Category Archives: Uncategorized

Daydreams

When I was a kid I remember getting told off all the time by my teachers for daydreaming.

I would stare out of the classroom window and get completey absorbed in another world, no racing thoughts or worries, it was bliss.

And I remember being chastised for it all the time and believing it to be a bad thing. It even showed up on my school reports ‘needs to do less daydreaming’.

To by absolute bemusement, now as a 35yr old I realise that I was doing something so healthy and necessary for my mental well being, so basic and natural, that it should have been encouraged and not chastised.

The reason I am bemused is because I am effectively learning now as an adult how to do the very thing that used to come so naturally and I am learning that it is vital for my mental well being.

The postitive thing here for me to notice is that I used to be very good at daydreaming, which now I’m older is called mindfulness. Who would have thought it?

I’ve heard my psychologist say that teaching mindfulness to children is an important thing and not to be overlooked. I wish my primary school teachers had known then what psychologists know now. I think I would have had top marks for daydreaming instead of tellings off.

🙂

Go on a mental holiday

I have battled with depression and emotional instability for a very long time and sometimes find it very hard to ‘snap out of’ a low mood. 

I do have one trick up my sleeve though that the more I use, the more I enjoy. I’d like to share it with you, because it’s easier to do than you think.

Basically I’m going to explain my version of a mental holiday. Not a holiday where everyone goes mad, drinks too much, and comes home with a random tattoo. My mental holiday is about a vacation from my tiring, negative, sometimes overwhelming thoughts, and it is free and easy, requiring only the smallest amount of effort.

What I do when things are unbearable is visualise myself packing all my problems into a suitcase and boarding an airplane. I visualise the plane taking off and ascending higher and higher. I look out through the window at the terrible dark clouds and rain (generally reflecting my mood) and I watch as the sky clears and the plane breaks through into beautiful sunshine, blue skies and calm. Higher and higher the plane goes and the dark clouds are no longer in sight, they are way below me now. I feel calmer and for just a few minutes I feel detatched from everything, safe, peaceful and calm.

I have a few different things I do on my mental holiday, each time I try something a bit different. In the early days I decided to press the button to call the air stewardess, have her come and then request she have my suitcase thrown off the plane. The technicalities of how she would do this mid-flight don’t seem to worry me because she smiles at me and says “what a good idea, ill do that for you now” and then she offers me the nicest tasting cocktail ever.

On a recent mental holiday I decided the airplane kept on climbing higher and higher and it turned into space travel and my views of the earth were astonishing, I tried to locate my problems and zoom in on them back down on earth but I realised there was much more fascinating stuff to look at and consider.

My old favourite is to land my plane on a tropical paradise beach, sit on the shore in a hammock, and breathe deeply enjoying a sunset and the sound of the waves.

The trick is to let your imagination do the work, just get immersed in the holiday feeling you often get when you are taking off for a well earned break. It is rare these days I can afford a holiday but I don’t let that stop me and since I learned this mental holiday was free and there any time I needed it, I enjoy my 5-10 mins out immensely.  Give it a try. Where will your imagination take you?

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I gone and done it again

After writing just recently about how I would not like my final hours to be, I became very unwell again and found myself in the exact position I said I would never ever be in again. Trying to end my life.

I spent the first few days after it never worked feeling very ashamed and very disappointed in myself. I didn’t even tell anybody. My carers knew and my doc and the hospital, cause they took me there, but I couldn’t being myself to tell anybody in my life.  Not again!

I have told a couple of people now, now that I know I have some control back. I think it was only when I could look somebody in the eye knowing it wasn’t an imminent event again, that I could admit it. I never told for sympathy, I told for help. 

I really, really need help sometimes. My doc said I have to call the Samaritans even though I don’t think talking to anybody helps when I’m like that, but he said I need one step in between thinking it and acting on it, and he’s right, so I agreed I would.

I’m so ashamed and embarrassed of my behavior sometimes.  I’m upset with myself for giving up, for constantly trying to throw my life away. But I know at the same time feeling ashamed has never brought me much positivity so I am trying to forgive myself. 

I have been writing a lot and not publishing it. You don’t even know me but I’m still embarrassed of half the stuff that comes out of my head! It does help me to write though.

