Monthly Archives: September 2013

A good reminder


I feel decidedly middle-aged. Not because of my chronological age. Not because of my desire to go to bed early. Not because of my disdain of loud music… Or any other middle-age stereotype I can think of! I feel it because my new glasses have varifocal lenses. I need help with close up work as well as my usual long distance needs.

In all seriousness I am not bothered in the slightest about the need for varifocals- but it has been an interesting process trying to get used to them. I’ve written about the need to lift my head and look up before. I wish I knew how to put a link to that previous post here, but I haven’t worked it out yet!

In that post I talked about how I always wondered how my therapist knew what time to end the session- it took me years to realise that there was actually a clock on the wall above my chair. I had never noticed, as I walked into the room with my head bowed down.

Since writing that post I’ve thought of other examples. I used to have a dog. I loved my dog- but I admit he was quite high maintenance. He had the most unrestful habit of barking at the tele when an animal appeared on screen. One particular evening while he was on my lap, he jumped up and attacked the tele. Unfortunately I was holding a cup of tea and as he sprung up the tea covered me. It was literally months before I realised that not only had the tea covered me and the sofa- it also sprayed the entire wall behind me. I never noticed! Can you believe it.

I hope I’ve got a bit better. But this week, I’ve realised again just how much I look down. And I know this because it is really fuzzy now with the new lenses! My natural disposition is to look down. And I want to look up. So with intention, and some help from my varifocals I keep looking up. Not just at the clouds or the sky- but in my everyday activities. As I walk from the stairs to the kitchen- I need to look forward- if not up… A physical manifestation of a desire to widen my perspective and environment…

Ironically, as I get older- I am getting more in touch with my child. Quite exciting sometimes.

Thanks for listening.


Water, beginner’s mind and fragility


In truth, I am feeling fragile. I’m a little out of sorts… Feeling like I am holding on for dear life while currents take me to some places that I would rather not go. There are a host of reasons for this. Some are ‘good’- new challenges, new experiences looming- new avenues to pursue. Some do not feel so good. The reality of death and sickness, the need to confront things I would rather not confront… Uncertainty… Loneliness… Old age… All the normal things of life really.

But I am trying my best. I am trying to be skilful and authentic with myself and with those who a worthy of my authenticity.

I am staying with a dear friend this weekend. I am tired, hungry and in need of companionship. However, the irony is, when I stay with people I am very happy to not see them!!!! I just like the fact that someone at some point will appear and break up the day.

This morning I went shopping by myself. And was struggling with the desire to not burst into tears in the middle of a shop. I have no idea why- but trying to buy something in primark almost sent me over the edge! The instinct in me is to run. I knew my friend was not at home- but I still wanted to come back to the safety of her house and the knowledge that she would be home soon ish. But I resisted. Safety wasn’t going to be achieved in the house… Safety was to be found in my mind.

I decided to get a cup of tea and sit outside a cafe. I love drinking tea- but I was having this internal struggle of wanting to go back to my friends house- not wanting to pay £2 for a cup of tea in a plastic cup and quite frankly not having a clue what to do! I told myself to get a grip (oops… I have a way to go with the self-compassion skill) and gave myself the luxury of buying an over-priced Luke warm cup of tea.

It was just what I needed.

I sat outside and watched a delightful scene before me. There is a water feature in a plaza type bit. The water spurts out in random sequence at different heights. The spray reached me in my seat and I focused on the sight and sounds before me.


Two toddlers were entranced. They squealed. Dodged. Ran. Danced. Skipped around the fountains. Their parents sat and watched. The children were in the moment. One of the DBT skills is to use ‘beginner’s mind’. Experience something like you have never seen it before. These children personified that skill. The children against their will were put back in buggies and moved along.

