The mental health cement mixer

The mental health cement mixer

“I have a dream………..”

Since I started blogging one of the things I have always desired is to be able to help other people. I thought training to become a therapist would be the answer, unfortunately it was not. I still wish I could complete my hypnosis training as I do believe it to be a good tool in helping people with mental health problems, but it is only one tool and not a good all around tool. They say that all hypnosis is self hypnosis, I agree, you have to want to believe in the therapy.

I think this stands for most therapies though. Bringing about change when you are suffering any kind of mental health problem, short or long term, is often more down to your willingness to accept change, and/or be in a position to enable that change. There are three forces at work in all of us, the biological or physiological, the psychological, and the social or environmental. If one of these three is off balance it can/will? Affect the others. For someone who is depressed due to financial troubles, might find that seeing a financial advisor more beneficial to their psychological well being than seeing a therapist.

But what happens when all three collide? When it happened to me, I did not have a clue what happened. In the space of several months I went from having a good job, a partner of ten years, property, but the snowball was rolling and got big enough to knock me off my feet. All aspects of my life changed, I hit the plateau hard, it has taken several years, the reading of countless books on psychology, sociology and mental health therapies, not to mention cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy training and undertaking my degree, to see things slightly more clearly.

I learned that once you have been knocked to the bottom, it is damn hard to get back up again. I have read the same thing on countless blogs and forums, people unable to work because they have lost all belief in themselves. There are also those who have been deemed unfit for work, trying to survive on benefit payments, knowing that they could work but not able to commit to a regular job. I have seen the change in people when they are. Finally able. To get back on the ladder, pride often swallowed, but just to earn, more so just to feel needed, that change seems more powerful than therapy.

Now some of you might be saying “the. Purpose of therapy is to enable people to change their perception of whatever event is causing them psychological distress and to be able to form new views of the event” (desperately worded to a) encompass the core essence of most therapies and b) address both short and long term illnesses). Yes, as I have said I do not discount the value of therapy, but, in the UK like many other countries actually getting some form of therapy is increasingly hard and often to short or out of the price range of those in need.

My biggest gripe with hypnotherapy was that not only was it mainly aimed at the breaking of habits and phobias, it was also BUSINESS. How much do you intend to charge your clients? Make sure they have enough money to pay for the full treatment, and my favourite of all ‘get the money up front’. Hell, I would.  Happily skype with someone in need, record a hypnotherapy script to help them, devise and formulate a care plan and ‘homework’ and I would do it on a donation basis! No win, no fee, seems to work for the PPI folk.

As usual I have digressed, though not far from my point, (yes, I do have a point), rather I have a question which maybe you can help answer. The question being, do you think that despite past history, past careers and education, learning a trade skill, painting, plumbing, electrics, etc and being able to do a few hours a week, where you can stand back and wipe the sweat from your brow and think “I did this”. That step (possibly into unknown territory) back into building self confidence and possibly a life changing event, coupled with an environment of peer support and mentoring, how effective do.  You think.  It would be as a form of therapy?

It is late, I have rambled, I have left you with a question to ponder. I hope that you have peace and love,

David

PS. The offer made above regarding skype,hypnosis and peer support was not a joke. If you are interested drop me an email morethandsm5@gmail.com

Mental health mentoring – How can we tame the beast within?

Mental health mentoring – How can we tame the beast within?

I remember back when I first started blogging about my struggle with mental illness I used a lot of metaphors to describe how I was feeling. The most frequent, and one that sticks in my mind even today was the mountain and the abyss. I thought of my struggle as like climbing a steep, sharp, craggy mountain, dark and imposing. It became symbolic of how I felt, desperately clawing my way up the sheer side, bloodied and battered, exhausted, desperate.

Below the mountain was a flat plain, cold and dark, lit only by a purple-red glow of the abyss. I was never alone, there were always others, faceless shadows, somber and silent. The abyss called to me, and like the others I was drawn to its edge. Silently standing there surrounded by shadows, all staring into its depths. For the abyss was the end, those who have been close to ‘the end’ know that it is very calm, almost peaceful, the decision has been made, all arguments rectified, only the final act left, to plunge oneself into the abyss for ever.

With great effort, I could turn my back on the abyss, from the desperate calm I could turn to face the mountain once again. All the fear and sadness within me was embodied in that mountain, the more I hurt inside the more the mountain grew, But I always felt that salvation lay at its summit. So I would gather what strength I had, and sometimes with the help of other shadows around me, I would start the climb, we would start the climb. And yet the abyss still called silently behind me, the offer of calm and serenity its drawing offer. I climb harder, slipping, scraping, desperation, mental blood, sweat and tears, although tears have never come to my eyes, I can no longer cry.

This was my metaphorical struggle with mental illness for a long time. Until one day, I realised that I was actually moving in the wrong direction. The mountain was my illness, the abyss the sanctuary. The more I poured out my anguish, the more I let myself be mentally ill, the more I let it rule my life, that was the brutal climb. The calm of the abyss, was not the final act, it was in fact the first act, to go into the abyss was to face an uncertain future. The calm feeling was not real, in fact in those moments, those days of resolution, the abyss was choice, to step into an uncertain future or turn and continue to fight against something that could not be beaten. I realised that I would never beat my illness, it is in me, it is there for as long as I breath. There is no route up that mountain, I was always destined to end up a crumpled heap at its feet.

I could however turn my back on it, knowing it was behind me, laughing, calling me pathetic, daring me to try fighting it again. Or I could walk silently across the plain to the edge of the abyss, and stare into the infinite darkness of the unknown, to take one step into the abyss would be and was, the taking of one step into living with the beast behind me, every step into the unknown was a stronger step, I did not know what would be in front of me, nobody does, but I knew with each step I could tame the beast behind me by being strong enough to accept it, and try my best to live with it. I have looked back at times, I have felt a draw to face the mountain again, but I look forward, no matter how bad I feel at times, I know that behind me lies more pain.

I still take steps, I stumble at times, but I move forward into the unknown. I do not know how many steps I have left to go, but I am learning to enjoy this journey. The mountain is still there, but I prefer acceptance to denial.

I hope you understand

Love and peace

David

If I was your mental health mentor, what would I discuss with you first?

If I was your mental health mentor, what would I discuss with you first?

Session one

How much do you believe in yourself?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being totally self-assured, and 1 being a feeling of complete worthlessness, where would you place yourself?

I would guess your somewhere in the 1-5 bracket, otherwise you would not need help. As this is kind of a one-sided conversation, I would ask you to make yourself comfortable. As you are sat reading this, maybe just thinking about yourself might have raised some anxiety, or even some sadness. Take a second now to relax, is your jaw tense? how about your neck and shoulders? Take a moment now to just take 5 deep regular breathes and allow your body to relax (NB don’t relax so much you fall off the chair).

