Wee Sally Therapeutic Massage Clinic is a locally owned business which serves Bathgate and the surrounding West Lothian area. I use regular massage along with exercise, yoga and mindfulness to manage my own pain. I still take daily prescribed pain medication but, in consultation with my GP, I’m gradually reducing the dose of this medication. This holistic approach to managing my pain allows me to live a full and busy life alongside my pain rather than suffering within it. Today I’m talking to Sally Chamness, the owner of the massage clinic.
Sally, the first thing that attracted me to your company was the phrase ‘therapeutic massage’ within the name. Can you take a moment to explain the difference between a massage that I might receive on a spa day compared to the massage I get with yourselves?
When I first opened the clinic in Bathgate, I worked on my own and the skills and work that I preferred to do at that time is what some would consider “functional”. My specialties focused on pain relief and pain management, as well as improving people's stress levels and ability to move freely. Using stretching techniques and movement we try to help our clients improve their day to day lives. This can sometimes feel uncomfortable, although we try to stay within a clients pain threshold. The word 'Therapeutic' creates the image of something more than relaxation, and hopefully helps describe the work that clients can expect from us.
It didn’t take me long before I began to recognise that there was a strong link between my physical and mental health. I noticed that when my anxiety increased so did my level of pain. I’m sure this is something you are well aware of and I wondered if this link impacts on the work you do?
Yesterday I took part in a storytelling workshop run by FDAMH (Falkirk's Mental Health Association) as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival. I was invited along to share my experiences of mental health, particularly on how writing helped me reclaim my identity.
I'm a novelist and through my novels I've always sought to give a voice to people who perhaps aren't heard in our society. Both of my novels were written whilst I worked part-time as a primary teacher - a job I was always extremely passionate about.
And then 4 years ago I was involved in a traumatic accident in my classroom. The accident left me in chronic physical pain and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. I became withdrawn and struggled daily with depression and anxiety. I lost all sense of myself and my self-worth.
I no longer had any interest in writing. I'd lost my voice.
But then two things happened, almost simultaneously.
I was attending a pain management course at Astley Ainslie, which looked at both physical and mental health, and I attended my first Woo'er with Words spoken word event in Falkirk.
As part of the pain management course we were asked to visualise our pain as something concrete with the idea of using this image to release the pain.
I was inspired by the poets and writers at Woo'er with Words and I decided to write a poem based on the visualisation technique.
This turned out to be the first of a series of poems. You can read more here.
I'd reclaimed my voice.
I'd like to thank Janet for inviting me along to share my work and present an exercise, and I'd like to thank FDAMH for organising a fantastic week of events. Yesterday was a clear example of the great work they do!
Emma Mooney is a writer of Scottish contemporary fiction and is the author of A Beautiful Game. and Wings to Fly.