Understanding as a path to recovery


By Nina Martynchyk


“There is a voice that doesn’t use words, listen.” -Rumi

When I entered hospital, I remember having a very strong sense of ‘does anyone get what I am going through?’ I was suffering with debilitating depression and a very severe eating disorder that had left me locked in my own darkness. After continuously feeling rejected by many people in my life, I felt extremely isolated and had an aching desire to feel supported and understood.

Luckily, I was cared for by many members of staff who would do their absolute best to make sure that I felt noticed, valued and most importantly, understood. They would frequently remind me that I could talk to them whenever I wanted, whilst making sure that I knew there wasn’t any pressure to do so if I didn’t feel up to it. The importance of working at the young person’s pace to ensure their feeling of safety and containment is stated on CAMHeleon. It states, ‘Through mindful and sensitive work, the team, always working at the young person’s pace, forms a relationship with them where the young person can begin to explore their thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and gradually work through their difficulties.’ I am deeply appreciative of the fact that the staff didn’t force me to open up when I didn’t want to, consequently meaning that I didn’t end up feeling more overwhelmed than I was already feeling.

Due to the fact that I often didn’t feel like talking about what was going on for me when I felt down, the staff would think of various different ways to try and make me feel better. One of the ways that they would try to do this was by taking me to cafés, the park and the cinema and I remember finding these excursions to be enormously beneficial to my mood. Not only would they distract me from my problems but they would also instil a sense of normality in me that was greatly missing from my life. As stated by CAMHeleon, ‘caring’s also about remembering how it feels to be a child and putting yourself in your kid’s shoes. It means lightening up, being playful, and having a laugh.’ Doing fun activities with the staff also gave me the opportunity to strengthen my therapeutic bond with them, consequently meaning that I found it easier to open up to them when I needed their support.

When I did talk to the staff about what was on my mind, the conversations that I found to be the most helpful were the ones which felt like they were between two humans, instead of between a member of staff and a ‘broken’ patient who needed to be fixed. They would remind me that they didn’t see me as simply somebody with a set of diagnoses, but someone with a past, future and a life outside of the hospital walls. We would spend time talking about my friends, my hobbies and my favourite TV shows in addition to more serious topics of conversation such as my mood. I also really liked it when they wouldn’t assume that they knew best and would allow me to guide the conversation. We would have a two-way discussion where we would both share and explore our ideas about why I was feeling the way I was and potential ways to help me to progress in my recovery.

The members of staff who looked after me went above and beyond to help me even though they were extremely busy and had other patients to look after. Despite having their own hardships, they would come into work and selflessly put my needs and the needs of the other patients before theirs on a daily basis. They were a beacon of light in the darkness that I was engulfed in, and for that, I will always be deeply thankful. You guys are absolute heroes.



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