Talk­ing through tough times

South Canterbury Herald - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - RACHAEL COMER

Paulette Ni­cholas has fought her own bat­tles and now wants to reach out to other women go­ing through a tough time.

The 61-year-old Ti­maru woman set up the South Can­ter­bury Women’s Peer Sup­port Group late last year and while num­bers have dwin­dled she hopes a meet­ing on April 16 will help es­tab­lish what mem­bers want and need to talk about.

She said she al­most pulled the pin on the group when she was the sole per­son at the last get­to­gether but said af­ter post­ing on so­cial me­dia about putting it on the back­burner, she had too many mes­sages ask­ing her not to.

‘‘I’ve de­cided to have a meet­ing on April 16 so we can get mem­bers to­gether and hope­fully we can de­cide its fu­ture and what we hope to get out of the group.’’

The group has come about through Ni­cholas’ own ex­pe­ri­ences which in­clude a more than 40 year bat­tle with al­co­holism and anx­i­ety.

‘‘I came up with the idea in about Oc­to­ber/ Novem­ber last year.

‘‘I had been read­ing about other peer sup­port groups on Face­book, over­seas and in other towns in New Zealand.’’

She said while Ti­maru had Vic­to­ria House and the Ad­dic­tion Men­tal Health Peer Sup­port Ser­vices cen­tre, which were both ex­cel­lent fa­cil­i­ties, she thought some peo­ple might feel more com­fort­able be­ing in a group.

‘‘I felt it was im­por­tant to have a group where peers, who have been in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions to one an­other can of­fer sup­port to one an­other.

‘‘It’s good to be able to talk to other peo­ple, not be too se­ri­ous, and have a laugh. Laugh­ing is so im­por­tant.’’

She be­gan the group slowly’’ in De­cem­ber.

The group had started well with sev­eral women at­tend­ing meet­ings but then num­bers had dwin­dled, she said.

‘‘Af­ter it was just me there I de­cided to put it on the back­burner but then when I told peo­ple that, heaps of peo­ple asked me not to. Some peo­ple have felt

‘‘very anx­ious about com­ing along.’’

Ni­cholas said it is im­por­tant for peo­ple to share their sto­ries. She finds re­lief in shar­ing hers.

‘‘I used to be ashamed of my al­co­holism but I have no shame about it now. It’s the jour­ney that’s got me where I am to­day as a re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zen.’’

* The meet­ing will be held at noon at the Iso­bel May­man Room at Women’s Well­ness Cen­tre.

PHOTO: JOHN BISSET/STUFF

Paulette Ni­cholas has set up a women’s peer sup­port group.

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