Saturday, 1 December 2012

Ohio University Resilience Study

A month or so ago I was contacted through my Facebook page by Suzanne Beachy. Suzanne happens to be a role model of mine - I watched this TED talk a while ago and was truly inspired by her humanity.  So when she asked me to participate in a Ohio University study about recovery from mental illness, I jumped at the chance.

Suzanne put me in touch with Professor Mo Yee Lee, of the social work faculty at Ohio.  After I'd signed the relevant forms, and we'd communicated briefly via email,  Mo Yee called me yesterday, and interviewed me for an hour on the phone.  She is conducting a resilience study - interviewing people with diagnoses of schizophrenia, bi-polar and schizo-affective disorder, who have been free of medication for at least twelve months, and who consider themselves to have recovered from mental illness, to see what she can discover about factors for resilience and to try to help others in their recovery. 

Mo Yee seemed like a lovely person - it felt like I was chatting to a friend on the phone, and the hour whizzed by.  Of course, recovery is something I have given a lot of thought to in the last year or so, and I enjoyed the opportunity to share my opinions.  The professor asked me to rate certain things - such as what had and had not been helpful in my recovery - on a scale of one to ten.  She asked extensively about what had helped me, often asking if there was anything else I could think of, and I did my best to rack my brains. 

I had to be honest and admit that what has helped me most is my children - although I am conscious that children may not be an option for everyone.   I know that I have been incredibly lucky to be blessed in this way - and also I realise that I always longed to be a mother and this is why I have found it so fulfilling.  Motherhood is not everyone's cup of tea, and neither is it a walk in the park!  (Two cliches for the price of one, anybody?)

Most of the factors that are important for recovery are well known - I am not the only person to have benefitted from a healthy diet, exercise, writing, mindfulness and so on, and the study reflected this.  The only time I think I may have surprised Professor Lee was when I suggested pet therapy - and canine therapy in particular.  I think that those of us who are lucky to have a dog to look after, to walk and to love, and to be adored by in return - who experience the two-directional power of unconditional love - know well how therapeutic that is. 

Anyway, that's about it for now.  It's been a good day - a long walk, time playing with the kids, friends to talk to - and now a quiet evening (children asleep in bed) in which to relax and savour the good things in life. 

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