  1. As you breath out relax the jaw
  2. As you breath out relax your neck and shoulders
  3. As you breath out smile a little
  4. As you breath out relax even more
  5. As you breath out enjoy the feeling of being relaxed.

I hope that now you are a little more relaxed than you were before. I find that simple exercise to be so beneficial when I am anxious or upset. It is surprising just how much tension we hold in the jaw, I have been told it is hard to think negatively when you relax your jaw. is it true for you?

You may be wondering what this little exercise has to do with believing in yourself. Well, hopefully you managed to relax a little, maybe I should put some emphasis on the YOU managed to relax a little. I did not make you relax, you chose to try the exercise, you managed to change your state of mind, even if it was only a little. When I use this exercise it is normally because I need to take back some control, I need to stop whatever is going on in my head at that moment, I need to confirm my belief that I am able to control me, even if it is only a little. With this in mind try the exercise again, this time;

  1. As you breath out think I am relaxing my jaw
  2. As you breath out think I am relaxing my neck and shoulders
  3. As you breath out think I want to smile
  4. As you breath out think I want to relax even more
  5. As you breath out think I am in control

How did that work for you?

I sincerely hope that this simple exercise work in some way for you, just as it does for me. For me the biggest fear of my illness is losing control of myself. I know that nobody else can change me, only I can change myself. When I am manic, my mind is going at a thousand thoughts per minute (estimated), From the outside I may even look motivated, yet inside I am in turmoil, just waiting for my mind to overload and send me spinning off into intense anxiety. When I am depressed, I can go to some very dark places, mentally I beat myself until I am curled in a ball, desperately wishing I could cry and wail.

In these times all the psychobabble I know, all the brilliant therapies, it all goes, the only thing I know that might save me, is the simple exercise above. Over and over again, until I get that foot in the door of self control, then, right then, I believe in myself. For me believing in yourself, myself, when you have a mental health problem, finding that point where you say to yourself “I’m in a bad place here”, and you manage to get that sliver of control, that is where you can believe in yourself.

It takes a tremendous amount of strength to ride out these bad times, we have been through them before, we know the pain, mentally and physically, but we know they will end at some point. Me personally, those five deep breaths, they do not make the mania or depression instantly disappear, not by a long shot. What they do for me is to remind me that I must believe in myself. We live everyday with this, and we move forward, each new day, not knowing how we are going to feel, So if you put your belief in yourself in the 1-5 range, think again, I hope that I have in some way allowed you to believe in yourself a bit more, there is only you, and I think you are amazing.

I wish you peace and love, if you look you can find it everywhere

David

The Daily Post
When you just want to say fuck it

When you just want to say fuck it

Am I alone in getting sick and tired of my own mind? I may only speak for myself, but i am guessing that there are a lot of people out there with mental health problems who feel the same. Sat here popping pills to try to mask all the shit going though our minds. Blindly stumbling our way through life, with this weird twisted reality which no-one really understands. How can they though? I am different to the next person who is equally different to the next, all that connects us is a superficial label, that only has a diagnostic use!

I go on forums to try to give people some hope and understanding, people who are not even really sure what medication they are taking! This is the reality of mental health, people are just masked, the underlying problems left to dissipate over time, or more commonly the problems just intensify. I am not attacking medication, nor am I attacking the GPs who are prescribing the medication. It is the system that I am attacking, the system that has no idea how to deal with the rising number of people developing mental health problems.

I am doing my degree in Psychology and Counselling, however getting this degree does not make me a counsellor. I have studied hypnotherapy, which I believe does work well especially for those with anxiety. I have studied the works of Beck, Skinner, Pavlov, Erickson, Ellis, Rogers and many more. The one thing I have come to understand (besides mental health) is that there is a massive, evidence based, pool of therapeutic techniques out there, but no bloody therapists.

The best I have been offered is a watered down version of CBT, which could have come from the Dummies guide to CBT (yes it exists and there is also a workbook). I did say offered, I never actually received it, I also did not receive counselling even though the GP practice openly advertises it. Basically I am one pissed off puppy, We all know the system sucks, it is a problem that travels all the way to the politicians and paper makers. Now I have spoken to people (via IM) from across the world and it is a problem everywhere.

Brexit, what a fiasco that is turning out to be, Trump and Kim waving their dicks at each other, shut the fuck up you pair of wobbles. The world really needs to calm down and think for a moment. I read an article (desperately trying to find the source) that proposed that schizophrenics actually see the truth. Now don’t go all trolly, They see the truth when it comes to optical illusions. Anyway, the point I was going to make, is that we live in a crazy world, which bombards us with negativity at every opportunity.

Now, you may point at your screen and mutter, “you’re a fine one to talk about too much negativity”, and you would be right. I am angry because I am fed up of seeing more and more people wandering the pharmaceutical wasteland, with no-one to help. Except for those people who offer advice and support on forums and social media etc. Anger born out of frustration, frustration born out of the desire to help. maybe I should start a mentoring program?………..

I am sorry for all the profanity, very unprofessional of me, but everyone needs to vent.

I sincerely wish you all love and peace,

David

This blog post was proudly brought to you by me having my panties in a bunch and todays blog prompt being superficial, which is just how I feel
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/ An amazing site for inspiration and finding great blog posts. Plugging because I like the site not for any other reason.
Social isolation and the fear of being different.

Social isolation and the fear of being different.

Already I am finding myself falling behind with my daily blog posts, Since upping my Quetiapine I have found myself running out of day. As I have only just started on the high dose, and knowing that I flag in the afternoon, I am not that bothered just yet. ……..

The above was written on the first of the month, eight days ago. In the past few days I have wobbled my way through each day, pushing myself to do things, and yesterday I crashed. Not a bad crash, just an “I am scared of everything and nothing” crash. Today I feel a bit better, just very tired, it is surprising how tiring being anxious is, even though you rarely move.

The red flag should have gone up days ago when I realised I could not write, there was just too much in my head to concentrate on a blog post. I wonder if stopping drinking is having an effect, not that I was a big drinker, but I did drink most days. The one thing I have noticed is that I have become isolated. As I have a thing for social isolation anyway, not going for a drink, means not seeing people, which is both a good and a bad thing.

I like to talk, and I can bullshit with the best of them, but I am always conscious that people dislike me or what I say. Sober I find it hard to have conversations unless it is about topics I know. The problem is I do not follow any kind of sport, and the extent of my social circle is the golf club. Pop a couple of pints in me and I will talk about anything and everything, bullshit, lie and manipulate the truth. The extrovert leaps out and the part of me that is conscious of how I am being perceived gets shut out, though I can hear it in my head, desperately telling me to shut up.

