Wellbeing Web Training

DSC00232 We’d like to encourage more people to write, and share photos and films, about what it is that we enjoy and keeps us well living in Leeds, so we’re organising some days of training over the Summer to tell people about our blog, and help them get started blogging with us.

The first of these will be at Swarthmore Education Centre on Thursday 18th July from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day will be free, and we’re looking for 10 volunteers who:

 Have lived experience of mental health problems

 Are passionate about wellbeing and want to share their experiences of improving and maintaining their own wellbeing in Leeds

 Have a basic computer skills e.g. email, browsing the internet, word processing

 Have an intention to upload material to the Wellbeing Web once the training period is over

 Are comfortable working with other people in small groups.

If you’re interested in joining, or you know anybody else you think might be, e-mail: leedswellbeingweb@gmail.com or phone Terry on 07929 421945. Places are limited, so please apply by Thursday 11th July. We’ll confirm your place on Friday 12th July.

We’d also like to hear from you if you can’t join us on that day, but would still like to be involved in some way – contact us and we’ll try and think of something. Perhaps you could write a guest blog about something you think is worth sharing?

You can also follow us on Twitter @Leedswellweb and it’s always great when people leave comments on blogposts.


Musings, blogging and keeping well

Since taking the LWW Community Reporter and blog training last year, I’ve enjoyed contributing not only personal reflective posts, but also those about activities and events that have helped me remain well. The act of writing the articles themselves has been therapeutic. Other commitments and the long winter have prevented me from using or developing some of the ‘field’ reporting skills we learned. My faithful Bloggie ‘snap’ (camcorder) however, remains my constant companion.

During the eight week course we learned to use WordPress.com, which is  a ‘hosting platform’, or blog template tool which offers people the opportunity to set up a free blog. Learning these techniques fired my imagination sufficiently to also attempt designing my own blog,  I’ve tried several themes for it’s appearance. I like the freedom that creating my own blog allows me; choosing the theme and colourways has been satisfying, but time to publicize or develop them further is restricted, they are a hobby. I’m not expecting their topics to have wide appeal.

On the training course we discussed the use of Twitter or Facebook for widening the LWW audience. In addition I was was surprised to see on a module I take, Current Issues, that we were encouraged to start a Twitter account and use it in class! So now I am a little addicted twit..ter!

Report writing because of its more clinical format I find easier than creative or analytic, academic pieces. In my forties I was assessed with a disparity between my intellect and academic ability, an SplD akin to Dyslexia but with an affect on my aural comprehension.  The residual affects of ECT and  age related memory changes may also have  impacted on my composition skills, they are not always consistent.  It makes me frustrated, but oh the sense of achievement when the piece is  near to what I want to express.

Most of us probably know that remaining well is cyclic, like the seasons, …not linear. I don’t think promoting well-being is simply about putting a positive spin on what we might do to keep well. Having lived experience of mental distress undoubtedly makes life hard, my resilience has been affected by it. I find getting a balance between ‘doing’ things, ‘being’ and reflecting on past and present experiences all help me. ‘Being’ for me involves wrestling with some of the often disquieting thoughts and feelings that occur, allowing the healing water of time to wash over them. A good night’s sleep helps me but it’s something I am often chasing.

There were underlying causes which led up to my breakdowns and while diminishing, at times of stress they resurface. I try not to worry about any accumulative negative effect they, or their treatment may have caused me.

I believe one of the biggest factors in remaining reasonably well is, where possible, to have rejected the diagnosis I’ve been given and negotiate the treatment that remains. As much as I would like to be medication free, fear of another acute episode of being overwhelmed by thoughts of past events, prevent me from making a complete withdrawal, I have the freedom and professional support to do this at my own pace.

Being open, sharing experiences about mental health issues can be risky but I usually chance it even with strangers, doing so on a blog though is still an unknown. Feedback from friends, fellow contributors and comments from readers has proved a boost to my continued sharing. Sometimes my inspiration to write is low, I hope the summer months will improve my scope for community reporting. It was the spark of anger on this occasion, which intriguingly, roused my muse. Additionally my remembrance of the 18th century poet, John Clare’s commitment to share his truth despite his long struggle with mental distress, which spurred me on.

‘O Clare your poetry so translucent and clear, I salute you with tears’ Charles Causley.


Story writing for blogs

Today was our 6th training session for the Community Reporter Training Course, the tutor was John Baron the journalist. He explained  the difference between writing headlines for printed material and on line publishing, he suggested that whereas headlines for printed material can use word play to good effect, blog headlines are best written succinctly, this increases the likelihood of search engines speedily sorting internet searches.

John pointed out that an introduction sets the scene to a story and is ideally best kept to no more than thirty words. I didn’t quite manage that this time!  After explaining the 5 Ws of good journalistic story telling and reminding us

that journalists

and all writers have to work at their art, having to continually rework pieces, I found this reassuring, as I always have to tweak what I write, we were paired up to collaborate at constructing a story from  a set of random sentences cut from a news story, group feedback and comparison showed we had  differing opinions about ordering the main points.

John and Terry suggested we might like to put links into out blog stories………I will be practising this before our next session as I don’t think I quite got that.

The stimulation of learning new techniques , the social aspect of the training and an increased awareness, between sessions, for observing potential images for photographs or interesting stories has helped me stay committed to attending.every week.

Like many people my enthusiasm for opportunities to learn often sees me over commit while my mood is stable, and as I was already taking part in singing with the ‘Healing Voices’ choir,* (part of the Arts and Minds Network),http://www.artsandmindsnetwork.org.uk/community-groups/,  they meet Tuesday afternoon, 2-4pm from 18th September at the Swarthmore Education Centre, 2-7 Woodhouse Square, contact Jane 0775 881131, and a cookery course with Jamie’s (Oliver) Ministry of Food, I was apprehensive about accepting the invitation to take  part in this additional 8 week  free course but I’m pleased I did.

*The Healing Voices choir will be performing in the Light on World Mental Health day, 2nd October.