by guest author Caroline Andrews
On Tuesday 2 April I took the plunge and held a film screening at the Friends’ Meeting House here in Llandod. The film? “Emerging Proud: coming out of the Spiritual Closet.”For my whole adult life, I’ve walked a balance of being “here and yet not here”. In the world and yet not of it. Having experienced a prolonged spiritual awakening after the second year in university, yet being treated like I was wrong and ill, I tried to dumb myself down and “fit in”, playing it safe.
A few years later, however, my soul had other ideas and another download of information, energy and spiritual awareness occurred. Once more, I was treated like I was ill and slightly “wrong”, forcibly injected with toxins and locked away, to awaken with my senses deadened and feeling this time like nothing that felt important to me was safe to explore.
A year later I had clawed some light back in to my life and re-gained my confidence though once more experienced a prolonged peak state that landed me one more time in hospital.
This time, I had the support of a loving partner, and a deep knowing inside that this was a spiritual awakening. “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” sprang to mind as I set to have as much fun with the other “inmates” as possible until I managed to set up a tribunal. Luckily I was released before it came to court.
10 years later, I’m showing a screening of a film that speaks volumes about my own journey and the profound times we are living in. People from all over the world speaking about their experiences and how the labels they were given vastly underestimated the value of their profound and revealing life changing experiences. Time after time, we hear from people that validation of their path was the most helpful part of their journey, in opposition to the treatment by the psychiatric system that would dumb down and medicate the person creating invalidation and inner turmoil.
The campaign whose name echoes the film title, Emerging Proud, was started by Katie Mottram, also author of “Mend the Gap”. In her book, Katie shares her own experiences in life, from being a carer in the mental health system to being herself an experiencer, and her realisation that the spiritual aspect of the journey was often overlooked though sometimes the most valuable part of the experience.
I trained with Katie through the organisation Emerging Proud to become an Emerging Kind peer group facilitator. In these peer groups we share from the heart, and listen without judgement. This is a safe space, where there are no labels, just love and acceptance for each other. Last year I ran a group here in Llandrindod Wells for 10 months. There were tears and a lot of laughter and for me a profound sense of home. Having felt so alone for my whole adult life, I had finally found a place to share my experiences without fear of being re-sectioned or ridicule.
Now in its second year, I have created a new peer group, based on the attendees of the film screening and at present, we are full to capacity. If you’d like to join the group, I can keep you on the waiting list. The film itself is worth watching for a life changing feeling of seeing people all around the world experiencing exactly what I did. Check it out for yourself here:
“Times, they are a-changing,” and so should the solutions to our challenges. Emerging Proud supports the growing notion that mental health crisis is in fact an invaluable and life changing experience and with the right support and encouragement we may all come out the other side transformed like the butterfly, spreading our wings to take on a new horizon.