Monthly Archives: July 2012

I am soooo proud of myself!


I can’t quite explain how ‘chuffed’ I am with myself. I genuinely feel proud of myself- which doesn’t happen very often. Today I started a creative art group at the local mental health unit. I wasn’t particularly bothered if I went or not- but I thought it might be a better use of a couple of hours, as opposed to staying in bed. I’ve been to this kind of group before, so as usual I trundled along with fairly low expectations and a bit of apprehension. It is a non-directive group and I had to decide what kind of creative work I wanted to do.

At this point I need to give a bit of context.

I LOVE colour… I like painting and I’m ok at putting brush to paper and making abstract patterns… in fact I know I can create some fairly funky pieces of art- but I CAN’T DRAW. In fact, I get angry and frustrated at my inability to draw, as it hinders me creating paintings of the things I would like to paint. So when push comes to shove, I always retreat to my default position and choose to do a ‘painting-by-numbers‘. Hear me correctly- I really like painting by numbers, it can be really satisfying and the finished result is of a far superior quality than anything I could produce free hand. But it never feels fully mine. When people ask, “did you do that?” I always qualify before accepting a compliment, yes, but it’s only painting by numbers- I didn’t draw it.

Well today, I made a choice. As I veered towards the painting by numbers, I decided to try and find the courage to draw something. Not trace, but draw. It was even harder as being in a group setting others would inevitably see my miserable attempts… but I really wanted to try. So I did. I remember hearing someone say- “all you have to do is draw what you see” – so that’s what I did. There was a beautiful painting in the room of lilies- my favourite flower, so I decided to try and copy that… and this is my result. And I am chuffed. 

Pink lilies are my definite favourite, so I then decided to experiment with coloured pencils (again a previously underused medium for me, I prefer felt-tips– the colour is so much bolder!)

It isn’t perfect  nor finished, but it is my work and if I’d given into my fear, I wouldn’t have produced what I did. That inspires me. I am self-aware enough to know that if the finished result was rubbish I wouldn’t be blogging about it… however, I do also know that I crossed over a line of fear today and that is most probably worth a lot more than two sketches.

I feel more proud of these than I do of performing in the olympic opening ceremony- because I never thought I could produce anything like this. I’m celebrating!

Thanks for listening.


Loving the dandelions- non-judgmentally


One of the DBT skills in the mindfulness module is taking a ‘non-judgmental’ stance. I acknowledge that I can be very judgmental and normally in a critical way. I think I do it, to make myself feel better, I also think I do it, because on lots of things I have strong opinions and like nearly all of us, I usually think that my way is the best way!

I read this story a long time ago, (pre-DBT) and at the time I remember thinking it was a beautiful way to be- and this week I lived it! First, the tale!

“There once was a young man named Nasreddin who planted a flower garden.
But when the flowers came up so did a great crop of dandelions among
them. Wishing to eliminate the unwanted guests, Nasreddin consulted
with gardeners near and far, but none of their solutions worked.

Finally, the young man traveled to the palace of the sheik to seek the
wisdom of the royal gardener himself. But unfortunately, he had already
tried all the methods the royal gardener recommended to him.

Silently they sat together for a good long time. At last, the royal
gardener looked at Nasreddin and said: “Well, then, the only thing I can
suggest is that you learn to love them.”

Traditional Sufi Story  (cited from  (bold font mine)

Hawksbeard flower heads and ripe seeds are som...

What a beautiful thing. Being at peace and resting in what is reality.

This week while at the Olympic rehearsals I had the opportunity to put it into practise!

I am drumming in the opening ceremony- along with 999 other drummers! It is noisy- at times overwhelmingly so… and in the ‘breaks’ for some reason, even though we’ve been asked not to… some people want to carry on jamming (normally the male species). And the noise is terrible, as in these moments we have potentially 300 or so independent rhythms going on. I have been finding it really challenging. I know I’m not alone, one of the other drummers- shouted out really loudly for everyone to shut up… which received a massive round of applause, but to no avail, as the jamming continued.

After 10 hours rehearsing on Wednesday evening, I thought I could take it no more. We were in a confined space and the noise was reverberating off the walls. And then I remembered… I remembered the dandelions. And I acted non-judgmentally, they were doing what they were doing, and I decided to love the dandelions or in this case rogue drum jammers! And it transformed the moment. I didn’t join in, but I did decide to release judgement and I enjoyed the sounds. I participated. It was great- so much nicer than being critical.

Dandelions or drummers… doesn’t really matter…. but I changed in that moment. Hurrah!

Thanks for listening.

Lift up your head


For years I have walked around with my head down… my view being the pavement or my shoes.

As part of my mindfulness practice I am consciously trying to lift my head as I walk… and the view is very different. I like it!

Yesterday I remembered something that happened 20 years ago. While at university I saw a psychotherapist. Each week I would enter the room and sit in the designated chair. At the end of every 50 mins she would close the session. But I was ALWAYS baffled as to how she knew the time!!! I could see that she didn’t look at her wrist… and while not moving my head I would search the room for any clocks. I thought it was amazing- it was like she just knew. (Please don’t think I idealised her- in fact I was pretty contemptuous of her- but I could never quite understand the clock thing.)

