Crises change lives

After winning an Olympic swimming medal, Steve Parry was asked how he came to be so good at swimming. He said that at age six he could not swim when he fell off a canal boat and had to cling to the boat for ages to avoid drowning. He agreed that if this had not happened his parents would not have taken him for swimming lessons and he would have been unlikely to have made the Olympics.

Millions of people have been through a crisis and the experience has put them on a new path. Having a mental health crisis is often taken as a sign that it is time to change something in our lives.

Steve’s parents could have just noticed that he had a tendency to fall off boats and decided not to take him on any more boats. Our doctor’s may notice that stressful events cause us to have mood swings. They may recommend we avoid certain situations or give us medication. Neither of these options seem like the swimming lessons opportunity to me. Medication might be more like a life jacket – well worth having at times but not ideal to wear every minute of every day for the rest of our lives.

After psychiatric admissions in 1997, 98 and 99 my ‘swimming lessons’ for me was a Wellness Recovery Action Planning course, since which time I have stayed out of hospital and consistently needed less medication.

Wellness Recovery Action Planning – Leicester 6th Sept and 8th November 2011