Some might say the simple answer is to just go to the golf club and only have a soft drink, those are the people who don’t know how strong the addiction compulsion is. I would cave in, I know I would. I have been alcohol free for nearly two weeks, sad to say I actually feel proud of myself. Yes, I have fallen into the isolation trap, I wish I could face going outside beyond walking the dog, I miss my girlfriend like mad, but I need to get back in control.

Anyway, as my mind is flopping all over the place right now, I shall end this ramble. Who knows I might get around to writing something constructive later.

Is there a witty side to mental illness

Is there a witty side to mental illness

I have found a rather interesting site which provides a daily prompt for blog posts. If you are a blogger like myself, a ‘fits and starts’ type, it might be useful. The site is called The Daily Post , check it out and see what you think.

Anyway, I have decided to take up their challenge of both writing a post every day, and also writting a post ‘inspired’ by the daily prompt. The word today is witty. Now as I write mainly about my personal experience with mental illness, and occasionally my views on mental illness, trying to formulate a blog post around the word witty is interesting.

Here.  I have to be careful, putting witty and mental health could get me in trouble. Some people could take it that I am saying mental illness is funny, I am not, though I do laugh at myself. This I think is my first point, the ability to laugh at yourself. I do stupid things, I spend money when I know full well that I don’t really have it to spend. Until recently I drank (see my post ‘The trouble with alcohol and mental health’), and other things that made my life just that bit more difficult.

Now I used to get angry at myself for doing these things, fuelled the self loathing, gave myself more to mentally beat myself up, now I try to laugh them off. Logically I know what I have done and what the results of my actions will be, I now accept that it cannot be undone, so it is ‘counter productive?’ For me beat myself up. I try to say to myself “oh well, thats another fuck up” and move on. I do talk to myself a lot, often out loud when alone, I try to keep a positive mindset by joking with myself.

This leads nicely into my second point, what some call ‘military humour’, though I believe it is shared by many front line services. When you see a lot of bad things often the way to accept it, is to joke about it. Now I feel I am coming close to the line, but fuck it I will say it anyway, “why the hell can we not joke about mental health”. I know someone who had a heart attack last week, I seen him today laughing and joking about it. My own mum passed away as a result of cancer just a few months ago (another time) and right up until the end she kept her sense of humour.

Try to make light of mental health and run the risk of scorn and damnation. Is mental illness funny, no it is not, but neither are heart disease and cancer. Is the use of wit when explaining your condition wrong? This depends in my view, I am very open about my illness, I do take it very serious. However trying to explain my illness involves going into some rather heavy stuff, to those of casual acquaintance who enquire I simply say “oh I had a crap electrician wire my brain”, or “I am fit and healthy from the neck down”.

I think you get the picture, sometimes people enquire out of courtesy, they neither want, or, probably fully understand the clinical “I have <insert label here>”. My daughter read my last blog post and nearly cried, she hugged me tightly and said “daddy, it’s so sad”. Now compared to some of my past posts it was very matter of fact, at least that is what I thought. It got me thinking, do I write depressing posts?, and more so, is that the reason people read them, I really hope not.

I know that there is still a massive amount of stigma attached to mental illness, I actively support the education of the masses to the serious plight people face with mental health issues, but are we making a problem with a solution. As most mental illness involves some form of anxiety and/or depression, by stamping our feet so hard to get the masses to take us seriously do we not run a risk of further reinforcing  negative beliefs? Just a thought. Now I may have crossed the line with this post, and I do actively encourage debate (though just calling me a dumb asshole is neither constructive but possibly true….anyway) but I have said what I feel.

No person should take a characteristic of another and use it to cause them discomfort. That being said, within the confines of a social circle, you will often find banter, sarcastic wit and repartee the binding ingredient. I wonder if it is possible to use the power of social media to create such a place. I have just set up a Twitter group called The MHB Club which is open to anyone. There is a Facebook group called The MHB Club which you can ask to join.

So, before I get stoned (with metaphorical rocks not weed) please think, join the groups, spread the work, and let us use our wit to help each other, who knows it might actually work.

Love and peace to you all,

David

NB The picture for those that do not recognise it is the stoning scene from Monty Python, The life of Brian. If you have never seen it shame on you. Yes this is my.  Type of humour.

Launch- mental health inspiration

Launch- mental health inspiration

The other day I sat and watched Apollo 13 with my daughter, a film I have seen countless times, but for her the first. She asked me not long ago about role models, and I told her I chose those people who faced adversity with strength and resolve. I spoke to her about the Apollo 13 mission and how even under extreme conditions people can still ‘hold it together’, granted they were highly trained and skilled people.

Showing her the film though was more to show her how it was not just the astronauts, but all of the support staff on earth who came together to solve the problem. Hundreds of people all working together towards a common goal. I told her after, these are the people I would class as role models. People who studied hard, became passionate about their work, and most of all worked as a team.

To me, you can keep your celebrities and sports stars, they, with a few exceptions are just distractions from the millions of ordinary people who work hard for the betterment of others. I wish I was one of those people, I will be one day. I often ask myself, am I better off being average at a lot of things, or concentrate on excelling at one? In the case of the NASA scientists, engineers etc, they excel at their chosen field. I admire them for that, I can’t help but admire all people who manage to build and stick to one thing.

I sadly never know when I wake each day, who I will be, never mind what. I have constant doubt and hesitation, when you have a long history of poor decision making, making any decision becomes a dilemma. A struggle I know that faces many people of all ages. Maybe it is because there is so much in the world today, certainly more freedom to choose which career path you wish to follow.

I will be 44 on Sunday, I have mental health problems, I have lost what little threads of direction in my life. I do have my degree which I hope will channel me, I should be a certified hypnotherapist, but I just didn’t do the paperwork, why?? Not only did I spend a lot of money on the course, which I did do all the practical training, but I enjoyed it. I like to think I was even good at it, but like a lot of things, I never finished it.

I am a history of faded dreams, I close my eye and imagine those rockets launching into space, and I think to myself, “If we can put a man in space, surely you can do the housework”.

Peace and love

David

This blog post is inspired by The Daily Post, daily prompts

Finally someone listened

Finally someone listened

Today I had my three monthly review with my consultant psychiatrist, it was the first time I had seen this one, in fact I always seem to have a different one. This Doctor however took the time to review my notes, which were a mess according to him. My medication also baffled him, but when I explained that some was to control the epilepsy others my mental health he kind of got his head around it. Most importantly though he asked the magic question:

“Have you had a diagnosis?”

I explained, yet again, my history, symptoms and feelings, but no, I have no formal diagnosis. He seemed somewhat shocked that after over two years I was still undiagnosed. I told him that I had my own feeling, that I was either bipolar or borderline personality. Finally someone in the medical profession agreed that, in his words “it fits, and there is a lot of overlap between the two (he drew two overlapping circles and shaded the overlap), you may well be here” pointing the shaded area.

