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Author: Sam Turner

Take a step back and enjoy life

As I write this, I reflect on how the Christmas holidays has been a new space for me to slow down and spend time with my family. It has also been a period of assessing my own values and goals as I prepare to start a new year. Whether you like this time of year or not, time off for festivities can definitely have an impact on daily routine. For me, although I honestly prefer being busy as it gives less time for brooding, it has however made me think about how I can get more enjoyment out of life.

Admittedly, spending a few days at my mum’s over Christmas meant that I decided not to go for a jog. To be blunt, I enjoyed not having to worry about this! Despite this, it has made me think about how I have definitely preferred my kickboxing and Zumba sessions and I have only been holding onto going for a jog sometimes as a way to punish myself. This may sound strange, but I’m sure we all do this with our lives to some extent, clinging on to past habits just because it is the way things should be done even if it gives us no joy. Why not consciously choose more of the things which you love to do? As I have mentioned, this has been a hot topic on my mind recently and a concept I want to bring to 2019. I have realised, through past mistakes, that although hard work is often important and necessary in achieving goals, such as health and fitness ones, we should always allow ourselves to have some fun along the way.

In addition, Christmas is a time for most of us for spending time with our loved ones. I hope you have had the opportunity to do the same. One of my most personal goals for 2019 is to develop more meaningful friendships. In fact, I have realised that at times other than holidays, I have not put as much effort into nurturing relationships. Realistically, we are all generally busier but without strong friendships we will suffer (see my previous blog entry on strong support networks). Before I got ill with schizophrenia, I had shoved many people out of my life and this did not help my recovery. I was also leaving little time for happiness and laughter. When we truly connect with other people in a positive way, we enjoy life more and we feel lighter. Christmas has been a time for me of singing, dancing and playing games with the ones I care about – I just might have to figure out how to include more of this in my life whilst balancing my other responsibilities. Not always simple, but it’s good to learn!

As you start a new year, maybe at Back on Track or somewhere else, make a conscious effort to try and reward yourself with spending time with some of the activities and people you like the most. Back on Track nurtured some of my passions, including writing which I am doing now! It also allowed me to meet new people. Here’s to a new year and a happier you!

Maysie Stott-Morrison

Catching up with Sheena

The other day I caught up with Sheena. You might know her from a short video interview we made earlier in 2018.

That video has been viewed a remarkable 8,400 times on Facebook, which just proves that you need don’t need a fancy production to capture people’s minds.

If your story features a compelling personality with a fascinating story to tell then you can’t go far wrong. And that was certainly the case with Sheena.

In the video she recalls how her drink problem led to a mental breakdown. The breakdown led to her not opening post and falling behind in her rent payments. She was evicted and, at her lowest point, slept under a bench in Wythenshawe Park.

Not surprisingly, it took her a while to get her life together. She was officially homeless for three years. Coming to Back on Track was a major turning point. She took our health and social care course and that turned out to be the start of a new career in care work.

Sheena’s story is really inspirational because it shows that what may seem impossible, can actually happen.  That’s mainly down to Sheena’s amazing resilience and determination, along with the right support being available.

Sheena has now moved on to another job – with Mencap. She applied online to be a relief support worker, and has been going through a series of training sessions with all the other new recruits. The training has included medication, first aid, risk assessments, manual handling, and Sheena has been unfazed by all of it. She loved trying out CPR, and finding out how defibrillators work.

When she’s a fully trained relief support worker Sheena will be supporting a woman with learning disabilities. As well as caring in the home she’ll be taking her out for day trips to local parks and the cinema – things she’d never be able to do on her own.

‘It’s lovely to be able to bring some joy into someone’s life’, says Sheena. And it’s lovely for us to see that Sheena just keeps on achieving amazing things!

Withington Golf Club and Back on Track enjoy a record breaking year

A year ago we were thrilled when we found out that we’d been chosen by Withington Golf Club as their charity of the year.

This week we found out that they raised almost £9,000 for us over the year. Phenomenal! We’ve had great fun at lots of their events in 2018, including a successful attempt to break the record for the fastest ever round of golf. The amount they raised also our breaks our own record for the most in a year.

Siobhan, our CEO (left) is pictured with Martin, the Captain, and Carol, the Lady Captain. Huge thanks to them both and to everyone at the club who donated.

Whichever charity is chosen as their next charity of the year is very lucky indeed.

Come Dine With Mike!

Our patron Mike Joyce loves his allotment. We have a cafe in our centre where people facing disadvantage learn new skills for life and work. So Mike thought: why not bring them together? 

On Friday he brought in a collection of home grown veg and worked with our Swan Kitchens team to make lunch for everyone. The whole thing was captured by Granada TV – and as you’ll see everyone had a brilliant time. See the report here: 

Strong support networks

Every day most of us are around a multitude of people, but who can we turn to and establish deep connections with in times of trouble? Don’t get me wrong, I think that acquaintances and small talk have their place in our everyday lives, filling the gaps in our day and adding more sociability to our world, but sometimes we need a but more. Yes, that’s right – we are human, and being so, we all need help sometimes.

As you may know, I have been hospitalised with schizophrenia in the past. The truth is, I believe it would never had got to that stage if I had entrusted the people around me more in the first place. In the lead up to my illness, I was overworking and isolating myself. It’s safe to say this was not a good combination! I had structured my life so that I had little time to talk to people in my day. As time went on, my declining health meant that I had to give up a number of activities but I did little to replace this with meaningful connections and shunned the help I was offered by services. Granted, my delusions had got so strong that I thought everyone was against me, but I had let things escalate in the first place.

Today, I have learnt never to bottle things up! As I have said, I see both the purpose in a bit of normal chit chat during the day but, more so, I have learnt to rely more on my closest friends and family. I do not tell everyone everything (I use my discretion), but equally I try not to hide anything. One good example is that I always talk to someone now when I am frustrated with myself for making a mistake. Recently, I missed an early appointment because the alarm either didn’t go off or I didn’t hear it. I was mortified because it could have meant I didn’t get an assessment done in time for my university placement in the summer term. It turns out they had another appointment just a few days later, yet I was still upset with myself. I rang my mum and she widened my perspective, making me see that sometimes things don’t always go to plan and that I wasn’t the only person in the world who isn’t a morning person! We even had a laugh about my nana amplifying her alarm clock by putting it on top of two biscuit tins! The support networks we put in place can help us to be kinder to ourselves, as this is not always easy (see my last blog post).

Back on Track have also been a support to me when I needed them. As I am now so much more open with people, I told some of the tutors about the struggles I was having revising for a maths exam I needed to pass in order to get on to a primary teaching degree. They empathised with me because some of it did sound tough, but they also took the time to mark a test paper they gave me to see what my strong and weak points were. I am thankful for their help!

Therefore, it is important to appreciate others around us when things go wrong, so that we can turn to them when needed. Although I am now fully recovered from mental health problems, it doesn’t mean that I never need any support. We all experience challenges in our lives, big and small. Trusting others can get you far.

Maysie Stott-Morrison