Beccy’s new series of blog posts is about tapping into her own experiences as a resource for empowering herself and helping her to get the support she needs. It’s not easy to tell someone what you need though, finding ways to help empower people to find their voice is always a goal.
Stop Being “Done to” and Start “Doing With”
How many times have you sat and listened to someone in authority tell you what’s best for you? We’ve all done it at some point, whether it’s a parent, a teacher, an officer of the law, or a staff member. We’ve probably all said to ourselves, “You don’t know me and what I need,” or, “Well I think this would work better.” It’s not bad to think those things, it’s just the way we try to express those thoughts that tends to get us in trouble. We rage against been told what to do or shrink back and become doormats to others ideas, finding negative ways to express ourselves, for example: drinking, drugs, anger, avoidance, promiscuity, self-harm… the list goes on.
What would it be like to be able to express all those thoughts and ideas in a positive collaboration with those who work with us? I imagine as well as speak from personal experience it scares the hell out of you, makes you think it’ll never work. They won’t listen or do anything with it, my ideas aren’t worthy, I can’t do it. I haven’t got time, it’s such a stupid idea. Even when you know it would make such a big difference to you and how you interact with others.
Society doesn’t always allow for people to work like that or allow the expression of what we need to enable us to function in a more positive way. At the PDMCN we have the unique opportunity to work with staff rather than feeling “done to”. The staff are here to help us understand ourselves better and help us find better ways of being. But they need our help to do that, we are experts by experience, all the training in the world is useless if staff don’t have the input of us the service users to tell them what it’s like for us. We know ourselves, we just struggle understanding our behaviours and why we do the things we do. If we don’t communicate our fears, needs and bugbears, how are we supposed to get the best care and support we need.
Being able to express small things that bother us can have a huge impact on how we react to staff or other service users, whether it’s saying you need to sit by the door to feel safe or need a time out or express that what someone is doing is stirring up strong emotions or responses in you, it’s important you feel able to say those to staff, so something can be done about it and understood better.
That’s the start of individual service user involvement. It feels so empowering when you are heard and your needs accepted or another service user says you’re not alone I feel like that. A small trickle soon becomes a puddle, then a stream and sooner or later a lake with people helping each other to build a bridge to the other side.