By Carla Allen THE VANGUARD NovaNewsNow.com Spotting techniques, helpful phrases and the understanding of others who cope with similar challenges are the keys behind the success of a 15-year old mental health support group operating in Yarmouth say two of its members.
Retraining the mind - key to Recovery, Inc. support group
Dot Jacquard and Charles D’Eon belong to Recovery Incorporated, a self-help support group that meets at 7 p.m. every Monday (excluding holidays) at the rear of 32 Cliff Street, up the wheelchair ramp on the corner of Cliff and Kirk Streets.
Jacquard has coped with depression and anxiety for many years but says that Recovery Inc. has changed her life completely. “Fifteen years ago I wouldn’t open my mouth and I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you,” she said.
D’eon says when he first started in Recovery he had bad anxiety and was in an extremely depressed state. “To think of where I am today in comparison with that, it’s unbelievable. I could never believe I could get to feel as good as I do now. I’ve got rid of all the old anxiety problems and only have to deal with the ones that come up now,” he said.
The program helps people with anxiety, depression, panic attacks and phobias to cope with their conditions by example.
Using Mental Health through Will Training by Abraham Low, published in 1984, as a teaching guide, participants help each other by reading chapters aloud, associating examples of their own behaviour with those described in the book and “spotting” to identify a disturbing feeling, sensation, thought or impulse previously unseen. Then the right Recovery tools are applied.
You learn to retrain your mind,” said Jacquard. “New people learn by listening to us and how we handled it.”
D’Eon explains that the whole idea of the program is teaching people how to change their thoughts. Those thinking “incorrectly” are causing problems for themselves. “We don’t realize that but when we see ourselves through the examples of people in this book we start to understand what’s happening to us,” said D’Eon. “Participants are encouraged to “feel the fear but do it anyway.”
D’Eon says he relies on several key pieces of advice provided by the book – for example to do one thing at a time instead of getting all worked up over what you have to do. “If you just do one thing at a time and dwell on that and then go to the next one, it’s amazing how fast you can do a project if you just concentrate on the one thing,” he said.
Sleeping habits can also be improved he says by addressing the revolving thought process and breaking a worrisome thought pattern.
Gathering up the courage to attend the first meeting is oftentimes the hardest challenge to overcome. D’Eon and Jacquard say they have heard of people that have circled the block a dozen times, gone up as far as the door and never could get them selves in.
They recommend asking a friend or family member to accompany them. Participation is not forced; people are allowed to simply sit and listen.
D’Eon says from personal experience he’s learned the worst thing to do with mental health issues is to stay cooped up in the house. “Because your mind is working overtime. If you get out, at least your mind is on something else temporarily and you have some relief,” he said.
Both Jacquard and D’Eon used to take medication but say that Recovery Inc. is all they need now. “I found that medication caused side effects that I didn’t like,” said D’Eon. “Medication should be completely between the person and their doctor,” added Jacquard. “Maybe they need medication for awhile, they can come to our group and learn how to cope with life and then they can slowly go off the medication. But you have to have some kind of support,” she said. “If they stick with us, they will get better. They won’t be cured, but they will get better.
They learn how to manage it,” she said.
For more information on Recovery Inc. contact 902-742-6335 or 902-742-5810.
Meetings are also held Wednesdays 6:30 p.m. at the Meteghan Library (rear) Contact: 902-837-4895 or 902-645-3638. Or visit the website: www.recovery-inc.org