Does Size Matter?

woman-winking

Appreciating the little things, not the big things. That’s what life is all about.

Well, hopefully that got you reading on…

Many people I speak to who have been through Anxiety and come out the other side, are left with an overwhelming appreciation for the seemingly smaller things in life. When I say smaller, I suppose I mean the things that perhaps we tend to overlook in our search for the “bigger, more important” things, like a high flying career, a perfect relationship, a constantly desirable exciting life, becoming rich, having the “perfect” figure. These big things often become the ultimate aim and prize of happiness for people and whilst they are on that search for happiness through these means, they completely miss the tiny, precious things along the way. The things that, if we let them, can bring more happiness and contentment than we ever would have thought.

I used to focus on my BIG goals, and this ideal of a lifestyle I was striving towards – must get a better job, must keep the social calendar full, must get a boyfriend, must buy a flat, must be achieving – but one of the many things Anxiety has taught me is to stop striving for something invisible, because all this does (if not achieved) is bring me disappointment and a sense of discontent. And plus, even if it is achieved, there will then always be some other big thing to replace it. Sure, I want to do well in my job and I’d love to meet a lovely guy to settle with one day and I love to plan social things to look forward to because I love being around my friends. But those things are no longer the key to my happiness; my happiness comes from inside me, in the moment, in the now and in the things I have right at my fingertips in any given moment. It was only up until about six months ago that I actually realised that these big things that we focus on in order to bring happiness are complete mirages. They’re not real. Isn’t that totally baffling?! To me it really was a mind boggling moment. It sounds bizarre but it truly had never crossed my mind that these things I envisage and imagine as keys to my happiness (sometimes almost unconsciously) were total and utter fantasies based on the conditioning of my own mind, which of course comes from social views / family views and any other circles we may have been influenced by.

So for example, I may have imagined myself as married by 28 with children by 33 (TOTAL example, plucked out the air) but that never meant it would ACTUALLY happen (almost certain it won’t unless some guy is willing to act bloody fast…).  But I might get to 30, get offered a job in Russia, go there for two years, then come back, meet Jonny Wilkinson (now we’re really dreaming…), have a mad love affair with him, then join the army, then become a Nun…it goes on. I mean, could be the best thing to ever happen to me, I might make some really amazing Nun friends, start some kind of business and thrive in the Nun world in some other way. But you see what I’m saying, I actually have ZERO control over what happens in my future because things change all the time so even though right now I don’t fancy being a Nun, perhaps in a few years I would. I mean it’s unlikely, but it’s not impossible. Baffling?! But also quite a relief as well don’t you think?!

Anyway, here’s that funny Nun from Sister Act:

nun

I do believe that extreme things happen to you sometimes in order to stop you dead in your tracks and force you to face your reality and who you are. As if someone somewhere, or perhaps my own self was saying: ‘Woahhhh, time to stop attempting to control an imaginary future, let’s open our eyes for a second’. As if pulling me up short with Anxiety and Panic Attacks and forcing me to allow my reality to just BE. And do you know what? It really did. It spun me and spun me round until I had no choice but to live very much in the Now. And honestly, it’s been one of the best lessons of my life.

Now, more and more, I take joy in “small” things like, sharing a cup of tea and having a chat with a friend, dancing round my bedroom to Beyoncé, daydreaming about a beautiful man, a chilled evening in reading a book, having a clean tidy flat, going out to some quirky new place in London, phone conversations with my Mum, a night in watching Made in Chelsea (guilty pleasure, sorry, I know it’s cringe but I love it…), clean sheets on my bed (errrr, bliss?!), writing, enjoying a reeeeally tasty dinner (I hope I will never EVER take my appetite, my love for food nor my ability to eat for granted again). These things always existed in my life before but I never really saw them as more important or precious than the Big things I thought I was controlling and focusing on.

I think that’ll do for that philosophical Nun / Size related rant. Hope you enjoyed and feel free to comment away…

 

 

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Posted in Acceptance, Anxiety, Anxiety disorders, At Last a Life, Confidence, Dating, Depression, Develop, Dignity, Emotions, GAD, Growth, Journey, Learn, London, Mental health, Mindfulness, Panic attacks, Paul David, Positivity, Strength, Uncategorized, Unpredictable | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paul David Fan Club

I’ve said it before, but I will stress again that there is NOTHING like talking to someone who has experienced the same thing as you. So anyone suffering Anxiety will really relate to Emily’s video here. As you will see, she is another advocate for Paul David and his wonderful advice.

Talk about it, share it, make a video, write about it, anything you want to do. All comments / questions welcome.

Posted in Acceptance, Anxiety, Anxiety disorders, At Last a Life, Breakdown, Confidence, Depression, Develop, Dignity, Emotions, GAD, Growth, Journey, Learn, Mental health, Mindfulness, Panic attacks, Paul David, Positivity, Professor Green, Strength, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sophie’s Story (NOT Choice…)

I made another lovely friend through Paul David, a fair few months ago now. Sharing your experience with someone who truly understands is one of the most valuable things you can do when you are suffering – I truly believe humans are all here on this earth for that reason. To help each other 🙂 So I finally convinced her to write her story for my blog as she herself has been on, and is still on, an inspiring journey. An honest and real story, I am sure many people will be able to relate to this…

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Sophie’s Story

Gosh, to be honest I have no idea where to start with this post. I guess from the very beginning but it might end up being of dissertation length so I can only apologise for that.

