For Emily

2 Comments

So yesterday I made a promise that if my friend blogged things that made her smile I would do the same. Within 10 minutes hers went up, shortly followed by comments from another friend of their favourite things. So here are a few of my favourite things…

1) Hugs/cuddles/snuggles.

2) Hot water, be it for a bath, shower, swimming or a good cup of green tea.

3) Baking.

4) Clean sheets.

5) New socks.

6) Getting into bed.

7) The smell of newborn babies.

8) Clean laundry.

9) Puppies.

10) Monkeys and monkey related paraphernalia.

11) Books, piles of books, new and old, the smell, the anticipation.

12) Puns and word play.

13) The smell of summer rain.

14) Family and friends old and new, real life and Twitter.

15) Notebooks to scribble in.

16) Road trips.

17) Desiderata.

18) Feminism.

19) Picnics.

20) Post and parcels.

21) Someone washing my hair.

22) Disney (I know it’s not PC or feminist but DisneyWorld has some of my happiest memories and some of the films make me happy).

23) Bakeware.

24) Funky stationery.

25) Music that suits the situation.

26) People watching.

27) Mismatching chintzy crockery for afternoon tea.

28) Sitting outside gazing at the stars.

29) The excited feeling when you’re falling in love or about to see the person you love.

30) Good deeds and random acts of kindness.

J x

 

 

Advertisements

TW Defectiveness Schema

1 Comment

Following on from my “Reinventing Your Life” post I thought I should begin my analysis of what the schemas mean to me by talking about the schema that affects me the most. Although it doesn’t score the highest of the schemas when I rate them according to the tests in Young and Klosko I know it underpins all the ones I have, even the ones that score higher. It was one of the higher ratings amongst the tests I did with my therapist and we came to the mutual agreement that it was the one that had the most profound influence over my life.

Please remember this is only what the schemas mean to me and how they affect me. I hope you don’t identify with it as I hate to think of anyone thinking this about themselves as I’m sure I can list 100 good things about you.

I know some people will read this and think why is she depressed? She has had all the priviledges afforded to her but that’s my point, I don’t deserve the good life I have been given and do feel ashamed every week going to group knowing that other people have had worse situations to deal with but they assure me that my depression is just as valid.

My underlying schema is defectiveness. It is the foundation, not only to all my other schemas, but to who I am. This is why, as much as I want, no need, to be better I am terrified that by stopping this part of me I’ll essentially rip out who I am and be left with nothing. This became more apparent to me as I was talking through my schema flashcard in the group this week.

Using the definition that Young uses (see the defectiveness link above) I identify with the majority so I will initially talk about what I don’t identify with.

I am unlovable, however, it’s not that I would feel unlovable if aspects of my personality were exposed, in fact it’s quite the opposite that I am so keen for people to see the good in me that I overcompensate by thinking I need to do things for people in order for them to like me. Having spoken about this with the group this seems to come from a thought that people will automatically dislike me and I have to do things to win them over.

The flaws in myself are both private and public, although I wouldn’t use the examples used by Young;  I’d probably be the opposite of these and be passive and subjugated. I do have an overwhelming fear that people will think I am selfish, so overcompensate, sometimes at the expense of my own needs and definitely at the expense of my health.

So back to the parts of the definition that do apply. Yes, I feel defective, both in my personality and physically. Having POTS and EDS makes not feeling defective near impossible, as does the Vitamin K deficiency I had as a baby and how close I was to death as if I was born with something fundamentally wrong with me and I wasn’t meant to be alive. I feel like I’m failing at living and that’s without adding my mental health conditions. Feeling bad, unwanted, inferior and invalid are all more than familiar to me. I could list more but don’t want to bore you.

I am hypersensitive to other people in general. I have always felt like I’ve fed off other people’s emotions. If they’re happy, I’m happy. If they’re sad, angry, stressed it worries me and I feel like it is somehow my fault. I have already accepted criticism, rejection and blame before they are dished out (even if they weren’t going to be aimed at me, I have somehow worked it out in my head how it could be my fault). I will explain some of my background that has had an influence on where these thoughts have come from later.

I am incredibly self-conscious, this led to me developing agoraphobia and still makes me avoid situations where I may be judged whenever possible (especially if I can see or hear the other person so telephones in particular are no go). My self-consciousness also links to the eating disorder I developed and have thankfully now beaten. My self-consciousness is a self fulfilling prophecy as I start to panic in social situations, my throat goes dry, I get hot and flustered and this in turn makes me justified in being self-conscious, especially if it affects my POTS and I pass out.