I haven’t been getting much sleep and I have been doing odd things.  Things that when I look back at I know I will laugh at.  I’ll write more about my odd non sleeping things separately.

I do hope I can look back and laugh at all of this one day.  I’m sure not many people would find it funny but I know there are some comedy moments in there. When the dust settles I will try to find them.

Time is a great healer, nah, there’s something better – music.

Everyone always says give it time, time is a great healer but I disagree. Cause it all depends on what you do with that time. If you suppress all your emotions then over time, you end up with emotional problems, or worse, a numbness to what you really should have allowed yourself to feel in the first place.  Some things get better with time, wine etc, but generally something that hurts today will hurt just as much in ten days or ten years unless you deal with it.

The greatest discovery of my life is that music is a great healer and in my opinion a much better one than time. It does depend on what you do with it though as well. If you put songs on that draw you into your problems, that can be good if you need a bit of a cry but what if you need to cheer up a bit? Music can almost never fail to do this if you choose to put on something that will lift your spirits.

Why don’t you make a playlist of uplifting, never fail to make you feel good songs and put them on when you need to heal, when you really need a pick me up.  It’s something we all know how to do, and we all know we will feel better afterwards but we don’t always see what an amazing tool music can be to help change your mood.

I dare you to try “higher” by Jackie Wilson and see how it changes you mood. The youtube video of it is bound to make you smile. Trust me!

Time is a great healer, but only if you use your time wisely. I say by plugging into some music.

Questionnaires

In my previous life, when I worked for money and it was called a career, I used to have to create and administer a lot of questionnaires. Survey Monkey was my favourite website and analysing responses was addictive.

I was interested, as most people who give out questionnaires are, in knowing how to make things better, but also in knowing what we were doing right, so people could take some motivation from that.

I used to survey students, mostly. And the feedback from students would be passed on to their teachers, which was always nail biting for the teacher. I have cringed many times, sliding a summary of student feedback across the desk to a jaded but expectant teacher, and watching their face as they read negative feedback. One or two negative comments is bad enough but the ones where a complete class had annihilated them was tough to swallow.

Even more tough was to pick a teacher up from that, inspire them to turn it around. I even had one teacher say to me “they hate me, I know they do, I fucking hate them as well”. And with a dum diddley dee I would dig down deep, get to the bottom of things and support the teacher, placate the students and hope for the best until the next round of feedback.

My life now still incorporates questionnaires, only I’m the one completing them. I find about once a fortnight I am completing a questionnaire. Only its the questions that get me. “In the past week, how often have you felt suicidal?” Or “how anxious have you felt” or sometimes even “have you felt the urge to harm yourself? If so, have you acted on that urge?”. It is indeed a very different type of questionnaire.

I wonder if somebody sheepishly pushes the summary of my feedback across the desk to a psychologist or a psychiatrist and if they say “she hates me, I know she does, well I fucking hate her as well”. I doubt it hey? I wonder if they look at my answers each time and go, ahh, look, she still wants to die.  I don’t know why the thought of it amuses me but it does. I wonder if they generate little pie charts and line graphs showing my self harming patterns and suicidal thought frequency and glory in the colours on the graphs like I used to.

I don’t know if these questionnaires help me or help them to help me and I don’t know why I’m completing them all the time. They make me very sad. I do get tempted to put all the best answers so that I sound normal or so that it motivates the people looking at the feedback. But I think I would get done for cheating, so I tell the truth. And it hurts and demotivates me every time I put a low score next to words in print that describe a mad person.

I might feel better if the questions were easier. For example:

Did you used to be okay?
Do you think if you pray hard and keep going you might be okay again?
Do you like sunshine?
Would you like your favourite teddy bear to come alive?
Would you like it if we could help you smile today?
Are you alive, despite all the bad?
Etc etc.

I just think, come on mental health services, mix it up a bit, give me some questions that don’t ask me repeatedly if I want to die and think about dying, you know I do. But don’t remind me and score me on it.

Dare greatly.

Brené Brown: Listening to shame #TED : http://on.ted.com/r8BU

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly”

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Was I actually in a coma?

I was just messing about saying something was so boring it put me in a coma then I had a flash of wait a minute you were in a coma once, and it wasn’t funny. Then I had a flash of holy shit I was in a coma. The only person I have ever really talked to about it is my psychologist and even then I just gloss over it. I think it is too scary to contemplate, like the big why are we all here question.

