Experience – FDAMH

Happy Birthday from a FDAMH champion!

Happy 40th Birthday FDAMH

How did the staff and service users’ of FDAMH help me put the light on when I was in a dark place. It’s was over 23 yrs ago a walked into the old FDAMH building in Thornhill Rd, it was dark dingy full smoke as the service users were allowed to smoke in the building. I had looked into becoming a volunteer, I was starting to get my life back on track after I had been living an unmanageable, dysfunctional life for about 7 yrs with mental health issues, fulled with alcohol having being admitted to various physcatric hospitals, sectioned under the mental health act for being a risk to myself and others, had my fair share of getting that jag on the left buttock, medicated out my nut. Attended so many therapy sessions over the years it was clear I was never going to be good in those relaxation classes. That just wasn’t going to happen.

I suffered from PTSD, depression, manic highs after surviving a serious road accident where 5 men were killed, 3 being good friends work mates. I could have easily got stuck in the system, under phycatric doctors take medication the rest of my life. I really didn’t want that. I need to change my ways, shift my thinking, my behaviours, and take some serious ownership off my own health well-being.

That day I walked into FDAMH I remember being welcomed by Stuart Aitken who was the volunteer co-ordination I didn’t know how much my life would change from that day till today. I’m a working progress. I have failed so many times, made so many mistakes, always looking how to progressing to be the better version of myself

I volunteered for almost 3 yrs at FDAMH I ran the carpet bowls, organised the bingo with my American accident, I haven’t a clue why American. The service users won small coin like piece metal which they could exchange for tea coffee, or bowl soup after the bowls. I gave out that much to the winners I think they were still circulating about a year later. I ran pool, dart competitions, Making sure the new comers were made to feel welcome and felt a place of safety get a cup of tea a chat if need be.

I remember in Stuart wisdom FDAMH he sent me on a counselling course. I think I was seeing a Phycatrist. Phycologist and other profession at that time, I don’t know what I learned but I remember upsetting one person who was at the course because I couldn’t sit at peace for two min while were learning our listening skills. I’ve still got my Certificate with all the skills I learned over the 12 wks course.

I attended/supported the self-help group with Margaret that was interesting realising just how unfortunate people were how lucky they were to have a place to come for support, share their concerns or just have a place to just Be.

I felt like part off the furniture in FDHMH, my life was slowly coming together, I wouldn’t say I had the light on, more like I was at time in control of my own Dimmer light switch. It wasn’t easy but looking back then life was becoming easier. FDHMH the people who attended were my inspiration, I was never judges, never felt alone we were all an equal no matter of your experience with your mental health, where you were at that time The doors never closed always a warm welcome . The service users became my friend’s, we played Football every Friday this was when I met Neil who was a new employe by FDAMH. I was crap at foot-ball never had an interest in it. When I first came to FDAMH I was about 18st I was just getting myself into shape.

I was into walking then took up running , cycling which had its benefits as I could run up down a park all day times forgetting the ball as Neil would shout “Turn and Face turn and Face” I look back and think off the times when we play football for hours I would get side effects from my medication, I go all blurred eyed. If a closed one I could see, if I opened it got worse. So I go in goals, and then had to cycle all the way home with eye shut. We had some amazing time playing football, none off us were great at football we just got so much out of it, ticking all the boxes in how to improve our health and well-being. We even got into a final at a Mental Health Charity event for service users across Scotland. So would must have had some qualities.

In my time at FDHMH I was doing other voluntary work, working in youth clubs in my local community off Bonnybridge I went to collage got a SVQ level 2 Basic needs in Care. There no doubt in my mind I was lost in the education system I was 30 before I was screened for dyslexia had no qualifications to my name so to go to college was a daunting experience, then I fell in love with learning and my life was progressing Long story short. Few yrs I worked and managed and ran youth clubs in Falkirk then Stirling council only to go on to Dundee University I got a degree in Com Ed, I was awarded adult learner off the BBC My claim to fame was I made a video with Jackie Bird promoting Adult Learning Scottish Government Campaign encouraging adults getting back into learning . And life moves on.

Never far from FDAMH keeping in touch with my good friend Neil. The old Thornhill Rd building was closed and FDAMH had moved into a state the art purpose built building. I pop in time from time I meet the new staff. Listen to Neil letting me know how amazing he was, always had the kettle on have a chat about life.

There were times in my life when my dimmer light wasn’t as bright I would have liked it to be. My mental health was always there in the back ground moods were like on a plengilum swing at times always in relation to what was going on in my life I did access FDAMH Counselling service in looking for directions as life and life circumstances has a way of telling you doing ok when really you might not be.

I’m known for challenging myself to the limits I cycled the WHW in 24 hrs a good few yrs ago raising money for the project. I never thought of ever having to pay back to FDAMH for helping me to help myself for the life I had. I did get involved in a FDHMH charity event walking over 10 hills in the Ochil’s to raise needed funds for a new self-help group for Family and friends who lost someone through Suicide. That was many yrs ago. Last August I walked the WHW for the same self-help group unfortunately my navigation skills weren’t the best in the dark got lost few times . I walked 115mls in 39hrs. (I tried walk WHW in 35 hrs its only 96mls) What an challenge, I was a broken man I raised quite a bit off money more importantly I raise awareness for this much needed service for the people across the Forth Vally.