I have been constantly compared, either directly or indirectly, for over 20 years. As a young child I don’t really remember it, however, once I went to the school I went to aged eight there was constant comparison. I was compared to my highly academic older sibling and had high achieving, competitive friends who were driven by any form of comparison. The teachers also held the misguided belief that by comparing me and telling me I wasn’t good enough would drive me to do better. It didn’t. I had been taught to believe adults and have respect for teachers and what they said so in the 10 years at the school my self belief was gradually worn away until I was a shell. It is with this in mind, along with the usual bullying one finds at an independent girls’ school that helped lead to me being so insecure and incredibly ashamed of myself as all I see is a thing made up of flaws.

I wasn’t tall (I grew my last 5″ during my first year at Uni), I was flat chested (again it was after I beat my ED and I began to put on weight at Uni that my chest developed), I had frizzy hair, glasses, spotty skin, didn’t wearing make up, had my own dress style (comfortable not dressing to please others) and had (and still have until I know someone well enough) a quiet demeanour which all in all gave people a field day of physical attributes to target me for.

Then the teachers made me feel stupid about my work. Little did I know, until I got to Uni and talked to other people that I actually got awesome GCSEs and that, if I hadn’t been made to feel like no matter what I wouldn’t achieve, I may have done even better in my A levels (even these weren’t that bad it turns out). I got a degree in Latin whilst battling depression the first time around and a post graduate diploma in Human Resource Management. By the end of my PGDip I had regained the confidence I had at seven and actually got a merit in my exams and distinctions in my course work. Who’d have thought I’d ever do well in exams? But despite this I still feel stupid and flawed. I should have done even better given the chances I was given.

There were a few issues within the family too where I was the one who felt like I had to sort things out or do whatever I was told to do. I hasten to add it wasn’t an abusive household, my parents were always great, they were just dealing with things in their lives and I didn’t speak up about what was going on in mine. My sister was also a lot more domineering than I was so for a quiet life I went along with her plans, which have translated into my every day life now.

There have been more things in my life that have reaffirmed my reason to think I’m defective. Suffering physical and emotional abuse in a relationship and being the victim of a sexual attack gave me evidence that there was something wrong with me.

So with all my history in mind I know why I feel the way I feel about myself and with the help of the group I identified some positive thoughts I need to focus on (I won’t bother listing the negatives as I am trying not to give these any more validity):

  • I am kind, loyal, caring, friendly, a good listener & can bake/cook.
  • I haven’t done anything bad, there isn’t anything about me not to like.
  • Other people had the problems.
  • People don’t dislike me by default.
  • It’s not my responsibility to fix everything.
  • People are responsible for their own moods.
  • My parents are proud of me.
  • My family & friends want me in their lives.
  • I don’t need to do things to be liked, they like me not what I do.
  • My boyfriend loves me and wants to be with me and do things for me, he is not choosing the easy option.

So this is what defectiveness means to me. It affects my behaviour in a lot of ways, but having had CBT I have learnt how to force myself to get through some of the behaviour, like tackling my agoraphobia. However, as I have stated previously I feel like a lot of my behaviours are part of my personality. Letting other people always decide, taking on too many things, saying yes and constantly thinking about others wouldn’t be such an issue if they didn’t come at the expense of me neglecting my own physical health, self harming and making myself uncomfortable. The group are going to come up with specific tasks for me to do to help break the thoughts and behaviours, however, in the meantime we have come up with:

  • Looking after my physical health.
  • Saying no.
  • Doing things for myself.
  • Making decisions.
  • Not mind reading.
  • Concentrating on what I’m doing not others.
  • Doing what I want and what I need to do.
  • Suggesting options.
  • Letting others know my thoughts.

I know I can do some of these with certain people, however, I am very apprehensive as to how others will react as they always know me as the person who says yes to them and who lets them do what they want. Even if I speak to them about it first I know that they will find adjusting hard but I guess if they care about me they will have to put up with it! I’m really putting myself to the test.

Wish me luck and I’ll let you know how changing my thoughts and behaviours works!

Do you identify with anything I’ve said or does defectiveness mean something else to you?

