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Thread: lIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS

  1. #1
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    lIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS

    So, this is my first post on here, and I guess it’s a pretty heavy one.
    I’ve been struggling with depression for a few months now. It’s been lurking in the background for a long while and scouts has been my saviour. It’s never had any affect on me during scout time. Ever.
    The reasons for my previous mild depression have been non scout related, but recently I think that’s now not the case. Things have taken a turn for the worse lately and I’ve come to realise it’s probably down to anxiety. I’ve struggled to accept this as true and it’s taken some time to come close to understand it.
    I run a large troop of 40 scouts who are very engaged in all that we do. I love all the activities that we do and enjoy taking part in as much as I can myself. I am proud of what we do and especially proud of and for the scouts’ achievements. More than anything the family atmosphere that we have between the scouts, young leaders and adults is simply huge. You don’t get that anywhere other than scouts, I’d imagine. I am especially passionate about our young leaders and their contribution to the troop.
    In the past its been rewarding to help the less confident, socially awkward and challenging behaviours etc. All the little things to us that are probably huge to the young people it affects. And if you get a thank you from just one young person it’s worth a thousand thanks from parents. Winning a few big trophies has added to the family spirit and the moments of pride. A hugely successful summer camp that was kind of run by young leaders is the cream on the top.
    So, what about the more able, streetwise kids? The ones with bags of confidence already. They just get on with it, don’t really need much from us as leaders. In fact, they take the lead anyway, so give them responsibility. Guide them into leadership, give them a bit of direction and let them get on with it, easy job. And then they tell you how much influence you have had on them, how you have motivated them and how scouting has helped them in other situations. Such an emotional high to be told that and it had a huge affect on me. I was literally buzzing.
    But now the depression has taken over, sometimes in a big way. Negative thoughts take over. Other things have added to it, but I couldn’t work out why I was getting this low. It took a while to realise it was like a kind of anxiety. It has been especially hard to come to terms with the fact that the thing and people you love the most is causing that anxiety. What if I let them down now? How do you live up to their expectations? Have I already let them down somehow? What about the next young leaders? Are we doing the right activities for all? Can our upcoming programme live up to our previous one? It sounds trivial but I have been really down some days over it. Enough to ask for the rest of the leader teams support, which has been fantastic.
    Maybe getting back after the holidays will help as well as dealing with the non-scout issues as well. Maybe just getting it down here will help.
    Last edited by biff268; 30-08-2019 at 01:15 AM.

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  3. #2
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    I think sharing and talking about these things does help in some way.

    If your family and your Group are supportive too it should help you deal with it but not something that will happen overnight. I'm sure too that if you have had this on your mind over the summer break that when you get back into the meetings some of your anxieties will be shown to be not as bad as you were thinking or even non existent.

    Don't forget too that if you have not sought professional help, it is something that you should consider.

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  5. #3
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    I know it's a cliche, but keep focusing on the positives. It sounds like you have a hugely successful troop, a massively supportive leadership team (which, from personal experience, is key) and a current crop of Young Leaders who sound like they have the foundation to be good future leaders of the movement. I'm sure there are many leaders out there who have asked themselves similar questions, particularly during the long summer holiday breaks when we don't have the regular face-to-face contact with the young people so are unable to gain the regular feedback on the activities we are running.

    Don't forget its a cyclical system so some years the current crop of young people may not seem quite as adept as previous generations, but that just adds to the challenge of leadership and helps to keep things interesting! This is probably partly down to the way the human psychology works (any psychologists out there who can verify this?!?) as you tend to remember the positive experiences for longer so you may unintentionally 'forget' the harder periods or the less successful activities. Hopefully the start of the new term and getting back into the routine; seeing all the familiar smiling faces, will help your to conquer the anxiety.

    My final comment is to remind you that Scouting will always be there, if you need to take a break then be open and honest with yourself and your leadership team. From reading your post above, it sounds like they will be more than able to keep the section running in your absence.
    Richard Organ

    Sketty Scout Leader
    ADC - Swansea and Gower


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    Can I start by saying thank you for sharing, I know it won't have been easy. I have been there and know how you feel and depression and anxiety, especially together, are the pits! There is no other way to describe it.

    It sounds like you have taken an important step and that is opening up and talking about it. Even out on here is a big deal but letting your leadership team know won't have been easy. It's great to hear they have been a help and support to you too which to be fair, in the scouting family, why would we expect anything less?! I was scared to admit I was struggling but when I did I was overwhelmed by the love and support shown, I still am now. People are more empathetic and supportive than we think they are.

    It is hard admitting to yourself that everything will be ok if you take time away. Things will continue and the group will survive and that too is ok. And you will be welcomed back with open arms. This doesn't sound supportive but others expectations of you will be much less than your own expectations of yourself and just because they can handle things without you doesn't mean that your input isn't valuable, just that they have managed to plug the gap and support you in your healing.

    I took a step back from my role as SL in my group but called in periodically, maybe once a month to say hello to the team. I'm not going to lie and say it was easy because it wasn't. Breaking routine is hard but I knew it was for the best and I know that now. It gave me time to concentrate on me. To get myself back into a better place. And the fact is it has made me stronger and I learnt a lot about myself. What makes me tick, makes me break and what I need help with as well as where I am strong and can give support to others. I could have only done this by allowing myself the time.

    I have since attended the jamboree (I was actually diagnosed the day before my interview to attend!), have taken up the role of GSL and become a mental health advocate within my district and assist with signposting and coordination at county level. Going through the pain has helped me with all of these by giving me a different outlook and the ability to adapt and understand. I'm not going to pretend everything is fixed. It's not. But I have the tools and methods to know when I need to put me first and this is what you need to do right now - put you first.

