Saturday, 21 January 2012

live like someone left the gate open

Last night I had the strangest dream.  No it was not about a row boat to China in fact I cannot remember much of the detail but I remember the feeling of pure joy as I awoke.  I woke up without an ounce of tension in my body all cosy and happy.  I released so much stuff this week and I learnt the importance of rest and relaxation.  

The house is a total mess (which will be useful  in the January photo scavenger hunt, should be some really messy pics for that) but what of it, houses can be cleaned, but mental health cannot be repaired quite as easily as just doing the hoovering cleans up the house.  Sometimes its a matter of judgement what is the most important thing right now.  Is it the mound of washing? the kitchen full of dirty dishes? the garden full of crap? or is it my mental well being.??

I need order to feel well but I need wellness to bring order.  My latest realisation is that all other things follow from our mental and physical well being.  When I am well house work is effortless, life is comparatively effortless.  Being in the flow of wellness leads to happiness and productivity.  I suppose it is such an obvious thing.  We know many things in our logical minds but do we practice theses thing? Do we really practice these things?  I think it is only when we are consciously aware of the importance of staying well and minding ourselves that we exhibit our understanding of that fact and live in a way that shows we do.

This week I learnt to re-frame my past by looking at old pictures of myself, wow I had some great fun and quite an interesting time really.  
This week I learnt to re-frame failure by listening to other peoples stories of failure.  I love the word non-success and plan to use it instead of the other word for non-success.  I found out that I can learn more form my recovery and acceptance of failure than I do from my success.  
This week I learnt that I use the word Why alot and that asking people Why makes many people uncomfortable.  They feel it as a criticism.  So it might be better to ask , for what reason did you do that instead of Why , sometimes the answers you get are a little more informative!

And so the hibernation finally yielded up the necessary realisations for me to move forward and keep going on.  Its time to move on past defining myself by my actions and by my psychological fragility.   I no longer belong in heaven,  now I realise I am firmly back on earth, fully grounded and myself, I no longer feel the need to look for paradise.  I have it here with me.  

So today let go, ground yourself, and live like someone let the gate open.

Friday, 20 January 2012

the roundabout

So heres the thing, now I am self aware there are many feelings and sensations I reocgnise.  I had a minor panic attack to day but I know to just keep on going through it.  I have a fuzzy feeling again.  It is like a cloud of conclusion.  I know now that confusion generally precedes a breakthrough.  This one will be about procrastination I hope.  I have been procrastinating alot for the last month.  I decided to look at the things that were getting in the way of me achieveing the things I want.  I noticed that too much stimulation, too many things happening at once, too much of a build up of mess at work of at home becomes overwhelming.  I need a quite space to organise my thoughts.  So in honour of my new years resolution I took action and went off by myself for lunch alone.  I really do need my down time.  So what beliefs are getting in the way of me taking adequate rest and downtime?   

I don't have any answers but at least I have the questions.  I have decided to work on a wellness project for myself.  It begins with a Wellness Recovery Action Plan.  I started it today.  It is quite a heavy piece of work to do as it required honesty about my triggers, what I don't do for myself, what people should do if I have another episode.  It is like a major emergency plan and an owners manual for me.  

Sometimes I feel like I am stuck on a roundabout unable to get off.  The bad thoughts try to keep me there.  Today I started to panic because I could not find my note from a meeting.  I started to panic and could not concentrate.  I had that awful sick sensation, the hot waves of panic, the dizziness, the cheat pains, the total inability to calm down.  I wanted to run home and cry.  But now I know it was just a feeling, feelings pass and taking action helps.  So I cleared my desk, I filed everything and still no sign so I let go.  I decided to just say well so what, I will just decided to accept that I lost it.  Within minutes I realized that I had filed it already.  Such  lesson for me.  The jobs I had stressed about for days were in fact simple.  I just need to cut myself some slack and accept that I am no longer the person I was.  I blocked out all the stress, ignored all the warning signs and convinced myself that all was rosy in the garden.  I am human, I make mistakes, I am still learning, and I don t except myself to have all the answers.

