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.

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.

An old foe comes visiting

An old foe comes visiting

 

For those of you who have followed me for some time, you will be aware that once, many years ago, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. Now, I am talking twenty odd years and despite the mental problems I created for myself over the years, I have had no symptoms or problems since. Well, that was up until Yesterday, Saturday 19th March.

Before explaining yesterday I must mention something that did happen a few weeks prior. Whilst walking around London, I started to have vision problems. It was as if somebody had cut sections out of my ‘memory film’, I would look at something and next thing I knew it was a completely different perspective. Hard to describe but it was rather strange and made me feel a tad disoriented.

Anyway I put the above incident down to possibly low blood sugar or something, and after a ten minute sit down and a coffee I felt fine. The incident was pushed to the back of my mind and I continued my happy, stress free (to a degree) life. I guess looking back I did not want to remember it, of course epilepsy went through my head, but not now, not when I am picking myself back up.

Anyway, this week was the start of my final week of classroom study for my CBH qualification, one I have very much been looking forward to. Friday went fine, Friday night I went to the cinema and everything was fine. Saturday I struggled a bit in the morning, I thought I was just tired and looked forward to going out to get something to eat at lunchtime. When I went, I went alone, which is not normal but did not bother me. I was interested to have a look in a second-hand bookshop I knew to be on the way, so whilst feeling a bit ‘tired’ I went for food.

I remember getting food, coming out, I started on a snack bar I had bought as I was feeling a bit strange. I also remember going into the book store but I was finding it hard to concentrate on the books, but I bought two and proceeded on my way, eating the half a snack bar I had put in my pocket.

Then I started having the vision problems again, just like before, like someone was editing what I was seeing, cutting bits out so that it all became confusing. I knew there was a bench down the road, so I aimed for that, hoping a sit down would clear things, I remember the bench had a plaque on it, I remember no more.

The next thing I know I am sat in the back of an ambulance with two rather concerned looked medics. They are trying to get my contact information, someone they can inform, but the med alert card I made for myself, and carried in my wallet had an error on it. How I do not know, I have looked at it hundreds of times but never noticed the EMS contact phone number was wrong! Anyway, as I came around more I was able to give them better information and next thing I really know is that I am in hospital.

My treatment was amazing, the porters, nurses, doctors and ambulance staff were incredible. I have always been a supporter of the NHS, and when I have needed them they have been there, even the limited mental health care.I blame myself for not paying attention to my body, not keeping updated and correct contact details, and for worrying my family and friends. It just proves to me more, that there are things we, as people, can do to help the EMS do their job.

Moving forward

Moving forward

I have not had time, or to be more specific given time to do a blog update. For those of you that follow me on twitter ( @davesoapbox ) you will be aware that this past week I have started my hypnotherapy training. I am writing this sat on the train back to Cardiff and I must admit my brain is frazzled. In  the past seven days I have learned so much, not just theoretically but also practically and I am blown away. I do not intend this post to be a review of my training, but more an insight into how I am feeling right now.

I guess putting aside my tiredness I feel very positive. I have had this idea forming of what I which to do with my life and this course has been one of the main stepping stones. I was not ashamed to tell people my history, my motivation for trying to learn how to help others. I stood up and said “I know mental illness and despite what people say, there is so little help out there, I want to do my bit”.

I faced several personal challenges, a few of the practical exercises were close to areas of my life that are under review shall we say. I also had to do a lot of personal interaction, dealing with people on several levels from personal to essentially professional. I hope to think that I managed myself quite well, I believe I managed my anxiety. I admit there were a couple of times I did have to take some time to myself to address some anxieties but I was surprised to find that the practical sessions had a massive impact on my anxiety levels. I even managed to reduce my sugar intake during the week and even had glimpses of clarity.

Whilst the training was amazing, the people who I was training with were more so. Not only were they a diverse mix of academics, professionals and “lay” persons, they also represented a vast cross section of nationalities. I was so in awe of all of these people. There were Doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, health care professionals and also people from the corporate world, I do not think I have ever been in a room filled with so many amazing people. The overriding thing though, was that each and every one of them was there with the client firmly in mind. Yes, some of them were interested in setting up a private practice but across the room, all of those there were so client focused and empathetic to the need for first rate care.

Above I did mention that the group comprised a variety of nationalities, being honest of the 28 people in the group, I would say more than half were from different countries. Having had the pleasure of talking to these people, it is apparent that the need for mental health care across the globe is becoming more of an issue. Also that more and more professional practitioners are using hypnotherapy in conjunction with CBT to deal with a variety of issues. Not going to go to far here (time for self promotion when I have finished my training) but having experienced first hand how effective pain control can be, I can’t wait to fulfil my idea of helping people learn coping mechanisms for the day to day challenges that we face.