Ever since I was young, I have never handled stress very well. I used to get extremely homesick (I still do sometimes now actually) and when I had exams at secondary school I got so stressed about it I fainted in the middle of the exam. I was also always extremely sensitive to any kind of life events or decisions. When I was at university I had extremely high anxiety and went to numerous therapists and was put on some anti depressants (obviously). That was actually the first time I experienced depersonalization. I remember saying to my mum ‘I feel weird, like I don’t feel in this world and I have no idea why or what it is’. I went to doctors, now dp wasn’t very well known at the time so they all just looked at me with very confused faces. My mum proceeded to Google my symptoms and told that this ‘thing’ has a name….depersonalisation. I actually found it quite comforting that I wasn’t going mad and to be totally honest with you I can’t even remember how or why it went, but went it did. I think I was finishing university and an exciting summer to look forward to so life events took over and my mind was occupied on other things.

The next 10 or so years of my life were still filled with an underlying tone of anxiety, it was up and down but for me I didn’t really consider it to be a problem so I carried on just accepting that that was who I was and was just something that was a part of me. I won’t bore you with all the details of those 10 years so I’ll just bring you forward to a year ago (and boy do I remind myself it’s been a year!) where I had an extremely stressful year. I went to hospital for severe anaemia and no one knew why I was so anaemic so I was in and out of hospital for a while. Because I am so sensitive and I pretty much worry about EVERYTHING this whole ordeal was extremely traumatic for me. Then once I had the all clear, I had job stresses, love life stresses that literally consumed me and my thoughts for quite a few months. For some reason I couldn’t think about things rationally, my mind would jump to the worst case scenario which would then send me into a spin that I couldn’t get out of; I felt totally and utterly trapped in my own mind. It was then around October of last year when I had – in a nutshell – a nervous breakdown. The depersonalization was back in full force, everything was a dream, I had every single physical and mental symptom you could imagine, all day everyday. I went to many doctors and psychiatrists and tried about 7 anti depressants in a row, it was all a haze to be honest and was a path I never felt comfortable about going down and none of them made me feel better.  One doctor even said to me ‘if you don’t take one of these pills every day you will NEVER get better’, I mean I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure no doctor should EVER be able to say that to a patient, it was absolutely shocking.

Obviously as someone with anxiety, I started to do a lot of googling, most of it totally freaked me out and the only good thing to come out of it was finding Paul David and his wonderful website. Something about how he spoke about anxiety and the fact he had suffered with it for 10 years really clicked with me. I had already bought about 50 books on the subject and none of them helped but his book was just so relatable and he put it all so simply. And the fact that he had actually been through it was the icing on the cake.

Now although the advice is simple, boy is it hard to do….just letting it all be there…I mean how on EARTH do you do that? It took me a loooonnngggg time to realize that striving for acceptance is a battle in itself because for so long I was trying to work out how I do that and then getting frustrated that whatever I was trying to do wasn’t working. Then you start to realise that you just can’t force acceptance, you just can’t. It has to happen on its own naturally, which it will. You just have to have faith that it will happen for you at some point.  Some people takes years to recover and for others it can be a matter of weeks/months, never EVER put a time limit on this because you will only end up getting more frustrated. Trust me on that. I used to say ‘God I hope I’m better by that holiday or that event’ and when I wasn’t it used to really throw me. The whole thing is such a random process, my friend and I call it ‘The lucky dip of nightmares’ because that’s what it is. You can be feeling utterly horrific for ages and then suddenly you’ll have a day where it all seems easier and not so difficult. I had that day this week and the ironic thing was I had slept like crap the night before and woke up ‘oh god this is going to be a difficult day’ but it wasn’t, it all felt lighter and I felt much calmer. I think this is when I realised that you can’t predict what will happen on any day. I read on Paul’s blog when someone said ‘You can’t steer the ship, you have to be a passenger’ which is just so true for me.

So where am I now? I don’t want this to be another story from someone with anxiety who says I am totally recovered and all is well with the world because it’s not. I still have dp and a lot of issues that are still there and the anxiety is still often roaring away but I can tell you one thing, I have come a LONG way from where I was a year ago. Now when I feel anxious or my heart races, sure I don’t like but I’m don’t think it’s the end of the world anymore and that’s the difference. I know what it is and I know one day it will go. Would I have like to have recovered quicker than this? Of course. But I am who I am, I am impatient and are a natural born worrier so I know for me it will take a while but you know what? That is OK too. At the end of the day having hope is all we can have and with anxiety it is THE most important mind frame you can adopt.

I hope anyone who is reading this can take solace in the fact that I know EXACTLY what you’re going through right now and it DOES get better, make no mistake in that. I just can’t promise you when but it will happen and that’s all you need to know.

