Stuff I do

My main interests and areas of expertise are within mental health and recovery.

I offer talks and training by myself as well as with my partner on various subjects, like:

  • working with voices
  • creative approaches to distress
  • communication skills
  • mindfulness and bodywork
  • voice dialogue ideas
  • being highly sensitive

More information below and on the Training I offer with my partner page.

SPEAKING

As much as I enjoy facilitating and co-facilitating, part of me also loves being the center of attention and telling stories.

I have been giving talks since 2006 especially on Hearing Voices, Recovery and other mental health related issues. I always use my personal experience and life story and I gladly share my vulnerabilites, joys, strenghts and sorrows to try and connect with the audience.

FACILITATING WORKSHOPS AND TRAINING

I have been facilitating training and workshops for a number of years now. Every workshop is unique and I believe that every one present at a workshop has wisdom and co-creates the event – even if they don’t engage verbally. I think a good workshop manages to create a balance between safety and uncertainty so that the participants both feel nourished and challenged.

I have facilitated and co-facilitated workshops on

  • Hearing Voices
  • Working with Voices
  • Being Connected
  • Understanding Sensitivity
  • Voice-Dialogue for Voice-Hearers
  • Non-Violent Communication
  • Being Mindful with the Extreme
  • Mindfulness and Mental Health
  • Engaging Creatively with Voices.

I also enjoy setting up spaces for people to be creative together and am part of Arts and Wellbeing sessions for Healthy Minds in Calderdale

HEARING VOICES

I have always had the experience of hearing and sensing things that other people didn’t seem aware of. I will hear all kinds of things – internally and externally. Today I understand it as part of being sensitive and having a very auditory mind.

I have regular voices I hear and over the years I have build managable relationships with most of them. But I have also struggled with these experiences when I was trying hard to be “normal”. I have met some kind and generous people in the Hearing Voices Network who has supported me to let the voices be part of my life and for that I am deeply grateful.

I enjoy exploring the experience of hearing voices and all the possible explanations with others. I see sensory experiences like hearing voices as part of being human and to me they are equally valid to thoughts and feelings. I think it is important to create spaces where we can share our stories and ideas around our experiences – whether it be peer support groups, one-to-one chats or workshops and conferences.

I have a blog and a facebook page where I try to share bits of my thinking on living with voices and how I work with them. Also part of my story features in the book Living with Voices by Romme&Escher.

 ARTS & CREATIVITY

I have always been painting and drawing and attending Steiner school has given me a solid foundation in using different techniques and materials. My style is naïve, abstract and often colourful and I love symbols and other-worldly creatures. I use my art to meditate and I have a certain technique which supports this which you can see in the Gallery pages.

When I was a young teenager my mother encouraged me to get in to photography and I have found it an amazing way to engage with my surroundings – especially if I am feeling overwhelmed it can help me focus my mind. I am especially interested in colours, texture and nature and I try and capture the sensuality of things around me. One of my photos feature in ‘The Yellow Book‘ from 2015.

I do a fair bit of writing; mainly blogs, articles and my diary but I hope to write a couple of books one day.

Svanholmer Art is a site dedicated to sharing my creative ventures so if you are curious please come visit 🙂

TRANSLATIONS

I am presently collaborating with a friend in Denmark on a translation of ‘Children Hearing Voices’ by Sandra Escher and Marius Romme from English to Danish.

I translate from English to Danish and Danish to English and as I am very passionate about language and also have a perfectionistic streak, it can take a lot out of me to create a translation that I am happy with. It is some of the hardest work I have ever done but I also feel deeply satisfied by it.

In the past I have translated a wide range of material, booklets and research interviews for the hearing voices project in Aarhus, Denmark

In 2014 I translated the book ‘Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World – how to create a happy life’ by  Ilse Sand from Danish to English. The book was published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in 2016 and is available HERE.

SENSITIVITY

When I was using mental health services in Denmark I was introduced to the stress/vulnerability model  It was good for me to become more aware of my stress levels and how it affected me. But the idea that I was vulnerable and needed to avoid so-called relapses was not very helpful. It created a lot of fear for me and it seemed that the more I tried to avoid stress the more sensitive to it I would become.

Coming across the concept of being Highly Sensitive has changed how I work with myself. It offers the idea that vulnerability/sensitivity can be useful, even bring pleasure and joy to your life and to others. Rather than avoiding stress you need to expose yourself to it regularly in order to learn. Highly Sensitive people are encouraged to actively make choices about their lifestyle and find ways to be sensitive and well, so that they can enrich the world around them.

I want to raise awareness about the joys of being sensitive and help others realise they have choice about how they live their lives. We don’t have to buy into generalised ideas about how to be in this world – we don’t have to be strong, efficient, ambitious and producitve. There are so many alternative lifestyles out there today that we can draw inspiration from to build the life that works for us.

And so I’ll finish with a favourite quote:

I used to dislike being sensitive. I thought it made me weak. But take away that single trait, and you take away the very essence of who I am. You take away my conscience, my ability to empathize, my intuition, my creativity, my deep appreciation of the little things, my vivid inner life, my keen awareness to others pain and my passion for it all.

(via happyvibes-healthylives)

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