I always knew that Creative Response would give me a structure to my week. Other Mental Health groups/clubs have given me a structure too but I have found them boring, patronising and difficult because other clients have leaned on you or just talked non-stop about mental health concerns. Creative Response is different. Firstly, I get myself there, Karen my support worker took me a couple of times, now I proudly get there myself. This was a big achievement as I find travelling on my own difficult and it is a long journey. Creative Response offers huge resources to enjoy. When I first went I thought I should just stick to writing as I thought that was all I was good at. A lot of my writing before Creative Response though was about the past, negative and very traumatic memories. I'm not sure why as such, I can't put my finger on it but I get there and I want to be immersed in a different world. I can lose myself for 2-3 hours painting and the art workers saying it's lunchtime. I become so focused and absorbed in my art that colour and textures etc. Art replaces mental health dialogue. I had previously experienced at other groups the dark memories that are shut away but if I have had a troubled week the art workers listen with empathy but they are so in tune they know I will get more out of being creative than focusing on my worries or fears. This art is on Wednesday but I use this feeling from Creative Response and the tools I have learnt from it for the rest of the week too. If I'm feeling down or lost or empty, I will set up some paints and try and continue my project at home for the next Creative Response group. Sometimes when I'm really struggling I can be really rushy and unable to focus or concentrate. So much so my Dad takes me instead of me getting the train. He sees the value of me going to Creative Response but worries for my safety. When I arrive I feel out of the room and zoned out, they make me a cup of tea but I still keep feeling disassociated. The art workers are in tune with this and help me make a stone necklace that was very tactile and grounding to do. I learnt from this later when I felt I was rushy and bought pom pom makers to take to the group and that was very tactile too and I did these at home, it was very relaxing and grounding. So Creative Response practically does get me out of the house and gives me a structure but even I was surprised that it's made me want to be more creative all week. I even think of colour and creativity with my garden. I bought a black king and white queen garden pieces and then put black pebbles one side and white the other. My mind has thoughts like this in it rather than memories of abuse or patients wanting to know the dose of a medication. It's such a welcome relief that I never thought I would find. I am so grateful I have this opportunity. Finally I put three of my art pieces, 3 acrylic paintings in the art exhibition and it makes you feel proud and confident. My friend has put a portrait of her dog that I painted on her lounge wall, it made me feel very good inside.
I have been involved with Creative Response for about nine years and have watched with great interest, the steady progress in the help and care given to vulnerable people. My son, David, (who experiences a learning disability) is one of these people and it is a great comfort for me to see him fitting into this group and playing his part in such a way I never thought possible.