Today's lesson is to be kind to myself and get a bit more organised, stop forcing the flow, let things happen and don't try to control things too much.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

reasons to be cheerful part 4

I generally find it easy to rest but recently due to the efforts of coffee and sugar and children who wont do homework /go to school I am perhaps not getting enough rest.  I set out a load of markers for myself, things to do when I get over stimulated and cant switch off.  I have bookmarked a load of sites on meditation, places to go, things to do, calming art etc.  I work up this morning thinking that a full 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep and a quite mind is something I can only look forward to in the future and realised just how flawed my thinking is.

 Its time for the more calming things in life, red bush tea not coffee, a proper breakfast, reduced sugar intake, early morning walks, early bedtime, cleaning the house instead of painting it a 10 o clock at night, etc.

I had a very mad thought about spending Saturday night at a buddist retreat as I had a night free from the children, that will help me relax I thought.  JUST HOW CRAZY IS THAT.  It would be less tiring to have a retreat at home, no travel, no pet minding arrangements needed just rest and relaxation.  I had a dream last night that I went there but forgot to make arrangements to have the dog minded( we don't have a dog yet btw)  and I spent most of the retreat imagining what happened to the dog.  Thank God I learned how to work with my dreams and my subconscious is still looking after me.  SO this morning a nice cup of non caffeinated tea and a healthy breakfast and a long list of reasons to be cheerful, probably part 4 for me I think I am entering a new phase in my recovery now and I cant wait to see what wonderful things the universe brings me this time.

so today why not make your own list of reasons to be cheerful.  the lyrics for ian drurys  list are here : reasons to be cheerful part 3,   

Monday, 16 January 2012

thoughts tornado and giving yourself permission

This post is perhaps a little depressing so as an antidote listen to the music while reading. 

Explaining the symptoms of nervous illness and adjustment reaction to others can be difficult for me.  I like to work in metaphors so the best description of the phase before a full blown illness, the phase when I start to slip, is a thought tornado.  Sometimes the tornado can be good thoughts which turn bad other times the thoughts can be bad thoughts turning worse.  It starts like the mini whirlwind in the video above.  The thoughts circle a little, maybe something like I wake up in the morning , I feel tired, the mini tornado of negative thinking begins:

oh god its the morning already 
I would like more rest, 
I cant get a rest, 
I never get to do what I want, 
why wont other people let me rest, 
omg this is going to go on forever,
 im too tired to get out of bed, 
oh god i have to get the kids up, 
why cant they get themselves up, 
i dont have that report finished what if there is a surprise meeting called a day early , 
what will i do, 
they wont let me take a day off if they are cross with me, 
oh god there goes the radio, 
why is there so much bad news on the radio, 
no wonder i am tired.  

Wow I am even feeling worn out just writing the example of the start of the tornado.  The thoughts will continue to whirl around and around, usually repeating themselves.  If they go unchecked they will turn into a full blown tornado wiping out all other thoughts.  The thing is many people have those thoughts, and those  negative thoughts just amplify the depressing feeling if I am already on the way down.  So much so that the tornado only collects unhelpful thoughts.  Then subconscious kicks in then, helping to find more and more unhelpful thoughts, sometimes creating another mini tornado gathering up all the evidence to support the negative thoughts.  By the time I get put of bed I am even more tired.  Before the full blown illness I had about three negative thoughts circling all day every day, around and around and around.  There was room for little else, nothing could shift the thoughts, so much so that I thought the only way to escape those thoughts was to end my own life.  I was lucky that I did not.    

