Islamic intricate design

Reading Wellness

Alice Walker

‘If a book doesn’t make you better then what on earth is it for?’ My wife Dr. Warner recently shared the above quote with me. Typically, I interpreted it in relation to helping people heal with the writing of these blogs. What else was I to do?

Improve
I laughed at first at the quote. Then thought about people that experience a mental health difficulty or return to the community after prison. Are people recently released, able to help themselves and others be better? Do they become discouraged by an unfair set of goals achievements and just out of frustrated reach opportunities?

When working with a person my aim is geared towards understanding the root cause of some of the difficulties and supporting reintroduction to living well.

Writing my blogs on a weekly basis has become an important part of maintaining wellness myself throughout the week.

Crafting
Writing these short stories helps to build a positive idea of my thinking for anyone to access and begin formulating their own thoughts. The aims are to share ideas, inform and provide thinking points/reflection points to travel with in a meaningful way. I am doing my bit to make the world a better, more reasoned place, that is more informed and can offer balms.

Inspiration
Using tactical empathy like an open circuit I invite readers to use the materials they find to inspire thought. Closing the loop is when an informed action takes place. That’s the point of these pieces of writing – to help readers to arrive, make links, create change.

Core needs
The want to move forward, figuratively, metaphorically and within the mind and body, is I feel human. The need to stay safe and protected and loved and warm is a need too. As is being fed, staying healthy, being social, finding and maintaining love and finding a sense of purpose. Thank you Maslow!

Interned
Staying in one place brings with it challenge, boredom and a feeling of loss. In the course of a year I have met those who have experienced significant personal tragedy and trauma, who remain constantly vigilant and yet willing to pit themselves against their fears and try to haul forth out of the ruins of their former lives something honourable and worthy. Ultimately they are willing to try.

Gladiators
I am reminded of the encouraging words from Brené Brown’s recent Netflix show, quoting Theodore Roosevelt’s arena speech. Those who are on the floor of the arena get a different perspective to those sitting and spectating.

The offer here is to:
Be patient
Be resilient
Be engaged but most of all have fun.

In time it will all be worth it.

The point is to hold on ‘Alice Walker’ until you near the end. The end has the potential to be better than the space you are in now.
Just hold on and you’ll see!

www.michaelforfiehcounselling.com for more info

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Deconstruct

Can’t fix it – Prison – Criminal justice

Start anew
13th and Eva Du Vernay’s latest Netflix film has further convinced me that criminal justice is a blight. What does the phrase mean – criminal justice? Who gets justice? Does the perpetrator of a criminal act get justice? What if the perpetrator were witness or victims of criminal acts when powerless and young? What justice can be measured against the crimes that they could not stop?

When They see Us
Has turned my stomach, turned my emotions into a heavy drum that reverberates with a sense that Angela Davis’ call of ‘Are Prisons Obsolete?’ are right here, before us, NOW! This is not a review of WTSU. I need a little time to allow what has been stirred to settle. This is a call to remember those who are away, serving time in places called prisons, forensic settings, exclusion units, on probation, in cells, in mental health hospitals and restrained and detained in deportation units.

Cross Pollination is Us.

Almost 10
For 9+ years I have been there. Seeing listening and supporting as a counsellor in Her Majesty’s Prison Services in South London. At Probation Services in a number of offices in and around London and now at a number of prisons in Kent. 

Four Tales
Ava DuVernay’s 4 films, 4 tales about the system of continued oppression that a person who is considered ‘other’ may face primarily because of them being in the wrong place, wrong time wholly screws with the idea of justice. 

Fresh Start
How here in the UK a person can grow up in circumstances that are *unsupportive to them as individuals or as communities and make good is an unfair expectation. The recent report in Fresh Start shows what wide spread social investment can do for communities. Lack of support could mean one wrong turn, a bad decision, an argument, a moment of unconstrained fury, frustration, injustice, abuse – explodes and becomes a 35 year sentence

Break It Up
No the criminal justice system needs to be deconstructed. I’ve borrowed Jesse Williams phrase and ire here. Look at the things that feed the causes. Capitalism, guilt, shame, blame and the ideals of equality, discrimination and that of ethics are not achieved and held out of reach, I would argue need be mentioned. 

Replace
In its place a community of activists philosophers, cooks, teachers, faith leaders, prisoners, students, constructionists, film makers, politicians, service users in the community, Artists come together and develop a number of ideal ways to help move a person who has hurt, is hurting, was hurt to grow.

To heal.

That’s what is at the foot of this mountain. POTENTIAL

Together
We don’t get to the top by wishing, or acting against ourselves or anyone else. We get to the top of the Mountain by planning, co-ordinating, arguing, directing, moving, retracing and supporting and being compassionate – be human. To All. For All. Ubuntu

A system that further puts people at risk, hurts them and shames those already embroiled within it’s contorted digestive tracts. A system that cannot support a person to free climb up, out and away. Prison – It doesn’t work. It cannot work. It compounds a problem but does not create solution.

The Obstacle is The Way
The aim is to climb the mountain to establish a fair and equal society for all. That is the dream.
Accepting that perhaps society as it is does not work for all.
Accepting that education systems whilst worthy and reasonably *investable remains a widely separating experience for students of a three tiered system.
Accepting that a system that identifies those who are hurt, who then go on to hurt others, are put into a place where others who like themselves are also hurting. Seems nonsensical!

