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What's in your Story Box? Tuesday March 7, 2017

Last week I was given the story box which is a segment on our local radio station where the holder of the story box talks live on the radio the next morning at 6.45am. Although I have no difficulty talking in public I wondered what I could talk about. I had given radio interviews before and thought I had nothing new to say. I wondered if bipolar is the only interesting thing about me. I do have a book and gift shop but a few people had already spoken about having a bookshop.

I like communicating about mental health as often as I can but I worried I had nothing new to say. Even though being open and honest about mental illness is a passion of mine but it is not who I am or is it?

Do I only want to be known as the woman who has bipolar and owns a book and gift shop?
I decided not to speak much about my own personal experience but to explain about how I use my lived experience (I like that I no longer have an illness but now have a lived experience!) to give information to community groups.

When the phone call ended I thought of many witty, clever things I should have added. However I even managed to talk about Moodscope.

Now it is your turn. I have given you the story box. What will you talk about in 5 mins? What questions would you like to be asked? What would you like the listeners to know about you. You can focus on any part of your life, anytime past and present and even future. You have our undivided attention.

If you find it hard to decide what to talk about, like I did, please let me know what is going through your head about what has been important in your life.

Over to you, tell me what is important in your life - what would be in your story box?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Sally Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 6:14am

Hi Leah, thank you for setting us this challenge today and for telling us about your books and gift shop. If I had a shop, it would have to be a books and gifts shop too. When I was 5, I declared I was going to have a sweet shop, but I have revised this idea!
My story box would have to be about disability and the way if affects lives. Central to the plot would be our lovely child, and the story would be full of twists and turns, obstacles and impasses, but would have a happy ending. The lovely boy would grow into a super young man, and find contentment in a care home where his needs were met, and his personality was recognised for what it is: unaffected by consumerism ( well, unless you're counting in calories and cake there!) artless, and a pleasure to spend time with, well, most of the time! My advice to support workers would be " Don't treat him with kid gloves", meaning by that that if you treat them using the Does He Take Sugar approach, you will get a dependent young person and thus rob them of any remaining shred of autonomy or independence they might have. If the shops stocked such a thing, I would recommend that everyone buy a huge sack of compassion, and that you invest in a sturdy backpack of humour because you are going to need it! I would call my story "Welcome to Our World" because although it is not the world we expected to inhabit, the natives are friendly, and the weather is sunny and warm , with only occasional storms.


Jane Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 7:09am

What a beautiful story Sally x

Sally Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 8:05am

Thank you very much, Jane! THAT was unexpected!! X Sally

Mary Wednesday Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:05am

Love your sackful of compassion and backpack of humour.

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:19am

Jane , Sally's story was beautiful .

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:21am

Mary I lloved those words too especially the backpack of humour as I feel naked without my backpack.

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:24am

Sally What a moving an intriguing story.Welcome to our world remains me of a story I am sure you would have read years ago- Welcome to Holland about a mother explaining what it was like to have a child with a disability. Like Mary I like the sack full of compassion and backpack of humour.You have so much patience and wisdom Sally so your story box holds me spellbound. THanks so much for your story.

The Gardener Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 12:06pm

Sally - the 'Does he take sugar' always shocks me - People ignore Mr G completely and ask me what he wants - so ignorant, maddening and sad. Report from respite this morning - he's OK, but excessively demanding - awful 24/24

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 8:35pm

TG It is so ignorant when people address someone else and not the person to whom they are asking the question. I agree. Take care.

Jane Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 7:08am

Hi Leah, I recognised your writing immediately! What an interesting blog. I'm in bed with a nasty cold virus so will have to think of my story box when I'm feeling better. I look forward to reading everyone else's xx

Orangeblossom Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 8:27am

Hi Jane hope that you feel loads better soon.

