Hope in the darkest of places

– Caroline Adlam, Group facilitator at Student Minds Nottingham

I am one of five group facilitators for Student Minds Nottingham, who are running a structured support group for students. We’re focusing on building a support network, eating, sleeping and exercising well and finding coping strategies that work for you. But more than that, we want to create a safe, confidential space where people can talk about mental health freely, with other people who get it. A place for conversation, a place for silence, a place for healing, a place for battling and a place for life and all the topsy-turviness that comes with it.

I feel a huge responsibility. Not for people, but to people. A responsibility to be the best that we can be. If by being here we slightly improved the wellbeing of one student, then that would make the whole thing more than worth it.

But I have a vision to reach every student here that is hurting. I remember this when eyes gloss over as I say the word “depression”. People turn their heads away slightly or look down to avoid my gaze. I don’t mind. I am so privileged to be standing here doing this, giving out leaflets about our service. I know that hurting people are not always recognisable from the outside. Sometimes they are the ones who plaster on a smile, or the ones who never meet your eye because they know exactly what you’re talking about. That’s why I chase after people to give them a leaflet, or while I continue to talk after they’ve finished listening.

There was a plant that sat on the windowsill of a green building in town, maybe it still sits there to this day. A lady there told me that everyone else had given up on this plant, but it was her project – she had a deep conviction that it wasn’t too far gone to be helped. She sat it in the sunshine, watered it daily, gave it the time and space it needed to grow again.

I’m not a trained counsellor, nor do I have all the answers. But I believe that no one is beyond help, and for as long as I have air in my lungs I won’t give up shouting about mental health and how hope can be shone in the darkest of places.

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One thought on “Hope in the darkest of places

  1. Yes, Caroline, there absolutely is light in the darkest places, and the knowing that nobody should be left behind but allowed the space to flourish and grow is a key to true brotherhood, as your lady with the plant so well demonstrated.
    What if to a certain extent we have all given up on life and that those who are suffering from depression are just a bit more visible on that scale? This would mean that we are all hurting at some level, and for many, we make sure that this is hidden beneath the distractions of life, using the various things we can use to numb ourselves (alcohol, food, drugs, TV etc.). If this were the case then it would make sense that everyone begins, when it feels right for them, to look at their own hurts by allowing themselves to feel them – this can facilitate them to let the hurts go and so move into a more observational or universal way of approaching things, which opens up a new kind of love that has no ‘needs’ but just holds. What would the world be like then, if those of us who can be of use to be there for those with depression, kept working on our own hurt and deepening our own understanding? Imagine what we could bring to others by doing this work on ourselves? Isn’t it possible that we would bring a light that makes hope look like a mere shadow in a galaxy of radiant stars.

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