During the weekend of November 17th, 2023, VWD Connect Foundation marked a significant milestone with its first Mental Health Workshop Weekend. This transformative event brought together individuals impacted by severe VWD, including patients and their loved ones, to focus on mental well-being.

The weekend featured a diverse array of educational sessions addressing topics such as medical trauma and pain management. Faculty, familiar with the unique challenges our members face, shared valuable insights and coping mechanisms that can be used in maintaining mental wellness. Topics addressed included:

Medical Trauma
Chronic pain/mobility loss
Relationship impacts

Beyond the informative sessions, the event was designed to promote holistic healing and self-discovery. Attendees had the opportunity to engage in enjoyable, sensory-based activities such as self-massage and music therapy. The power of healing through creative expression was evident during the group drumming sessions, where attendees found a sense of play and connection through rhythmic beats. Each activity was themed to utilize one of the five senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste, encouraging attendees to explore and strengthen the mind-body connection throughout the weekend.

Perhaps the most impactful aspect of the weekend was the creation of small, intimate groups where participants could openly share their experiences with mental health and living with sVWD. The setting fostered a sense of understanding and provided a safe space for individuals to authentically connect, which might have been difficult to achieve in a more formal setting.

For Michelle Ryzak, a patient attendee from Brighton, Michigan, the Workshop was her first in-person Foundation event since the National Conference in 2018. When asked if she felt moments of connection with other attendees, she laughed. “Oh, all weekend! There are probably too many moments to even pinpoint one,” she said. “You come in expecting there to be some common ground, but then once you get talking it’s all ‘Oh, me too! Me too!’…it’s so weird that across the board we are all experiencing these similar things.”

Be on the lookout for your opportunity to experience some of the fun sensory activities at the upcoming July 2024 National Conference!

A big Thanks to Takeda for
sponsoring this Workshop!