Experience – Activity Groups


Not a normal experience this one, this is a work of fiction by one of the members of our 2017 Screen Writing Group. The Group developed a wide variety of writing skills and have produced a new play about mental health which we hope to put into production in the coming year. Claire won a group competition with her spooky story ‘Trapped’ which was judged by group tutor Katie white and the Scottish Screen Writers.

TRAPPED by Claire Barrie

“Just go for it, you can do this!” Lauren encouraged her little sister softly, kneeling to meet her eye level.

“I can’t, I’m scared!” Emma whined back, her eyes darting down the hallway as she whispered fearfully, “What if they get me?”

Lauren’s hands grasped Emma’s shoulders to squeeze reassuringly, as if passing along some of her own strength. “They won’t, you’re small and fast.”

“But there’s so many…” Emma bit her lip as she trailed off, straining to hear the noise from the other rooms.

“I’ll be right behind you, I won’t let anything happen to you.” Lauren vowed with conviction. “Do you remember the plan?”

Emma nodded quickly, blurting out in one breath, “Find the keys, grab supplies, and get outside. You promise we won’t leave without Paul?”

“I promise.” Lauren repeated, getting to her feet. “I’ll search upstairs, you search down here, deal?”

Emma fumbled with the sleeves of her jumper, and mumbled, “I don’t want to split up.”

Lauren’s face softened as she pulled her little sister into a hug, “I know, but we have too, it’ll be quicker that way. We can still talk to each other with these.” Carefully, she held out her own walkie talkie, and prompted Emma to pick up the other on the stair beside them. “Do you trust me?” She asked, while she studied Emma’s face for any signs of hesitation.

“Yeah.” Emma finally sighed reluctantly. She’d feel better if Paul was with her, but they’d gotten separated when they arrived earlier and now it was chaos.

“Alright let’s go, I’ll meet you back here in five minutes.” Lauren gave one last squeeze to Emma’s shoulder before she ran up the stairs and out of sight before Emma had the chance to beg her to stay.

“I can do this.” Emma whispered to herself, and began to creep down the darkened hallway towards all the noise. “I can do this.” She repeated, coming to a stop outside the first door.

She pressed her ear against the cool surface but all she could hear was the thumping of her own heartbeat. Emma dared to crack the door open just enough to peek inside, and glimpsed the empty bathroom. “Paul?” She quietly called out, but got no response.

Down the hall, another door creaked open, spilling light across the carpet. In panic, Emma quickly hid inside the bathroom, and turned the lock just before the handle moved. The sound of groaning and shuffled footsteps chilled her to the bone and she had no choice but to wait until they retreated.

“Lauren? Lauren I’m trapped.” Emma frantically whispered into the walkie-talkie, the sound of static hissed back at her. She’d never felt so alone. “Lauren?” She tried again, her thumb pressing harder on the stiff plastic button at the side until her knuckles turned white.

Seconds stretched on like years to Emma, when Lauren’s voice finally crackled through. “Where are you? I found Paul, but we need to get the first aid kit from the kitchen.”

“I’m in the bathroom.” Emma hurriedly answered, worry colouring her words as she tried not to yell, “Is he going to be okay?”

“He’ll make it.” Lauren said, but her voice was coming from the other side of the door. “The coast is clear, come on, we need to hurry.”

Emma sprang forward to unlock the door and flung herself out to wrap her arms around her sister and Paul. “Are you okay, what happened?”

“I told him not to talk to conserve his energy.” Lauren whispered, keeping a tight grip of Paul as she ushered the them down towards the kitchen. “He got trapped under a bookcase, busted his leg, but he’s going to be alright. Did you find the keys?”

Emma shook her head with regret, “I hid instead of looking. I’m sorry.”

“Hey, you were brave and smart to find a hiding place, don’t be sorry.” Lauren pushed the door to the kitchen open and winced at the sight of three, shambling bodies huddled together in the corner near the fridge.

“Get under the table!” Lauren hissed, lifting the cloth up just in time to conceal her sister and Paul beneath it. “Whatever happens, don’t come out until I tell you too.”

The sound of teeth clacking and feet dragging grew closer, the musty smell of what Emma considered death clung to the air with the sweet scents of flowers. From under the table she could hear cupboards being opened and shut frantically, then Lauren calling out, “Hey, over here!”

The soft groaning moved further away from Emma, and back towards the fridge just as a first aid kit was slid under the table, along with a lunchbox filled with what she hoped was sandwiches and juice pouches.

There was no time to rejoice, as Lauren let out a yell of, “Emma run! Find the keys, it’s your only chance!”

“I can’t leave you!” Emma wailed as she scrambled onto her feet, but when she turned to her sister all she could see were boney hands with paper thin skin reaching for Lauren’s face.

“Save yourself!” Lauren shouted back just as they got her.

Emma grabbed Paul around the arm and took off like a bat from hell, her legs moving faster than she could think. She made it out of the kitchen, into the livingroom, and narrowly avoided colliding with a herd of bodies all feasting on something, or someone, else. The sound of chewing echoed around the room and blocked out the sound of music playing faintly from the stereo.

There, on the couch, a set of keys that looked familiar, and Emma made a beeline for them before anything could stop her. She ran towards the patio doors and pressed her face against the thick cool glass to look into the garden. She could already taste the frosty air, the freedom, and with shaky hands she began to slide the door open but before she could squeeze outside a gnarled hand clasped her shoulder and pulled her back as she let out a blood curdling shriek.