I observed the different reactions to the water feature. Some people walked past it, oblivious to the joy it could offer. Some seemed cross at it catching them unawares. But the children were different. They were fascinated. They wanted to stop and look. They wanted to touch. One child didn’t want to leave. Her granny (?) said “it’s only water”… But both me and that little girl knew- that couldn’t be further from the truth… There was nothing ‘only’ at about it at all.

The water was potential. The water was fun. The water was calm. The water was peace. The water was hope. The water was awe-inspiring. The water contained life in that moment.

I was going to write that I love water. But as soon as I thought that I realised it wasn’t entirely true. I can’t really swim. Sometimes having a shower is a challenge and baths are another thing all together. So quite frankly I don’t love all aspects of water… But it is one of the currently few things that brings me some relief in my distress. And to be fair it always has- even before DBT came on the scene.

I love the sound of rain. Dear friends have a conservatory and I like nothing more than sitting in that room with the rain pummelling on the roof. I have always enjoyed being in the car while it is raining. I have even gone and sat in the car while raining and enjoyed the safety of my bubble. I don’t like getting wet per se- but I think it is the sound. I really should get an inside little water fountain- I think it would help.

The children and the water gave me some enjoyable moments. I was grateful that i hadn’t ran back. With my beginners mind i had experienced something new. I then wanted to come back and write up my blog… If I had been prepared I could have written it up while still there. Never mind.

I really need to grow in my ability to ‘self-soothe’. It’s hard. But I continue.


Thanks for listening.

I did it!


A massive thank you for all the comments and support I received about my dentist dilemma. I have been aware that so many people struggle with going to the dentist- and sharing coping strategies was really great for me. Thank you.

I just wanted to let you all know- I managed to have my filling done- without sedation. It was not a pleasant experience but I did it. Barbara Streisand singing the sound track from Yentl on my iPhone certainly helped…

I feel very grateful that after 20 years I only needed one filling- which is now done. I plan to go for annual check ups if I can tolerate it. I liked having really clean teeth! I am trying to value my achievement.

Thanks for listening.

Challenges, challenges, challenges


Over the past year or so I have been consciously facing and fighting things that previously I might have avoided. DBT has really helped equip with strategies for doing this and I am so grateful for having been introduced to the therapy and enabled to attend it by others.

My sessions and the pace of change is dictated by me. I do have a tendency to try and run before I can walk- so sometimes Penelope has had to slow me down- but on the whole I have tried to address issues at the right time.

I have been considers trying to get on top of my fear of going on the London Underground. When I lived in London thankfully I was fine, but for the last 13 years I have not. Most times to be honest I just drive… But recently I have been thinking that to have the option of the tube would be great. I am planning a trip to Moscow in October- by train. The only thing I feel overwhelmed is- is getting the tube to St. prancras! Like other things I have conquered- I know the way forward is to de-sensitise myself, plan distraction skills, use encouraging statements and have a plan of action in case it goes wrong. It was on my imminent radar.


But on Saturday- something awful happened. I broke a tooth. My back bottom molar. Eating a roll, and it crumbled. I haven’t been to the dentist for 20 years. 20 years 5 months actually. The reasons are not necessary to share… Suffice to say, for me, it has been a conscious decision not to put myself in that position. And though no fear is justifiable- there are reasons i am like i am. And almost unbelievably I have not had any toothache. I do not think for one moment my teeth and gums are ok- obviously they are not- but as long as I wasn’t in acute pain I had absolutely no intention of going any way near a dentist chair.

I am feeling a bit of a weakling confessing my fears of the tube and dentist- but I’m just being honest. Other things that others are fearful of, I am not, these two just happen to be biggy’s for me.

Mercifully, I am not in pain with my broken tooth- how ever, I do know that unless I get it looked at I run the risk of getting into some trouble with it.

The previous dental visit 20 years ago was actually to have a tooth removed under general anaesthetic. The hospital had tried sedating me but apparently I hit the dentist, so they did it under full anaesthetic. Wonderful.