I’ve accomplished some amazing achievements in my adult life, one walking to Mount Everest Base Camp raising much needed funds and the profile for FDHMH. It took over year plan organise raise funds for the trek and lots of charity events in my local area raising over £3000 for FDAMH.

It took me 12 days trekking through the mountains of Nepal. This was Beyond my wildest dreams. This was never in my life line. But yip I did walk to MBC 2016. I got the name The Yak Man from the Sherpas who were taking groups up the mountain. While others rested for the end of the day I was away venturing into ice glaciers looking for hidden gems no one may have found. This was Life changing experience, I still ware my FDAMH hoodie with pride, brings back so many happy memories. Ones I love to share.

John Wells on Base Camp Trek

Remember I told you about my Counselling skills course Stuart put me on, well today I’m back improving my listening skills and Iv almost finished my COSCA counselling course run by FDHMH, by the most amazing tutor Wendy who has been far the one the best tutor I have had. It’s more than just a counselling qualification Il have, it all about re writing the narrative, learning more about who is the real John, what’s he all about, how does he tick, why does he think the way he thinks. It about having those special qualities to listen to others with-out being judgmental, or opinionated when someone trusts you that they want to share with you their concerns, worries. That’s a very privileged place to be when someone trust you with their story. I’ve had that much counselling over the years by so many professions I thought I knew everything about Me. How wrong was I

I may take my qualification further and do a Diploma and become a qualified Councillor at the mean time I have other plans I can use my listening skills but I certainly not rule it out

I don’t see myself other than the messenger for FDHMH, ye I might push myself to the limits doing extreme challenges, only because I can. And if I’m going to be doing extreme challenges I see a wee opportunity to raise funds for FDAMH most importantly raise that profile of the services FDHMH provide for those who are in need in support with their mental health, of family across the Forth Valley.

It’s time to celebrate FDAMH 40th Birthday, that good age a long time the reaching out to so many people who for whatever reason .

I’m sure there are so many success stories, of the people who have accessed this amazing service throughout the years. Young and Old. And if there is ever a time, the climate were living in. Mental Health is at its worse ever we need services like FDAMH to keep those door open the phones at the ready to reach out to those in need.

Il be for ever grateful to FDAMH and the people who has crossed my path over the years They opening the door to me, giving me that confidence self-belief that I’m worthy, no matter where I was in my life all those years ago. Volunteering was the start off my journey in recovery.

Old Bob my best pal in the world who no longer with us was always parsing FDAMH for helping Me to help myself put the light on when I a dark place. I have a loving supportive family, a good career working with children in Residential Care, I known to the kids as Big Johnny even though I’m no very big.

We all need a champion in our lives. I’ve had so many amazing influence’s in my life all starting with the lovely staff and services at FDAMH

Happy Birthday FDAMH , mind keep me a wee bit Birthday cake

June 2021

Tags: Bereaved by Suicide, Counselling, FDAMH, Volunteering
08/06/2021 at 5:23 pm

Free health checks at FDAMH providing real benefit

(Thanks to the NHS’s Keep Well Project FDAMH has provided free health checks for clients and volunteers)

“I signed up for the medical in FDAMH because I thought it was a good idea and I hadn’t had a cholesterol check and blood pressure check in a long time.

Whilst doing the check the nurse noticed that my blood pressure was extremely high. She asked me to return in a weeks time to re-do the test, just incase it was a one-off. I went back, and again, my blood pressure was very high. Due to this, I went to my GP and told him about the health check and the results. He checked my blood pressure and immediately prescribed medication for it. He said that he was very pleased I had gone to the health check and then come to him, as my blood pressure was very high indeed. He was pleased we had caught this early on, as there is a history of both heart disease and strokes on both sides of my family. My blood pressure was so high that he said if it hadn’t been caught, I was at very high risk of a heart attack or stroke and that if it had been only a little higher, he would have sent me straight to hospital. He was very pleased it had been spotted. I’m now on medication for my blood pressure and we have also looked at one or two other things that the health check pointed out.

I think these health checks are a great idea. I would never have known about my blood pressure if I hadn’t gone along. I’m definitely pleased I went, relieved, in fact, that she spotted it. It’s a great service”

28/05/2014 at 11:09 am

Reflection by a Social Prescribing Practitioner

About 4 and a half years ago when applying for a Community Psychiatric Nurse post I was required to do a presentation – the topic was the future of community psychiatric nursing. In this presentation I envisioned a role for a mental health worker based in a community setting with the potential to outreach other community resources. Well as luck would have it, this vision was offered as a job vacancy with the new Link/Social Prescribing project at FDAMH last December and I seized the moment and applied for this job. To my delight I was successful and here I am today.