Medieval
Sounds like an inhumane calamity, if we were able to, allowed to, we would think this has to stop. We would demand that things damn well ought to change and set about making the necessary steps to install that change. Rather than invest in a system of continued pain.

Brave
What does work, is gathering all interested parties and support and time being given to see the hurt child inside and help, not blame, help them to reach higher and be courageous as we also become courage-ful.

At a recent counselling in Prisons Network CiPN conference Philip Wheatley presented a simple truth, risk is a factor of life. Risk can be managed but not extinguished and ruled out of our experience. The police, prisons, probation, nurses and detention centre officers should hold the idea that risk is a factor to the work when supporting those who offend.

The dream is for us all to be okay with wherever we are on that Mountain, living our best lives. 

Resource
Theaster Gates
Ethics Philosophy Bites
Code Switch word watch 1 and 2

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Perhaps

Swimming In
At a local swimming pool another one of my random thoughts struck.

On your marks…
The thought centred on knowing about something before the experience arrives. Almost prescient to an event and being ready when it happens. Does having information early provide either comfort or terror?

Unsuspecting
The event that brought me to my thought was, a boy of about 16/17 who stumbled out of a swimming pool near to my family and me. He walked with difficulty to the poolside near to us and appeared to slump onto his back. The incident happened quietly and quickly at a packed Lido. He began twitching and both of his hands curled into fists with his thumbs pinned inside his hands.

Busy Calm
I wondered what could be happening. The boy appeared calm in voice as he explained to his friend to get help. A life guard arrived moments later and radioed for senior management. The pool was packed and the life guard’s attention seemed split into a number of other directions.

Speed
Management sped over to the prostrate young man and after a few questions with him, called 999. Over the phone instructions were offered to calm and reassure the young man. Within 15 minutes a paramedic arrived and took over. I wondered again about what the boy was experiencing and was transported back to lying on my back on sports day after running my heart out. This was June 1990. I had just completed a 200m final sprint, came 2nd and was to compete in a triple jump event for my class team.

The RACE
Before the 200m I had successfully contested and run against, the school’s favourite and won against him in the 1500m. Back then, something unexplainable was going on and my body was failing me. This was before my 2011 diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. I wanted to get up, run and compete again. 3 events in one day I knew I could do it, but my 16 year old pre-diagnosed body had other ideas.

Primary Attack
I lay prone and incapable of moving for at least 30-40 minutes, on a beautiful summers day, on a school field in Cambridgeshire. A number of people mostly fellow pupils showed concern and asked if they could help. At which I said “No, I’m alright”. I didn’t understand what was happening to me, and was too embarrassed at feeling so weak and powerless to accept help.

AHA!
This then was my first glaring incident of a relapse. It sucked! I can still hear my fear anger and anguished thoughts ricochet around my head. “But this shouldn’t be happening to me? What about my team? I’m not helping us win! What’s going on? What the hell is this?! What’s wrong with me?”

Forewarned
My thoughts wander back to the boy. At this side of the pool lying on his side, pronounced as needing support and not knowing what this mysterious illness is. Perhaps it is or is not MS. Perhaps it is another debilitating auto immune disease that like a thief, a picket pocket, appears disappears and removes slowly, imperceptibly, all that is held dear.

Bliss
Maybe it is better not to know and live with no to little knowledge about a challenging future that could be ahead. Managing an illness that disrupts brain to body connections and renders the sentient being housed in said body mute, captive, ignorant and helpless.

Charlton Lido

Quiet
I remained silent and said nothing. Reluctant at handing to this young man an idea of a future that is largely an uncomfortable unknown – a morass of uncertainty and discomfort. Perhaps it is best I look on and hope that his mysterious twitching and collapse is something more explained like blood sugar levels or early onset type 1 diabetes – rather than an auto immune disease.

Autonomy
I lived for 20 years with a certainty that I was as healthy and as physically and mentally able as I was supposed to be. I would not want to rob another of a chance to live for better or worse in the knowledge that life as they knew it was irrevocably altered and that new designs were to be placed. A life pattern redrawn. At 16 the news might be impossible to digest.

What would you have done?

Everything is alive Chioke Grain of Sand.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History Blueprint for Armageddon III

It’s About You

A favour, a request, an ask, an invite…

Yes. Of you dear reader…

Can I ask something from you, of you? From those that read these words on the various sites I post these blogs. Can you do just 2 things?

Can you visit my website and sign up to receive my emails by signing up at www.michaelforfiehcounselling.com

The second thing I am going to ask is that you complete a survey monkey survey https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/9V9TYQS

I am interested to know what you all think about these small thought journeys. This is a genuine request to find out what thoughts you have about these blogs – my mental workouts, and it is a request from you to help improve my work. For instance are Thursdays a good day for my work to be released?

Everyone I meet, work with, support and speak to has doubts about themselves, about the role they are contributing to their society, about parenting, sex and relationships, criminality and the justice system, health and mental illness, education and many other rich and diverse subjects.

Over the past 5 years I have dabbled with a number of the topics listed above. I want these blogs to be more of a service for you my loyal but quiet audience. So this invite is to serve you better. Help me to achieve this aim.

I look forward to reading your suggestions comments and feedback about the words written. I trust you to be well. 

Michael
The Artist