One year on

One year on

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

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

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

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

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

Opinions are like A**holes

Opinions are like A**holes

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

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

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

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

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

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

The groundhog day of mental illness

The groundhog day of mental illness

It’s morning,

Early again,

I think I have had five hours sleep,

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

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

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

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

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

Make bed

Breakfast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CBH Study – Overdue – (above takes priority)

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

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

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

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

Facebook, open, scroll, close, wipe hands

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

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

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

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

 

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.

Not sleeping with the enemy

Not sleeping with the enemy

 

I remember in in younger days having this cavalier attitude towards sleep. Drink in hand at silly o’clock in the morning, I would declare to the world that I would get all the sleep I need when I am dead. A noble sentiment from a young man in the prime of his youth? Or the pathetic ramblings of an idiot?

Thinking back on my live fast, die young, leave a good looking corpse youth. I can see the irony in my attitude. Yes, I did have periods where I would burn my candle at both ends. Yes, I was often to be found at the centre of some drinking madness. Yes, I partied hard. I also know now that not only was it all a facade, but it was to signal yet another self destructive episode.

Back then I really did not give a crap about anyone or anything, including myself. I was running, hiding from myself, hiding how I felt from the world. Lying, cheating, drinking were the norm, I became a chameleon, even I didn’t know who I was half the time. To different people I was a different person. The one thing I know for sure, I was hardly ever me. Me, was a dim voice at the back of a very noisy crowd. Me, was the elephant in the room that even I did not want to acknowledge.

When your world shifts, when day becomes night and night, day, you struggle to fit into the ‘norm’. People think you are a party animal because you stay up till stupid o’clock in the morning and then go off to work. Or people think you are lazy because you sleep until noon, not knowing you were awake all night. Its a slow process but for me a regular one. As my worries grew and the darkness started to descend, it would become harder to sleep at nights.

Lying in bed with all self doubt, self hate, self created problems has always been a problem. I can’t remember the last time I went to bed and just went to sleep. Good sleep is essential to have a normal functioning life. I wish I could sleep. For the last six months I have been on sleeping tablets, Instant sleep without the hours of self analysis. As with all medication induced positives, it also has its down side. The Zopiclone hangover as I like to call it. The next day can be spent in a kind of groggy haze, whilst I am fully able to function on one level, I am also left with a kind of lethargy that leads to a lack of motivation. Lack of motivation then leads to hours lying on the sofa either napping, watching tv or destructive self analysis.

So now, sleeping tablets are used in small doses or as a last resort. I often see two am, sometimes later. I still only manage to average just under eight hours sleep a night but it is disturbed sleep. Right now it is one of my biggest worries. I no longer want to take the sleeping tablets at all, I am lucky to be in a position right now where I have no morning deadlines so I can afford to sleep if needed. However it is such a struggle, battling fatigue most days.

I am sure my story will resonate with many people with mental health problems, sleep disturbance seems to be a common problem for all. Trouble is it does not seem to be a well discussed problem. I would love to know how much my disrupted sleep affects my mental health. I often feel that I am trapped in a cycle, poor sleep leading to lack of motivation. Lack of motivation leading to depression and anxiety which further disturbs my sleep.

The positive now is that I am aware of this problem. No longer do I hide from it, try to destroy myself over it. Now I invite it to the table for a chat, see if we can come to some form of understanding. I am glad that I had the tablets when I was going through the worst times, but now I need to take control and start sleeping with the enemy.