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Help required for project - birding, mental health and wellbeing

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Old Monday 5th January 2015, 21:48   #1
oncebittern86
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Help required for project - birding, mental health and wellbeing

Hi all

I'm putting together a plan for the drafting of a book entitled 'bird therapy' about my positive experiences with birding and my mental health. It's something I have wanted to do for the past year or so and I feel with the turn of the year, there's no better time to actually get going with my ideas.

I hope to get some input from others though and plan a chapter of 'interviews' outlining other's experiences. I have made a survey on 'survey monkey' to collate some information and if anybody is interested then get in touch please.

I understand and appreciate that talking about ones own mental health and wellbeing can be difficult and therefore, anybody who wishes to help me but remain anonymous then please private message. In fact I think the best way to contact me if anybody at all is interested in helping me, would be to private message me on here.

Joe Harkness
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Old Tuesday 6th January 2015, 17:58   #2
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Birding is therapeutic, no matter what your mental state is, I think most of us need to get out there sometime or other, with me it's most of the time, contact with nature is necessary for our well-being, at least that's how I see it.
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Old Tuesday 6th January 2015, 18:52   #3
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I've been stressed out at work to the point of being under the doctor, but the times that got me through it were when I was out with my bins in my hands. (Don't tell my wife, she thinks it was her....)

I'm all right now BTW.

John
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Old Tuesday 6th January 2015, 19:24   #4
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Birding is therapeutic, no matter what your mental state is,
Just don't mention Black-winged Pratincoles . . .
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Old Tuesday 6th January 2015, 20:14   #5
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If everything is upside down in my world its always reassuring to know the guys are still out there, nothing chills me out like the sound of a curlew
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Old Tuesday 6th January 2015, 21:35   #6
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At the risk of the Mods and JSB and JS moaning, when I wrote my books (aviation and birdwatching), they were cathartic experiences in themselves - precisely to try to 'cheer up' when I was in the slough of despond. There is a bit in one of them about the therapy of birdwatching but only a passing reference. PM me if you need it.

Rob
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Old Thursday 8th January 2015, 10:04   #7
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I used to work at a research facility which occupied an old country estate.
No matter how @@@@ the morning had been, half an hour in the woods (finding Pied Flycatcher) or by the mere (passing Osprey) washed it all away.
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Old Thursday 8th January 2015, 11:37   #8
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Whilst I'm still only "young" I did suffer a stroke a few months ago.
I was having one of the best years I'd had in a long time. I was working with a variety of people on different bird projects, I enjoyed my other job, I enjoyed getting out into the forest and training new volunteers, I was looking forward to my summer of travelling and work placement. And suddenly I was nearly dead and my whole world was taken from under me.
Now my life consists of not being able to drive, not being able to work, had to stop uni, I have the memory of a goldfish and a lot of rehab appointments. I know it probably won't be for ever, but sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of that very distant tunnel.
After that happened the majority of my freedom and independence was taken away from me. There's no public transport where I live so it makes getting around that bit harder. I felt very angry and useless, and kind of suffocated by needing people to do things for me, yet incredibly isolated. Not to mention bored out of my mind.
I ended up setting myself one goal. What was simple and small for most people was almost a huge feat for me. I wanted to see 100 species of bird by the end of the year. By December 31st, with many thanks to my family who couldn't give a rats about birds at all but put up with it for me, I had 109 species.
Of course there are days when it feels like the world is caving in and I'm afraid of the unknown, but I've found a simple pleasure that can make me forget about my problems, even just for a little while. I like sunbaking with the magpies, and watching the black-shouldered kite hover over my paddock, the wagtails chasing off hawks, the kookaburras at dawn, the blackbirds in the middle of the night, the cockatoos when it rains. It's a sense of calm and clarity I don't get from anything else.
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Old Thursday 8th January 2015, 12:28   #9
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I don't want to hijack this thread but Platy the best of luck to you - keep positive - I work in orthopaedics (joint replacement) and positive patients do better
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Old Thursday 8th January 2015, 14:49   #10
Andy Hurley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Platy View Post
Whilst I'm still only "young" I did suffer a stroke a few months ago.
I was having one of the best years I'd had in a long time. I was working with a variety of people on different bird projects, I enjoyed my other job, I enjoyed getting out into the forest and training new volunteers, I was looking forward to my summer of travelling and work placement. And suddenly I was nearly dead and my whole world was taken from under me.
Now my life consists of not being able to drive, not being able to work, had to stop uni, I have the memory of a goldfish and a lot of rehab appointments. I know it probably won't be for ever, but sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of that very distant tunnel.
After that happened the majority of my freedom and independence was taken away from me. There's no public transport where I live so it makes getting around that bit harder. I felt very angry and useless, and kind of suffocated by needing people to do things for me, yet incredibly isolated. Not to mention bored out of my mind.
I ended up setting myself one goal. What was simple and small for most people was almost a huge feat for me. I wanted to see 100 species of bird by the end of the year. By December 31st, with many thanks to my family who couldn't give a rats about birds at all but put up with it for me, I had 109 species.
Of course there are days when it feels like the world is caving in and I'm afraid of the unknown, but I've found a simple pleasure that can make me forget about my problems, even just for a little while. I like sunbaking with the magpies, and watching the black-shouldered kite hover over my paddock, the wagtails chasing off hawks, the kookaburras at dawn, the blackbirds in the middle of the night, the cockatoos when it rains. It's a sense of calm and clarity I don't get from anything else.
Same thing happen to me at 32. Don't give up hope. I started birding a couple of years ago. Like you I can't work/drive, tried a OU course but couldn't pass the exams, no memory although course work was great. I started birding seriously and I found it helps with trying to remember things. Names for names sake is hopeless, but if I fit the bird's description together like a puzzle it helps me remember its name. I have to picture the bird then I can remember its name. If you asked me what that bird called, I would be able to tell you off the top of my head, but whn I work through its features, I can.
Its also a great way of getting rid of fustration, taking time looking at nature. Its very important to have a hobby, or else you go nuts just sitting around waiting for people to come home. I hope you recover alot of what you lost, your young so the chances are better. PM me if you want to chat to someone who has the same problems you do.
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Old Thursday 8th January 2015, 16:00   #11
oncebittern86
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Hi all

