hundreds of people sharing their experiences out there and I am only one person, so this will grow over time, but it will be fun to watch it grow, and exciting to carry on meeting (virtually of course) all the new people from all over the world.
Other news – I think there will be a small number of items available soon from the Butterflies with Rainbows store. I think I am going to be using Etsy for the time being anyway, if anyone has any suggestions PLEASE contact me. These will include postcards (using the quotes which have been written by ME), letters of hope, plus more. Over time content will increase, but it’s still early days.
Finally – One of my other Rainbows came home, That’s 3 of them home. One more to go! I can’t tell you how good this is. There will be more on this VERY SOON!!!!!!
So, as we creep up to Butterflies with Rainbows being live for 2 months, I can honestly say it has been an amazing whirlwind, and so exciting. To read the messages from people, they are truly touching, and I love every single one. I am excited for what the future holds and look forward to sharing the journey with everyone.