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

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

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.