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

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.

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

 

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.