“To be a carer is to find unconditional love and care within yourself… to become uncentred within your own needs and expectations…” says Joanna Oleszczynska who has learned much from supporting her daughter, while coming to terms with her own struggle with depression.
Joanna who recently joined Missing Link as a peer supporter (the service has been supporting people on the wards and as they are discharged from Lambeth hospital back into the community) says training for the role triggered memories she had buried of her own experiences of mental health when she was younger. She had a chance to unblock and explore these feelings and as a result she has started a project for teenagers who she believes aren’t catered for in the mental health system. She says it is crucial to reach them in the early stages of depression and other mental health issues.
Joanna is growing her project through the Music4Children community hub, which is attached to the White Lion pub in Streatham. She wants young people to lead and shape the weekly workshops for themselves. Joanna, who is Polish and has lived in the UK for 14 years says it was determination and strength that helped her to come out of “my own unwellness, which empowerd me. “Working as a peer supporter has brought a natural healing process into my life and also allows me to meet some extraordinary people,” she adds.
Says Missing Link co-ordinator Lucas Teague: “Carer peer supporters bring an invaluable perspective in having lived experience of using mental health services in their own mental health needs and in caring for a loved one. This helps to recognise issues to be addressed from both sides of the fence.”
Joanna has found courses at the Recovery College (South London & Maudsley) – as well as support from Carers Hub Lambeth (including a 10-week personal development course through the City Lit) invaluable. Her motto is one of mindfulness, “live the day for the day” . Joanna believes being a carer is empowering. “The sleepless nights and constant worries are replaced by paying attention to the beauty of happy and beautiful moments, which sometimes are a lot more simple than we thought as it can be a smile, a positive response or just a good day, ” she says. “Caring reveals the strengths we didn’t recognise before, it comes from love and pays back in love.”
For more information on the teenage workshops contact Joanna at firstname.lastname@example.org
Blue sky above
“Lambeth carers with the support of Sarah Bennett at Carers Hub took part in the five week Body In Mind Training at Mosaic Clubhouse. Over five weeks we explored the themes of mindfulness and their relevance to carers’ lives. Just giving permission to look after themselves was a major theme and many of the carers immediately engaged with this. Noticing that it might feel uncomfortable or difficult to do something different and put yourself first was also a theme but many of them were really courageous and went for it! A number of the sessions were held in Brockwell park where the group had a chance to reconnect with nature and the beauty of the walled garden and a chance for an ice cream at the café – real acts of self care that nurtured them and provided a chance to “fill up the tank” rather than letting it empty”.
For more information see www.mindbodymot.com