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.

A quick update

A quick update

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Where does all the time go?, seems like every day I think “my god, I reallllllly need to do a blog post”, and POOF the day is gone. There is so much I want to do, so much I need to do and so much that probably needs to be done that I don’t even know about. So with all this going on my procrastinating really does not help.

On the flip side, I have managed to hand in my first two OU assignments on time :), tomorrow I start my third and final week of classroom training for my cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy course, and I have only had one anxiety attack in six weeks (yes, I am so proud). In truth, I think that what I have learned on my course has helped me a lot, not only learning how to deal with anxiety but also proving to myself that I can actually help others with what I have learned.

So what was once a dream a few months ago, is turning into reality. I am excited, scared, baffled and clueless as to what will happen going forward. I have ideas about what I wish to do (although they change slightly each day), I have plans for a website but no time/ knowledge etc to get it done. Basically with all this going on I should be as tense as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but I am not. I am actually rather calm, very calm.

Anyway, whilst I wish I could write more, I am out of time……… but I will try to write more soon…….. Promise……. 🙂

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.

One day I will live this dream

One day I will live this dream

This morning I awoke early, a few minutes before my alarm. I turned it off and sat up in bed feeling refreshed after a good nights sleep. I went down stairs and got out my mat and weights, for the next half an hour I went through my work out, enjoying the feeling of the exercises. Then I spent twenty minutes in meditation, allowing my mind to clear, finding my focus for the day ahead.

After showering and getting dressed I ate a healthy breakfast, my morning coffee no longer sweetened tasted great. I brushed my teeth and checked myself in the mirror, I may have a few wrinkles but my smile hides then well. Donning my hat and coat I took the dog for a walk, the ground till damp and the morning sun starting to lighten the day. The air was fresh and invigorating, in my mind I run through the day ahead.

Returning home I put food and water down for the pets, a quick tidy up and my house was back in order. I took time to appreciate what I had, taking pride in my well kept home, a nice reminder of calm and order. I went into my study to collect my papers for the day, neatly arranged and completed. I checked my overnight emails for any thing that might affect my day, five minutes only, all was in order.

I left the house feeling calm and composed, happy with myself and my life. I looked forward to the day, helping other to find their happiness.

This is the dream I have every day, one day I will live this dream

Talking to myself

Talking to myself

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How many times have I sat here looking at a blank page, I am sure I have even used this opening in a post before. I want to write, I enjoy writing, the problem seems to be that I do not feel I have anything of value to say. Being realistic I am in a good place right now, I think of it as my recovery phase. That part of my cycle when I rebuild, when I start to have hope again. I still have some moments, periods of self doubt, periods of self hate, fatigue, anxiety, frustration, procrastination. I try each day to achieve more, I have started to look forward.

Next Tuesday I will again go and see my GP, firstly because I have come to the end of my meds supply. Secondly, so I can find out what happens next. I know what my problem is, I know how it affects me. I have even written my own care plan to deal with it, should it all go like it has in the past. I am so very scared of the future. Now, when I should be enjoying the lull in my condition all I can think of is the next time. Will there even be a next time? I am now so self aware of everything I do, everything I feel, how can it happen again? It might not but I do not think it wise to think that way.

Right now I have to think that what is, is, and always will be. The only way I can be sure that I can stay on top of it, is to never forget that I am ill. You see, the slipping has already started to show. I have stopped keeping track of my mood, my meds are no longer taken in a timely manner, I have become distracted. Failure to adhere to routines, to finish started projects, to stay on top of life events, these are warning indicators.

For me to function properly I need to have order and routine. Otherwise I will start to neglect things, let them snowball. Bills will go unpaid, things I start will go undone, gradually all these little worries will build. Not completing things will nag at me, reinforce the feeling of failure. I need to be challenged and stimulated, but not over tax myself. I become absorbed in things, but new things come along and I get absorbed anew. I have always failed so far in life, I am so scared that it will happen again.

I have made plans for a future, plans I have made before and failed to achieve. This time I must have faith in myself that I can see them through. Admitting I am ill helps, in some strange way it gives me a sense of hope. I know that being an arse was my way of dealing with my problems, I hope that in time I can become less of an arse and a more useful individual. I do not want to be the person I was, but habits are hard to break. Changing yourself is possible, but not easy. Finding the balance between useful self analysis and destructive self criticism is hard to find.

The page is no longer blank, I did have something to say, even if it was only to myself.

And these few precepts in thy memory

And these few precepts in thy memory

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About 415 years ago the great writer William Shakespeare wrote the following passage in his famous play Hamlet. Ever since I first read them these words have stuck in my memory. I wish I could say that I listened to them but I never had, maybe life would have been so much different had I done so.

Hamlet – Act 1, Scene 3

Polonius: Yet here, Laertes? 
And these few precepts in thy memory
Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion’d thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar:
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear’t that th’ opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are most select and generous, chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all- to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell. My blessing season this in thee

People tell me that history is the past and has no bearing on life today. Maybe if people were to follow the example above, we would live in a much nicer world. History is full of such wonderful pieces of insight, for hundreds of years people have tried to extoll the virtues of good human nature.

Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion’d thought his act.

How simple can this opening be, and yet carry with it such a brilliant message. Sometimes it is better if we keep what we are thinking to ourselves, especially when we have not yet thought it through. For me, this is often hard. I have a lot of thoughts I like to share, but sometimes what I am thinking does not always make sense. Impulsive action is also another trait I try to hold back from now, it is so easy to just do things without thinking them through. I think this is true of my anxiety and depression, so many thoughts that must not be acted upon, so many things you sometimes want to say but if you did they would be regretted.

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar

I really do love this line, in essence it is “treat people how you would like to be treated”. I do lapse into the vulgar on occasion, I used to be much worse. I do not just mean the use of foul language but also in what I said. For me life has always been about blending with my surroundings, trouble is I would often over compensate and “cross the line”. I never really developed my own standards, I just borrowed those of who I was with. This becomes awkward in mixed company, like a cartoon camellion on a paisley background. Being vulgar, in thought, speech or action is not pretty. It does make you stand out from the crowd, but only as an idiot. I was an idiot for too long, and changing that perspective in people’s minds takes more time than it did to create it.

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade.

Friendship, the hardest part of my illness and reconciling my past, has to be my shame at how I have treated people in the past. People who were there for me, who offered me the bond of friendship and I turned my back on them. Looking back I think that my problem was one of geography, I grew up next to a major RAF base. In school kids would come and go, you kind of got used to your friends leaving one day never to return. Quickly you learn to disassociate yourself from the feeling of loss. You then never give yourself to the friendship completely, you find it easy to break the bond. Soon you become accustomed to being alone, people are transient, nothing is consistent. Without friends you soon become at home with isolation, you no longer want to be a “part of the gang”. People consider you unfeeling, aloof, not a team player. If they only knew how much you really craved to be a part of something.

Beware of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear’t that th’ opposed may beware of thee.

I don’t know where it comes from, maybe a film or book, I don’t know. But in my head when I read this I think “A gentleman never loses an argument, because a true gentleman never argues”. I however, am not a gentleman, I do not have the restraint. How many arguments have I started, how many times have I used a “quarrel” as grounds for venting my frustration. Angry words, even now come too quickly to the lips, you live with self-frustration, and you have to vent. Turn it inwards and you hurt yourself, outwards and you hurt someone else. Nobody sticks around people like me long, I am working hard on this point, but all to often the words are out before the brain has even registered the emotion.

Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.

Listen, don’t talk. Simple enough, but I like the sound of my own voice, I enjoy talking to people, I enjoy hearing their stories and the more I do, the more I find myself holding my own words. In the past I have told more lies than truths, I lived the lies so much that they almost became the truth. For every word spoken to me, I had more of my own. The blend of hating who I was, trying to fit in, be accepted, just led to me always having something to say, even if it was complete rubbish. As for taking criticism, as you will have gathered by now, criticism equalled a personal attack. Anyone who was to criticise me would be, tried, convicted and dually judged accordingly. The trouble with being a mental mess, is that self-preservation becomes limitless, every single emotion was guarded. Once hurt, rejected, dismissed, the pain would feed the fire of self-hate. One more hammer blow to the foundations of self-confidence, the damage done requiring an age to repair.

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are most select and generous, chief in that.

Nothing a depressive likes more than a bit of retail therapy, preferably online. Oh how rich I would be now if only I could control myself. Simple material gratification, instantly. It is as if money is poisoned and must be converted into material possessions instantly. Yet, most of it I do not even need, however I still buy it. Then comes the time when money is required, and the money is all gone. I sit here writing this and wonder why, why chose a piece of literature that so highlights all my imperfections. I guess, for me it is about showing who I want to leave behind. Show why I am desperate to change my life, not only so that I can learn to handle my illness better, but also become a better person.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

Almost a continuation of the above, when the money is gone, you borrow. Having to borrow money from people becomes second nature, but each one is yet another hammer blow. Every penny borrowed just chips away at your self-worth. Before you know it, you would sell anything, just so you do not have to borrow. All those lovely material possessions so eagerly bought, soon are sold for less than they are worth. A poor man may still have pride, unless he is poor due to his own negligence. Flashing the cash may impress, but those impressed soon lose interest when the cash is gone. Similarly being quick to lend money, only works if it is done as a gift not a loan. Nothing causes a loss of faith better than the false promises on an unpaid debt. Trust me, I have done both many times.

This above all- to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

You could say that this last piece is the true inspiration for writing. As you will have gathered from the above, I do not consider myself a nice person. I have lead a life that was a lie, I have broken all the rules, I have come to hate myself. Or rather I did. You see I no longer want to live a lie, I want to be true to myself. Am I delusional? Is it possible to “reinvent” yourself? I hope I can, I no longer want to be the person I associate with Dave. I always hated my name, maybe it is time I learned to like it, and with it myself. I have accepted who I was, but he is no longer. He died on the 18th May 2015, David was born, fragile then and still so but striving each day to make Mr Shakespeare proud, knowing his words were not written in vain.