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renew is a group of people who understand that mutual support and personal exploration are key elements in overcoming emotional, psychological and spiritual distress. Any one of us can find that, at some point in our lives, we experience severe or overwhelming distress. The most common response in our society to severe distress is to treat the experience as one of illness. People in overwhelming distress are frequently labeled as mad or psychotic, and given little hope of returning to full and thriving lives.

Prevailing theories point towards “chemical imbalance” in the brain, or other brain malfunctions. It is our understanding that these theories are far from proven and that there are other ways we can view the experience of severe distress. Amongst our members we have found that we have been able to make sense of our own experiences of distress in the light of our own histories and personalities.

This is true of unusual experiences such as visionary experiences and hearing voices as well as depression, addiction, paranoia, stress and anxiety. In response to these difficult challenges we have been able to do inner work that has improved our outlook and sense of wellbeing. Through mutual support we are growing in understanding and ability to connect with others. Our aim is to help each other move towards thriving and fulfilling lives.

In short, Renew provides a context for our experience of distress and contact with others to support our journey towards thriving. We do this in the following ways:

  • Gatherings. Small regular gatherings of members, where we share our experiences, affirm the healing context of our experiences, exchange information and build supportive friendships.
  • Contact. We support each other through regular contact, in person, by phone, email, etc.
  • Network. We are building a network of contacts in our communities that we believe support the concept of moving towards wellness and thriving. These include peer groups, mainstream and complementary healthcare professionals and groups and individuals promoting life enhancing activities.
  • Information. We are constantly gathering books, articles, videos, websites, etc. which explore distress as a valid human response to life’s difficulties. We encourage each other to evaluate the prevailing bio-medical model.