Monthly Archives: June 2013

The grain of truth- the issue of dialectics

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The recommended treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy… A year into the treatment which has had a massive impact on my life- I’m still not entirely sure what the dialectical means!!!! But I’m very slowly growing in my understanding.

Black and white thinking can be an indication of BPD… Everything has to be all or nothing… One thing or another a twee example: I hate the rain…I love the sun… DBT tries to help sufferers find the middle ground… Sometimes I hate the rain, but I love waking up to see the green luscious grass… The dialectics is that two apparently contradictory things and emotions can exist at the same time. Penelope my therapist refers to it as finding the grain of truth in something.

Richard Rohr the theologian refers to it as dualistic or non-dualistic thinking. When we view God in boxes… He is this…. He is that… I used to find this kind of thinking safer- because I couldn’t deal with ambiguity or uncertainty. Someone loved me or they hated me… I couldn’t understand why someone could love me but still hurt me… And in my child like state of protectionism I categorised.

I’ve blogged about finding wise mind (another DBT skil) before… Emotional mind tells me that I will never get better from this surgery- I will always feel this rough… Reasonable mind tells me to get a grip and get on with it. Push through. Wise mind tells me that I’m feeling unwell at the moment as I’ve had surgery- but it will not last forever. The more care I can give myself now the better- and will most probably speed up the recovery. The middle ground. The validation of emotions but the steadying of taking into accounts the facts.

Being physically poorly has seen me retreat more into my previous patterns of black and white thinking. In my bid to be more mindful and inspired by Anne if Green Gables! I’ve been studying the flowers and trees in my friends garden.

These beautiful peonies in particular have caught my attention.

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I have looked at them and marvelled at their peace at just being a peony. They seem quite content at being a peony. They aren’t trying to be a daffodil, or a rose- they are peonies. But in my vulnerability I’ve taken these observations and turned them into judgements. I must get better at just being me… Stop trying to be something different etc…

This confusion was confounded when I saw this picture of Facebook. (Photo at bottom of article- couldn’t seem to insert it in the right place afterwards!!!!)

The confusion was that my heart beats a little faster when i see a multi-coloured zebra. i know it should be black and white- but the joy of being different is attractive to me. The strength of being different… Defying convention… Colourful… unusual… I loved it. And many ways it captures an essence of who I am. On my car I have stickers of Elmer the elephant. I love the story of Elmer. I love colours… Part of me relishes in being different… Part of me likes to stand out in the crowd… Part of me wants to defy the constriction of ‘normal’. I want to belong but I want to be colourful. I certainly don’t want to be dull. I want to love others and be loved regardless of whether I fit in or not…

And that’s ok. My desire to be like the peony- content, satisfied, not striving, just being can co-exist with the multi-coloured zebra traits in me.

I used to get so confused with those personality type of questionnaires… I would be reduced to tears because I couldn’t tick a box that said extrovert when sometimes I’m very extroverted but sometimes I like nothing more to be by myself. What I perceived as contradiction in myself was a source of pain for me. Sometimes I’m very industrious- sometimes I stay in bed for days… Sometimes I’m loud- sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I love speaking in front of crowds- sometimes I find it hard to leave the house.

And I’m growing in my acceptance of me. All those dialectics can live in harmony together. Before I became a Christian one of my favourite songs was ‘I am what I am’ from the musical cage aux folle’. As a new Christian I thought a song referring to transsexuals was most probably not the best anthem… And I was delighted when I read in the book of Corinthians- the apostle Paul says “I am what I am by the grace of God’ (paraphrased from a rusty memory!) I now sing the song with the grace of God infused in every line.

I am learning to love the peony and the multi-coloured striped zebra. And the grain of truth is that both can live together in harmony.

In the words of Anne Shirely(!) ” there’s such a lot of different Anne’s in me, I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” Sounds good to me.

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Thanks for listening.

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Trees

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I think I have blogged about trees before… But this week I’ve been surrounded by trees and I’m stirred to ponder on them once more.

Throughout my life I’ve always felt that at significant moments God has gifted me with trees. I know, it sounds slightly strange, but that is one way I have sensed God’s love for me- through trees! When I lived in south London, I looked at at a row of gorgeous apple blossom trees- it was glorious. I currently work in two schools where the classes are named after trees- I love it!

I hasten to add I am pitifully poor on being able to identify and name the species… Another task for another time!

This week I have lived in the company of numerous enormous trees, in particular this magnificent cedar.

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It is just splendid. I have been sitting on a soft reclining chair and in one direction I see her and in the other I see various trees 100’s of feet high… Can’t be bad.

The cedar is my favourite though. I do like trees where the branches start relatively low to the ground. It makes them more accessible somehow. When I was in Mozambique there was a fellow visitor who was slightly obsessed with climbing and sitting in trees. If we couldn’t find her- we sort of knew she would be up a tree somewhere! I never quite got it… I could understand the climbing bit- but actually sitting in them always struck me as very uncomfortable!

This week, I have had no desire to sit in the bottom of the cedar tree… I’m uncomfortable enough sitting on a sofa- but it did make me think, what fun a tree house would be… With padded seats and room for leg elevation of course. As Miranda’s mum would say ‘such fun’ ! In terms of DBT skills – it’s been a good image for me.

Thanks for listening.

Funny enough… Animals are quite noisy!