Thanks for all the positive replies. It's amazing how much birding brings people together. I love it!

Would any of you be willing to take part in a survey I have put together on the topic to help with my book research? I haven't had that many replies and it would be really helpful as it's all new to me and I'm floundering somewhat. The survey can be found here https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9SPL9RK

Joe
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Old Thursday 8th January 2015, 16:09   #12
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Just watching 'The Great British Winter' on BBC2, they mention Eric Morecombe 'took up birdwatching as a gentle hobby to take part in whilst recovering from a heart attack'.
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Old Thursday 8th January 2015, 16:11   #13
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I'll fill the survey in later tonight (cooking tea now then out to a bird club talk). I had a bit of a breakdown in May 2009 and my doctor put me on the sick for three weeks and in that time my husband MADE me go out birdwatching and took me all over the place and just being able to completely relax and be out in nature helped me far more than any course of Prozac could

It's also taught me that no matter how crappy life may be and if that black dog of depression starts circling - it can all be banished for a few hours at least by the simple act of getting outdoors, whatever the weather, and just living in the moment with Nature Earlier today I felt quite lethargic and fancied a quiet day indoors but my local natural history had a field trip at the coast so I MADE myself go and now I feel SO happy, chilled out and alive
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Old Friday 9th January 2015, 11:22   #14
Andy Hurley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oncebittern86 View Post
Hi all

Thanks for all the positive replies. It's amazing how much birding brings people together. I love it!

Would any of you be willing to take part in a survey I have put together on the topic to help with my book research? I haven't had that many replies and it would be really helpful as it's all new to me and I'm floundering somewhat. The survey can be found here https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9SPL9RK

Joe
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Old Friday 9th January 2015, 11:49   #15
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Smile Mental health and well being.

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Originally Posted by keith View Post
Birding is therapeutic, no matter what your mental state is, I think most of us need to get out there sometime or other, with me it's most of the time, contact with nature is necessary for our well-being, at least that's how I see it.
I agree with what you say keith contact with Nature is necessary and anything else is a bonus which it is for me also but The Bonus side is a (natural interest) as nature intended for the Individual.
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Old Saturday 10th January 2015, 14:12   #16
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Thank you West End Birder and Andy Hurley for your kind words and understanding :)

Completed the survey also.
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Old Saturday 10th January 2015, 18:37   #17
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Done too
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Old Sunday 11th January 2015, 12:45   #18
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Never had a diagnosed mental condition, but I strongly believe that birding has played a big role in providing perspective and balance when work and life in general has been intense in terms of hours, stress levels or both.

The book sounds like a great idea - and kudos to all willing to share from a position of current or former difficulty.

Cheers
Mike
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Old Sunday 11th January 2015, 15:05   #19
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I am lucky to live in an area which offers walks around the Morecambe Bay Estuary and the fells of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.
Whenever it gets 'all too much' I drive to a nearby destination and walk for two to four hours with a pair of binoculars in hand.I never have to drive more than 17 miles usually a lot less,so no long stressfull drives then.
When I get back any worries are forgotten and I thank my lucky stars I took up birdwatching AND walking a few years ago.
Over the years I have found footpaths,valleys and fells where I seldom, if ever see anyone.There may be 3000 people on Hellvelyn yet I may not see a soul all day.
Fresh air,great views, exercise ,peace,and being amongst nature:beats Prozac any day!
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