Posted in Acceptance, Anxiety, Anxiety disorders, At Last a Life, Breakdown, Confidence, Depression, Develop, Dignity, Emotions, GAD, Growth, Journey, Learn, Mental health, Mindfulness, Panic attacks, Paul David, Positivity, Strength | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No one ever analyses feeling good because Analysis itself is the cause of feeling bad…

sunshineIn all my previous posts about Anxiety, I’ve always talked about the feelings of being in the depths of it, how you feel when it is consuming you, how you feel when all you want to do is find the OFF switch inside your head and whack it (surely there has just been some kind of malfunction in this machine?! Something must be able to switch it off??)

I’ve never really talked about the moments when it lifts, when the sun comes out and peace is resumed. You’ve become so used to expecting nothing from your anxious state that, when it begins to heal, you barely clock it. It’s almost a bit bizarre – “What? Where’s lovely Mr Anxiety gone? I sort of miss him…” (TOTALLY kidding). The reason is, because when it lifts, you don’t really question or analyse it, because the analysis is the very malfunction that has now righted itself. In a way, you can only really analyse and focus on feeling good when you are feeling bad, because that is the time that you so badly want to be back there and when your mind is going at an unhealthy and unnecessary 100mph.

I’m not talking about how you feel when you accept it and live WITH it, which is an essential attitude to adopt in order to recover, and is a state that we have to be in for quite some time before symptoms lift. I’m talking about when it all actually lifts off you, for whatever reason, for however long. I’ve been lucky enough to experience these rare moments now and it fills me with happiness and relief that I am heading in the right direction. I’m not saying it’s often and I’m not saying it’s always for a long period of time, but I’ve felt it. I woke up last Saturday, after sleeping well, and blinked as I opened my eyes, adjusting to the realisation that it was a Saturday (yes!). I rolled over and closed my eyes again for, I’d say, about three minutes then opened them again in a sleepy, but fresh state. It was only after about five minutes that my mind flicked lazily to Anxiety. It felt almost odd and like an engrained memory than a reality. No reaction. I don’t feel it. I felt… normal. No symptoms. I gazed around me and for a moment, I was slightly in shock that a) it hadn’t been my first thought on waking and b) that I didn’t feel it, not at all. My mind felt so clear. Like my view was so wide reaching and peaceful. My chest was loose, throat and jaw relaxed, no churning, no sickness, no fear. I felt…hungry?! Everything just, sort of, made sense, and it was obvious that no analysis or grip was needed. No control or worry required. Whatever happened was OK; I was safe.

It was truly amazing, to experience that for that time. I’m not saying symptoms didn’t return throughout the day and 5 days on I’m now in a setback, but I experienced it on Saturday, which means I know that Quiet is there, beneath the injured layers.

For anyone deep in the Anxiety struggle, know that it gets easier and easier with time. Time, really, is the only thing that heals you, because with time comes experience and knowledge of what helps and what doesn’t help.

Analysing and attempting to fix does not help. Leaving it to be there does help. And that is the same for everyone. But truly, you will still need to go through it yourself and make those mistakes in order to learn it yourself. We are humans, we test ourselves, we try, we fight, we want to be better, that’s just who we are.

Don’t look for it, just know that it will come to you. You will never find that reason you’re searching for; there isn’t one. You’ll never find the answer you’re seeking; there isn’t one. But at some point, the questionning and the analysis will just drop; this is your healthy natural state. This is the way you will eventually be all the time but you can’t rush the process and you can’t manufacture it. Trust me, I’ve tried. Anxiety is an all consuming cloak that wraps itself round you and warps everything; the upside is that when you allow it to wrap itself round you, it eventually just drops away and warps nothing. No logic whatsoever but when it’s gone, it’s just gone. There aren’t individual things to be fixed, it’s not possible, because it’s all caused by the same thing – Anxiety.

Fix nothing, huddle into the cloak and eventually the cloak drops away by itself. Expect to walk around like this for a little while:

cloak

Peace lies ahead; it doesn’t matter how long you’ve had this or how deeply you’re lost right now. Remember that peace lies ahead for everyone. Give Time time and remember that the problem does not lie in the thing you are analysing, but in Analysis itself.

Posted in Acceptance, Anxiety, Anxiety disorders, At Last a Life, Breakdown, Confidence, Depression, Develop, Dignity, Emotions, GAD, Growth, Journey, Learn, Mental health, Mindfulness, NHS, Panic attacks, Paul David, Positivity, Professor Green, Strength | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Donkeys chasing carrots on sticks

I’ve lost track of the number of girls and guys I’ve met who have admitted to suffering with Anxiety at some point in their lives; many I have met seem to be mid-20s to mid-30s although of course all age ranges feel it I’m sure.

What is it about the modern world that attributes to this in all of us ‘youngsters’?!