For those that follow my blog, you will know that I do not hold ‘labels’ in high regard, however, as a diagnosis of a condition they provide the first and best comfort,

I AM NOT MAKING ALL THIS UP

It may sound stupid to you but I sit here and I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders, even though I know that aside from seeing my psychiatrist, there is no chance of therapy. It is a good job that I am training to be a therapist, although it is much easier to help others than it is ones self. I can now concentrate on building a care plan for myself, using the reference material to help keep me on track. This is where the DSM5 and/or ICD10 are useful.

I have often written, learn to help yourself first, then you can help others. So I shall start, here, now, I am still not a ‘label’ or a statistic. I mentioned in a previous post about using my birthday as the start of a 365 day plan. A plan is forming in my head, as the A Team would say “I love it when a plan comes together”.

For now, peace and love to you all,

David

Why more than DSM5

Why more than DSM5

Hang on, I need to put the kettle on………

In five days and eight hours I will turn 44

Which is quite amazing, because I was sure I was 44 last year!, just in case, I was born in the year nineteen hundred and seventy-three, feel free to correct me if I am wrong. I always remember being different, the typical square peg trying to fit into the round hole of life. When I had my last breakdown I started getting interested in mental health, as many people do. The DSM5 was actually one of the first books I bought and I devoured it.

I actually remember having a conversation with a psychiatrist, well more of an argument, because I wanted a diagnosis, I wanted to know what was wrong with me. In fact I basically had made up my mind what was wrong with me, because I had read a book! My thinking was, if I know what pigeon-hole I fit in, then I can work out the best therapy to get out of it.

Two years have passed, I no longer care what label I may or may not have. In the past two years I have probably reviewed every form of therapy and I can honestly say that the DSM5 or the ICD10 have little bearing on the choice of therapy. So I call myself (my blog is an extension of me, that’s right your eyes are wandering over a bit of me, poor you) MoreThanDSM5. I am more than a bunch of symptoms, I am an individual, just because someone else acts similar does not mean we are the same.

The name has now come to mean even more to me, it means going beyond. Facing the fear of the next step, recovery. I know that a lot of mental illness cannot be cured, but in many ways, I believe, it can be managed. Recovery to me, means going from one state to a better state. Being cured means you are no longer ill.

Unfortunately changing your life in seven days is all but impossible, so how about I give myself a year. 365 days of change, and I have just five days to work out how and what I am going to do.

Peace and love

 

David

NB DSM5 stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
The trouble with alcohol and mental health

The trouble with alcohol and mental health

I finished off my last blog post quite abruptly as I went out and had a few pints. The whole post was looking at how easy it is for me to get distracted, alcohol seems to be one of the most devastating distractions. I have in the past drank to excess, a whole period of my 20’s is lost in the mist of poor decision making and covering my health problems with a veneer of alcoholic, and to be honest narcotic remedies.

I live in quite an isolated area, even though I live close to family, the epicentre of life revolves around the local golf club. I am even a member, though I seem to spend a lot more time there drinking than playing golf. This hurts me, if I am to be honest. I am so scared of drinking that I often avoid the place purely for that fact. This is a difficult post to write, mainly because it is forcing me to face how I deal with alcohol, and more so, why I drink.

When I drink I am intoxicated by the second pint, by intoxicated I mean that I feel the effects of drinking. Pint three is the tipping point (not the pint), once pint three has gone the thirst is upon me and I want more. To drag myself away at this point is very hard, I want more. Around 5 or 6 I am drunk, slurring, stumbling and the likes. The inhibitions are gone and I am free to talk and joke and basically not give a fcuk. Obviously some might say, well thats not exactly a lot to drink, which is true. However I do take a lot of powerful medication and I am not one for eating regular meals.

I try to follow a strict medication routine, my meds enable me to wobble the narrow line of being a competent person. They have been honed over time to keep me balanced, but when I drink not only does it feed of the medication. I also stop taking it once I have had a drink because I’m worried about the effects. I struggle the next day because of feeling the effects of the day before, and so my meds routine goes out of balance and so do I.

I know within myself that I should not drink, at all. Just say no, as the saying goes. I also know that I should eat healthy, and regularly. Knowing these things though, does not necessarily mean that it is easy to do. I do not wish to label myself as an alcoholic, at the risk of offending those that face a bigger problem with alcohol in their lives. I do however feel like one. Sitting here, using hindsight as my evidence, I honestly feel that alcohol needs to be cut from my life. No just taking it in moderation, having just a couple, it needs to be a complete stop.

If ever anyone needed to know the power of writing just for the sake of writing here it is.

Thank you all and may you know peace,

David

A normal day for some

A normal day for some

happy-wedneasday-2

Considering I was up until gone 2 this morning, I awoke bright and fresh ready to seize the day. Wonderful you may thing, good for you! All though is not as it seems, the black cloud is just there on the horizon, the mind full of the zapping negative thoughts. I am trying to push them back, I have my mental fly swatter at hand. In these times I try to keep busy, and when you live life in constant chaos there is plenty to do, normally just shuffling one lot of crap from one corner of the house to another.

Let us not dwell on the negative here, I have a plan to be both productive and calm. It involves a little app and a bit of hypnosis, that’s right I shall endeavour to turn myself into a chicken! No, seriously having studied hypnotherapy I see a very powerful tool, I have recorded a small ten minute relaxation and motivation script and will use the BeFocusedPro app (IOS). The app will give me 25 minute windows for being productive, interspersed with 10 minute breaks, (when I shall listen to my script). Lets see how it works, the time is now 11am and on a scale of 1-10 my motivation level is about 6.

12:03

Okay I have done two sessions of 25 minutes each, however I just sat down for the 10 minute break. Motivation level now about 3, just want to sit and have a nap. Even clock watching till meds time which is something I rarely do. Would help if dog wasn’t being a pain in the arse like he normally is when I ‘do housework’, I emphasis this because I have a nasty habit of letting things build up and then attack it with all the effort I can muster.

Having started several chores around the house (none of which completely finished), I need to go out and run some errands (I do like that term, much better than saying i’m going to the shop). Before I go I shall listen to my 10 minute relaxing motivation recording, lets see if I can motivate a bit.

14:10

Okay, I listened to my script (yes, I recorded it myself) and I did manage to relax (I was sat down), once it finished I went out and ran some errands, I came back and continued fighting with the housework. Motivation level right now is about 4-5, I don’t want to do any more but in my head my own words are pushing me on. Going to have another listen now ………

14:55

Well I managed another productive 25 minutes, though I will admit that I got slightly distracted towards the end, but when you move things and find something you have been looking for it does brighten your day. I must say that I am a bit of a hoarder, in the way that I loath throwing things away as they might come in useful. I have tubs of old cables and other assorted electronic items that ‘one day will be used’. I could write a whole blog post on clutter (makes a note) but suffice to say that it does make life difficult.