So I’m gonna reflect on it here for a couple of minutes…

I remember what lead up to it, and I remember waking up on life support and neither memories are pleasant. In fact I think the worst bit now is reflecting on what might have been my final hours of my life and just how desperate they were. Not what anybody dreams of. No angels. No heartfelt goodbyes. Just lots of alcohol, drugs, pills, arm cutting and hysteria. The scary part is I do not remember the last bit, the ambulance, the bit where I stopped breathing. I remember falling asleep on the back seat of a police car and then waking up some days later with a tube breathing for me and wires in my neck and arms.

Ok it wasn’t that bad to write the above. I don’t feel depressed by it. Ashamed, a little. Mostly I just can’t believe it. And I don’t know what brought me back. They said I was very lucky. I agree with them. I would like my last hours to be better than that. I deserve better than that. I don’t want it to ever get that bad again. Ever.

I gotta keep on with all my therapy and all my honesty and keep on saying I need help when I think I might. I know that for certain I do not want my life to end in that way. I can’t imagine what my family and friends felt while I was like that. No matter how bad it gets, that is not how I want to leave this earth.

I think being in a coma is the worst thing I have ever done to myself. I have a small scar on my neck from one of the wires they put in me and it upsets me. I don’t like looking at it. I guess I don’t like remembering.  They kept me alive and brought me back and that has to be for something. I think I can make it be for something. I’m gonna try. I really am gonna try.

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Understanding BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder)

I saw a video on Youtube recently which was shared on a Facebook page called “People that inspire humanity”. The video was a short documentary about a girl who suffers from a severe form of autism. It documented her life, a very difficult life, and her family’s difficulties. This young girl, now a teenager, had been unable to communicate to her loved ones her entire life. Her parents, despite everything they had been told about her condition, despite her extreme behaviour and seemingly hopeless cause, never gave up. They believed they saw behind her eyes, I suppose you could say, her soul. They saw life in her and they saw something amazing in her. After many years of trying to help this girl, after being told she would be better in an institution, that basically she had no intelligence whatsoever, something remarkable happened. A psychologist involved with her care taught her to use the keys on a laptop. If she wanted anything, she had to sit and write. And after many hours of practice, and after making some basic words, one day she was able to send her dad a message on Skype. She said “dad I like it when you read to me”. Her father said it was the happiest day of his life. He had been reading to her for most of her life and he didn’t know in himself whether she knew what he was saying, he just hoped.

This young teenage girl has now become so adept at typing that she has written a book. For some researchers in the area of Autism, what she is able to do is give conclusive evidence that she is there, that she is cognitive, that she feels and that she is alive, very alive. She describes what happens in her brain, in her perception and it is truly remarkable. She says when she looks at somebody, she sees the image of them magnified a hundred times, her senses are overloaded, it is often too much to bear. This young lady now has millions of followers on Twitter and is without doubt a living inspiration.

Sometimes I feel like I cannot communicate to people what it is like to live with BPD, PTSD, Depression, a mental illness. In particular to people I love, people I hurt, people who walk away because they cannot stay, because perhaps their own senses are overloaded. I want to tell you about two things, the first is about the extra 20% and the second is about something that happened recently and then I want to tell you why it is so important to not give up on the person you love and how you can help them.

If you look up BPD on Wikipedia there is lots of helpful information but one statistic that stands out to me. “an average person feels an emotion for 12 seconds and somebody with BPD feels the same emotion for 2 seconds longer, that is 20% longer” now if you think about how many emotions you feel throughout an average day, happy, sad, indifferent, joyful, annoyed etc. then let’s say that’s a few hundred emotions a day. I have felt 20% more emotions than an average person, or, I have felt each one longer and over time, over many months or maybe even years, I have felt 20% more emotion than an average person. What this means is that I feel fear longer, I feel sadness longer, I feel shame, humiliation, guilt, loneliness, I feel all of that 20% more than you. But the important thing to understand is that I do not choose to feel those emotions longer. My brain interprets emotion differently to yours. My emotional senses are overloaded. And because of this, I have coping mechanisms that you don’t have, that you don’t need and behaviours that make no sense, that make you despair at me, as did the people around the girl with autism.