Is it this idea that we ‘should’ be doing something else? That in some way we’re not doing the right thing or the same things as others? Not as attractive as her? Not as fun as him or her? Don’t have a boyfriend and she does? Don’t have a clear career path and they do…? The list is endless…

There’s so many things that seem to be at the root of this feeling that something is missing from our lives, something is not right, that we’re failing in some way. And yet, look at us all?! We’re doing a bloody amazing job. The options for us today, compared to say, thirty/forty years ago, are so broad and far reaching that in a way, things are more difficult. Why get a desk job when there’s a job on a yacht in France?! Why do something that you may find boring when you could do your hobby and get paid for it!? Why be with a mediocre guy when the ‘perfect’ guy is out there? The problem is, we’re sold happiness…we’re sold an idea that we can make ourselves happy all the time. Professor Green said something that resonated with me massively:

Prof Green

What is this mad idea that everything we do should fulfill and excite us?! Our parents went to work because they had to and that was their only job option at the time and they never stopped and said ‘Am I enjoying this? Am I happy? My happiness is so very important…’ because it wasn’t high on the priority list. They just accepted that it may not always be great fun and they did it anyway. There’s something in this don’t you think?

It’s this constant search for happiness that drives the very thing away and makes it this unreachable treasure chest that, in the end, can never actually be reached or opened. This idea that ‘if I get this type of job, I’ll be happy. If I get a boyfriend, I’ll be happy. If I get married, I’ll be happy. If I lose a stone, I’ll be happy.’ It’s a mirage, because chances are if you finally get this ‘thing’ you think you need, your mindset will have already changed or you’ll be after something else by then.

Anxiety makes us into donkeys. (I like horses and donkeys ok!)

We see this carrot dangling on a stick in front of us and all we can think about is reaching that carrot because if we can reach the carrot we’ll feel so amazing and full and happy so we turn ourselves in circles and throw our heads around trying to reach this damned carrot, but usually to no avail, because no matter how fast we run and how many different angles and shapes we turn ourselves in to reach this carrot, it just remains this unreachable delight. And chances are if you do get hold of it (or you think you do) it never quite tastes like you thought it would and you start looking around for another carrot to chase…The thing is, whilst you were mid throwing your head around and concentrating on this one carrot in front of you, you missed a bunch of easily accessible plainer looking carrots growing new out the ground nearby.

Am I making sense?

Below is a donkey…

donkey

I know it is hard to let go of these things because ‘society says’ we need certain things. But, hang on a minute, DOES society say that?! Who is society anyway?! Is it just your own inner voice that demands these things of you? No one (expect maybe your parents from time to time…standard) actually tells you you should be doing things; generally it’s just you who thinks you should be and when you see your friend gets engaged or a colleague get a promotion, you start beating yourself up mentally saying ‘you are a failure, you don’t have these things…’ when no one else has even blinked or noticed…

I mean, would you say these things to your best mate??!

Everyone is on a different journey; everyone has their happy moments; everyone has their sad moments; nearly everyone, at some point, thinks they should be doing something that someone else is doing; anyone who says they don’t is lying.

If we all did exactly the same thing, life would be very boring.

Ultimately, there are very few things you can control about your life, past an initial job application, or perhaps left or right swipe (kidding!). Nearly everything you think about that you want to control is actually totally beyond your control (imagine that for a moment). And anyone who thinks they are controlling things is actually just making themselves feel better by convincing themselves of this.

There’s no controlling if an HR employee will read and put forward your CV, there’s no controlling if another guy or girl likes you and wants to be with you, there’s no controlling how other people act towards you, there’s no controlling if you can afford a flat or if you will be granted a mortgage, there’s no controlling if someone you love is hurt tomorrow, there’s no controlling how other people feel…When you look at all these things you realise how irrelevant we really are in the workings of our own lives.

All we do is ride the wave, we don’t create it, nor do we choose which wave takes us. All we can do is our best for ourselves and for others. And I’d say anyone who is reading this can either afford a phone, a PC, a laptop, has a job using a computer, or has paid for an internet cafe, therefore by those standards, you’re all doing pretty damn well….

Posted in Acceptance, Anxiety disorders, At Last a Life, Breakdown, Confidence, Depression, Develop, Dignity, Emotions, GAD, Growth, Journey, Learn, London, Mental health, Mindfulness, NHS, Panic attacks, Paul David, Positivity, Professor Green, Single girls, Strength | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stroking the Pussycat…(I get Anxiety and what…?)

I spoke to a friend of a friend recently, who said something to me that really clicked something within me. She said: “Yes, I get Anxiety, but you know what, embrace it. It shows you care and that you have this wonderful capacity to feel so much.”

That’s when I realised that through Paul David’s book, a little part of me had believed I was still following a ‘method’, that I was aiming for something – some day when I wouldn’t feel this anymore. And despite Paul stating so often that there was nothing to ‘do’, by its very nature, a book becomes a means or a tool to follow or use to ‘get better’. But, I realised in that moment, that I’m not aiming for anything. There’s nothing to recover from, because there’s nothing wrong with me. There’s no setbacks because there’s nowhere to reach. I’m just me. All these emotions are me and will always be part of me. There’ll never be a day when I’m ‘safe’ from them or that they won’t have the capacity to rise up should the circumstances require. I’m just me and I feel the way I feel. And if that feeling is ‘bad’ sometimes, then I just let it play out until I’m ready to feel happy again.

All you can do is be very honest with yourself, then be very kind to yourself. 