Now that I am well I have many tools to help me.  I still get days that start with the negative thoughts, some new mini tornado trying to find other negative thoughts to turn it into a full blown storm.   Now I have the power and knowledge to stop them.  In December the mini tornadoes started again mostly because I was not paying attention to my basic needs.  Total hibernation over Christmas gave me the headspace and the break I needed to quieten my mind and refocus.  Holidays are not a luxury but a necessity for people like me, rest is another essential, as is total removal for the over arousing stimuli of people and parties, avoiding critical people while in a low mood.  There are so many things I never gave my self permission to do while I was going down into the spiral of despair.  

And now for the solution I found to subdue the negative thinking, breaking the thought cycle by taking action.  One of my new years resolutions: Take action.  Do something physical, take action on one of the worrying thoughts before you try to rationaise the thought.  Turn off the depressing radio station and put on some happy music, jump right out of bed, scream loudly( only if alone otherwise people do wonder if you are truly insane) sing a song.  Set yourself up of success by preparing a Wellness Recovery Action Plan, and keep it by the bed or computer in wherever you will easily find it, even your handbag (or man bag if you dont have a handbag), in the glove compartment in the car.  the negative thought cycle is profoundly damaging to the psychologically fragile individual.  The best solution for me is to tell someone that I am having worrying thoughts, no matter how silly you think your worrying thoughts are someone else will help you to put them into perspective. 

I trained my 11 year old to tell me if she is starting to think negatively.  She beings by saying I have a worrying thought, I help her put the thought into context.  Now she can share her negative thoughts with other adults she feels safe with and can put them into context.  

Bottling up all those bad thoughts is unhealthy and in my view the source of so much of our suicide epidemic in this country.   I encourage you all to express those worrying thoughts to help dispel them from your mind and put them in context.  Share them on a blog and get them out of your head.  

So today be aware of how your thoughts affect your feelings and how your actions affect your feelings.  As they say in Recovery, feelings are not facts, beliefs can be changed.  Let your actions be a positive influence on your thoughts and feelings.  


will spell check later apologies for not doing before posting 

Thursday, 12 January 2012

here we go again- another new phase

Its so easy to fall back to old patterns, to pick up old burdens. last night I watch a programme about Irish films on our Irish language TV channel.  I have very weird dreams after it.  It is simply astounding to me how much more I get out of everything now that I have a open mind, improved consciousnesses and awareness. Cre na cille scared me when I first saw it, so much so that I could not watch it all.

 My knowledge of the world is now sufficiently expanded to understand things in a very different way.  I wonder now how much more I can get out of my brain, now that it is no longer flooded with stress hormones.  
What would life be like if we we free from all our limiting beliefs and could use our full consciousness.  Fairly awesome I think!

Monday, 9 January 2012

the joys of sawing

In 2011 I learnt lots of new things, things about myself, things about others and new skills.  The skill I am most proud of is my new found ability to saw.  It was one of the many things girls were not allowed to do.  So I never learnt how to saw, I was told it would be too difficult, I might chop off my fingers etc.  Of the three siblings I am the most mechanically minded, I have the straightest eye, I take instruction well, I am the most skilled when it comes to arts and crafts, oh and did I mention I am a fully qualified engineer.  My ex husband would not let me saw either.  Last year I decided rather than taking an old wooden chair to the dump I would burn it, so I needed to chop it up.  Finally I had to learn to saw.  I borrowed a saw from my ex (stole it actually) .  I googled how to saw, really could it be that difficult and lo and behold : Sawing is so easy.  I am never returning the saw, I love it.  There is a knack to everything and the knack with sawing is to move your arm from your shoulder, keep your lower arm in line with the saw and hey presto where there was a whole piece of wood now you have two, as if by magic.  My pourch now smells like a pine forest as I just sawed the Christmas tree into pieces.  I discovered the joys of squishing all the tiny resin filled nodules on the tree to extract even more piney loveliness.  Imagine if I never leaned to saw I would never have known about how to increase the piney smell from Christmas trees.  All the smell seems to come from the resin. 