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Previously I have posted about my struggles with depersonalization disorder… The relief of being diagnosed and validated and also the joy of learning new skills which have helped me enormously. I do t know about you- but sometimes I only realise that something has ‘gone’ when it comes back again!!! Like when you get a headache and then you realise you actually haven’t had a headache for a while. Well this past two weeks has been a bit of a throw back to so elf those depersonalization symptoms.

I’ve noticed the zoning out… That awful sense of unreality – am I really here… Is this really happening… That feeling of life being under a glass bell jar and every time I try and touch it I can’t get beyond the glass jar… I’d forgotten just how horrible that is…

But thankfully this time- I can see what is happening and most probably the reasons for it… And I can help myself come through this episode. Mindfulness exercises, especially bodily awareness and awareness of my environment through the senses. That’s just reminded me I need to put an elastic band on my wrist and use that to bring myself back. I am having to work very hard to stay in my body… But it will eventually ease.

Crafting as always has really helped lift my mood today and keep me focused. I have been loving doing the long point but I’ve nearly finished so with my friend we purchased a needle felting kit and I’ve had a wonderful time creating this beautiful brooch.

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My friends live in a rural area, next door to a farm. They also own a field where the farmer puts his sheep in to graze. As I’ve been trying so hard to focus on reality by tuning into my senses- I’ve noticed how noisy they are! Especially at the crack of dawn!

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The cockerel is also very loud as are the numerous birds in the trees! It’s been lovely to focus on some of these sounds. There are worse things I can be focussing on!

Thanks for listening.

Why I wish I was more like Anne of Green Gables…

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Why I wish I was more like Anne of Green Gables…

It’s not just about the red hair- even though I have often thought about dying my hair ginger… And if I ever had a cat it would have to be a ginger one- and Dukie my dog had a touch of ginger about him… No, her hair is definitely an attraction for me- but there is something so much more attractive about her.

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Firstly for those yet to become acquainted with Miss Anne (with an e) Shirley she is the orphan/ heroine of L.M.Montgomery’s delightful series of books set on Prince Edward Island. Anne is priceless- naughty but not devious, emotional but not sentimental, intelligent but self-effacing, ambitious yet likeable… I LOVE Anne Shirley.

I never read the books as a child- but I remember catching a glimpse of the television series one Sunday afternoon and I was slightly mesmerised by this character- I think mainly because she reminded me a bit of myself! Recently I read the book and I was in child like heaven.

The reason I want to be more like her- is that she personifies for me what it means to live in the moment… Every flower, tree, sound, event was truly lived… Nothing passed her by- she lived in the moment. Her use if imagination slightly scares me to be honest (more of that in another post) but Anne lived a grateful life.

The core module of dialectical behaviour therapy is mindfulness. I am re-visiting those skills again this week- being in the moment- increasing my awareness- being one mindful- all those really helpful skills. And I’ve been thinking about Anne Shirley a lot.

You never know, I may still dye my hair red… It would fit my colouring- and many if the title scrapes she found herself in- I can utterly relate to! But more than that, I would love my imagination and appreciation to develop… I find the world of Anne Shirley very attractive!

Thanks for listening.

A strange thing happened today…

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A strange thing happened to me this morning…

I called for the dog to come to me and it did!!!! First time!

My friend is out and I let the dog into the garden… I called for her to come back and she did! I was so shocked I then did it 3 more times to check it wasn’t a fluke! I remembered the hours of my life I spent calling for my own dog Dukie… And he wouldn’t come until he was ready. Every night getting him to come back in – was hard work- for both me and my long suffering neighbours. The shouts of ‘ham…. Ham Dukie… ‘ just didn’t have the same effect!

It did just make me wonder whether the problems I had with Dukie were not all entirely my fault. Obviously, I considered myself to be the worst dog owner in the land… It was all my fault that Dukie was so awful. Of course as owner I need to take some responsibility and there were lots of things I didn’t do right… But maybe he was also quite a naughty stubborn determined character!

When this lovely golden lab came at my command- I just had a moment of thinking- maybe I wasn’t all bad.

Thank you Hilda.

She is very good for me as well this week…

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Thanks for listening!

Pink lilies and long point

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I am recovering from surgery and not able to work currently. That is an uncomfortable place for me. i am in lots of physical pain but also mentally am finding it a challenge. as i left my DBT session last week my therapist said to me- lots of focus on the PLEASE MASTER skills! i underestimated how true those words would ring!!!

Having now finally radically accepted that I was slightly deluded to think I would be fine… I am consciously turning my will to practicing these skills.

I did prepare slightly for convalescence in the sense that I bought myself a new tapestry kit as I realised my previous one was likely to run out. I chose pink lilies- one of my favourite flowers. It has helped keep my sanity over this past week…it has enabled me to be mindful, it has been self-soothing and it taking on life has helped me build mastery. I’m sort of glad it is getting done- but I don’t want it to be be finished either! I find seeing the outline canvas beginning to come to life very satisfying indeed. I love it!

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I think my soft spot for pink lilies birthed when my mum died 16 years ago. I was teaching in London, and soon after she died I walked into the school office and saw this most beautiful basket of pink lilies… I commented on how beautiful they were- and the school secretary told me they were for me… I still remember that gift to this day.

I arrived to stay with dear friends last weekend- on the kitchen table were these beauties…

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All ties up really…

My friends live in a beautiful part of the world and have lovely living quarters… This morning I was pondering how we can live in the most beautiful place but if we are unhappy on the inside- no surroundings are necessarily going to make that better. Conversely, we can live in a dump- but peace in our hearts can transform our environments.

One of my tasks this week is to allow the beauty of this place nourish my soul… More posts to follow!

Thanks for listening