Anyway enough of my excited ramblings, I am going to try to relax, time to do some self hypnosis……. leaves on the river……. time to stop the rambling thoughts

 

Peace and love

David

Why my illness is in a way my strength

Why my illness is in a way my strength

If there is one comfort to be taken from knowing what ails you, it can be the knowledge that you may not have been an awful person, just an ill one.  I look back on a life of arrogance and indifference to others, being viewed as self centred and uncaring. While I in no way wish to blame my behaviour on my illness, for I did what I did, and for it I shall take responsibility. However, when I relive the time when I caused others, friends, family and those who drifted into my orbit suffering, I can console myself slightly with knowing that more was at work than just my being a complete arse.

I do not have many friends, I do not regret this as being my friend often takes the patience of a saint. I can become so absorbed in things that life speeds by without my noticing, soon an unreplied message becomes a source of anxiety and gets pushed further from my mind. For a person who can go several days without noticing they have not left the house, not replying to a message in a timely fashion is often difficult. So friends soon fade into the background and I have learned that often it is easier to let them stay there.

The bigger problem is that of emotional attachment. I find that to stay in any form of control, I must limit how attached I become to people. It is hard to write this, so many words in my head and yet putting them into something that makes sense is a tough task. Many think that I simply do not care, the truth however is that if I let myself care, I might not cope. To feel that you have been let down or worse that you have let someone down, is a pain like an aching tooth, neither easily soothed or remedied.

To me the whole sphere of interaction is different, I rarely miss being in company, and even then, I find myself often lost within a crowd. I am like an atom, only so many electrons can orbit me at any one time. I know this is a part of my condition, a symptom, and therefore I am working to correct it or at least try to.

So with the above in mind, knowing myself as I do, would I chose to train to become a therapist? Perhaps first and foremost I wish to learn to help myself. So far on my journey, I have had to learn a lot for myself. I also seemed to have developed a keen interest in what I have learned and wish to know more, but more over I wish to help others. Maybe my knowledge of the hardships of mental ill health might make me a better therapist. Ethical boundaries must be observed and so my ability to remain emotionally detached and yet still supportive seem to be a good match. Hopefully by doing good for others will allow me more freedom from myself.

Finally my main driving force is the desire to help others to see that sometimes change can be effected. Maybe I will prevent someone else spending years destroying themselves because they think they are just a bad person. Maybe after years of being a destructive influence, I can live the latter half of my life being a constructive one. A lot of maybes, maybe they will come true.

Why are simple things so hard

Why are simple things so hard

Today I was asked a very interesting question via Twitter:

“I see all the ‘think positive’ messages + think, why is something that sounds so simple, so damn hard?!” #depression

I read it and started to think, the first thing I knew was that it was not a question I could answer in 140 characters. Now as many of you know I am not a therapist, I am a sufferer who has decided to ‘self help’ because the system just has no time for middle ground mental health. In fact I have done such a good job of helping myself that the MH services in my area have passed me back to my GP, so after six months I still do not have a diagnosis other than what I have found out about myself.

There are many things in life that can make me feel down, my mood can switch at a moments notice. I might get frustrated with something which causes me to self hate, give up, sulk. I am the king of negative thinking, its automatic, I have to work hard every time to change my thinking. It is not easy, sometimes I can do it easily, other times it might take days for me to lift. Every day is a fresh start, every morning heralds the possibility that this will be a good day, every day I have hope.

Depression for me is a vicious cycle to break, I feel down and find I cannot face doing even simple things, dishes can pile up, the house starts to clutter, mail goes unopened. I say to myself, I will do it later, tomorrow, but it haunts me. The more these things gradually build, the more I retreat, the more into myself I go. Before long these simple little tasks have gathered together to create a mountain, I do not even know where to start, I want to just do, but I can’t.

It is very hard to explain to people the difference between being lazy and being unable. Lazy people don’t care, depressed people do. I hate myself, I hate lying on the sofa, knowing I have so much I need to do but just being unable to do it. Pills, potions, meditation, introspection, mindfulness, the list goes on, but so does the screaming row in my head. I have to remind myself to do things, I look upon everything I manage to do as a success. I get up and shower, good one. I do the dishes, gold star, I tidy up, massive achievement.

The best thing I have found is routine, I even have an app on my phone (It is called ‘Productive’ ) which I use to remind me to do even simple things. Stick to a routine and I might get things done, it’s a game I play. I make myself smile, often times I don’t want to, but I do it anyway. Smiling actually helps stop the negative thoughts, smiling helps me motivate. I also spend time trying to spread positivity, even if I am having a bad day, others might be having a worse day. If I can help someone else smile, change someone elses day, then I can feel good. Having a community of people who depend on each other is important, supporting each other and caring for each other.

In a world where negativity is thrust at us from all directions, the news, social media, work, etc, it is hard sometimes to stay positive. Sometimes being reminded to smile, which sounds so silly but in fact, for many, might change their day. I could be called a hypocrite for saying/ posting motivational messages when I do not always follow the advice. For me the difference is that I try, not just for me but those I care for. If I can get someone, to pause, to take a moment to find a point of reference from where they can look at how they feel, I have done something good. I may never know, but I still share.

