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.

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.

Thank you global social community

Thank you global social community

Hello and welcome, how are you today?

I am on an up day (well it is only 9am) and I am smiling!, I am smiling because I have learned that every second of feeling okay is special. So much has been happening in my little life these past few months that keeping myself steady has been a challenge, I have had some tough things to process.

The details probably deserve a separate post, this post is more to do with this moment, and moments like it. I woke this morning feeling positive, now lets not read that as ‘I leapt out of bed, ran 5k and saved small kittens from trees’ but more like I sloth like crawled out of bed, made my ritualistic bucket of coffee, fed the cat, took my meds and checked Twitter.

I have a lot of studying to catch up on, which is the plan for today, so cat and myself will probably spend the day in the study developing new and interesting way of procrastinating, most likely with five minute checks of social media. So aside from the cat, I doubt I will see another living being today. So to the point, due to physical location (I live in a rural area), lack of easy transport (not allowed to drive) and the lifestyle of a hermit I depend on social media for social interaction. Some may say this is sad, but I get to talk to people all across the world, I have ‘met’ some amazing people and to me it is important.

I struggle to balance both my mental and physical health, it is a pain but I do it. However just keeping both of those within the parameters of ‘stable’ is not enough. I am human (have a certificate to prove it), I NEED social interaction, to feel a part of the community. I have found a global community to supplement my small (yet very good) family group and this helps me stay balanced.

I strongly believe that social health is as important as mental and physical health. It is the third corner of the ‘wellbeing’ triangle. Just as poor physical health can affect your mental health and your social life, poor mental health can likewise affect you physically and socially. Poor social interaction can affect you mentally and physically. So while my social life might just be words on a screen, those words are written by people, most of which I will never meet, but those words connect us.

So today I have found balance, and that balance is helped by people all around the world who take five minutes out of their day to connect. To them it might seem nothing more than a quick tweet, post, update, but to someone like me it can change my day. Thank you global social community, I love you all.

An old foe comes visiting

An old foe comes visiting

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moving forward

Moving forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Peace and love

David

Why my illness is in a way my strength

Why my illness is in a way my strength

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

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

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

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

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

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