I imagine it like an animal inside me, mostly I think of it as a cat. At the moment, or the past year, it has been a huge cat, and sits in my chest, my brain, wherever it fancies, swamping everything. When I get upset about it and start pushing it away and willing it out, it hisses and spits and digs its claws in and grows even bigger. When I let it stretch itself out inside me and don’t get worked up, it goes to sleep and purrs and slowly shrinks. I’ve come to the conclusion that this cat will probably always be part of me but the more I stroke it, over time it will shrink and shrink until it is a tiny kitten, happily sleeping inside me.

little_cute_cat_1920x1080

And that’s OK!!!!

Posted in Acceptance, Anxiety, Anxiety disorders, Confidence, Depression, Develop, Emotions, GAD, Growth, Learn, Mental health, Panic attacks, Paul David, Positivity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rugby Balls, Touching and True Love

Jonny W

I’m currently in Love. Yes, it’s real love. I will have no one tell me otherwise.

FYI it’s not with Jonny Wilkinson (well, not for the purposes of this post anyway). In fact that image is not in the slightest bit relevant to this post, but I just thought this photo was enjoyable all round really.

OKKKKKK, soooooo……..

I play Touch Rugby in a mixed league with a bunch of colleagues from work. There’s a little fact about me. And no, it’s not just to meet men (totally the only reason I originally signed up).

So anyway, about four weeks ago we were due to play but had no subs so before the match I scurried over to a huddle of players nearby who had just played their own match – “Hellooo! Would anyone like to sub for us?” and there were a few blank / averted looks but two of the guys responded – “Yeh! We will play again no worries” – in broad Kiwi accents. I couldn’t help but notice (clocked in a second) that one of the guys was mildly attractive (LOOK at those calves…) but I just sort of pretended not to notice (How does one do that?) and said, trying to sound nonchalant… “Ah cool! Thanks so much! We are playing on Pitch 4 in 10 mins.”

God I’m so cool.

I walked back over and they followed in a few minutes’ time. Calves – we’ll call him Calves (my creativity has no limits) appeared next to me and introduced himself to the others in a sort of male/bro/sportsmanny/cool/rugbyish type way whilst I pretended not to notice his fantastic tanned arms and built chest. Our Captain, we’ll call him Captain Pink (don’t ask) is talking through match tactics and I’m nodding ferociously, listening with intent…  (What does my hair look like scraped back like this? Should I let the fringe down? Does my bum look good in these leggings? If I have to run fast will I look really red? Maybe I should avoid running this match. This jersey does NOTHING for my shape…)

Whistle blows, off we go. Calves sprints around all over the shop, shouting directions to us all and catching and throwing the ball deftly whilst I bounded around on the wing waiting for the ball to come this way (/watching Calves). Come on FunnyMind, catch the ball if it comes towards you, try and score something then you’ll look good, look like you know what you’re doing, look engrossed in play *attempted engrossed look* Does my bum look good in these leggings? 

Suddenly he’s running towards me, shouting something and I jump to action, running forwards. “Come with me! Come with me!” He’s shouting. (Anywhere Calves, anywhere...) and off we sprint as the opposition come at us from the diagonal. He turns, meets my eye as we sprint and passes to me just as the defence touches him. Catch it, catch it, catch it, catch it, catch it…. I catch it! I rocket forwards to the try line with excitement. (This is my moment!!! TR…!)  “Touch.” Cow from the other team appears from nowhere and touches me a foot from the Try line. (HUMPH).

Calves turns with me as we head back to the mark, looks at me with those big brown eyes and says… “Ah bad luck, nice running though.”

And there it is. I’m in Love.

He just complimented me?!OMG….He thinks I’m good. *Insides bubbling*. He just said ‘Nice Running’. NICE. RUNNING. He saw me running. And he thinks it was nice. Wonder what my bum looked like whilst I was running? Wonder if he meant that on more than one level? Wonder what he’s thinking now? Nice running – can’t wait to tell the girls about this…

The match ends with a 2-2 draw and we all shake hands and head back to the side line. Calves is pulling on a jumper, everyone is swigging water and congratulating each other on a well played game. I loiter nearby, in a suitable position for Calves to speak to me SHOULD he want to…He looks at me; if possible he looks better now than before the match, ruffled, sweaty, hot (cue fantasy). He says: “Good game. Thanks for asking us to play, we go to the pub after matches usually so you guys should join us there?” (*Heart leaping*…yesssss!) 

“Oh yeh, that would be cool, we go there sometimes too so would definitely join you, yeh…” (what are you on about woman? He hasn’t told you which pub yet..)

It doesn’t seem to phase him. “Also, we’re taking part in this day tournament in London in a few months, basically a big drinking fest, the touch rugby is just an excuse, if you get a team together you guys could join?” (Errrr….this is getting better and better….).

Those eyes, melting, melting. Like some kind of miracle, he’s reaching into his bag, pulling out his phone…(Ask me for my number!! Email?…Hand in marriage?). “So why don’t I take…(yes? yes..?). He turns to Captain Pink who is, in every sense possible, disinterested, chomping on flapjack and idly watching the women’s rugby taking place nearby, “…your email address mate?” (Errr, what?! HIM!?). Calves is actually now having to try and get Captain Pink’s attention whilst my email address and I stand by and watch.