Depression is hard, it can be caused by many things, some know what is making them feel bad, others do not. As I said before, I am no expert, I only know what works for me, what has been found to work for others. I know that if I change how I look at something, if I can find a positive, I am more likely to do it. “look at all those dishes, they will take hours to do”, a common negative thought of mine. “right, lets clean some of them dishes while the kettle boils, then I will have a nice cuppa and check Twitter, in fact lets listen to some tunes whilst I do them”. “OMG look at the mess, the place is a dump, FFS how!!!”, “Right 25 minutes per room, ready, set, goooooo”.

I know, sounds childish turning it into a game, giving silly rewards, but I find it works. I can’t always stop the depression, but I am getting better at heading it off. When I post positive messages, I have decided to share a positive day. I might be having one myself or I might need motivating myself. Life is not easy, but it can be made easier. If you enjoy doing something, you are more likely to do it. So, I guess what I am trying to do is to teach myself to enjoy just doing. Stop myself thinking “oh FFS, I can’t do that”, “no, not today, maybe tomorrow”. I am trying to change my thinking towards, “how can I make this fun?”, “what can I do after this?”, “If I give myself 25 minutes and do it in 10, I can colour for a while”.

I do not have a brilliant answer, I wish I did. All I can suggest is that every time you see something positive, smile when you read it. Find something within it to inspire you, get up, do a little dance, sing, draw, do the bloody dishes and hoover up. The most important thing, the thing that will make the difference is share what you have done. Even if the only thing you achieve today is to smile, let everyone know that you did. Share, tell the world you feel good after your shower, tell everyone how lush the kitchen looks, that you have just thrown some shapes whilst dusting listening to cheesy pop.

For me the meaning of life is to find enjoyment in every moment, and share it. You might think nobody cares, but there are a lot of people out there who do.

Why I share

Why I share

There is a place between anxiety and depression, a place like the no mans land of the battlefield. It is a place where you are neither happy or sad, angry or calm, up or down. I come here often, not by choice, I would rather feel something. I have put off writing a blog post for a while now, pain has faded a bit, the temper has cooled. Maybe whilst I am in this desolate plain of the mind, where emotion does not seem to exist, I might as well write.

As some of you are aware I deactivated my former site for a while, in fact I deactivated most of my social media. I will not go into detail, but let us just say that my X was the target of some cyber bullying. We do not know who, or why, or even if she was the true target or it was myself. The fact remained that as the person responsible used social media to carry out the attack, I felt under pressure to remove myself.

This led me to two main problems, firstly how could I trust those I only knew online and secondly, how would I cope without a cyber existence? Having mulled over the issue in detail, I came to the conclusion that despite me being quite open about things online, the person responsible knew to much off line detail. Not correct information, but detail that twisted and bent could be plausible. They even tried to pass themselves off as a good friend of mine, just a shame we were together at the time.

Whilst these findings made me feel better about those I confide in, it did still leave the issue about being open about myself online. Especially my illness which I have described in detail, it made me wonder if I am strong enough to handle a character attack? The problem above happened only a few days after I was actually blocked by someone I thought a friend (all be it an online one), this person took offence to an ‘inspirational’ picture/quote. Both episodes hurt. I think it hurt more because I have laid myself open, maybe I was stupid to think that a growing online presence would be all positive.

This then lead to my second problem, could I last without an online presence? Truth be told I actually could not, I started a new twitter account once I had disabled my own. The new account even had its own blog, within an hour I had reestablished my online presence. The problem was, this new persona, just was not me. I didn’t act like me, or even write like me, because it wasn’t me. Sound strange? It still does to me, but I understand myself well enough to know, I need to be me.

Every day my blog was down hurt, the little file on my desktop, all that remained of Davesoapbox, glared at me. All the posts I had written, all the pain, joy and emotion that I had shared, compressed and hidden. My twitter account lay dormant, and yes I missed it. I missed being me, I have spent a lot of time building a wonderful twitter community, I missed it a lot. I have been accused in the past of being proud of having a mental illness, proud? I have by my estimation been ill for a very long time, I have destroyed myself countless times. Every time I was in denial, always circumstance, never me.

When I finally accept my  problems, finally decide to do something about them, I soon learned the best thing for me was to share. I am not proud to be ill, I am proud I have the guts to put it out into the world. I am proud to stand up and say, “I have a mental health problem, but I am not beaten”. Some days it beats me, others I beat it. It is not a fight or a war, not a battle, it is recovery. The system has been little help, I have learned a lot, I have learned from those like me. I have learned humility, empathy and love.

I said at the beginning I was in ‘no mans land’, the eye of the storm. I have weathered the storm once, I have been to the brink and returned. Now I must once again pass into the storm, this time to reach the clear blue skies. I have come to understand what is wrong, I know what I must do. I must now recover, I must learn to handle life. I recently pondered the meaning of life, over a cup of tea. I will not explain my reasoning today, but I did come up with an answer.

“live each day with purpose and share”

In Zen the say that you are always doing something, even when you think you are doing nothing, nothing is something. As long as that something has a purpose, to you, and you share this, you are living. So I have found my own bit of Zen, I now have to live up to it. So with certain knowledge that the road ahead might not be pleasant at times, I will continue to share. “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”, such a brilliant line, and I think apt as I ask you to join me as I walk once again into the storm.