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:25am

Jane So sorry you are not well.Thanks for taking the time to reply despite your cold. Sleep and have lots of lemon and honey.xx

Jane Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 11:58am

Dear Orangeblossom and Leah, how lovely to wake up to your kind messages. I slept deeply (after my lemon and honey Leah) and dreamt of part of my story, friends and their Mums from Primary School. I was telling them that my brother James had died. I woke up feeling strange and missing my Mum more than ever. I want to call her, but as you know, she also has dementia xx

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 8:38pm

Jane Glad you slept well. Dreams can be so real and disturbing- another blog I am working on. Hope you are feeling a bit better now and sleep well tonight.xx

Jane Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 7:17am

I look forward to your blog on dreams Leah xx

Jane Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 7:18am

It was very strange as I never, ever dream about my two primary school friends and we are never in touch. Then last night one of them texted me to tell me the other one was on telly! Really, really strange.....

Leah Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 8:29am

Dreams are like that. Whether it is our subconscious or a coincidence who knows?

Orangeblossom Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 8:20am

Hi Leah, thoroughly enjoyed your blog thanks. I want to use my life experiences to support & encourage those who are currently going throughl a hazardous terrains on the journey. Life throws us all "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" (William Shakespeare) and we all need to know that there is at least one person who is travelling along with us.

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:26am

Orangeblossom Thanks for your reply. I like the idea of one person travelling alon with us to cope with the arrows life can throw at us.

Mary Wednesday Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:09am

My story would be how I always wanted to go back and live my life all over again without making the mistakes I did first time round. But all that would get me would be a different life in which to make different mistakes - as at that first change of decision I would start on a whole new direction. I would not have my patient and long-suffering husband, I would not have my daughters, I would not have Raz, Richard and all my best friends; I would not have my son Tom. I would talk about how all my mistakes have brought me here and here is a pretty good place to be. But I would also say that, in order for here to be a good place, it takes acceptance and the active choice to be happy. Sometimes that choice is hard; it is always worthwhile.

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:28am

Mary Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I used to think what my life would like if I hadn't done this or had that but as you say it would be a different life maybe not a better life.

Wyvern Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:25am

My five minutes would tell about my clever, witty mother and her great love of her extended family. How she enjoys foreign travel and trying out new languages - French, German, Italian have all had the benefit of her beautiful speaking voice. Her devastating ability to imitate accents. How she enjoys keeping in touch with many friends across the globe. How she has made a beautiful garden in each of the three homes she has made over the years. How she enjoys crossword puzzles (the cryptic ones), Scrabble and other word games. Her amazing cooking, sewing, knitting, love of music. And how dementia has robbed her of all of it.

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:31am

Wyvern I was smiling and intrigued until the last line and then I felt the tears because it reminded me of my mum 16 years ago, What I like about your story you focused on what she has achieved in her life and the contrasted with what her life is like now. I need hanky. Thank you for expressing your story so honestly.

Jane Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 11:59am

I feel your words so acutely Wyvern. My Mum has dementia and I miss her so much

Wyvern Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 2:13pm

The worst thing is that strangers all too often see only the dementia. Not the person. Even we, her daughters, have to look pretty hard sometimes. We can at times connect a little bit with the person she still is. These moments are so precious.

Jane Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 2:51pm

Yes that is so true Wyvern. I'm so glad you still have some moments of connection, they are indeed very precious x

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 8:41pm

Wyvern I made a book for my mum- a scrapbook full of photos and memories from her friends and it was good for people to share with her even if she wasn't "there". It reminded us especially the grandchildren who she was. Hugs to you and Jane.

Jane Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 10:12pm

What a fantastic idea. Thanks Leah xx

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 11:09pm

Jane they are so much easier to make now with so many online photo books available to make.I had to literally cut and paste photos and stories and my cutting skills meant it look nothing like scrapbooks you saw in glossy magazines.

Jane Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 7:19am

The cut and paste are the best Leah and much more fun I think xx

Leah Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 8:30am

Jane if you saw how badly I cut and paste you may decide otherwise. I once showed by scrapbook to a scrapbook shop owner and teacher and she said politely I was going for the naive style which I took as it was very messy!!!