I mean, this is madness. “Mate?” Calves steps towards Captain Pink waving his phone at him. Oh come on Calves, play it a bit cool. Now he’s basically forcing his contact details on the man. Captain Pink zones back in, as if this is the least important thing in his life right now. “Ah yeh, sure, good call mate,” and I watch, suitably unimpressed, as he spells out his work email lazily.

“Cool, well I’ll see you guys around anyway,” Calves drops his phone in his bag and nods as everyone shouts ‘Cheers, thanks!’ and off he goes.

Right. Well GREAT, Captain Pinks has certainly done well here. Well, it’s OK, this is easy to solve, I just have to befriend Captain Pink to the extent that he tells me whenever he gets any emails from anyone. That’s not too hard right? Or is that weird? That’s weird. And plus he might become friends with Calves and tell him I’m weird then. I could just bring it up in conversation somehow. OK, NO, I’ve got it, I won’t ask him, I’ll just get access to his emails somehow. No, I’ll hack into his email address. How do I do that? Not enough knowledge. No, I’ll befriend IT somehow to get THEM to hack into his email address for me, YES, this is brilliant. Although IT might not go for that. I’ve got it! I’ll BREAK Captain Pink’s computer so that IT have to go and fix it then I’ll sneak in whilst it’s being fixed and….No I don’t know where that’s going. Perhaps…

“FunnyMind?” Back to the rugby pitch. “We’re going, are you coming?”

Ah, Captain Pink, my new best friend and future Best Man calling me. “Comingggggg!!” Off I scuttle…

This is most certainly an agenda item for Sunday

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Anxiety. Who to talk to. And who NOT to talk to.

“Pull yourself together.”

Anyone heard this? Or something to this effect?

Of course we have. It’s such a wonderful piece of advice is it not?? OHHHHHHH, pull myself together?! WHY did I not think of this fantastic little nugget of wisdom. Where’s one half of me? There. And the other. Right, now PULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL. Is it working? No. PULL HARDERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

divorce tug of war

Well, this image is more pulling someone apart, but I couldn’t find an image of someone being pulled together OK. (Probably because it doesn’t exist without resulting in some kind of organ malfunction…)

One of the hardest things I found and still find, when it comes to Anxiety is not being able to open up about it in the way you want to to certain family members or friends. Because let’s face it. Some people just DO.NOT.GET.IT.

When everything started happening to me, I was completely freaked out and ran from person to person desperately seeking advice and support. Anything that would make it all go away. Firstly, when you have no idea what is going on yourself, there is very little chance of someone else being able to explain it to you either, because most of the time talking only helps because deep down you already know the answer yourself, the chat just allows you to voice it. But when you are in the early stages of Anxiety, you genuinely don’t know the answer, so you feel totally lost. Secondly, unless you are lucky enough to know someone who has been through Anxiety themselves, you may not only fail to find the right advice, but you also may be given advice to make you feel worse!

When I had my initial breakdown and had spent a day in my bed, terrified, shaking, cold, hot, unable to sleep, eat, talk with sense, there was a stage where my Dad came downstairs to speak to me, entered the room with a quite meaningful stride, sat down with purpose, prepared himself for a moment then looked down at me sternly and said the following…

“Look. FunnyMind.”

Yes Dad? I’m looking? Is this going to be the answer I’m so desperate for?

“You really need to stop this now or you’ll make yourself ill.”

It makes me giggle a bit now actually. But at the time, can you imagine, the fear shooting through me?! (I need to stop this now!! Or I’m going to make myself ILL!!! OH GOD!!? How do I stop it??! Before I get ill?!)

PANIC!!!!

When you step away from all incorrect advice and read up on your condition, to understand the process correctly (Claire Weekes / Paul David) then you take a deep sigh of relief and you realise you’re not forever doomed. I’m going to LIIIIIIIIIVE!!! I’m not mental!!?? I’m going to one day be free free freeeee agaiiiiiiiiiiin!

maxresdefault

….but you still have a tough time ahead of course as these things take sooooo much time.  It is at this point that you tend to want to talk about your journey and what is happening in your life. Sometimes with enthusiasm. “I’ve found this AMAZING information, this man, Paul David, he’s changed my life, and all I have to do it give it time and be kind to myself and move through it all and I’m not dying like I thought I was!!!”

People who haven’t seen you for a while say ‘How are you? What you been up to?’ and all you want to say is ‘Anxiety’ because it is all that is in your head currently. So particularly with close family members, often parents, you want to open up and tell them everything you have learnt and how you finally see some light and can go forwards with this new attitude, as hard as it may be.

I see Anxiety it for what it is now and if it comes at me I allow it to rage away until it dips by itself and trickles out. But I still want to talk about it with friends and family as I think this helps me accept that this has actually happened to me. This has been a journey unlike any I have ever been through so inevitably I want to share my thoughts with the people closest to me. I came home this weekend and felt the urge to tell my Dad how I have been, the progress I have made and felt tears coming as I opened up about how tough it has been. Crying. Don’t men love crying? NOT.