My motivation level now is pretty good, shall I say a 6 or maybe even a 7, I see the end in sight of sorting the living room. Just to clarify, I am doing a clean my mum would have been proud of, moving furniture and even using polish! (although I think she would despair at the time it has taken me). Anyway, the final push, I have no need for relaxation-motivation, I can do this…..

16:35

I did it, the living room now looks tidy enough, that should I ever have visitors I would be happy for them to actually enter the house. I shall not go into how the rest of the house looks but I am at least happy with my efforts. Did the 10 minute relaxation-motivation help, well, I think it did, however I recorded it and I believe in it so I would say that would I not? Truth be told, if I didn’t find any benefit from it I would not have bothered. To most people, this must be the most boring blog post ever, for that I apologise. For a few though, those who struggle with even simple tasks, maybe it will give them strength in the knowledge that they are not odd, not pathetic, not lazy. In fact it is hard to get across to some people just how difficult it can be to do simple things.

Comments and discussion welcome, providing it is positive and constructive.

Have a pleasant day

David

 

Isolation the curse of current humanity

Isolation the curse of current humanity

In my mind at the moment is the desire to say bollocks to all social media, and yet, hypocritically I am using social media to express my distaste. I am not saying social media is bad, this is a personal feeling and not one I intend to impose on others. At one time I was very active via social media promoting the injustice of the mental health problem faced not only in the UK but also across the world.

Did I give up? It is hard to say. Did I lose faith, what is faith? I think I just lost control, I became so self-absorbed in my own battle with mental illness that I lost touch with my focus on helping others. I am sure I have written before about how I desire to help others cope with the dark shadow that is mental illness. I am not doctor, I am just an ordinary man who has spent a lifetime destroying my life.

I am at that stage in my cycle where I need to be alone, and yet I can’t shake the feeling that what I am doing is wrong. These words I fire into the dark are futile I know. Who the hell would want to listen to advice from someone probably more fucked up than they are. I just wish I could find something to champion, some way of creating a unified group of people who would become the core of a progressive system to help others.

I find personal contact difficult, when ever I meet people, even those close to me, I feel like an outcast, yet social media gives me the opportunity to have a voice. Here you can spot my dilemma, I am lost in the social media world, maybe its my age. I therefore ask anyone who reads this to help me re-engage with the cyber community . I look for not only those who need help, but also those that have positive input.

If you do read this, I thank you, please share my ramblings in the hope that somewhere out there are like-minded individuals who desire to share their voice, their story, their ways of using social media in a productive manner… This whisper in the dark is, I hope the start of something greater.

The trouble with to many Doctors

The trouble with to many Doctors

Today I finally made an appointment to go and see my GP. I received a letter a few weeks ago asking politely to make an appointment, I knew what it was about. I had failed to respond to a neurology appointment, with everything that has been going on family wise I just could not face it.

So today I finally went, I explained why I did not reply and the Doctor said he would write to them and get me back on the list. End of that story. The GP practice what I am with has seemed to have expanded recently, a lot of new Doctors and they rotate around the several surgeries. I am used to seeing the same person, a person who knows my history, who knows the reason for my medication.

The new Doctor I seen today was good, but he struggled to understand me when I explained why I was on certain medication, namely Pregabalin. In vain I tried to explain some of my past, how myself and my ‘regular’ GP had built a working medication plan. I felt that he was more interested in the addictions of the medication than the help it gave me. Most importantly he made me start to question my medication.

I have been and still am to some extent in a major depressive state with periods of mania. My medication is my baseline. My feelings and emotions above or below that baseline enable me to gauge my emotional state. From here I can apply the right coping mechanisms to retain some state of ‘normal’. Some of my medication I know I can increase and decrease depending on the severity of how I am feeling. I have spent a lot of time finding this balance, the last thing I need is doubt.

I guess I am not the only one to question their medication, I read it a lot on forums. People questioning if what they feel are side effects or symptoms. With long-term mental health problems it is a difficult thing to untangle. Most of my medication is addictive, so how do I know if problems I encounter are due to this? All my medications have side effects, how do I know if they are the problem? I guess, thus far I have relied on my continued understanding of myself. I have spent a lot of time learning, not just about mental health but also how to recognise changes within myself.

Today opened up a door of doubt in my mind, a door I will have to walk through and face. Maybe it will change my thinking, maybe it will cause a chain reaction of doubt that will spiral me downwards. Either way I must pay attention to this doubt. As I sit pondering what I am writing I feel that change is in the air. I need to think, find clarity, and listen to my inner self………..

Drawing strength from the past

Drawing strength from the past

 

I wrote the following blog post 12 months ago today, I am moved by what I wrote then and wish to add a little bit more……….

I find myself wondering if those that end up being committed to hospital because of their actions are actually in a better position that the rest of us? Imagine being able to turn yourself inside out and all the rage and frustration that we keep contained within was to just be allowed to be free. What it would be like to just sit in a corner and just stare for hours in silence, to scream at the top of your voice to vent. I wonder if on the inside they have calm because they can release?

We are expected to sit on a powder keg of emotion and yet present the world a normal exterior, to behave like drones. Right now I do not know what emotion is going with which problem I have, I have so many worries right now maybe they are all interrelated. All I know is that showing calm is now a separate entity to the one inside, I exist as two people and where one is cold and numb the other is crying softly in the corner of my mind. I am still very much broken and coming to realise that it is probably easier for me to crumble completely and rebuild than keep trying to patch myself up.

Am I a failure to want to press pause on life and step outside it for a while? So many people I know are battling their problems each and every day, what right do I have to cheat? Why should I just give up in the hope that by starting from scratch I can rebuild it right this time. It wouldn’t be the first time I have done so, build, destroy, rebuild, destroy, why will it be different this time? Maybe the fact that at least I have at last faced the fact that I am not well and rebuild with that in mind might help, maybe accepting that who I am is vastly different to who I was. Maybe I should sit at the table with my demons and have a meeting, see if we can come to some kind of arrangement that best suits us all.

I have moved in a direction to clear the way but I am sat surrounded by guilt and doubt wondering which way to proceed. I do not regret but I do suffer, I just know that the job is not finished yet and that I am not going to give up on life but I do need to clear away everything for a fresh start. I need to let the last bit of my old self crumble and restart. I long to find that moment of inner peace like that moment when meditating that for a second it all disappears and you are at one with yourself before you realise and smile but it goes because you have seen it. I want to be able to smile because I am smiling inside, be able to frown because I am frowning inside. I want to be able to know that what I feel is real and not the result of some other issue, to never have to lie and pretend I am someone else.