“And just where do you think you’re going?” The warm voice of her mother caressed the side of Emma’s ear as she turned to face the woman.

“We were playing Zombie Apocalypse.” Lauren supplied as she walked over with a plate stacked with little triangle sandwiches and cocktail sausages skewered with toothpicks, pickles and cubes of cheese on the end.

“Oh I see.” Their mother laughed, and scooped her youngest daughter into her arms. “You almost made it out alive, huh?”

“Yeah.” Emma sighed, looking back at the party forlornly, “Paul needs medical attention.” She stated, holding up her stuffed polar bear. His hind leg spouted fluff from where the stitching had come loose.

“Well I’m sure I can take care of Paul.” Their mother assured soothingly, clearly amused by her five year old’s imagination. “Now let’s get back to your Grandma’s birthday party, we’re about to bring out the cake.”

“Okay, here then, “Emma dangled a set of car keys in front of her mother’s face, “We don’t need these any more.”

“Where did you find your uncle’s car keys?” Their mother asked, slightly alarmed.

“Probably the couch.” Lauren laughed, “He’d lose his head if it wasn’t attached.”

“What am I going to do with the pair of you?” The mother said with a shake of her head.

Emma shared a look with her sister before announcing happily, “Give us cake!”

Written by Claire Barrie, Thursday 21st September 2017

Tags: Activity Groups
05/12/2017 at 3:15 pm

Women’s Group was starting point for everything else

When I first started with the group I only came down once in a while, I couldn’t come down every week as this was just too much or me. Too many people, too busy. Just too much.

But Michelle said that I should persevere and I did, and I am so glad.

I have made more new friends than I could ever have imagined, I not only go along now every time to the Women’s Group, but I meet up with some of the women and go for lunch or out for dinner when it is someone birthday. I also go out to the bingo once in a while.

If I hadn’t joined the group I would just be sitting in the house not getting out and feeling really fed up.

I now attend Forth Valley College on a jewellery course, I now attend the course as a helper, showing others how to make things. I have also taken part in a creative writing group and art group within FDAMH.

The Women’s Group was the starting point for everything else to fall into place, I feel happier now I have made friends, joined groups and made a difference to not only myself but to others.

Tags: Activity Groups
15/09/2016 at 1:56 pm

Arts Activities – A massive confidence boost!

I thought I wouldn’t be any good at the painting class but I was determined to enjoy it. I found that I was much better than I thought I would be and have now taken up painting as a hobby. I also tapped in to the creative writing class and a sign language class and I am doing very well at both. Doing these activities has given me such a massive confidence boost that now I feel that I can do anything! It’s even given me the confidence to learn to drive. I hope I do as well in that as I have done in my other endeavours.

Tags: Activity Groups
15/09/2016 at 1:38 pm

Finding the artist inside with FDAMH

I am an artist on the inside. I see the world in a different light. In times of stress I turn to painting for comfort and for confidence.

Before I came to FDAMH life was hard as I don’t have any family here. Two years ago I lost my home at Christmas time and wasn’t able to see my family anymore.

I first when I came to FDAMH I was nervous but as I got to know all the people I began to feel comfortable and tried to help newcomers feel at ease.

Last Christmas I saw some drawings in the FDAMH gallery and it inspired me to try something new. I wanted to learn how to draw and paint so when a class came up I joined up. I started to find that when I did my Art I felt comfortable on the inside and that made me feel like I could do good and help others on the outside. I feel positive about the future now, I feel like things are getting easier for me and I’m looking forward to doing more painting.

Tags: Activity Groups
15/09/2016 at 1:36 pm

“Talking it out” through Art

On taking part in FDAMH’s Painting Class:

I have suffered from mental ill health since I was a child but was diagnosed with post natal depression after my eldest daughter was born. Unfortunately I have suffered on and off with mental health issues since.

I first found art therapy within Dunrowan Day Hospital. I loved it. It gave me a release, a way to communicate my feelings without speaking. It gave me a sense of achievement and helped me through some very traumatic times. In darker days I could look at my work and remember the joy I had while making it.

My art is not only pencil and paint; I also make jewellery, crochet, and papercut, sew, and recycle “rubbish” into something beautiful and useable.

Art is freeing, constructive, therapeutic, calming, colourful, expressive and fun! It can be done anywhere, alone or with friends or as a group. Art is not perfect and neither am I! No boundaries, no rules, do what you like and like what you do. I am creative, it is part of who I am, but it is not the only part. Art helps me convey, to anyone who cares to look, the other parts of me that I cannot verbalise. There is emotion in every piece of work. Sometimes it is calm within a pencil drawing. Sometimes happy and energetic, full of colour and life in a splash of paint “Jackson Pollock” style. Sometimes it is sad and black and menacing, in charcoal/pastels. Whatever the emotion or feeling there is a style, time, method that will help you to “talk” it out. I love ART.

Tags: Activity Groups, Perinatal Depression
15/09/2016 at 1:33 pm

Taking part in Arts activities at FDAMH

This art group was a breath of fresh air to me and felt quite rewarding. I enjoyed the camaraderie of the group and enjoyed meeting new artists. The group did well considering we only had a limited number of sessions in which to plan and complete our paintings. A big thank you to Emily (organiser) and Noona (Art teacher).

I will continue drawing and painting on my own and look forward to a new Art group in the near future. Hopefully as a group we had a varied view on our Art and diversity which was fulfilling. The class bonded and hopefully we all take something from this. I certainly did. Thanks.

Tags: Activity Groups
15/09/2016 at 1:29 pm