Psychotherapy work in Ukraine


As the Russian invasion of Ukraine passed its 100th day, with little sign of an end, I interviewed Kateryna by text, a woman from eastern Ukraine who is currently volunteering to provide psychotherapy support to her countrymen and women. Her words are a reminder of the people of Ukraine, amongst whom some 14 million have been displaced and thousands killed and injured. It also reminds me of my responsibility to do what I can to try and promote peace in a war that even risks global famines and, also, nuclear escalation.

(i) You mentioned that you’re learning English to help with your next job and you had to leave your last role due to the war. Can you explain why you had to leave your job? Did the war force you to move away?

The war affected every Ukrainian without exception. The company I worked for was badly damaged, almost half of the stores destroyed by rockets and bombs. The company lost any opportunities to provide employees with jobs and pay salaries.

I became a volunteer of psychological care in 2020, when the world learned about Covid and it turned out that people are not ready mentally for social isolation. The war is a severe test for my psyche also. And I understood perfectly well how all Ukrainians suffer. At the same time, the war has united our nation like never before, we all want the same thing now. And we all are thinking in terms of categories: What can I do to be useful for our victory ?! So I decided that my knowledge, skills and experience should work for a single purpose now. And this is Save my country from the enemy!!!

Continue reading “Psychotherapy work in Ukraine”

Color – facing numbness

By Pavithra

I wrote this poem below a few months ago.

I felt angry inside — why are there fewer words welling up inside of me? Why can’t I feel the intensity of sadness, of the beauty of the rising sun, the happiness rising in me over the sweet simple things in life?

Why is everything quieter?

Why do I not stay up nights with tears rolling down my face, or me wishing in my heart of my dreams, my heart full with hope?

I felt so much irony inside of me. I questioned who I was. I still do. What is my purpose? When my heart seeks for me to create — why is it that I battle social anxiety? When my heart seeks for me to get up and laugh and dance, why am I afraid? Why is it that I feel the science I pursue stifles me, chokes my energy, and is against the energy I believe I have been granted inside of me?

I realize now healing comes with a form of silence. overcoming trauma may mean my I subconsciously miss the chaos. This is confusing, but I am now aware.

I also realize I miss the time I had to write, to read, to dance, and the space I had. I know I must in the next stepping stone of my life, choose one that is far from the bustle…the treaded path I have run in circles. The streaks of mud, the mini pitter patter of my footsteps from long ago. My feet have grown, and yet my path hasn’t. I have taken circles after circles, tricking myself into the belief, that this must mean growth for my inner heart.

Continue reading “Color – facing numbness”

Anxiety and job-seeking in Ukraine – a diary

Oil painting by correspondent, 2021 – if you would like to support the artist’s work, contact me

In the light of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces, I am re-posting this piece, which is from a text conversation that I had with a Ukrainian woman that I met on a penpal website between 2019 – 2021. She spoke about her life, including anxiety issues and job-seeking. I last received a message from her some two months ago and I believe she is still living in the capital, Kyiv, which is undergoing attack as I write.

Please, if you can, urge your political representatives, in whatever way you can, from email to a public protest, that de-escalation and negotiation is needed now to stop any more bloodshed. There is no military solution to defeat Russia, due to their nuclear capability and their insistence that Ukraine is part of their sphere of strategic influence. The world has to negotiate and offer Ukrainian neutrality to Russia in exchange for troop withdrawal and return to speaking between foes. Ukrainian political alignment with Russia may not be ideal but it is far better than being destroyed and occupied.

Between December 2019 and April 2021, a Ukrainian woman in her 30s, currently living in the Kyiv area, shared with me some of her experiences of challenging her anxiety symptoms, searching for work and her efforts at painting. She told me she prefers to listen to stories than tell them but gave me permission to share some of her experiences anonymously, saying: “You can embellish the story with different romantic stories, whatever you want, but only my photo is scary to upload) it is better not).” At the start of the conversation, from which I have deleted my responses and most of her questions for me, to focus on her experience, she is living with her parents, near Kyiv, helping at her father’s small local electrical goods store and selling religious books by mail.

~

Dec 18, 2019

Today is a sunny day. I argued with my father that I would find work after the new year, and he would stop drinking)). Maybe at least it will drive me out of the house.

…we bet that if I go to work my father will not drink). This is not a quarrel, but a game. Once I argued with my brother that if I go to work in Poland, he will quit smoking. I went to Poland, but he did not quit smoking 🙂

Dec 20, 2019

I have not had time to buy gifts, instead, I got drunk yesterday, could not stand it)). Because of this, the state of health is not very good. But she swore to herself that this is the last time)

no, I can drink alone). I feel good only the first half hour, and then it becomes very bad.

I also drank 2 beers). I have not bought gifts yet, I have a big family, I need a lot of gifts.

Dec 22, 2019

Yes, I’m better, I swore to myself not to drink anymore, although often I really feel like it. I choose which country I should go to work. But it will be in six months, it will take a lot of time to draw up documents) Maybe Sweden)

I will go through a paid agency. But this is not soon, a lot needs to be done for this)…this is work somewhere in the factories. It’s very difficult there, but i can earn more than in Ukraine. Since I haven’t been working for a year, I need to pay for it).

No, I’m very cowardly, but in extreme conditions it’s easier for me. When everyone is busy, all Ukrainians who go to work are in the same conditions). Although in Poland it was difficult for me, and I even had to change the city and work, right in Poland. But the second time I will behave differently, calmer.

Dec 25, 2019

Thanks! Merry Christmas to you too !!

Today I sent parcels to my customers)….We celebrate Christmas on January 7th, so it’s too early to give gifts. We have Orthodox Christmas)…. And I will celebrate 2 times)

Continue reading “Anxiety and job-seeking in Ukraine – a diary”

Structured Journaling for Health

By Megan

Battling an eating disorder as well as general anxiety has been difficult through the winter months. I’m not ashamed to admit that I needed professional help to get myself on the right path but I was also willing to try any method to help myself feel better.

I’ve always been a bit of a sceptic when it comes to journaling and the whole idea of writing down my gratitude. What is the point of physically writing down the thoughts in my head?

Journaling is ‘simply writing down your thoughts and feelings to understand them more clearly’. It was recommended to me that I give journaling a go as a form of self care so I thought I would give it a shot and see if it really made a difference.

I was gifted a beautiful Wellness Journal for Christmas that had a double page spread to fill out each day. I set out to write in my journal as often as I could in order to test whether journaling and writing down my gratitude could really improve my mental health.

My journal begins with a space for my daily intentions so I usually fill this out the night before. This helps me plan my day, meaning I start my day on a positive and productive note. My aims and goals are clearly set out in writing and it is satisfying to be able to physically tick off and cross out my tasks once they’re complete. It’s safe to say that this section has really kept my mind focused rather than allowing myself to float through each day in a cloud of anxiety and negative thoughts.

Continue reading “Structured Journaling for Health”