    What I am trying to say is, it is ok not to be ok and it is also ok to take a step back, recover, reconnect and come back when you are ready. No one will think any less of you, in fact probably quite the opposite.

    I share daveb123's closing comments - if you have not sought help, take the step. It will be the hardest step you make, but also the best one you will make.

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    Sometimes we can be our own most vocal and unreasonable critics, which when combined with the fact that working with young people can feel like throwing salt into the sea (in that you often don't see any impact) can be a source for a downward spiral especially if our body chemistry etc is a bit out of whack for other reasons, i.e. depression. However you have to keep trying to remind yourself that you will be making a difference even if no-one says thank you. I went back into the church I attended as a child a few weeks back. I hadn't been in there for 30 years, let alone spoken to most of the people I used to know there. At the end one of my old Sunday school teachers came up and said "I thought it was you" etc, and we were able to have a conversation about how my life had progressed since her involvement all those years ago (we're talking nearer 40 years in her case). Regrettably I'd never given her that "reward" of encouragement before, and but for a chance meeting she may well have passed away never knowing. However the fact that she hadn't been aware of the positives in my life, doesn't change the fact that she had made a difference. Sometimes it will just be something as small as just making the week bearable enough to not lash out at school and get expelled etc but we are making a difference. It might just be that when they find themselves in a dingy bedsit in their first job, they can make themselves something to eat that doesn't involve "stab stab ping". In other cases it might be the chance to practice leadership skills that put them above others in the race to that top job. Celebrate what you have and can do - try not to dwell on the apparently missed opportunities (not least because those are probably learning times).

    I hope you find more peace when you get back into it, but beware of busyness being a substitute for resolution. Hopefully one day (soon perhaps) it will be much more acceptable for an adult to say "Actually team, I'm really struggling mentally right now, and I need some time, help, space to get better" and the response to be as caring and accepting as if you'd turned up with any other medical diagnosis. Summers are a strange time - I find myself "keeping going" towards the break and then feeling something is missing - especially this year when I was on camp with our Scouts and a great team from an neighbouring group (I normally do Cubs) and it all felt a bit flat when I was home and back to "just the chores". Plan yourself some self care over the coming months - things to look forward to especially as the daylight fades which can also have a negative effect. What that is will depend on you - might be a great walk, might be a holiday in the sun, might be building some whacking go-cart with your Scouts - whatever it is, do it just for the reason that you need to do it.
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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  11. #6
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    Hi, welcome and jeez!

    Kind of been there, done that... been to some very dark places and Scouting and people here helped me back on my feet.

    Loads of things I want to say but mustn't. You will need to more or less, find your own way out. However, there are loads of people here prepared to listen to you.

    Some things are common - and I am not posting these as advice, but perhaps as a little candlelight that helps you know that you are not alone....

    - The Post-activity blues... everyone gets them, and I suspect that most people deal with them by getting into the next activity.

    - Summer break blues... if you have a break, or a series of meetings where numbers are down - We have just had our lowest ever summer participation and fully expect to lose people as we step back into gear - that creates a little anxiety, if you let it.

    - young people moving on... This is a slightly awkward one. One well known contributor here was adamant that our Scouts/ Explorers were NOT our friends. I got his point, but nonetheless we develop a friendship with some of our members and when they move on, we miss them. We wonder if we will have that relationship with young people again (nothing untoward just that tenuous link that is a friendship between adults and young people). They move on, you miss their jokes, their laughs, their contribution... and then you discover that there are another bunch stepping up and the relationship begins all over. It is a cyclical thing.

    - adult related issues - not even going there, but you either ignore them or walk away...

    Some people deal with these things by distancing themselves from young people...


    EDIT - Having reread your post... Do not try to be all things to all men. You have to do what YOU are comfortable with. If you pretend to be something else, guess where you will end up... Step back, stop and think very carefully about what keeps YOU happy and cut out the crap that is causng the anxiety... damn, just broken the rules on MH support...
    Last edited by Bushfella; 30-08-2019 at 11:07 AM.
    Ewan Scott

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    I don't really have anything to say wouldn't sound superficial or trite.

    Except to say, (I believe) life is a continuous never-ending compromise. At one or two points, I thought I might be happier if I chucked Scouts, but actually, thinking about it - despite the challenges of being involved - not being involved would have made things a lot worse.

    So I'm still here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    I don't really have anything to say wouldn't sound superficial or trite.

    Except to say, (I believe) life is a continuous never-ending compromise. At one or two points, I thought I might be happier if I chucked Scouts, but actually, thinking about it - despite the challenges of being involved - not being involved would have made things a lot worse.

    So I'm still here.
    As someone who ended up chucking Scouts - it was really bad (for me). If I could wind the clock back, I would simply have told the DC to, er, mind his own business, and continued ignoring him - and complying with POR. But we didn't and we are now in a happy place.
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



    www.upperdearnevalleynavigators.org.uk

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    It sounds very much like its your own expectations you are trying to live up to not other peoples. Easier said than done I know but if it is making you anxious then try to lower your expectaions slightly and try not to worry if things don't quite reach the previous heights so long as the kids are enjoying themselves then it doesn't really matter too much.

    I am well aware myelf that I sometimes let things slip or fail to do things I had intended to or it takes me longer to do than I would want but I try to not worry about this as usually its only me that would notice anyway and its not like someone else is offering to do these things instead.

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Previous Scouting Roles
    2003 - 2013 ABSL
    2017-2018 AGSL

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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