So where does it leave me? A coward for wanting to just let go and say to hell with it all and just rebuild. Or do I keep patching up each damaged bit as I put it right and hope that one fix does not create another problem? It seems such a soft option to just turn around and say look, I am not okay, I am damaged beyond what you could believe but then who would understand. Can I handle the looks of pity and being treated like a child? I can’t seem to find anymore words………………

It would be nice to sit here and continue this with many positive statements, to say that reading this has shown me how far I have come. The sad thing is that even after a year, reading this still brings a lot of pain. The most painful thing about reading this is that I seem to have lost the ability to express myself like I did back then. True, I have progressed, I have started my degree and other courses focusing on mental health. This knowledge has and continues to help me help myself. I understand myself better now, but I am still not far from the man who wrote the words above.

The scary part of learning about mental health and the ways in which it can be managed is that you have to reflect upon yourself. For several months now I have been to scared to blog, I feared that what I write would contain to much of my new insights, become a source of debate. I have learned so much about myself, so much so that I realise there is much I do not know. A year ago I was tormented by demons that I did not understand, I know now that the demons were me, and me alone.

I do, however, draw inspiration from what I wrote, the line “I am damaged beyond what you could believe but then who would understand.” is especially poignant. Through this very blog and Twitter I found a whole world of people who understood, people who even thanked me for writing what they themselves felt. The people close to me, my family and friends took time to understand, I have been moved on many occasions by the positive feedback that I have received. I still doubt myself, I worry too much that I will fail once again.

The time I feel has come though to stop hiding in the shadows. I once vowed that I would learn how to help myself and help others. That conviction stands! The road is still long and bumpy but I draw strength from the knowledge that once I had the power to share myself openly, to say the things I felt. I must find that power once more, this blog, my journal, my story.

Global community a review 12 months on

Global community a review 12 months on

I wrote the following post on the the 14th June 2015 and I do not think I can add much to it. In the past 12 months my Twitter family has grown massively and I feel so much pride and privilege in being a part of such a wonderful community. Mental health is a massive concern, it is interesting to see that in the past year it has become very prominent in the media. The sad fact still remains that those that suffer from mental health problems, from the mild to the severe are still not receiving the care and treatment that they should.

I have always been passionate about doing more than just talking about mental health, and to some extent I feel guilty that I have not spoken out more. I still pursue the dream of finding a way to offer help to those in need, even if it is just simple skills training and a support network. Despite my own problems, I will continue to work hard towards this end, in fact I have a renewed drive to do so.

All that is left to say is a massive thank you to all those who have supported me this past year, all my followers on Twitter (and the few who follow me on Facebook lol). The wonderful people who read this blog and take the time to comment and pass it on. You are all amazing and I often wonder where I would be without you.

Thank you

David

Finding support to help you is critical in facing your mental health problems. While the poor NHS is stretched to breaking point,it is up to us sufferers and those who care to help and encourage each other. It is amazing how much support I have got from messages from family, friends and colleges. But the truly amazing thing is the support I have from people I have never met from all corners of the globe. Social media has helped build me a brilliant support community and has given me the opportunity to support and encourage others in return. I feel truly honoured to be a part of this community and hope that it continues to grow, bringing others into the fold to offer them our support and for them to feel the great sense of value that comes from supporting others.

I am also grateful to all the wonderful charities and forums out there that provide help, support and information to sufferers. Without these, many of us would be much more alone and ill-informed. They campaign for us, increasing awareness of mental illness and most of all be there when we need them. Finally I would like to thank all those professional therapists, doctors and other medical professionals who are active on social media offering support and help in their own time. The biggest cause of stigma in mental health is the fear within sufferers to admit they have a problem, I have experienced no stigma since I have opened up about my problems. Some people have admitted they have no idea what it means or even that they can’t imagine how it feels but they have all shown support.

So I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to every one of you, and ask that you spread the word far and wide because on each of your friends lists you would be surprised have many people are suffering in silence. So tell them to find me @davesoapbox on Twitter, Davesoapbox on Facebook, tumblr and Pinterest and I will add them and let them see that there is a world full of understanding, empathy and compassion just waiting for them.

Reflection on the past “Cat kindness”

Reflection on the past “Cat kindness”

I wrote this post “Cat kindness” one year ago, at a time when I was in a very bad place. It has taken a lot for me to pluck up the courage to even open this blog, never mind decide to read what I wrote back then. I guess I am lucky, I picked a relatively easy post to reflect upon. I did not choose it, other than by date, although I realise writing this that I am a day out, but in my head it is still the 13th so we shall have to live with it lol.

First of all I would like to say that my relationship with my cat remains strong, in fact we now live together. Having separated from my partner not long after the original post was written I was lucky to keep the cat. She has become a very important part of my life, although it has been pointed out to me that I am more of a butler to her than an owner.

It is surprising how she is probably the best ‘person’ to be able to gauge my mood, she seems to know when I am feeling down, she has  listened to more of my problems than anyone else, although she is very Freudian in that she just lets me talk and never replies.

As to the change in my personal character I still try to maintain the more relaxed easy-going attitude and up until recently this has been quite easy. I have enjoyed being a more open and (hopefully) considerate person, however where I thought that one year on I would be able to feel more positive about myself, I have to admit that I do not. Maybe I have allowed my mind to dwell too much on the past, maybe I should have faced what I wrote earlier. Or maybe I have been a fool and actually had my head buried in the sand this last year? Anyway, I will change one thing that I wrote back then.

Whilst I must accept that medication did have an effect on my emotions back then, and I suppose they still do as I am still taking them.I also believe that I have made a lot of effort into managing my emotions better. I still struggle with the stronger emotions but I have learned and developed coping skills to enable me to be much less reliant on medication and more on my own ability to deal with intense emotional situations. I know that medication is not for everyone, I also know that I am very lucky to have such a good GP. In my experience the medication has helped, but I know that the medication is just the baseline. I have had to learn a lot about dealing with my thoughts and emotions, I now rely on my own ability to be my own ‘therapist’ and dampen down problem thoughts and emotions by using skills other than medication.

I have had to face some quite challenging things especially since christmas. The epilepsy I suffered in my 20’s that caused me a lot of mental problems for many years just from one instance has returned. I have now had four seizures since christmas, one of which happened when I was alone in the middle of London. I have had to surrender my driving license and now have a car I have barely driven ready for sale. I may never have always had a car but this is the first time since the 90s that I have not had a license. This has obviously put a bit more pressure on my life, especially as I live in a rural area, but that is not the worst part of it.