Moving to FDAMH to work as a Social Prescriber fits in with my values of using a client centred approach to look at the difficulties people are experiencing, not just in a medical way but within the client’s social environment, enabling the client to manage their recovery in a way that is unique to them. The benefit for the client is that they stay totally in control and dictate not only the pace at which their journey moves along, but also the route their recovery journey will take.

I am able to draw from a vast resource of experience and knowledge gained from 26 years of psychiatric nursing within Forth Valley Health Board. I feel I have a freedom of practice in this role as it is more flexible, set as it is in a smaller organisation, than in a larger organisation where ownership of a role is more difficult.

Yet I also find this smaller organisation is no less professional in its care delivery, indeed the lack of bureaucracy has meant I can more readily access the various activities and services which my clients have indicated that they need. I enjoy working within the fluidity our service offers, which can change course to meet the demands of the users.

Looking at community resources to assist, means the clients have a sense of ownership of their local community and can be influential in shaping what their community looks like quite literally as well as metaphorically. The normalisation of some anxiety symptoms and reactive depression in the Social Prescribing Service lessens the dependence on medical models and I have found this to be an empowering experience for the majority of my clients.

Benefits of the Social Prescribing intervention must also extend to more specialist services that can then devote their skills and time to people who need them. I also find that I can use my previous contacts, acting as a bridge between GP services and the more specialist services, so that the client can benefit – simplifying the journey to recovery for the person experiencing the distress.

This move to the third sector has been a positive development for me and has increased my awareness of the variety of good work being done out with statutory services.

Tags: FDAMH, Link Service, Social Prescribing
20/05/2014 at 1:32 pm

The lengths people go to for FDAMH…

Tommy Hamilton let us know how his hugely successful sponsored walk up Ben Nevis with the Yorkie Boys went in September 2013 –
“Well the weather was horrid. Driving wind and rain from the bottom to the top. We picked up a few Injures but everyone made it up and down and we had a good laugh. I found out after years of saying my skin was water proof that it’s not – lol I think my bones were wet as well!”
Tommy, it was worth it, your team did a tremendous job!

Tags: FDAMH, Fundraising
08/04/2014 at 1:12 pm

A recovery journey with FDAMH

I was recently asked this question what does FDAMH mean to you my answer is so totally simple – everything.

Several years ago I was made redundant after serving 40 years in various junior and senior management positions. The effect this had on my life was indescribable I just went into total emotional melt down, I spent the first two years isolating myself in my own home not wanting to speak or see anyone, I never even went beyond my front own door. I could never put into words how black life felt for me at that time.

I was eventually persuaded by my family to see my local GP, he in turn referred me to my local hospital psychiatric department for treatment and after receiving over two years of intense counselling I slowly started to get my life back together. It was decided by the hospital consultants it was time for me to try to get back into a more out door social environment.

My hospital consultant made contact for me with a local help centre called FDAHM this was the first time in more than 4 years I had ventured out into the public domain. On my first day I was welcomed with open arms by the very friendly staff and volunteer members at the FDAHM centre they were so good to me. I was very gently introduced to other members of the drop in group.

One of the first things I noticed about the FDAMH centre and at that time it was so very important to me was I was never made to feel I had to stay there or partake in any group activities. It was so important and reassuring to me at that time knowing that I could come and go and join in as and when I pleased. After the first few weeks of attending the day centre and mainly due to the kind and understanding staff members I slowly started to get my confidence back and started joining in with the many group activities spending a little longer with each time I was there.

After attending the day centre for a short while I asked a member of staff would it be possible for me to receive one to one counselling has I was still finding it hard to deal with my worries and feelings of anxiety and panic attacks. Over a two years period at the FDAHM centre I received two twelve weekly therapy sessions, each of these sessions were of a tremendous help to me giving me both the strength expand my new found confidence and also helping me to feel that I could go on to put my past broken life back on track.

I have always felt even from my early days at the day centre how can I help to repay their kindness. I owe so much to FDAMH and its fabulous full time and most generous volunteering staff, for with their help and understanding they have helped me to turn my life around.

Last year I was asked at the centre if I would like to consider taking part in a short volunteer training course at the centre, I said that I would be very happy to attend. I was thinking that maybe this could be a way of not only helping myself getting back some of my own self-belief but I could also in some little way give help and support to the other day centre drop in group members.I completed this excellent training course which I found to be most interesting and informative.

I have now for several months been running a weekly family history and genealogy group within FDAMH. The members of my group love talking about the old times, it’s a great way to get them communicating to each other, they also love finding old family photos and genealogical records and sharing family history details with each other. I have also found that my family research group is a great way to getting older group members interested in using computers some for the first time, they may find it slow going at first, put are quickly delighted when they find some interesting family details via the Google search engine system.

FDAMH thank you so much for helping me to find my own self confidence and self-belief.


Tags: Activity Groups, Anxiety, Counselling, Drop-In, FDAMH Training, Isolation and Loneliness, Panic, Volunteering
26/11/2013 at 9:12 pm