However, one day, about a year later- I walked into her room with my head a little higher and discovered that after all that, there was a clock on the wall directly above my head… and I had NEVER noticed it before that day. I had walked in to the room with eyes lowered and had completely missed the clock. I’ve never forgotten that. But I know that on the whole I walk around with my head down.

Yesterday, I consciously remembered to lift my eyes up as I walked. And I liked the view. I could see cloud formations, different colours in the sky, wind dials, birds… a different perspective. I like lifting my head.

Last night I did something different…


Last night I did something different…

I got out of bed when I realised I had forgotten to take my tablets.

After a busy day I was delighted to be horizontal. I was wrapped up in my duvet… lights off… another day over. And then I remembered… and I faced the dilemma. Did I just turn over and pretend I hadn’t remembered and deal with the consequences the next day? Or did I get out of my warm comfy bed to go downstairs and take my meds?

I did something different… I thought through the consequences and I got out of bed and took my meds.

I really want to get better.

Thanks for listening

Today I did something different…


Today I did something different… I got out of bed before I had to.

My rehearsal time was thankfully moved from 8.30 to 12.30. I was delighted. When they told us, I had already started fantasizing about staying in bed until at least 12. However, today I decided to do something different.

I have contracted with my DBT therapist that I will not blog in bed. If I agree to something, it is always my intention to honour that agreement. And this morning I wanted to blog. I wanted to talk about yesterday. So I decided to get up. Someone text at 8.30, and this gave me the impetus to get up and unload the dishwasher. I went back to bed with cup of tea, did a mindfulness exercise while the water was heating. Not only did I get up to blog, but I also decided that I would shower and get myself ready before I blogged, so I didn’t have one of my normal panicky rushes to get out.

Today I did something different… for me a massive difference, my world didn’t cave in… and I’m ok.

Thanks for listening.

Yesterday I did something different…


Yesterday, I did something different… in a time of acute pain and despair- I tried to self-soothe.

I’m finding this self-soothing business, a bit tricky! On twitter yesterday someone wrote “My therapist said that skills are what everybody else uses but we have never had modeled for us.” I’m not sure if I entirely agree, but all I do know is that I find it very hard to manage my distress in healthy ways.

I was rehearsing ALL day for the Olympic Opening Ceremony. I was completely exhausted- physically, mentally and particularly emotionally. I found myself crying in the toilets at break time to try and muster the strength to carry on- this is something I did for months at work before I went off sick, and I didn’t like being reminded of that experience. However, I have decided that I will continue… the opening ceremony will be over in 2 weeks… the closing over in 4. I am choosing to persevere as I think the disappointment of pulling out will be more detrimental to my healing. (I think I believe this, jury still out- but I am going again today.)

No matter how difficult the day was, I still had to endure an evening- which was far worse. I knew things were not right as I was anxious about the evening when I woke up. I had nothing to do. But worse, I would normally be very happy on a Saturday night- but this is no longer happening. So I had two issues- one the reality, of a Saturday night in, alone. But also the intense feelings of grief and sadness of the loss of what I used to have. I was also trying to manage the fear and panic that was trying to tell me that this was how I was going to spend every Saturday night for the rest of my life. All afternoon I was trying to use ‘wise mind’ to  make a plan.

In reality, I had a number of options. While travelling home, I was able to identify 3 different sets of friends who live on the journey home route- I could have potentially had a cup of tea with any of those (if they were in!) I decided not to do that. I was feeling so tired, and in reality only 1 of those people would have just let me come in and ‘flop’. The others would have needed a bit more energy which I just didn’t have.

Looking back I should have stayed at the stadium and watched the next group rehearse- but I was anxious about picking up a t-shirt, and by the time I walked there, I didn’t quite have it in me, to walk back to the seats. This is a regret- but also a learning point, that I will need to assess the full consequences of my actions as opposed to knee-jerk concerns at the time.

I picked up a take-away on the way back. A treat for me. A fattening treat,  but a treat.

At home, I willed the text to ping, the phone to ring, the email to come. It didn’t. And on the whole at weekends, they don’t.I could feel the despair level rising.

So I made a plan. A different plan- an unusual plan. I decided to self-soothe by having a bath. I have not had a bath in my home for 5 years. In fact, I have never had a bath in this house. I remembered this when I tried to put the plug in and could see that it didn’t fit! However, I heated the water… (45 mins), put some of my new raspberry bubble bath (gifted to me the previous day). Moved the radio into the bathroom, turned it to Radio 3, lit some candles. Cried that my dog wasn’t around. But I tried to relax in a hot bubble bath while listening to My Fair Lady. I stayed in there for just over an hour- and felt positively sleepy by the end. The pain didn’t necessarily decrease, but I managed it.

I am very proud of myself.

Thanks for listening.