Thankfully I have now been put on medication (more pills) that seems to be controlling things, but I still can’t escape the feeling that it might still happen again? I have had to cancel two holidays because my GP has advised that I do not fly until I have seen a neurologist but the waiting list for emergency epilepsy appointments is 28 weeks. The worst though is that I keep reminding myself that just because it isn’t happening, does not mean that it will not happen. If you can imagine how someone who has spent time learning how to handle anxiety and depression (BPD but I will never get a formal diagnosis because the MHT decided that a diagnosis was best left to my GP) and now has to handle this whole new anxiety is feeling, that’s me.

The hardest part of the previous post to read is the last part, even writing about it has slowed to single key strokes;

At the moment I live each day trying to keep myself together, seeing through different eyes hour by hour. I haven’t even got a clue who I am and more so scared stiff that once the medication stops I will return to my previous self and I don’t even know if I liked that person, never mind where I went to. You see my cat likes me, she even seems to sense when I need her and I want that to continue. I want everyone to be like my cat and I just need to know how.

I hope having read what I have written now and then reading what I wrote 12 months ago will give you an idea of why I still struggle to see positive change. I still spend every day trying to keep myself together, I still do not know who I am. I am still scared stiff and very alone. However I do still have my cat, so while people say “you have done so much”, “you have come such a long way”. The truth is that whilst I may have learned to manage my mental health a bit better, I am still far from well and still need people like my cat.

One year on

One year on

It is now 11:20 on the morning of the 18th of May 2016, I am writing this on a bus to London, a long journey but I must admit I enjoy it. I have time to think, to work, even to sleep, but it is not as long as the journey I have taken in the past twelve months. This time last year I was sat on the floor, facing a wall, staring at a picture of my daughter. I was in the office of a member of the local community mental health team, a man was trying to reach me. I was broken, when I spoke it was the language of hysteria. That day, I was no longer a person, I was not a father, son, lover, friend, human. I was a shell, it was not so much that I wanted to kill myself, I just could not face living.

I, today, accept my actions that day, and the days, weeks, months that followed. The guilt I have carried, the embarrassment and the shame, today, I lay them to rest. I know now that my actions that day, were the actions of self preservation, the last act of a desperate mind. I do not think that even now, a year later, I could describe how much mental damage I felt. I can only say that I knew nothing, felt nothing, I was no longer a person, I was a ghost.

I have always been able to lie, both verbally and physically. On that day there was no lies, I laid my soul out for all to see, and it was not a pretty sight. Today, I sit on the bus, wanting to write about how much I have achieved in the past year, wanting to share my fight back against mental illness. The sad truth is, I don’t think I can. There is still so much of me that is mending, others fragile, to fragile to even try to fix in fear of it breaking again. Few people will understand, unless they have been there. Looking healthy, happy and content, does not mean that I am, it means I have started to rebuild from the outside inwards.

My challenge now is how to move forward. I am training to be a therapist, yet I am still broken, who would accept help from someone who is possibly as damaged as they are?. I desperately want to strive forth into the world. Big and bold, look at me, I can help you, I want to help you. The desire is growing every day, I want it so very much, but there is a part of me that is holding me back. The part of me that fears the worst, the part of me that still sees the damage being repaired. It tells me “not yet, you are not strong enough”, “you will break yourself again, and next time you might not…….” (NB I can not even finish that sentence in writing).

Despite my conflict, I have found peace. I am mindful of the value of time, how much beauty and wonder I can find in a second. What started as a way to control my anxiety, has now become my happy place. Maybe it is because I have found this place that I am scared to move forward, what if I lose it. I have found ‘my plot’, I now need a way to bring the life that I want to me, to my ‘plot’. I can no longer afford to chase dreams, I must listen to that part of me that protects me. I must never forget what can happen if I become complacent. Every step I take from today will be towards the future that I have started to shape this past year. I will strive forth, I am ready, I think…………..

Opinions are like A**holes

Opinions are like A**holes

There is a great saying “opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and most are full of shit”. I like it, and being a very opinionated person (although nowhere near as bad as I used to be) it does me well to remember, am I being full of shit?. You see I, like many others, easily fall into the trap of thinking that what the other person wants to hear is my thoughts on the subject, often not the case. It is a fine line though, and it also depends on the circumstances. Let me give you two examples.

I have a friend, let us call him Mark. Mark, like many of us is travelling the road back from the dark place to more pleasant surroundings. Now Mark has found help in the form of a well-known self-help therapy that is on tv etc. Now Mark, likes it, feels it, and what is more is feeling the benefits from it. When I found out my first reaction was……. well to poo poo the idea. Yes, gasp you may, I, the person training to be a hypnotherapist, casting scorn upon another form of therapy. Okay, well here I stand, hand up, YES I AM A BLOODY HYPOCRITE. I do actually feel shamed, not just because I poo poo’d another form of therapy, but more so, that I practically rubbished it to the friend it was helping.

So that is my little example of why opinions can often be full of shit. Sometimes, (and I hope I have learned this lesson) it is best if we keep our thoughts to ourselves and not be too quick to judge. Especially when it comes to things that people find that ‘help’ them. Okay, I know what your thinking, “what if they are actually being a bit daft?”, well, I guess my answer to that is, “make sure you are there for them if it does not work out”. FYI saying “I was going to tell you but didn’t”, probably will not go down well, keep it to yourself.

My second example is slightly more serious, talking someone down. We have all, in our lives had that phonecall from a friend when the shit has hit the fan and they have had enough. Probably spent hours on the phone, talking, listening, consoling and agreeing that, yes, Tom, is a complete cockwomble and needs to be beaten with a horse whip (NB Tom is a fictional character and horse whipping is not to be condoned). The issue I want to raise is the one where, the person is not a friend, in fact, the person is someone you know next to nothing about, but, through the magic of the internet, has found you to be the one (or one of ones) to unload on.

The beauty of the internet is the anonymity that it provides. People can find it much easier to tell a complete stranger their troubles than a person they see every day. The trouble comes when those troubles are of such a magnitude, how do you cope? Take Mary for example, same as Mark, been down the road and back again so is no stranger to the darker aspects of life. Mary got talking to someone, someone who was in a bad way and like a good person, Mary tried to help. The long and the short of it being, that Mary actually felt bad for doing so. Now Mary went above and beyond to help. In my humble (and yes I am still humble from paragraph two) ‘opinion’, Mary was amazing. Mary however did not see this, she felt that possibly she had done too much, she actually felt embarrassed!

So I guess what I am trying to say, in my usual long-winded way, is that sometimes to help people you have to keep your mouth shut and just be ready if a person needs you down the line. Other times, you can never do too much, what you do might just be the thing that stops someone going the last step down the wrong road. Those that know, will know who they are, I just wish that again to one I can say I am sorry and to the other I am very proud, and that both of you are amazing.

The groundhog day of mental illness

The groundhog day of mental illness

It’s morning,

Early again,

I think I have had five hours sleep,

But hey, it’s a new day, time to start it all over again.

