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Pushing up Daisies festival 2018

Our local death festival is fast approaching. For a week there will be all kinds of events exploring all kinds of aspects of death and dying. There will be workshops, talks, films, creative stuff and performances.

All events are free but donations are welcome. The money goes towards necessities like printing programs, tea and coffee and biscuits. Some events you have to book because there are limited places.

Everybody is volunteering their time and energy. At the heart of the festival is the the hope that together we can build more compassion communities.

 

 

The full programme can be found on Pushing up Daisies website

There will be some events looking at suicide

I will be talking about my personal experiences of trying to find ways to live while longing to die. And I am hoping there might be interest in setting up a local peer support group for people who live with suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Peer support for people who think about and long to die is still a hot potato – too much risk assessment involved and a suspicious stance towards those of us who feel like dying… ‘wouldnt a support group just encourage them?…’ But it’s slowly changing with the public realisation that it’s not just a few people who feel so overwhelmed by life that they want to die but actually so common that it must approaching the threshold of being considered ‘normal’. And services and organisation don’t have the resources to offer support to that many people so we to need to start thinking about how we create support in our communities.
I am inspired by my experiences of the support that can happen in hearing voices groups and also by the Alternatives to suicide group in Western Massachusetts that I have been lucky enough to visit.

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And there will be loads of other exciting and amazing stuff – like these ones.

 

 

To get a better feel of what the festival is like you can revisit the 2017 festival in the video below.

https://youtu.be/r1jF4EmguaY

 

Real lives, real experiences, real wisdom

There is such an untapped wealth of knowledge and wisdom that comes from people’s personal experiences of finding their way through life.

Integrated Voices (its current working title) is a website being developed by Hearing the Voice in Durham and when I first heard about the plan to create this online resource, I got really and properly excited.

I don’t often get really and properly excited. I’m not an excitable person – I am more of a reflective and calm (outwardly anyway) kind of person.

When I do get excited, several of the voices I hear will start commenting on my thoughts and feelings. Especially one voice will get very active, telling me all the reasons why getting excited about anything is a bad idea. I am pretty sure she sees herself as ‘the voice of reason’ but I just find myself feeling more anxious when she comes along. I don’t like feeling anxious. She thinks a bit of anxiety is healthy and will keep me safe. We have debates about this, her and I, in my mind.

As far back as I can remember I have heard and sensed things that other people don’t. Invisible beings – both friendly and scary, critical voices in my mind, disembodied voices from my environment, repetitive voices, loud voices, supportive voices, annoying voices, presences using non-verbal communication and many more experiences like this.

When I was about 8 I realised that not everyone has these experiences and for the following 15 years I tried to figure out what was going on for me. And I was trying to figure it out on my own.

Back then the internet was just in its infancy, so most information came through books. I ended up reading books on spirituality, psychology and psychiatry without finding much that seemed useful to me. Eventually I started reaching out for help from others and in 2005 I joined a project in Aarhus (Denmark) for people who had experiences similar to mine.

It was such a relief to find a community.

Connecting with others, sharing stories, ideas and strategies and getting creative together about ways to cope when things were difficult. Sharing difficulties and joys, supporting each other and witnessing each other’s journeys. It was a new experience for me because I was used to feeling like a bit of an alien and on the outside of things going on around me.

Being part of the project fired up a passion in me for destigmatising experiences often seen as ‘abnormal’ or ‘psychotic’ such as hearing or sensing things that others don’t.

I know that I was lucky to find community and information that was useful to me. I have heard many people talk about how difficult it is to find information that feels relevant to their personal situation.

Even though the internet has come out of its infancy and is now bursting with all sorts of information, it is striking that there still isn’t a website such as the one Hearing the Voice is aiming to develop. There are particularly two things that got me wanting to get involved; the team at Hearing the Voice is looking for diverse experiences and they are wanting to make the website as engaging and accessible as possible.

We believe that it is important that this section of the website is developed by people with personal experience of hearing voices and includes a variety of different perspectives and experiences. We want the website to reach out to as many people as possible, to feel accessible, engaging and ‘real’, and to showcase knowledge gained through lived experience, alongside that which comes from research.

Hearing the Voice

From now and until May 4th I will be trying to collect as many stories, quotes and ideas about coping as possible. These contributions will help shape the Integrated Voices website and hopefully make it feel relevant to a diverse range of people looking for information.

I am getting support from my partner Rufus and help from the team at Hearing the Voice to do this work – and so far I am quite enjoying myself.

To contribute

I am aware that calling it ‘hearing voices’ doesn’t resonate with everyone. We would love to hear from people who have experiences such as djinns, spirit guides, schizophrenia, auditory hallucinations, persecution, electronic harassment, intrusive thoughts, thought transmissions, inner voices, ancestors and invisible presences.

If you are reading this and you have personal experience of hearing and sensing things that others don’t, please consider if you want to contribute in one way or another.

If you are supporting someone who hears or senses things it would be great if you could make them aware of this project and find out if they want to contribute.

There is also a questionnaire for family, friends and supporters which you can find HERE.

Online questionnaire

We have launched an online questionnaire. It consists of about 10 open ended questions about everyday life with experiences such as voices, coping with these experiences and talking about them with others.

Go to questionnaires HERE

If you prefer a word document or paper version of the questionnaire you can contact me to arrange this.