There is usually a point in my post and here is today's lesson for me, Do not be limited by other peoples expectations of you.  I wish I learnt that sooner but no matter at least I learnt the lesson.  The next skill I plan to learn is to roller blade, I was considered a clumsy child and therefore did not try lots of things involving balance, but I discovered that I actually have excellent balance (through yoga).  I recently watched an older lady ( my daughters called her elderly) smile with absolute joy while ice skating.  There was a temporary ice rink installed locally for Christmas.  We chatted briefly and she told me in her mind she was gliding like a swan and that she loved skating when she was younger.  She was the oldest person the the rink by about 40 years. How many of us miss out on things that could be life changing experiences or amazing fun just because we are locked into a mindset of cant, that we are too old, too unfit, too ladylike to do that.  I started to blog last year shortly after using a water slide for the first time in my life.  Experiencing the exhilaration of speeding down the slide was perhaps the thing that triggered my recovery.  I forgot that for a while as I struggled with my low mood for the last month, but the evenings are getting longer, the day I have been dreading (today) came and went in a very uneventful way.  My new job (which I started today) is much easier than I thought it would be and I suppose I forgot some of the lessons of 2011: remember to take baby steps in the right direction, and always carry a saw :-)

Friday, 6 January 2012

oiche nollig na mban: womens christmas & other celebrations

The 6th of January has always been celebrated as women's Christmas where I come from.  Its the girls night out for Christmas and when the last of the cake etc is finished off before the decorations are taken down and the whole Christmas thing is over.  This year I stayed at home and it was strange but pleasant.  I hibernated.  I wanted to hibernate for a while and as I have a cold and was sick I indulged my total hibernation.  I got a little concerned that I was depressing but I just went with it.  Who decided how I behave? - me, I do.  I had been listening to others about what I should do and almost went with them.  Instead I stayed in bed until after lunch, listened to the radio, read magazines, had lots of tea and toast, watched looooads of tv, and only got up and did things that were absolutely necessary.  I did not do my usual Christmas visits.  I feel renewed.  Sometimes its hard to know the difference between low mood,  actual tiredness, and physical illness.  I think it was all three for me.  Its the first year in ages that I have not got a few new years resolutions written down.  I live for lists, lists of what to do, where to go, what to buy, I could not function without a list.  

So my list of new years resolutions are finally here
1.  Take action, so many times I need to feel a certain way before I do something.  This year I am taking action even when I don't feel like it.  This is helping me to break the thoughts -feelings-actions cycle that drags me down to inaction.  Avoid avoidance is the complementary resolution.  Avoidance is my tragic pattern of dealing with difficult stuff. I just don't do it.  Avoidance is the opposite of action so I will avoid it.
2. Create things to look forward to.  Life can be bleak without things to look forward to.  There are so many occasions to celebrate, long forgotten things to look forward to.  I have not celebrated women's Christmas for years and tonight I will.  We have loads of reasons to have fun and enjoy life so why be miserable.
3. Learn to cook a new dinner every month.  I am stuck in a cooking rut.  Same things over and over again.  Variety is the spice of life and who knows I might find new flavours.  This month it is roast duck.  They were marked down to half price on Christmas eve so I have one in the freezer but have no idea what to do with it.  Many happy hours have been spent researching the ultimate roast duck dinner. 
4. Watching my triggers.  I am actively working on getting my sparkle back.  I was sinking into a less than sparkly mood in December.  I learnt all sorts of ways to save myself from the downward decent into blahs.  That yucky feeling of greyness that precedes depression.  So to echo resolution 1 I am taking action.  Yes its back to basics, smell- the aromatherapy oils are out, texture- lovely linen sheets I was saving for I don't know what  are on my bed, activities that make me sweat yes even hoovering can do that, and most importantly being kind to myself.  There are good triggers and bad triggers.  Some of my good triggers are sunshine and creative pursuits, my bad triggers are critical people and drizzle.  

Today's list of things to take action on are: post hibernation clean up and to make a list of everything I am avoiding at the moment.  Action creates its own rewards.

Happy New Year