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Let’s Chat part 3: Missing links, aftermath, and what comes next

November 13, 2012

(Edit: This post was written when I first got involved with CHAT and things were still good. Later when I got more involved with the workings of the organisation, things took a dark and almost life-threatening turn. I’ve left the original posts up for people to see what hopes I had for CHAT and how good things were at the beginning, but for the update on how things changed, please check my more recent post here:


So those are the four tools:

1. Name the monster

2. Control Word or Song

3. Affirmations

4. Egg-timer

Of the four, I only use the name and affirmations. I tend to use other techniques to avoid rowing with my mother these days that I learned from an anger management book, which I may blog about another time. I find the affirmations work better for me than the control word, and I don’t like the idea of blocking things out. I don’t even like the idea of painkillers. I’d rather really feel why I’m getting anxious, what exactly I’m afraid of, and address that specifically with affirmations and common sense, rather than ignore the feelings altogether (though there have been times when I’ve been ill when anxiety has been partially justified, and there’s nothing to really explore, so I’ve used my control word then.)

The bits I’m missing are the boards. These boards were great, and at the end of each session I (as was everyone else) was given my own set of handouts, including the board on a glossy sheet of paper, rather than the thick card boards the others were printed on.

The boards were an introduction and a visual aid to help understand depression. There are sixteen squares on each board, each with a question, such as “why are the elderly more likely to suffer depression?” and sixteen cards with the answers on. In groups of two or three, we had to read the questions to each other, find a card we think was the answer, and read it out to the group and discuss it, why they think it’s the right answer, and try to agree it was correct, then put it on the board. The whole group would then take turns, if they were comfortable, reading out their answers to everyone else.

The key here, again, was repetition: read the question, read the card, then talk about it, then read it all again to everyone. Each time you read the answer it sinks in a little more. For some of the questions this wasn’t that important, the questions were not mindblowing, such as “are men or women more likely to suffer depression?” But when it came to the second board, the Unconscious Mind, the answers got interesting. 10% of the mind is conscious. Read that again. ok, big whoop, right? Next question, how much of the mind is unconscious? Silly question to follow so soon after the first, but wait up, now we’re looking at the number 90%. 90% is HUGE. Suddenly it clicks – a tiny fraction of our mind is under our conscious control, the rest is taken up with habit and imagination, which can lead you to depression and anxiety if you aren’t programming it the way you want.

And so a room full of strangers to chatting about themselves, how their condition affects them, sharing, opening up, getting to know each other. Jocelyn is a genius to have come up with that, it works stupidly well.

I’ve probably missed bits out. But I only intended to review the course and share my experiences and explain why the blog’s been so quiet. I finished this course in Trefforest and went to one in Trethomas, Caerphilly, which finished last night, November 12th.  I started the bipolar course in Cardiff Bay a couple of weeks ago too, the last one of those is Wednesday the 14th November.

Part of why this has taken up so much of my time is I’ve been meeting with people to try to get fundraising sorted for courses to be run next year, and harassing celebrities via Twitter and Facebook to get some patronage. I’m also reading more about depression and anxiety and the mind and psyching myself up to run my own courses. I’m terrified of public speaking so this is a huge thing for me. I have however become more comfortable with travelling. A few weeks ago my anxiety had got so bad out of the blue that I was either throwing up or sleeping. I was hardly eating. The control word and affirmations came into its own then, and I didn’t miss any CHAT sessions.

Another big thing I’m psyched about, I spontaneously said Yes to something that I may not be ready for. bear in mind that this time last year I couldn’t spend an hour in the car. Now I’m gonna spend an hour in the car, and an hour on a plane, then three days wandering round an unfamiliar city in another language, and it all starts in two weeks time. On the 27th, I’m off to Amsterdam with my brother. I can’t stress how unthinkable this would have been to me last year. Without CHAT I probably would be still shut away in my room. Now I suddenly have a possible career, some great experiences coming in my future, and lots of good stuff. I have a few friends I didn’t have before, Jocelyn and Dennis are an amazing couple, their passion convinced a frightened fool to change his life and it took a stupidly short amount of time to get the ball rolling.

I also enrolled at the gym. In the new year I’m going to go back to karate after what will be nearly two years off because my anxiety prevented me from walking the mile to the leisure centre and challenging myself physically.

Oh yeah, it’s gonna be a good year next year. Stuff’s gonna get taking off.

If you want more information about CHAT, visit, which has links to the new blog and a prototype message board if you have questions (though whether that stays up is debateable, the free hosting has led to adverts that are less than savoury.)

On behalf of everyone in Wales with a mental health condition, if you’re too far away to take a course, please donate. It’s expensive stuff to run and there aren’t that many of us keeping it going. Cheers lotsly.

One Comment
  1. SIAN GOULD permalink

    i cant tell you bute, how so proud of you i am, your just AMAZEING!! and im so grateful 2those in chat, 2b so careing and go from town 2 town helping ppl, the way they are helping you and yes next year is gonna b a fab year 4u im sure, cos you are look ing 4ward 2it instead of drawing back from it, like u usualy do, WELDONE BUTE ❤

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