Get up, step on scales, tell scales to go fcuk themselves, go pee, wash hands, go grab phone, man bag and e cig, head downstairs. Glass of water, check, grind the coffee beans, check, boil the kettle, check. Same start to every day.

Probably no different to any other person on the planet, I guess a lot of people have routines that they go through. Mine is likely no different to any other knuckle dragging male who lives on his own, (it’s okay I am clothed). Anyway, beans ready…………….

Okay next up the ‘am I still alive checks’, first blood pressure….. 117/78 pulse 62, little low but then I am beyond a ‘resting’ BP lol. Next up smarties, SSRIs, anti-seizure meds and vits and bits yummy. Next first blood sugar test, 4.8mmol not bad for first thing and finally nasal spray, god, I feel like Charlie Sheen………

Okay next we plug all this into various apps on my phone, Actual time slept 5 hours 11 minutes, weight 12 st 7.1 lbs (+5.0lbs), then we tick off all these things as done….. and then check the list of things to do;

Make bed

Breakfast

zero inbox  – Overdue – (my never ending task to get on top of my emails)

Track my budget – Overdue – (that should be fun)

Eat some fruit – Overdue – (coffee beans are from plants)

Vacuum – Overdue – (yay I get to fight with the hoover)

Gardening – Overdue – (must add reminder to get dad to bring his mower over)

Yoga – Overdue – (definitely, not doing with my daughter in house #humiliation)

Write blog post – Overdue – ( finally, something being achieved)

OU Study – Overdue – (okay, assignment due in five days #panicstations)

CBH Study – Overdue – (above takes priority)

Tidy the house – Overdue – (but I’m always tidying the bloody place)

Sort laundry – Overdue – (bedroom chair should class as wardrobe)

Ironing – Overdue – (yay, get to fight with hoover and iron)

and these are just the things that are overdue….. Okay, fight the temptation to have another coffee, and move on to social media……

Facebook, open, scroll, close, wipe hands

Twitter (my medium of choice ( @davesoapbox if your interested)) This may take a while

Check through, re-tweet, those that know me will know that I use twitter a lot so it takes a while. I really must set up lists, my timeline always seems to end up full of people pulling bugs from their skin or T&A pictures, (I should vet who I add more closely)…….. anyway skip forward a bit and know that both accounts are checked ( @MHPathway )

And I could go on and on, my day defined, ruled by apps on my phone to constantly remind me to do the things that most people just do. Today, like the past few, I have been riding the wave of positive mindset. Adjustment to medication times seems to have worked, no recent (past week) manic moments, no depressive moments, in the zone for now. However I am constantly walking the tightrope, always aware that the slightest thing and I could fall one way or the other.

Every morning proving to myself that I am physically healthy, medication taken and all information recorded. Spending my days making sure that I stay on track, watching myself all the time, judging each emotional reaction to each situation, was that a negative thought?, was I right to feel that way?, am I slipping?, stressing?, what if I have another seizure?,Spot the trends, find the balance and I will do exactly the same again tomorrow…….

 

Thank you global social community

Thank you global social community

Hello and welcome, how are you today?

I am on an up day (well it is only 9am) and I am smiling!, I am smiling because I have learned that every second of feeling okay is special. So much has been happening in my little life these past few months that keeping myself steady has been a challenge, I have had some tough things to process.

The details probably deserve a separate post, this post is more to do with this moment, and moments like it. I woke this morning feeling positive, now lets not read that as ‘I leapt out of bed, ran 5k and saved small kittens from trees’ but more like I sloth like crawled out of bed, made my ritualistic bucket of coffee, fed the cat, took my meds and checked Twitter.

I have a lot of studying to catch up on, which is the plan for today, so cat and myself will probably spend the day in the study developing new and interesting way of procrastinating, most likely with five minute checks of social media. So aside from the cat, I doubt I will see another living being today. So to the point, due to physical location (I live in a rural area), lack of easy transport (not allowed to drive) and the lifestyle of a hermit I depend on social media for social interaction. Some may say this is sad, but I get to talk to people all across the world, I have ‘met’ some amazing people and to me it is important.

I struggle to balance both my mental and physical health, it is a pain but I do it. However just keeping both of those within the parameters of ‘stable’ is not enough. I am human (have a certificate to prove it), I NEED social interaction, to feel a part of the community. I have found a global community to supplement my small (yet very good) family group and this helps me stay balanced.

I strongly believe that social health is as important as mental and physical health. It is the third corner of the ‘wellbeing’ triangle. Just as poor physical health can affect your mental health and your social life, poor mental health can likewise affect you physically and socially. Poor social interaction can affect you mentally and physically. So while my social life might just be words on a screen, those words are written by people, most of which I will never meet, but those words connect us.

So today I have found balance, and that balance is helped by people all around the world who take five minutes out of their day to connect. To them it might seem nothing more than a quick tweet, post, update, but to someone like me it can change my day. Thank you global social community, I love you all.

A life running in circles with mental illness.

A life running in circles with mental illness.

The one thing that defines my illness is the constant feeling that I am running in circles. I find myself repeating the same patterns of self-destructive behaviour, I find that no matter how hard I try I end up back at the same point. As Sisyphus was condemned to roll a boulder up a mountain, only for it to roll back down, I often feel the same.

No matter how hard I try to bring order from chaos within my life, it creeps back in, so frustrating. I really can not complain about my standard of living, I cope, I have family and friends who support me, but I want to stand on my own two feet. Maybe I want the impossible, the one thing that is for sure is that I do not want what lies beneath.

There is a me that must not be allowed to live, a me that I am scared of. Not that I am violent, but then violence can come in verbal and mental forms not just the physical, so maybe I am. It is the me that sit drunk in the corner of a pub for eternity. I have seen it with my own eyes, the son must not follow in the footsteps of the father.

Over the past couple of years I have learned a lot about mental illness in general, and a lot about my own mental health. I have learned to spot triggers and warning signs, though not always, and sometimes a little bit late. The more I learn, the smaller my circle gets, however there are circles within circles. A change in one circle, let us say for example, leading a healthier life, can have effects on others, such as money, change of daily routine, I could go on.

Cycling from mania to depression is another circle in my life, with medication these episodes can be mild and easily recognised, if not actually dealt with. Other times the can be intense, both can be quick (a matter of minutes) or slow (spread over a few weeks). No matter what, once you start looking deep into yourself, you soon see the cyclic nature of prolonged mental illness.

I know that I will never break these cycles, the best that I can hope for is to increase the up cycle and decrease the down side. I believe self-knowledge is the key to better ‘recovery’ from the worst of mental illness. I strongly believe that my quality of living is getting better, the gap between father and son grows. Maybe the more I keep trying, the more subtle changes will stick. What ever happens, it will happen in circles.

This post is inspired by The Daily Prompt