He watched me talking then said (another favourite): “But, don’t be silly. What are you anxious about?”

Me being oversensitive, I reacted in a slightly exaggerated way at this, naturally. Yeh…need to work on that…

So he said: “I think you should go to the Doctor, I mean you have been talking about this since X and perhaps he can give you something.”

DUN DUN DERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

PANIC.

Such a positive mindset when I went into that talk yet what was I thinking setting myself up for self destruction in that way? Was that necessary? Did that help anyone really?

My point in telling this story is that, one of the hardest things about mental health issues is that as close as you may be to a family member or friend, whether it is a parent or even your partner, you have to accept that sometimes it is actually to your detriment to open up to them. Not everyone has to get it. Not everyone will. Don’t bash your head (and your Anxiety) against the wall attempting to convince someone about it, to explain it, to shove Paul’s book at them in the hope they will read it and suddenly get it. My Dad has his views on the world, on mental health, and who am I to shake them? That’s about as unfair as him attempting to change mine.

Me going through Anxiety really shook my parents, worried them, put strain on them and ultimately, made them feel useless because they couldn’t take it all away like they so wanted to. Parents, by their very nature, like to fix things and make the problems go away. Ultimately this is because they care. So sometimes more peace can be found, for all sides, in holding back some information and honesty about your condition, and saving it for someone who gets it more or even a counsellor who will listen and understand but NOT offer the wrong advice. I have some amazing friends who understand what I am going through and know that sometimes I just need an ear. I’m lucky enough to be able to wail at them when I need to and I will eternally return that favour to all of them if they ever need it (you ladies know who you are). When you get the urge to open up to someone close to you, who may have delivered similar responses to my Dad in the past, perhaps think about what there is to gain in that exchange before you talk. Can you text a friend instead? Write it in a diary? Save it for a phone chat with a mate later that day? Think first.

Also, ultimately, and most importantly, be thankful for the knowledge you have gained yourself and know that with this new knowledge, you can get through absolutely anything alone if you are prepared to face and accept all your emotions.

Now, time to find Dad and whack on Monty Python for a laugh…

Posted in Acceptance, Anxiety, Anxiety disorders, At Last a Life, Breakdown, Confidence, Depression, Develop, Dignity, Emotions, GAD, Growth, Journey, Learn, Mental health, Mindfulness, Panic attacks, Paul David, Positivity, Strength | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Ohhhhh I seeeeee……………..

So it doesn’t actually go right!? You just get to a point where you care about it less.

Gotcha!

Wink

Ironically, it’s now all faded away…

Posted in Acceptance, Anxiety, Anxiety disorders, At Last a Life, Breakdown, Confidence, Depression, Develop, Dignity, Emotions, GAD, Growth, Journey, Learn, London, Mental health, Mindfulness, NHS, Panic attacks, Paul David, Positivity, Strength | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The NHS – A toothbrush with which to groom a shire horse

A few weeks after my first panic attack, I went to the GP (What the hell is wrong with me??!) and initially I was signed off work with Stress and Anxiety. Such seemingly straightforward simple labels. Ohhh, she’s stressed, give her a couple of weeks off work to chill. (Chill? Did I hell?!) My fear of my symptoms had started growing from the very first panic attack; what better way to grow them further than to give me two weeks at home with nothing to do but think about them and attempt to work them all out. I went back to work after my two weeks were done but problems had already become worse by this point. I returned to the GP and was referred to Pyschological Therapies and Wellbeing Service (Oh God, now I really do have a problem) who, on hearing me say that I was experiencing Anxiety and Panic Attacks, referred me straight onto an 8 week course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or, as it’s well known, CBT.

CBT. The process was that I sat with a counsellor for an hour a fortnight and learnt how to link thoughts to emotions. A lovely lady and very well trained, but that was besides the point. I was highly anxious so listened to every word she said as if it was a lifeline, I took home my homework and did it ferociously through the day and evenings, writing down every thought as it came to me and scribbling alternative thoughts to my automatic thoughts in an attempt to make this feeling go. I was already completely terrified and bewildered just for the fact that I apparently was in such a bad mental state as to need psychological therapy (What is wrong with my mind? Have I got deeprooted issues that I’ve never addressed? Is there something seriously wrong with me? Am I in a Well?).

Oh yes – that’s a whole other blog post. Amongst all of this another therapist took it upon herself to make me her project and told me I was in a Well (yes, like a Water Well) and definitely needed anti-depressants to get out. As far as Anxiety goes, could you get a worse metaphor??! (Cheers love! Perhaps I should push YOU in a Well…).

Another member of the Equidae family in a Well below…clearly feeling hoarse today… (terrible joke….so sorry….)

donkey

Anyway, back to my story. So, I’m working away at my CBT course like a good student, anxiously worrying that the 8 weeks were almost up and yet all my awful symptoms were still raging in my body.  So if I change every single one of my thoughts, will this awful thing go? What happens after the 8 weeks? What if they’re not gone? Am I a lost cause? Am I so beyond help that even the medical profession have nothing left to offer me? My homework produced dozens and dozens of sheets of paper with this sort of thing on:

IMG_1176

To be fair, it is quite an accurate process and certainly shows you how your mind works, in a very basic framework. But who the hell cares about analysing your thought processes when all you care about is WHY all this is happening??! Wonderful to see how my thoughts lead to my emotions but how was this going to cure me? Cue Panic.