Anghared Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:39am

Oh my story box in five minutes, what a challenge. Recently my Aunt died, age 96, head of our large Welsh family. I was asked to write something for her funeral. My cousin then asked me to read the piece out as although the minister was well respected, sadly he didn't have the Welsh passion for speaking.

I of course agreed what else could I do ??

It was a large chapel funeral would my anxiety and panic hold at bay, would I be able to do this ??
The minister called my name, "Anghared will now say a few words", "A few words!!!!" Most certainly not !!! My Aunt was more than worthy of a few words.

I truthfully have never experienced anything like the feelings I had in those five minutes. I walked calmly up the steps to the central lectern. I paused looked around at Tabernacle chapel full and had an overwhelming sense of joy and wellbeing that so many people had crammed into chapel to say goodbye and show their respect to my dearest Aunt.

I spoke in that 5 MINUTES of the love that had been poured on us growing up , the fun, happiness of being in such a wonderful family. I conveyed all this to those listening in my best female version of a Richard Burton or Anthony Hopkins voice. I had forgotten how much I loved to speak and yes to acknowledge to myself, I was actually good at it.

So that was 5 MINUTES and it was a wonderful space in time I will truly never forget.

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 10:36am

A hatred Thanks for your reply. You have capotured the essence of your Aunts life and your love for her. Thanks so much for sharing this special space in time. You have explained and explored your feelings so well.

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 8:42pm

Ang hated Many apologies for getting your name wrong. Might have been auto correct but I should have proofread.

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 8:43pm

Oops this isn't working- sorryx

Anghared Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:40am

Thankyou Leah for opening up the box so I could smile and recollect my precious five minute story box.

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 10:37am

Thank you for your honesty and openness. I am sure many will be touched likeI was.

Cyndi Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 11:04am

Leah, thank you for your blog. I am seeing a new therapist today, so I shall be sharing my story book with her. I like what your said about "experiencing bi polar". That is what I say - I occasionally experience the symptoms of bipolar, but I am more than that. I do not "suffer" from it. I am in recovery from it, and will always be. It is funny though, I am also an Alcoholic. I do not say, "I experience the symptoms of it". Alcoholism is more black and white. I can not drink, ("just for today"). Yes, with alcoholism, I (sometimes) experience "stinking thinking", of which meetings, the 12 steps of AA and therapy help quiet. In between these two illnesses, I am also the president of 2 women's golf leagues, an avid quilter and past officer in a guild, etc., etc.. I.e. I am successful and have developed a life worth living. But the illnesses have ways of reminding me I am still in recovery. I have been hospitalized twice in the past 5 years for bipolar isms, even though I take my meds as prescribed, religiously. Radical Acceptance. I am in recovery. Once again, thank you for reminding me of how to approach it.

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 8:52pm

Cyndi Thanks for your reply. You certainly have a lot to deal with, Your story was very moving and full of hope and resilience. Thanks for sharing it. It shows such strength and determination. I can relate to stinking thinking. I admire people who can quilt. Also being a president of so many clubs is fantastic.Thanks again your story box was inspiring.

Nicco Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 11:38am

Thank you for your lovely blog, Leah. Like Cyndi, I too am seeing a new therapist. I'm finding going back over my life story really tough but am hoping that by doing so I will be able to put some things to bed which will enable me to forge ahead, as that's what I really want to do, without having past experiences cloud the present happier ones. But I think for my 5mins I would speak about M.E. (myalgic encephalomyelitis - hope I got the spelling right!) which I have suffered from since age 14. It has taken me many years to get at least some understanding of the nature of it in order to manage it to the best of my ability, and I belong to a self-help group where I have learned that many people struggle to do the same. We are not a 'poor me' group, but a 'let's share coping strategies' group, which is so helpful as it is a two-way thing... I help others and I am helped by others. The depression part of the M.E. seems to be a particularly taboo subject so it's good to be able to share openly and honestly with others who also experience this symptom. It's also good to get to know and share with others the practical help that's available in our area such as the disabled swimming club, what kinds of physiotherapy are available, how to get the blue parking cards, how to apply for a CEA cinema card which gives a carer free entry, etc., which newly diagnosed M.E. people don't often know about but all of which can make life easier and a bit more tolerable. So that's the part of my life I would talk about but I think it would be quite hard fitting it into only 5mins! Thanks again, Leah. Nicky x