J x

I want the things that I had before Like a Star Wars poster on my bedroom door

2 Comments

The lyrics of the post title come from Everclear’s Wonderful and one of the songs that I use to create my safe space. The idea of making things go back to how they were, the feeling of safety, being home has appealed to me for as long as I can remember but right now it is needed more than ever as nothing and nowhere seems safe.

I know being physically unwell and The Darkness being here have a huge bearing on my judgement but it’s clear that other people are being targeted in areas they once felt safe. The increasing number of protected accounts on Twitter, people being scared to voice their very valid (and polite) opinion and changes being made to blogs are all evidence that I am not alone.  The scary part is I don’t feel safe in myself either.

It is with this in mind that I am taking a Twittercation. I have to find another safe place for me to be. Somewhere I can trust people. Somewhere where I can share my opinion without the fear of people jumping down my neck. I’m lucky that I haven’t had anything said to me but seeing it happen to other people, people I care about, people trying to do good things is incredibly disturbing. I was writing a post earlier about my POTS but then deleted what I had written as I was scared that my illness was in somehow going to offend someone.

People will always have different views. If you don’t like their views, don’t follow them. Would you follow someone around in real life listening to a conversation you don’t like? No? Ok, I think we have your answer. On the same vein I understand when people are saying offensive things that it does upset people (I’ve been upset myself), if these people don’t wish to engage in a civil conversation about why something is offensive  then there is a little button called “block” that people may feel useful. Don’t call people in to pile on or troll. We are not children.

Anyway, fair enough, I’m off Twitter for now but that’s just a computer place and as a real life friend has just said “Waiting for the internet to grow up is like a broken pencil…”. I’m trying to visualise my other safe spaces. I use them daily in my mindfulness but nowhere I am or can visualise feels safe.

Being in water at the moment feels like I’m drowning. I can’t stand in the shower without syncope, the warm water just sitting in the bath lowers my blood pressure substantially enough to make me vomit (then of course there is the fun of trying to get out), swimming is a no go while I’m in pain. My bed feels like a prison, somewhere that is causing me more pain that it is currently solving. The kitchen is restricted for my own safety whilst I am having moments of dissociation and unpredictable syncope. I can’t spend long periods writing. I don’t trust myself. Despite being afraid of outdoors I’m loathing having no possible escape.

I’m trapped with me and I don’t really like me.

Mental Health Awareness Week pt 5 – A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.

Leave a comment

A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul. Franz Kafka

My friend sent me the link to a thought provoking post on For Book’s Sake‘s website, I had somehow missed the post myself so am very grateful I was pointed in its direction. Not only is the article in itself a worthwhile read but it got me thinking about firstly my own writing, which, other than my occasional oversharing blog post, is still firmly kept for my eyes only (having shared it with some souls who have since moved out of my life – not because of my writing I hasten to add) but more than this it got me thinking about the writers who not only inspire me but save me from myself. The fiction, the poetry, the non fiction, the cookbooks; the Kafka quote above applies to all. There is a book for whatever mood and a good book can completely change that mood.

A book really can get right in there and chip away to get the seas within the soul moving, when reading you feel the warmth growing within and the occasional shiver as a block of the icy soul breaks off in one. Every book I have read has contributed to my life; some just to make me aware of what I don’t like from a book, some have shaped my wholebeing. A few of these are listed below.

I read am homes’ This Book Will Save Your Life sometime ago but the plot stays with me and gives me hope about my life changing, no matter how bleak or lost things seem that I can turn things around and no matter what I can always have a doughnut.

I love finding an author whose writings I want to just absorb completely, the work of Neil Gaiman draws me in so deeply and wraps me so tightly in its words that I fall into whatever world his brain has dreamt up. I totally lose my own thoughts and sense of self, which is not a bad thing.

I trawled the internet looking for recommendations of books that cheer people up and found a few good reads this way; Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle are two stellar examples, however, as much as I enjoyed these books and do recommend them it made it clear to me that you have to find your own books that touch your soul. I feel like I’m an ever changing jigsaw piece and I can try different books through my life and although I can appreciate the picture it doesn’t quite fit, then one book comes along and matches me exactly so that I feel whole and can see everything clearly.

Sometimes I can do this with a simple cookbook and be inspired to create a meal for my friends or family, which I know will make them happy and in turn me. Sometimes my soul is searching for more and I recall the first time I read Plato’s Symposium and the idea of two souls being united and feel the need to gain this from literature.

There are just too many good books out there and as I have found with UKBookTwits there are always so many more to read. I’m going to aim to add more to my mental health reading list so if you have any recommendations please let me know.

If you feel inclined you can have a look at some of the books I’ve already read on Shelfari.

Thank you for sticking with me during Mental Health Awareness Week. I know we all have developed our own ways to deal with what life has thrown at us and I have found this week incredibly helpful even if it is just because I have been pouring my heart out. The fact that some wonderful people have been reading it is remarkable.

Jx

 

Mental Health Awareness Week pt 4 – Self Care

Leave a comment

Sorry this is late! I did start it yesterday before my friends arrived with their baby then as anyone with a baby will know all plans go out of the window!

Practising self care is important for everybody but especially if you have a mental health condition. It wasn’t until last July when I broke down that I realised just how much I took self care for granted. I am thankful to the women of Twitter who always remind me of how important it is, especially one who recently brough it up as a topic for discussion in The Women’s Room.

Self care is different to each individual. When I first started with depression I made a book of positive affirmations and random sayings, pictures, song lyrics and quotes that made me smile. Over the years I’ve made a few of these for people I care about who I know are having a rough time. I’ve made another one for myself more recently and turn to this when I’m struggling to see the good in the world.

I also made a playlist called “Songs for the Bad Days” which I listen to when I’m having the worst of days. There are songs on there that make me smile and songs that make me cry and songs that make me feel strong so that I get all my emotions out and maybe have a mad dance around, hopefully I’ll wear myself out too much to think.

Water has always been an amazing safe place for me. I’ve spoken earlier about my experience with a bad exam and getting in the shower and how I love to swim but there is nothing quite like being in warm water to make me feel safe.

I also practise mindfulness to keep myself calm, my breathing regulated and stop my brain racing. I have always had an interest in yoga and relaxation and found the Buddhist Meditation Group when I went to Uni and have been practising things I learnt there ever since. On the days when my thoughts run away with me I also have some recording to guide me.

If you struggle to give yourself the time you deserve it might be worth looking through the tweets from The Women’s Room on 10th May.

Tips can also be found on websites such as:

Mind

Rethink

NHS

Remember you need to look after yourself, do things that make you happy and proud of who you are.

Mental Health Awareness Week pt 3 – #letsgetphysical

Leave a comment

Firstly thank you to those who read my post yesterday. I have never shared that depth of feeling with people outside of a doctors/therapy appointment before and I really appreciate the fact that you have read it.

Anyway, to the post for today in which I will try not to talk about my feelings!

There has been a polarisation in whether people believe the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is positive or not. Incase you didn’t know the theme is ‘Let’s Get Physical’.

More information on the theme, including the benefits that physical activity can have, can be found here: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/mentalhealthawarenessweek 

Obviously there are people with conditions that prevent them from getting physical in the traditional sense, eating disorders being just one example where physical exercise can be a trigger. My POTS prevents me from doing as much as I would like to do, therefore last week, as the theme was feeding through and I had some positivity in me, I thought I would look at what I could do, not what I couldn’t (positive sounding I know but looking at what I can do when it benefits others is easy, as opposed to looking at what I can do in general). So I thought I’d dig out some of my old physio exercises and shake up my stretches.

This hasn’t happened.

I am determined not to let it pass by though and so I am twisting ‘Let’s Get Physical’ to fit in with me.

In my case my physical and mental health are so closely entwined it’s hard to see where one begins and the other ends. Depression and anxiety are symptoms of POTS. The POTS makes me depressed and anxious. The BPD stops me from always taking care of my physical health. My physical health stops me from taking care of my BPD.

My appointments today have been a great example of this.

I had physio. This is amazing for my mental health as it keeps my aches and pains under control which means I can physically do things. Not being able to drive due to the pain in my left arm was incredibly distressing. I don’t like going out but not being able to escape if necessary scared me just as much. Oh how I love the way my brain works.

Secondly I went to see a new cardiologist! Finally nearly 19 years after my first symptoms became problematic and 7 years since they became unbearable I may be getting somewhere! I’ve obviously had lots of treatments, medications and tests but these ones actually seem to know about POTS and what they’re doing. I came away with some new meds (even if they aren’t licensed for use in the UK), the promise he will get my notes from my last cardiologist, some further tests going to be booked in and he will talk to his colleagues about anything else I can do (he was pleased with the extra salt, fluids, etc I already do).