When I left the course, my Anxiety was worse than it had been when I started. My fear of what was wrong with me had grown even further and I was even more scared that the service the NHS had offered me as a solution to my problem had failed to work. Where now?! Multiple stops, outside of the NHS, but those are also for other blog posts, for fear of creating another essay.

This is an email I found in my Sent items a few days ago. It was something I sent to the NHS months later, after finding Paul David‘s information.

__________________________________________________________

Dear Katie,

My name is FunnyMind and I was referred toPsychological Therapies and Wellbeing Service in February following symptoms of severe anxiety and panic. I was placed onto a four week course of CBT in my area’s Medical Practice. I would like to thank you for this referral and the help that was offered, however I feel it is imperative for future sufferers that I feed back on my experience and what finally helped me. Perhaps you would be kind enough to pass this on to whoever it would be most relevant to.

As someone who had never suffered from anxiety, or any mental health issues, I was completely terrified by the symptoms I was experiencing: pain in my neck, tight chest, heart palpitations, breathing issues, numbs arms and hands, depersonalisation, thoughts racing, panic attacks. I called 999 when my first panic attack happened as I thought it was a heart attack, I went for an ECG, went private for counselling, given multiple blood tests by the GP, only to be then called to be told ‘everything was fine’ and nothing physical or mental was explained to me. I was referred onto the CBT course, and as clear and supportive as the service was, the tool itself, did not help me – it made my symptoms worse.

Having spent 8 months experiencing this, I can now see that any pressure, any stress, any extreme change or strain on the brain makes the symptoms of anxiety much worse. CBT certainly has a place in the thought processes, but isolating CBT as the answer and expecting someone who has Anxiety to begin changing all their thoughts really does nothing but worsen the condition. I was turning myself in knots attempting to change thought patterns when all my brain needed was rest and recovery. I started to feel worse and yet was so confused as the medical profession had assured me this was the answer. No-one had really advised me to just rest my brain and accept the physical feelings.

I won’t make this any longer – I will say that my life saver, when I was close to giving up hope – came with this website and this man, Paul David, http://anxietynomore.co.uk/and his blog http://anxietynomore.co.uk/blog/. He also has a book called ‘At Last a Life’. His approach is spot on with anxiety issues and he explains things that I was never given access to when I first approached the NHS. My relief on finding this information has urged me to share this with you as I would hope that any anxiety sufferer could have access to the same lifesaving information. It is very tough to know and understand it unless you have experienced it yourself so I hope this can be of help.

I’d like to thank you for the referral of course, and am grateful to have the support in mental health issues. But I do hope this feedback can be taken into consideration for developing the NHS further,

Many thanks,

FunnyMind

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The point I am trying to make is that CBT is a great life skill for healthy people who may have small worries or insecurities, look at things in a slightly negative way, or assume the worst when they don’t always need to. Great additional tool to life, much like exercise, drinking green tea and yoga.

But in 9 out of 10 cases someone who is suffering badly enough with Anxiety to go to their Doctor’s, isn’t just having the odd niggle or down day; they have severe problems. Most significantly, the key part of it is that they have already seen Anxiety as a problem themselves. They view it as a big enough problem to book an appointment and go to the Doctor’s about it, so they are already looking for a way to fix it. Maybe I have a problem here? I don’t like this feeling. See what the Doctor says and maybe he can take it away? Therein lies the pivotal moment which sends you into self destruct mode – the moment you view this feeling as a problem.

Not only does a Doctor then confirm that it is indeed a problem but he in fact provides a solution for it. A solution, however, that is not even close to an answer. It’s like sending a stable hand (who is worried she will never get her horse clean) a toothbrush with which to groom her horse. Her heart would just sink as she looks at this horse who is caked in mud and cannot believe this toothbrush will ever get the job done. Further to that, the toothbrush is offered as the one and only answer and if she can’t clean him with this, she may not ever get him clean. If this doesn’t work, how will I get him clean? Will he be dirty forever?! All someone needed to explain to her was: It’s OK that he stays dirty for a little while, he’s been rolling in the mud a lot lately and he’ll clean himself up naturally over time. It’s normal that he would be this dirty after his adventures in the countryside.

OK, I went on a bit of a tangent there as I do quite like horses. By the way, this was my horse when I was younger, how gorgeous is he?!

Roly

Anyway, my point is: CBT just doesn’t cut it NHS. I say it provides a toothbrush with which to groom a shire horse – not fit for purpose, and not enough.

I hope one day people can walk into a GP surgery complaining of Anxiety and are just handed Paul David’s book. I shall rant for as long as it takes 😉

On that note, neigh more to say on this one! (again, so sorry…)

Posted in Acceptance, Anxiety, Anxiety disorders, At Last a Life, Breakdown, Confidence, Depression, Develop, Dignity, Emotions, GAD, Journey, Learn, Mental health, Mindfulness, NHS, Panic attacks, Paul David, Positivity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments