Thursday, 26 February 2009

A Day To Remember

First of all let me say a really big thank you to all of you who sent me good luck wishes for my big day; I really appreciate each and every one of them. And now, because you have sat through and read about all my concerns about how today was going to be, I'll tell you how it went.

It was brilliant!

My journey across London was not without its problems, but I arrived in good time and as I was almost at the building I received a 'good luck' text on my mobile from Mr Smiley. His timing was perfect. 'S' came down to reception to meet me and we went for a cup of tea to talk over how I wanted to do things and what I had in mind for the seminar after I had done my lecture.

The lecture itself went very well. Having printed out my 'script' I had it in front of me to help me make sure that I didn't forget what I had to say, but certainly for the first part of it I used it only to keep me on track, and I even managed to include important little explanations that I hadn't thought to write down. The second half, which was based on the emails and posts from this blog, were always meant to be read so that the students could get a feel for how I felt at the time that I had written them rather than how I felt about those times looking at them in retrospect. It was a good choice, because I think that the format worked well.

After the lecture I talked a little about my blog. This wasn't in order to get more readers, but as a means of explaining to the students that there was lots of people out there writing about their experience of living with mental illness. The point about reading blogs written by us 'mentals' is that we tell it how it is. It isn't packaged into academic language such as you would find in books about therapy or mental illness; it is raw data. I talked a little about the blogs that I read, and how we support each other when things are not going well. So if you suddenly find your visitors increasing, it could be because the students are reading what we have to say about living with mental health problems.

After the lecture there was a short break before the seminar part started. The discussions that 'S' and I had over our cup of tea fell by the wayside because 'S' felt that I had touched on some very important points in my lecture and thought that we ought to discuss those in more detail. So the exercise in role-playing exploring how to develop a good therapeutic relationship was forgotten and a discussion on these points ensued instead. It went well, with 'S' mentioning a point and then the students giving their thoughts on it and me explaining how each point appeared to the 'user'. I think that it gave them some real food for thought, with the discussion both lively and enjoyable. When we had covered all the points, 'S' thanked me and the students spontaneously gave me a round of applause.

So how do I feel now that it is all over? Well, I feel great. The students seemed to engage right from the start, and I believe they now have a much better understanding of why a good therapeutic relationship is so important and how bad things can get if that relationship is not a good one. They now have a real idea of what it is like for the patient/client/user (personally I prefer the term patient, after all we are ill and therefore should rightly be termed patients) and how traumatic an experience that therapy can be.

The anxiety and nervousness that I had expected never really materialized. I was actually quite calm when I met 'S' and I really enjoyed presenting my lecture and the discussion that followed it. I am already booked for the next time the course is run, and 'S' is going to look to see if there are other parts of the course where I can be involved so that the students understand how these other aspects are viewed by someone with mental health problems. It's just a shame that I don't have a psychotherapy session tomorrow so that I can report my triumph to my therapist. Still, it does mean that I will have something with which to start the session next week, instead of there being a long silence at the start.


alhi said...

That's brilliant! I knew you would enjoy it once you got there.

There and Back said...

Really pleased it went so well for you.

cb said...

That's great. Thanks for feeding back

Anonymous said...

It's good to see someone who enjoys making a good speech. Bravo.

Nails UK said...

Well done - I was pleased to hear everything went well. One of the things I found most positive to hear was that you changed your plans re the seminar at the 11th hour, and yet still managed to carry it off with aplomb. That's the hallmark of a really good presenter and I think you should be really proud of your achievement.

Anonymous said...

Wooohooo I knew it would go well for you! :)