Focus groups

We will be facilitating two focus group sessions – one in Manchester on Friday May 4th and one in London on Thursday May 3rd see more HERE

Interviews

If you would like to share your experiences and ideas about coping in a 1 to 1 interview you are welcome to get in touch. We might be able to meet to do the interview depending on where you live but we could also do it over the phone. We would like to audio record interviews to make sure we don’t miss anything or misunderstand. Any material we collect will be kept securely and won’t be shared with anyone without your permission.

If you are interested or have any questions about interviews, please contact me by email openmindedtraining@gmail.com

Visiting Hearing Voices groups

I am arranging to visit different Hearing Voices Groups in the UK to have informal sessions where people can share their knowledge and stories. If you are a member or a facilitator of a group and you want to contribute you are welcome to get in touch and we can look at different possibilities.

Deadline for participating will be May 4th

Contact me by email openmindedtraining@gmail.com or phone 07926685432

 

Information about Integrated Voices and Hearing the Voice

Hearing the Voice is currently working with members of the voice-hearing community to develop Integrated Voices – a new online resource that will help people find clear, balanced and comprehensive information about hearing and experiencing things that could be understood as ‘voices’.

The hope is that Integrated Voices will make it easier for people to find information about different approaches to hearing voices and ways of supporting those who are struggling with the voices they hear.

The website will have 3 key sections:

  • Understanding Voices
  • Living with Voices
  • Working with Voices

Each section will have modules linking to a variety of resources, multi-media, freely accessible research articles, personal narratives, reviews of the evidence base for specific therapies and (where appropriate) sources of support.

Hearing the Voice (HtV) is an eight-year multidisciplinary research project based in Durham, UK.

It combines insights from the humanities and sciences to provide a better understanding of the experience of hearing voices.

The project is funded by a Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award in Humanities and Social Sciences until 2020.

More information about Hearing the Voice: www.hearingthevoice.org

Healthy Minds Newsletter

I have been volunteering with Healthy Minds in Calderdale since I moved to UK and have found it a good way to be involved with the local communities. I feel excited about the new developments and thought I would share the latest newsletter.

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After the floods

Thinking of ways to support the local area find its way back to some sort of normal…

The devastation is difficult to comprehend and people are still working hard to clean up. Rebuilding homes, businesses, schools and other community venues will take a long time. We all try and cope with the state of things in our own ways and there will be a continued need for support both practically and emotionally.

One way to support people in the beautiful valleys of Calderdale is to donate here Calderdale Flood Relief Appeal

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I love films and I love cinemas. My first memories of going to the cinema is from the wonderfully charming Øst for Paradis in Aarhus. I remember watching La Gloire de mon père there in the early early 90’ies and later many more arty and independent films from all over the world.
In my early teens I lived in Hornslet and the local cinema Kom-bi became my sancturary. There were films I would go watch again and again – such as La cité des enfants perdus – and this was also where I saw the Star Wars triology for the first times.

Even though I have some beautiful memories of watching films with friends, my mother and boyfriends, the cinema is a place I love to go on my own. Whatever my mood is, sitting in the dark and allowing myself to be absorbed into the stories, the action and the emotions on screen, is magical (unless its a really terrible film – but luckily I have not had too many of those experiences).
I can enjoy all sorts of genres but if I am feeling overwhelmed my prefered remedy is to go and watch either some macho action packed film or a thriller. Somehow that will give me a break from reality but also give me emotional release.

Now I live in Calderdale and what excitement I felt the first time I went to Hebden Bridge Picture House! The building is amazing and the interior made me feel at home, bringing back memories of Øst for Paradis. But during the floods on Boxing Day the Picture House was damaged…

Update on December 30th from Hebden Bridge Picture House

“Today, the Picture House and Town Council staff cleaned the foyer and kiosk, the Friends of the Picture House committee cleaned the balcony and a whole load of volunteers of all varieties, with power tools and strength and at very short notice, came and unbolted the sodden seats – removing all 257 from the stalls.
We are now in a position to open our doors, and would like to invite you all to our not-so-grand reopening on New Year’s Day, launching the January programme as planned!

During this period only the unaffected original balcony seating will be available, meaning capacity is reduced to 230. This also means access is limited for those unable to use the stairs – thank you for your patience during this time if you are unable to attend for this reason.

Heating will be limited (unless we can get hold of some giant plug-in heaters…), so feel free to bring along a cushion, a blanket and your good spirit – the show will go on!

Thank you for your support, generosity and hard work – we’ve been overwhelmed with your response. We look forward to seeing you all very soon!

Hebden Bridge Picture House Team”

Dear Friends of the Picture House and all volunteers, helpers and workers – thank you for bringing such an important part of the community back so quickly.

So now I am in the wonderful position of being able to combine my love for films and my desire to support the local area to bounce back after the flooding. On New Years day a group of us went to see the powerful film Sufragette. It was an atmospheric and slightly surreal experience. People in their coats and with blankets almost filling up the seats on the balcony and below us the bare floors and walls showing markings where the water had been. There is no real escape from what has happened but it was good to sit there and get a couple of hours relief and sense the spirit of this strong community.
And today I hope to go see Black Mass. Bringing again my blankets and hopefully I will remember my mug for a cup of tea to help keep my hands warm.

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