Monthly Archives: August 2012

Moments of awe…

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This morning a friend posted some pictures on facebook of her recent trip to Florence in Italy. (used with permission) It sparked a number of thoughts for me. I instantly remembered my own visit to Florence about 15 years ago. I think of this trip often, purely because it is one of the few times in my life when I have truly experienced what I would call ‘a sense of awe’.

It was as I was walking down a street and caught my first glimpse of the Duomo Cathedral. http://www.visitflorence.com/florence-churches/duomo.html It was truly spectacular, I clearly remember going ‘wow’ out loud, I had never seen anything like it. I wasn’t expecting it and it stopped me in my tracks. The inside of the cathedral is beautiful as is the view from the top… however, neither could meet the impact of the marble and ginormous structure.

Those who know me or have read some other posts, you will know that I long for those moments of ‘awe’. I constantly look for those moments when I meet something bigger than me, those things that cause me to stop and wonder. You will also know that I also spend a lot of time fighting disappointment when those things don’t materialise. I wrote about my disappointment when I first started rehearsing at the Olympic stadium for the cermonies… I wanted to be overwhelmed with it, and I wasn’t . A trip to Mozambique was my attempt at finding something that would take me out of myself… it didn’t and I am still trying to process that. But the Duomo at Florence did… I was reminded this morning of that… and grateful for the experience.

It also reminded me of a recent article on http://www.blackdogtribe.com/news-features/awe-therapy-could-improve-our-mental-health outlining the importance of awe therapy in helping our mental health. I could so relate to the experience and it was useful to see what the academics think about it as well.

In DBT I have been exploring a Chain of Analysis regarding my disappointment with experiences like Mozambique and the Olympics. I haven’t really got there yet… disappointment spirals quickly into despair for me. But I choose to not give up looking for my awe moments… you never know I might get another Duomo moment. If I don’t open my eyes I will never see anything. This is a battle for me, but I choose to keep looking. My friend’s picture this morning reminded me that they do exist.

Thanks for listening.

 

 

 

 

 

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Reflections from a paint brush…

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I continue to look at the botched wall that I attempted to paint on Monday (see previous post), thankful that it may be rescued on Thursday evening.

On reflection I realise the problem lay in my haste. I didn’t want to paint the wall… and to compensate for that I wanted it to be over as quickly as I could. I approached a middle-distance event as a sprint, and the results weren’t hugely positive

  • a less than satisfactory painted wall!
  • a frustrated and disappointed me!
  • time and effort required by my friend to help fix it!

Nothing catastrophic… no one got hurt… really not worth getting stressed over.

But a good lesson to apply… more haste less speed… planning before starting a task to see if it’s manageable and SLOW DOWN… stop always being in a rush. Live in the moment. Practise mindfulness in the practicalities of life. Enjoy.

That’s my challenge.

I’m smiling now about it!…

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Yesterday wasn’t a good day… today, I’m trying to have a little smirk at this… below is a slightly edited version of an email to a wonderful friend who in the past has decorated for me… you will soon get the gist! (all names changed)

Hello Debbie,

I have a confession to make to you!
As you know I have a new lodger coming in Sept. The room is great, but where the plaster boards joined, the previous paintwork had cracked. When she came to view I said I would re-paint that wall for her. Someone pointed out that I needed to fill the cracks in with polyfilla. Not having worked since January I knew that I couldnt really afford to ask you- as I am saving up to ask you to come and do a deep clean before Samantha arrives…
so I thought I could do the bloody wall myself…. well, in a nut shell Debbie, I have completely ballsed it up.
I went to homebase and got filla and dulux one coat… Cathy had lent me rollers/brushes etc… and I have just spent a horrendous 2 hours of my life making a completely hash of it.
I tried to sand the filler down, but I obviously didnt do it hard enough… so basically it looks worse than when I started as it has a bumpy line in the middle of the wall… I used a roller and succeeded in getting more paint over me and the floor… then moved to paintbrush and so many of the hairs came off the brush onto the wall it looks like a hair dressers. And cutting in… don’t even go there…
Debbie, it looks terrible, I can’t let her see this… can you help me out? I realise it will cost me more than if I had asked you in the first place, but that is my own stupid fault. I have got quite a lot of green on the white paint and when I went to wipe it off some of it had already dried on :((((
The problem is Debbie, she wants to come on Monday to drop some stuff off… the room looks like a bomb- are you around this week at all?
I’m hoping I have exaggerated how awful it is… I am very upset as I’m writing this… I have tried really hard, but I am finding cleaning the house, doing the garden and now decorating just too much… I just can’t do it.
I have put the lid on the paint and hope to goodness it doesn’t dry out before you get to it.
I am sorry Debbie, I should have just asked you before I even attempted it- such an idiot to try.
Could you let me know when you might be able to help me with it?
Thank you friend.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Thankfully said friend is coming to my rescue Thursday evening. I am so grateful for friends- apparently my friend was laughing a lot when she got the email. She knows me so well. Today, I am trying to celebrate that I even attempted it… I’ve closed the door on the mess. It will wait until Thursday. Today I need to unpack my holiday suitcase and change bed linen. That’s plenty. Only so much a girl can do!
Thanks for listening.