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 8:59pm

Nicco Thanks for your honest and informative answer. I know a few people with ME and I know it affects people differently and is an awful illness. Good luck with your new Therapist. I like the way you processed your life into finding the parts that you thought the most important. It was most interesting.

The Gardener Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 12:18pm

My conversation stopping stories are about encounters with snakes, but not here, I think. Mine is a broadcast, from India, on Christmas Eve, on my mobile to Radio Catholique. I'd already done a broadcast (in France) on what we were up to dealing with sponsored children - also on the panel (in a studio) was a priest who was an exorcist! To check reception, earlier on Christmas Eve the technician phoned me - we were in a jewellers in Mysore, terrific noise from road - to shut the door we had to shove the cow out first. Then, the marathon. Due to time changes we had to broadcast at 2.30 a.m, following Bethlehem. We had a Carol Service, then Midnight Mass - among all the saris and obligatory flowers in hair. Then the cup of tea and cake turned into full scale supper, Mr G, I, and the 50+ children exhausted. Phone went, testing,testing. Then 'Check reception (this was from Lyon,) and you're on. 90 seconds on why you are there, and 90 seconds describing what's going on'. All went well until we were deafened by a crowd of Hindus passing the chapel, chanting, ringing bells and letting off fire-crackers. On purpose? Anyway, I could not teach the children any French, but at the end of the broadcast they all yelled 'Happy Christmasssss people of France'. And we still had Christmas Day to face

Jane Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 12:32pm

Wow! You have had some real adventures dear Gardener! Personally I would like to hear the one about the snakes also!

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:02pm

TG I agree with Jane wow. Just when I think that you can not surprise me with more stories you do!! A jewellers in Mysore, snakes, Bethlehem, radio broadcasts firecrackers and Christmas your story has it all. Thanks so much TG I hope your respite is providing you with some time. Hugs.

Jul Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 12:41pm

Hello Leah. I find I am very introspective and often have to remind myslef that life doesn't revolve around me, well not in a sob sob poor me type of way which I can resort to. So if I was asked to be on live radio (heaven forbid) and talk for five minutes about my story, I think I'd not talk about all my issues but be very boring and talk positively about my life which after all is good compared with many many people. I guess that would make very boring listening as everyone seems to be drawn to stories of disasters and emotional problems. I wouldn't be asked to appear second time that's for sure. Julxx

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:04pm

Jul I think your positive story despises your 'issues' would make a wonderful story box and the listeners would be enthralled. The think about the story box is that everyone tells a different story but they are all special. I am sure the listeners would like to hear yours. PS the story box is just a one-off for everyone, Thanks for being so honest.

The Gardener Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 4:15pm

Jane, just one, I could fill half a book. With son and two grand-sons we were having a lovely time on a beach at Denmark, to the very south of Western Australia. It was approached by a long flight of steps. Needing something from the car I went up and got it. Coming down again one of the steps was occupied by a fair sized snake. I froze. A young family was coming up - the teen-age boy with bare feet. I found my voice and warned them of the snake. The boy got his trainers and banged hard on the step next to him. The snake made off into thick undergrowth. A pert girl of about 7 looked at this petrified old lady and said, scathingly, 'that won't hurt you'. To which she added 'Well, not much'. Now, do you construe that as a quick, painful death or a long, excruciating one. I know what excruciating means - I've been stung by a sting-ray. Also, how many of its brothers and sisters were waiting in ambush?