So whatever let’s get physical means to you, whether it is just making sure you take your meds or donning lycra and jumping around – do it. It’s important for your mental health.

 

 

TW Sui/SH Mental Health Awareness Week pt 2 or “Hello darkness my old friend”

Leave a comment

Day 2 of Mental Health Awareness Week and with it came a greater intensity to the dark, empty feeling that I hadn’t felt in quite a while until yesterday aka The Darkness.

It turns out the anxiety of Atos had been filling my being and no matter how suicidal I felt it was an edgy, heart racing suicide that was calling me, one that was really driven and dispersed with periods where the only way to get the anxiety out of me was to make cuts in my skin.

The emptiness crept in sometime yesterday when I wasn’t paying attention. I was aware of it when I wrote my blog but at the time it was a nice change to feel something different to wanting to scratch at all the walls. I woke this morning at about 5am with the apathy that I remember first had hit me nearly 13 years ago.

I couldn’t move. I saw no point. I didn’t want to sleep. I didn’t want to get up. I really felt nothing at all. So there I lay for two hours until I felt the pain in my back gnawing away so I got up and then sat, again doing not much of anything at all apart from letting the thoughts in my head have their say.

I knew I had therapy today and despite all the fear and unworthy feelings (not to mention the migraine) that I thought would prevent me in the past 2 weeks I had been driven by this energy coursing through me. Having spent the previous 4 hours with an inner dialogue debating as to whether I should go (Rationale stating, “You’ll never get better if you don’t go” and “You’ll let people down”. The Darkness saying, “meh” and “erm…meh” respectively) I finally threw some clothes and trudged out the door.

To be honest therapy was beneficial as it really kicks in my need to take care of people and this is the only thing that generally keeps The Darkness from whispering sweet nothings to me. Instead for the briefest of times I was driven by: I want to protect these people. I want to erase all these bad things that have happened to them. I need them to know it’s not their fault.

Once the session was over though and I spent time reflecting on what had gone on in the 2 hours the feelings from the first session I had been to returned but this time they are goverend by The Darkness. They come from deep within me and are long and thoughtful rather than the short snappy jumpy thoughts I’d grown used to the past few weeks. Sure I have flitted between anxiety, buzzy feelings and The Darkness a lot, all part of the old bpd but this last period was so long it felt like it was here to stay. I can’t honestly decide which is worse, the grass always seems greener. The Darkness does seem to put an emphasis on suicide and how beneficial it will be to everyone who is unlucky enough to have had me barge my way into their lives. The self harm is more from a base of needing to feel. The contrast of the sharp scratch from the blade, the heat from the wound, the blood cooling as it reaches the skin surface, then the repeat as the scab is scratched off. All in all The Darkness does what it says on the tin and leaves a vacuum inside.

Hmm, I haven’t really talked much about my day but to be honest the day has passed by quite emptily. I have been wound up by the usual things on Twitter and felt solidarity with those being wound up on Twitter but not with the same passion.

I need to move from the chair. I need to get a shower. I can’t.

Eheu.

 

Older Entries

100 Years of Books

“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.” Henry David Thoreau

Poppy Ponders

Thinking outloud

opinionatedplanet

The Lesbian Avenger

Feminist Socks

Feminism! Smut! Tea! Socks! Exclamation marks!

Because, you know.

You are not alone...

Caroline Criado-Perez

A Pox on the Patriarchy

flyingontherainbow

My journey, my passions, LGBT rights, feminism and mental health understanding. Also disability rights too

Revenge is never a straight line...

My adventure in cutting out the bullshit and growing strong

Exiled Stardust

Art, culture, travel, and feminism by an artist flung out of her home galaxy

Crates and Ribbons

In pursuit of gender equality

Feminist Book Club

A place for feminists to discuss books (and essays, and films, and TV shows, and...)

The Occasional Poet

I have a million thoughts a day...And this is where I turn them into poems and set them free

Just What I Was Thinking.....

........nothing more, nothing less....

Bugbear and Caw

Adventures in Fear and Fascination

The Fementalists

At the intersection of feminism and mental health activism

Wandering Through Wonderland

My madness. My recovery.

Portia Smart

Feministing and politiking