But since that time I have had quite of lot of surgery and anaesthetics and after my most recent surgery I realise that my mood and body really struggle to recover from being put to sleep and I am loathe to have to have another anaesthetic for dental treatment.

Yesterday I made an appointment. Even speaking to the receptionist (I had to ring more than 1, as some surgeries were not taking new NHS patients). I was sweating, my heart was pounding and I could feel the tears welling up. I will go to the appointment. I have agreed to sit in the chair, open my mouth and let them look- that is as far as I can go at the moment.

But I want to change. And i will change. I want to be able to have clean white teeth, checked regularly and looked after to the best of my ability. I do not want my behaviour dictated by fear. It looks like the dentist will take precedence over the tube- needs must… I just hope beyond hope the dentist is kind.

Challenges… Challenges.. Challenges!!!

Thanks for listening.

The time has come…


I can’t put it off any longer… The time has come… Procrastination no more… Avoidance be gone… Courage arise! Anyone would think I was talking about climbing Mount Everest or something equally virtuous… No, alas, I am talking about losing weight… My own personal very mini Mount Everest.


DBT skills I need you!!!! I have written affirming statements and I will paste in significant places…

“I’ve done it before- I will do it again.”

My BMI is classified as overweight. I think i have been heavier before but partly complicated by some health issues I am in the biggest clothes size that I’ve ever been (size 20) and that is horrendous for me. The reality is, I can vaguely cope with the status quo but I know that if I carry on I will just get bigger and bigger.

“I am worth looking after my body”
My body is struggling at the moment … Some things are not in my control- but some things are. I abuse my body terribly- I want to stop.

“You are in a better place than last time you did it.”

I am now far more confident with cooking. I have organised my kitchen better and I am generally in a less chaotic place so organising my diet should be easier than last time.

My fears?
The voices of doom sayers- it’s much harder to lose it second time around… It’s harder to lose weight as you get older… It’s harder to lost weight in the colder months…

My biggest fear I think is that I don’t feel as motivated for it as I did let time. Normally, once I’ve made a decision to do something I can be quite focused to do it- and at times can be quite dogged in determination… This time- I’m don’t feel as up for the cause as previously- but that will grow- and until it does- I will have to pull deeper on my inner reserves.

I do slimming world as I have and can be paralysed sometimes with the fear of being hungry. Withholding myself or having food withheld from me has been part of my history. In depressive episodes it is common for me to literally not have any edible (in date) food in my house. Whereas I also know that sometimes I can be ugly in my greed. I am very aware that there is an emotional link with the physical manifestation of my eating habits. I am trying to deal with those issues.

Slimming world enables me to snack in certain foods freely throughout the day. That feels more safe. Some days I feel like i need caffeine and sugar rushes to get through. I need to change my mind set- I don’t need those things… I just choose to think I do. There are healthier alternatives.


I need to face the long term consequences and behaviour patterns. When I lost a lot of weight a few years ago, on the day I reached my target weight I celebrated with a McDonald’s! Losing the weight is just the first part of it. Maintaining it is the essential step I missed from last time.

I haven’t got a target weight as such… I would love to take a smaller clothes size- but my goal is to feel better… And last time I lost weight I felt physically so much better. It is tricky because I am limited in some foods I can eat due to physical conditions- but I have to work around them. Last time I was brutal on not having any treats- slimming world does give an allowance for less healthy foods- I will need to partake of them and possibly lose weight slower- but I think the process can be slightly more pleasant.

I am loving baking at the moment. I can continue doing this- but will just have to give the products away… Which is fine by me.

So today, as I wait for the TESCO delivery man to bring me my supplies. I commit to my new eating behaviour. My plan is to go for it, for the next 2 months – this takes me to half term and my potential trip to Moscow… For those who know me… Please help! For those who don’t… Be thankful you won’t have to deal with me but I am grateful that I can be accountable to you.

The delivery has now arrived. First batch of slimming world spaghetti bolognaise will soon be filling my freezer.

Thanks for listening.