There is a plus side to this and it is something I am very grateful for. I feel positive emotions for 20% longer as well. I feel love, compassion, happiness, joy, I see beauty in things, with a depth that you may not have experienced. It is the part of the condition that makes me “sensitive” that makes me caring, understanding of others, hopeful and kind. It is because I feel this spectrum of emotion that I am who I am and yet it is this same overloading of feelings that makes me very confused about who I am. Nobody is more upset than me after I have behaved in a way that has hurt you. I feel regret very deeply and more often than not I feel despair because I cannot make you feel what I feel. I cannot show you, I cannot explain properly, I am very alone a lot of the time.

Now I want to tell you about something that happened this week, something which disturbed me and something which at the same time gave me hope, that I may one day not have the extra 20%, that I may feel things as you do. I was in a mental health setting and I heard somebody in extreme distress nearby to where I was. This person was screaming with such emotion and pain that it would have been easy to assume they were in extreme physical pain, extreme trauma. And the things, some coherent and some not, that I heard, literally broke my heart. This person was screaming about things that had happened to them, and these were things that had happened to me, these were things I know myself to have screamed. And I could have been annoyed, I could have wanted to get as far away as possible from this screaming, from this emotional outburst, and I did, I did want to leave but my instinct, my compassion, my “sensitivity” wanted something else. I wanted somebody to stop this person, to hold them back from themself, to take the pain away. I wished for an injection, a tablet, I wished for them to sleep, to tire and sleep, but mostly I wished I could hold this person very tight, to tell them they were safe, they were loved, and they would be okay. Because that is what I know this person needs. I know it is what they need because sometimes it is what I need. Sometimes the things in my mind are so overwhelming, the behaviours are so extreme, I need saving from myself, I lose control and I do not know who I am anymore.

I am very lucky, like the girl with autism. Her father never gave up on her, and my dad has never given up on me. Many people have not given up on me, when all the logic in the world tells me they should. Sometimes, when we don’t know who we are, we don’t know why we are doing what we are doing, it just takes a person with hope to see something behind those eyes, something we cannot see ourselves, to save us. To tell us that we can be okay. You know if that girl could sit at her laptop day after day trying to express what she feels, and finally one day, say something to show that she was alive, that she was in there, then I thought, maybe I can do that too, maybe one day the people that have given up or don’t believe there is a good person in there, maybe they could see, maybe they could understand.

I very much miss the people who have walked away or have stepped away and I do not know the way to heal everything. I am learning to heal myself first so that I may one day be able to heal my relationships with the people I care about the most. But you know when I try to express myself, if there is one thing I can ask you to understand, it is that I am living with an extra 20% of everything, good and bad, but that the rest of me, the rest of me is in there, and sometimes you need the people who know you the most to remind you of what the rest is, to keep on showing you reasonable behaviours, reasonable emotional processing times, to help you back to yourself. I wasn’t born with this disorder, and I am not a victim. Life came at me in a way it might not have come at you, my experiences changed me, for the worse sometimes, but for the better sometimes as well. And you, the people I love, the people that love me, are part of my future, part of my potential safe and balanced experiences to come, that’s what I hope. Cause I do have hope, 20% extra some days.

I have undergone 6 months therapy for PTSD which has helped me to come to terms with traumatic events that occurred in my life. I am currently undergoing a 6 month DBT program and hoping to be able to live a normal, balanced life in the very near future. Thank you for listening.

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a letter to myself at 34yrs old

I love you every day, even on the days when I’m convinced I don’t or can’t.

There’s the smallest possibility that things can change and you believe that even when you forget it or when possibilities seem gone forever.

I don’t think its easy for one to know how to love oneself but I do think its more sensible to fall in love with your life. Because that includes everything around you and not just within you.

Don’t be surprised if you haven’t seen the worst, and worse things happen. That might just mean you also haven’t seen the best and that better things may happen too.

Be at your funeral, see it in your mind at your worst moments and see all the love there is in the room for you, let it light up your heart and give you the strength to go on.

Tell people you need help, accept it and don’t ever be ashamed of saying you have a mental illness. Say it with pride because only you knows the battle fought to be where you are, let that knowledge give you the courage to stand tall.

Accept adversity and don’t let it stress you out. Everything that happens happens to others and they find a way of coping. Ask them how.

Remember, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. One life. Live it to the best of your ability and follow your heart.

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