Jane Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 7:38pm

Hooray a snake story! Thank you for sharing Gardener, it made me smile! The young child's 'well, not much' certainly gives food for thought!!

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:08pm

Gardener You do realise you have set back the Aussie tourist industry by about ten years!!! I love that even a seven year old has that Aussie humour!! Most snakes are harmless and they fear humans more than we fear them. I live near the bush and rarely see any. We have lovely monitors and water dragon lizards here. Stingrays and snakes in Denmark but not the Lego Denmark!! Another great story.

Andrea Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 5:22pm

I have just realised how much I do not want to be defined by what happened to me when I got really ill with severe postnatal depression after the birth of my third child . It was a horrid experience but I learnt a lot about myself and it has made me more compassionate in relation to other people's suffering . I think it is a mark of recovery that this event now occupies a slightly smaller space in the story of my life and is just one chapter and not the whole story . We are all so much more than our mental illness if we are fortunate enough to receive the right support and treatment .

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:10pm

Andrea Thanks so much for sharing your story which will help others here. I think you have come to a place where you know that your past depression is a chapter. I like that analogy.

Lacey Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 6:04pm

Great blog and here is my contribution to your request
I would talk about how,a long time ago, I owned a chocolate business making from scratch for King Hussein of Jordan,the royal family and large companies like Next, Harrods and Fortnum and Mason to name a few.
I loved those days but they are now just a memory albeit a happy one
Take care R

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:13pm

Lacey What an amazing story- I love chocolate so I am envappy( a cross between envy and happy) . What stories you must have. I think you need at least an hour to tell you story. Have you written down all your memories of that time? Thanks again.

Sheena Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 7:00pm

Leah, I would love to have heard you! You are so right - any diagnosis is only an aspect of a person. You seem to have learnt from, rather than 'suffered from' BP and I'm with you in 'lived experience'. So, give me 5 minutes and I'd give a summary of my upbeat approach on the lines of any experience is an opportunity. Of course the most important point in life "To know yourself" and to give of oneself generously and honestly starting with those proximate (children, partner) and beyond if there is the energy and need. Sheena

Leah Tue, Mar 7th 2017 @ 9:15pm

Sheena Thanks for you your enthusiastic reply. Yes Kooning one's self is very important and oneself changes over time. An upbeat approach would go well on radio.

Leah Wed, Mar 8th 2017 @ 8:35am

Thanks everyone who has shared your stories for the story box. What and amazing mixture of stories were told, Never too late if you want to join, Story box is still open and waiting!!
Big apologies for all my typos maybe more than my usual amount. Thanks to everyone who has read the blogs and great stories.

mark Sun, Mar 19th 2017 @ 11:00pm

I'm writing a bit late for this blog but I wanted to contribute anyway.
My story box would be about an experience I had at college about 10 years ago. I was attending a weekend workshop for trainee counsellors and one of the sessions was about 'Family Sculpts'.
I had no idea what this involved but I volunteered to do my own Family Sculpt. From the other 10 or so people on the course I had to nominate each one to represent a member of my 'family' of origin and place them in the room.
So I put a chair in the middle and nominated someone to be my 'mother' and sit on the chair. Then my 'father' stood behind her with hands on her shoulders.
For my 8 siblings, I had them sitting in a semi-circle in front of my 'parents looking at them.
Then I 'placed' myself just behind that semi-circle.
This was my 'Family'. BUT....
...The facilitator asked if I had finished or wanted to change anything about the 'sculpt'.
Suddenly I couldn't speak and became very anxious. But eventually I managed to say, "This was my family once. Now I need to change something." I was VERY emotional by then.
The facilitator waited for my request.
"I need to remove my 'mother' from the chair because I lost her when I was 16"
So the person representing my mother left the chair. This left a scene I will never forget. Me, my eight siblings and my father all looked towards an empty chair.
No-one knew my mother but ALL of them broke down in tears.

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