Xmas and New Year now seem a long way past, it's a month ago! but admonishment I heard then, about how to combat the post holiday blues. left me feeling irritated, the suggestion was to think of others worse off than ourselves, advice commonly held to be virtuous but I think hard to apply, even if the blues are temporary, and within the range of 'normal'.

December and January are cold and dark, seasonal food traditionally rich and stodgy, together with alcohol fuelled holiday celebrations seem like an attempt to armour ourselves against the remainder of the winter, many people experience anti climatic feelings, add to this mix physical or emotional problems and advice to think of others can further deepen existing depression, many sufferers are acutely aware of their tendency
to be self reflective well meaning advice about helping others may trigger further difficult emotions such as guilt.

Experiencing certain health problems often leaves sufferers desirous of helping others similarly afflicted, choosing work which allows scope for that. Self inflation can be problematic if we have strong convictions, problematic in all relationships it occurs, it especially needs curbing when working in a formal helping role.

If we have the emotional capacity to constantly reflect on our motive and practise, be alongside people as 'co-experimenter*, aiding them tackle unpleasant symptoms, thoughts and feelings at their own pace, well and good, but if we use any formal position as a way of skirting around our own issues that could be less than helpful, for both parties.

Early in my recovery from breakdown a support worker suggested, as a way of preventing my possible loneliness on Christmas Day, that I might like to voluntarily prepare and serve dinner to people with chronic and acute health problems, who otherwise might be isolated and unable to provide food for themselves, I found it a difficult experience, I was
well acquainted with people suffering similar disadvantage and was at ease in serving them, however the team leader was adamant that each worker or volunteer ate their own lunch with six of the guests, the social skills of the people I sat with were limited, I had expected that, but two were particularly aggressive with me, I understood I may be a convenient target, and that my attempts at polite conversation may have appeared patronising, they were clearly ravenous, as the meal progressed all offers of 'seconds' were taken,, their mood improved slightly, until one of them became ill to the point of collapse, medical help was summoned, the person was suffering from malnutrition, all the
sudden intake of extra food was just too much.

I'm sure my support worker meant well, but I think it was misguided to put me in that situation, it was too early in my recovery, I was still emotionally shaky, it was apparent too that volunteers were a convenient resource in the absence of paid workers. In subsequent months I did find a volunteer role where I was well supported, my contact with
the user group was limited, giving me time to regain confidence in previous work skills, I was fortunate to have a very patient and kind work supervisor.

Distracting ourselves with the problems of others some times avoids us having to
face our own difficulties, there are times where this is unavoidable,for example if our caring role is for family or friends, we have little choice, submerging some if not all our own needs, it is still a situation where imposing our own opinion over that persons seeming best interests that needs handling respectfully.

.Although there is presently a movement to recruit peer support workers, paid or
unpaid, with their potential advantage, being 'experts by experience',
well placed to counter weigh the inherent power imbalance in some client/professional relationships. If these workers are to be more than a superficial attempt by the powers that be to bolster hopefully such workers opinions would be truly valued, they would
receive adequate personal and practical support, training and

Hopefully it is not part of political ploy to save money,patch up a reduction in
other community provision intended to compliment and maintain more highly paid professionals or services..

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