I’ve missed writing

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I’ve been on holiday the past week… and I decided to ‘fast’ from the screen, in all its different forms. I was fine not logging into facebook/ twitter etc… but I really missed writing. Annoyingly, I didn’t have access to good old-fashioned pen and paper either, so I found myself not really free to write.

Acknowledging that I missed writing is helpful. I find writing helpful. I find blogging helpful. And I am grateful that I can do it. At the moment, I can concentrate long enough to write articles and I feel clear headed enough to express myself relatively lucidly. That is good. Thank you.

 

 

Guest Blog- Hope for those with BPD

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This is a copy of a recent guest blog I did for Black Dog Tribe. Thought it might interest some of my readers as well- I hope it might help someone. 

Hope for those with Borderline Personality Disorder? … yes, I think so.

Good news… we don’t think you have bi-polar.

Not so good news… we are adjusting your diagnosis to a mixture of borderline and histrionic personality disorder

Good news… there is an effective treatment for BPD called DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy)

Bad news… this trust doesn’t offer it.

And so went the conversation with the Consultant Psychiatrist in one of my care review meetings while an in-patient at the beginning of this year. In the space of those few minutes I went through every extreme of emotion: from relief to shame, hope to despair. To be told such news, which I found devastating, but then to be told that I couldn’t access the very help needed, was a bitter pill to swallow.

However, sometimes when we have nothing left in us to fight, we just have to.

The new diagnosis was difficult for me. Personality Disorder is such a pejorative term. It is not as kind as ‘illness’… it infers something defective… I found it very shaming. But as I researched BPD I saw that in many ways I did have some of those traits, and I began to find some comfort from being understood.

I also researched Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, pioneered by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the US and my hope GREW… I knew this could really help me… and I wanted that help- just quite how I was going to access it was another matter.

DBT is a skills-based treatment derived from CBT. It consists of 4 core modules: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Interpersonal Effectiveness and Emotional Regulation. It is practical yet emotionally validating. Manageable but challenging. And it is for people like me who struggle with living. However, it is not widely available on the NHS and that is such a shame.

So what do we do if we don’t live in a trust that offers it?

  1. Don’t give in.
  2. Visit your GP and ask them to consider making a ‘special case’ application to get funding for a referral to another trust.
  3. Get others (if we can’t do it for ourselves) to lobby the Commissioners… make a fuss. People with Borderline deserve the correct treatment.
  4. There is an abundance of DBT skills available on the internet for free. Of course, nothing can really substitute working with a therapist, but many of the skills are easily applied by ourselves, and I have found them really helpful.
    1. Put DBT self help into google… some excellent sites come up
    2. Join peer support blogs/websites…
    3. DBT skills books are available for purchase- I looked on Amazon.
    4. Mindfulness- (one of the core modules) is available in abundance on the web and evening classes are available throughout the country
    5. Consider joining a local group based on the 12-steps. These groups can be a safe way to explore relationships and gain support from people who understand. You may not have issues with alcohol or drugs but there are different types of groups for different issues… it’s worth an explore.

I am remarkably fortunate as I am indebted to close friends who clubbed together to enable me to have DBT privately. I am acutely aware that many fellow sufferers may not have that option. But I have also used the resources listed above and they have been tremendously helpful.

When I was diagnosed with Borderline, I felt that life really was over, but one of the goals of DBT is to build a ‘life worth living’. I am not there yet by any means, but I am definitely further down that process, one difficult step at a time.

 

Yippee!

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I’ve ‘sold’ two copies of ‘Colourful Deserts’ on Amazon!!!!!!!!!!! Granted, both to supportive members of my bible study group, but I didn’t have to ask them, they just did it.

How exciting. There is something very empowering about being encouraged. I must try and do it more for others.

Thanks for listening.