Volunteers urgently needed! Moon Tree (Seeking Myself) is stepping down

Hi everyone,

I have a very important announcement to make. Unfortunately, I am no longer able to keep running Sirius Project. So much has changed in my life since I founded the site almost a decade ago, and many of these changes – my career/the business I run, looking after Amazingaardvark when she’s not well, and the family we’re planning to start – mean I no longer have the time or energy to do Sirius justice. I have also moved on from self-harm to the point where being around a self-harm forum is no longer helpful to me. I have therefore decided that it’s time for me to pass the reins on to other people, people who are passionate about Sirius and able to give it the attention it deserves.

Our other forum admin Dulman is willing to take over from me, but she could really use one or more other volunteers to work with her. (I can’t remember if there has been an official announcement, but although Amazingaardvark is still listed as a forum admin, she is in fact no longer volunteering for Sirius.) Especially in the long term, running Sirius is a demanding job that’s a bit too much for one person. So we desperately need volunteers to help with some or all of the following tasks:

  • Moderating the forums
  • Keeping the website (links and articles) up to date
  • Keeping the forum software up to date (or organising a move to another forum provider, where this would be done for us)
  • Dealing with occasional email correspondence, e.g. suggestions of links to add and requests from researchers
  • Managing and updating our Twitter and Facebook accounts (or these could be deleted if they’re not felt to be useful)
  • Advising on ways the site could be run, and in particular how volunteers could be better supported (if you’re not able to volunteer for Sirius but you have experience of volunteering for a similar website/organisation then we would value your input on this)

I will remain on hand indefinitely to advise on any technical issues that come up (especially with our existing software/setup) and I will make sure the site remains financially supported.

If you’re interesting in helping with any of the above, please let me or Dulman know as soon as possible. And if you’ve already made an offer of help and not received a reply from me, please remind me! Thank you. :)

Finally, I’d like to apologise to all of you for not staying on top of things with the site, and for promising updates which (mostly) never delivered. I have been trying to convince myself I could find a way to keep running Sirius when I couldn’t, and that hasn’t been fair on any of you. I’m sorry. Thank you all for your patience with this.

Moon Tree / Seeking Myself

Versatile Blogger Award

I’m really pleased to announce that Sirius Project has been given the Versatile Blogger Award from The Bipolar Project (despite the similar name, we’re not related). Thank you so much! :D

The Versatile Blogger

The rules of the award state that I should share seven things about myself, and pass the award on to 15 recently discovered blogs that I enjoy reading. However, Sara from The Bipolar Project chose to bend the rules a little and give the award only to Sirius, making it all the more special for us. I have decided to follow her lead because 15 is an overwhelmingly large number of blogs, especially if you adhere strictly to the ‘recently discovered’ part!

Therefore, the one blog that I’ve chosen as most deserving of the Versatile Blogger award is:

Blooming Lotus by Faith Allen

Faith blogs about her own journey to recovery from childhood sexual abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociation. Her courage and honesty is inspirational and she is always quick to share the things that have helped her with others – something that’s very in line with our own ethos, of course. Congratulations, Faith! :)

Now to list seven things about myself:

1. I founded Sirius Project back in 2003. At the time, there weren’t many good websites or forums focused on recovering from self-harm (the situation has changed a lot now), so when I realised I wanted to stop cutting I also decided to create a safe place to share with others in the same boat.

2. Also in 2003, my GP told my employer that I would never recover from depression or self-harm. Last summer, I celebrated seven years SH-free and although I still have episodes of depression, I have learned to manage them and lead a rewarding and relatively ‘normal’ life in between. There’s nothing quite like proving a pillock wrong. ;)

3. SIRIUS originally stood for Self-Injury Resources, Information, Understanding and Support. I have to admit that one of my favourite Harry Potter characters may also have played a role! Now that we’re about mental health recovery in general and not just self-harm, I like the fact that Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky.

4. Outside mental health, I love choral music, cooking, poetry, foreign languages and being my own boss.

5. They say you should never talk about religion and politics, but I’m going to anyway. :P I’m a very liberal Christian and an extremely angry and disillusioned Lib Dem voter.

6. I’m a self-help junkie and must have devoured thousands of books about coping with depression, self-harm, trichotillomania, social anxiety, fatigue and more. You can find some of these on my Good Reads bookshelf, but I tend to only remember the ones that are either really good or really bad.

7. Despite my self-help leanings I’m also a big fan of psychotherapy and medication where appropriate, and I can be quite outspoken about the NHS’s use and abuse of CBT. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with CBT per se, but it’s not the right option for everyone, and in my experience the NHS’s approach to it is often over-simplistic.

Looking for contributors

I’m pleased to announce that our new website is more or less finished! There are still some minor tweaks to be made and I have a couple more blog posts in the bag, but to all intents and purposes this is the new face of Sirius Project.

If you haven’t already done so, you might want to update your bookmarks from http://siriusproject.org to http://sirius-project.org (the old URL will continue to be used for our forums, which have yet to be converted and updated).

We’re now ready for submissions from guest bloggers who would like to contribute to Sirius. If you have personal experience of a mental health problem, or of caring for someone who does, and you have something you’d like to say about recovery then we’d love to hear from you. Continue reading

CBT-Based Self-Help

Woman writing in notebookSeek help from the NHS for depression or an anxiety disorder and it’s likely that, sooner or later, you’ll be offered some form of CBT-based self-help. There are face-to-face classes. There are online programmes. There are books on prescription. Then there’s group or individual cognitive behavioural therapy, but in my experience, on the NHS this is still likely to be heavily focused on self-help. Typically, you are taught techniques, set homework, then discharged once you’re making progress with the expectation that you can ‘become your own therapist’ and continue the work by yourself.

When I founded Sirius Project back in 2003, I was a passionate advocate of this type of CBT. It was empowering to take charge of my own recovery and some of the techniques really did seem to make a difference to the way I felt. However, as time has gone by I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with the approach. Although CBT thought records do provide some temporary relief from the symptoms of depression and have been a useful coping skill for me, they haven’t been able to help me recover or stop me from relapsing. Worse, I’ve come to realise that the CBT I’ve had was actually feeding into some of the factors which were making me ill in the first place, such as perfectionism, pushing myself too hard and difficulty turning to others for support. Continue reading

Challenging Irrational Thoughts

Pen and paperMany years ago, I took part in a CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) group which was essentially eight weeks of learning how to challenge depressed thinking by doing a thought record. Although I have my reservations about CBT-style self-help and the way it’s used and abused by the NHS, this is one technique that has helped me get through episodes of depression. The theory behind it is that you can change the way you feel by changing the way you think, and for me, identifying the distressing but often irrational thoughts that are part and parcel of depression and finding a more balanced way of looking at things does help to lift my mood. The effect isn’t permanent – and the book this exercise comes from compares it to trimming back the weeds in your garden rather than pulling them out at the root – but as a short-term coping skill I find it very useful. Continue reading