Monthly Archives: September 2012

Radical acceptance


Radical acceptance or accepting reality was one of the first DBT skills that Penelope introduced to me. It is also the one that hasn’t seemed to come very easily, while it remains the one I think about most frequently. However I was greatly helped in this by reading a post from In this post the author presents the concept of radical acceptance in the form of a formula: Pain x Resistance = Suffering. The premise is that all humans experience pain in life in whatever form. Pain is non-negotiable however our response to this pain can be controlled and managed in different ways. Resisting the pain, fighting it, arguing with it only serves to at best prolong it, at worst cause even more damage than the original pain.

I have been musing this formula for a while. Like many things, I understood the theory and the principle but wasn’t entirely sure how to apply it… What does it look like. In the past few weeks I have had glimpses of it. I have a new sat nav- brilliant inventions, however for some reason I find it very difficult to follow the instructions. Often I will turn too early or miss the turning… Many times I end up in wore pickles than if I tried to follow road signs. However, I have been trying to take deep breaths, extend compassion to myself and ‘radically accept’ my mistakes. The ‘pain’ of a wrong turning is made worse with ranting, accusations, swearing and hitting of steering wheel. Acceptance makes for a far more pleasant journey.

So I’ve been making improvements. However, this week I think I had a triumph! I have a nasty auto-immune disease that attacks my eye. On Monday I awoke to experience intense pain and poor eyesight- it had returned and with vengeance. My instinctive reaction was to spiral downwards- to fall into self-pity and frustration. Despair was also lurking at the door… I’ve only just started mentally feeling better… I’ve only just gone back to work… This is so typical of me etc… But this time I used radical acceptance. I don’t like this eye disease it is painful, inconvenient and means I have to put large amounts of cataract inducing steroids into my eyes. I don’t approve of it, but I do accept this is the way things are at the moment.

Let me tell you, it has made for an easier ride this week. My situation hasn’t changed but I have. That is very encouraging to me. I can try and listen to what my body is trying to tell me. I can get in touch with my emotional pain but I don’t have to let it drown me. I like this radical acceptance stuff!

Thanks for listening.


Checking in.



Hello friends, I am mindful that I have not written for a bit. Some for very practical reasons mainly I’ve gone back to work! Wow, it feels such an achievement as well as a challenge. Only very part time, but still a significant leap for someone who hasn’t been to work for 9 months. I have felt physically very tired by the whole thing, but the satisfaction of feeling better far outweighs that.

I’ve also been busy with a few little projects! I’ve joined a course… sorting the house… and worked on getting ‘Colourful Deserts’ published in paperback. I am so grateful that I feel better and these things are possible. On Friday I had another assessment on my level of depression with my DBT therapist. When I first met her in May, my score was 41 (apparently 10 is ‘normal’) on Friday it had reduced to 18. I realise numbers mean very little- but the correlating life experience matter greatly. (For those interested she uses the Beck Depression Inventory) I am grateful.

I’m growing in my knowledge of what helps me and what hinders me. I’m re-gaining my confidence, which had felt pretty tattered. I’m realising that having a clean and tidy house is one of the most satisfying feelings EVER !!!! I never thought I’d say that! I’m also realising that recovery is hard work, but improvement is a huge motivating factor.

Thank you for listening.



Is it just me…?


Is it just me or does anyone else struggle with packing?! Not just I don’t like the thought of packing… but the dread of having to do it plus being useless at it. I’d like to think it might be a mental health thing- sadly, I think that is far too generous a thought!

I told you it was bad!

I┬áthink things start to go down hill for me before I even begin, as usually I haven’t unpacked from the previous adventure! Recently I looked in a case and it still had stuff from my Mozambique trip a year ago- and prior to that trip I still hadn’t unpacked from Morocco which I think had been at least a year (if not two) earlier! So unfortunately, I feel the heart sink as soon as I unzip the enemy.

I have tried a number of different techniques to ease the pain. My most favourite is to engage the time of a longsuffering friend who is happy to sit on my bed with cup of tea in hand to provide moral and sometimes practical support to the task. Moral is noramlly sufficient. However, I only really feel  that a major trip (normally a good works one) really warrants such inconvenience to my friends. A jolly for the weekend or a sunny holiday seems a little too frivolous to get others involved.

Lists sometimes work… of course what I really should do, is make up a master list and keep safe for future trips, because alas sometimes constructing the list proves as problematic as just putting the stuff in the case. However, I do think lists are in general the way to go.

Not only does packing require me to empty the previous journeys contents it also requires that I have clean clothes that preferably actually fit. Neither of these two requirements can be taken for granted. As having clean clothes necessitates that I have thought about packing in advance and have actually left enough time to wash them and allow them to dry. I will digress slightly into two snippets of stories regarding having washed clothes but not actually having left myself enough time to get them dry.)

Once I was due to go away for the weekend straight from work, my clothes were dripping wet… in the end I had to take them to school wet and they were hung all over the radiators around the school in different classrooms. The children thought it was hilarious, the head teacher did not! Another time I had washed clothes for a television appearance, unfortunately my underwear was still wet in the morning… I actually had to get the iron out (another story) and get my friend to iron them at the highest heat possible for my live TV debut. When I told the unsuspecting runner on the set what had happened I think he knew we were in for an unusual morning… he was right!

Then the next problem: finding clean dry clothes that actually fit. I know this should be obvious if not normal… but it isn’t for me. I have loads of clothes, I am a happy recipient of many lovely clothes from friends, unfortunately many of them do not fit. My weight does fluctuate, and I can’t ever seem to actually get around to sorting clothes and passing onto charity shops those that no longer fit. Before my Mozambique trip two friends had to bring a sewing machine to my house and alter numerous pairs of trousers for me to take, constantly hitching up clothes is a real pain. Sadly, another friend has subsequently needed to let the alterations out again!

So as you can see, unpacking, washing and drying properly fitting clothes are all mountains I need to climb before getting round to packing!

One particular trip to Morocco with relatively new friends- I decided on another technique. I decided to take the biggest case I had and literally just throw in things that I thought might be useful. This was one of my more stupid ideas. Firstly, I hadn’t considered that 3 of us with suitcases in one car might be a bit of a squeeze. The eyes of my friends when I turned up with the biggest suitcase known to mankind were priceless. I think they knew we were in for trouble! Secondly, I had recently inherited a lot of clothes from my sister, I hadn’t bothered to try them on and I can honestly say that whole week I had hardly anything that fitted. Some items were so tight, it would have been indecent to be seen in them. My friends thought it was hilarious.

Just last weekend a friend knowing full well my limited strengths in packing rang to tell me to make sure I packed certain items before visiting her… I agreed with her- but somehow they didn’t make them into the case- I can’t really explain why. I knew I needed them, but I just didn’t manage it.

Lastly, another friend who kindly invited me to join them at their home in France a few years ago said, Hepzibah- just remember your pills and passport, everything else is sortable. I do sort of live by that mantra, having forgotten meds a few times, that is a real pain for everyone. So if I’m invited to visit, if I remember more than my pills and passport I think I would have done ok!

Would love to hear any of your packing stories!