Monthly Archives: February 2018

managing overwhelm


download.jpgI don’t like feeling overwhelmed- and its something that I feel happens to me quite a lot. I readily admit, most times it is of my own making- but whether its my fault or not is slightly irrelevant at this point, because when you experience those episodes the blame game is usually totally counter-productive.

Usually it is the everyday things of life that I find more overwhelming- cleaning, washing, cooking, taking the dogs for a walk… very occasionally it might be because I have a lot on at work- but that is actually quite rare. It’s the ‘normal’ that can reduce me to tears- especially a mouldy fridge!

A few weeks a go I had a few precious hours with Sandra driving home, and we were talking about this. I am still meandering over two things she said, firstly, after 25 years of friendship she said she had never heard me articulate the reasons for my difficulties with the everyday stuff- and that knowing the background was helpful to her. And she was right. I don’t think I’ve really told people why- not because I haven’t wanted to- but I’ve never listened to myself long enough to fully understand myself or take those things in to account. She reflected back to me that she could understand a bit more why I was like I was… I was really surprised…. to me the reasons for my problems are usually totally irrelevant… I always have a get a grip kind of attitude to myself and just get on with it. The problem is, that attitude can only get me so far. Most of the time I can bully myself in to action- but there are times when the overwhelm is so great that I can’t muster the inner drive to push through. It keeps coming back to

Now, granted, Sandra is one of lifes particularly kind people- she is just one of those lovely, generous people who is just so accepting and patient… but in those moments I realise that being like that is so much more pleasant than being a bitch to myself. She validated me. She wasn’t pandering to my weakness, she wasn’t excusing my tardiness… she just said she understood a bit clearer why I was sometimes the way I was.

And I want to offer myself that gift. Instead of berating. Or shaming. Or cussing myself. I want to show a little of Sandra’s love to myself. It is so much more lovely. Thank you Sandra for modelling that to me.

download-2.jpgBut the other extremely practical thing she said,  has really helped! We talked about, thinking about things as a whole- for example, cooking a meal- I have to get psyched up for a) shopping for the food, b) preparing the meal, c) eating the meal and d) then clearing up the kitchen. In my brain I psyche myself up for 4 different elements, and usually, I’ve given up after point 3- and it could be days before I clear up. Sandra just suggested- making all four parts- one. And it has really helped!

I make breakfast and I put the marge back in the fridge. Done. Finit. Finished. I put the plate in the dishwasher- dude, complete.

Doing the washing- putting clothes in the washing basket, putting in the machine, doing the wash,hanging up and then putting away are all part of doing the laundry. They are not separate jobs they are part of the one. It’s helped me a lot. It’s an acceptance of the situation. It is what it is.

Once again, I come back to kindness and acceptance. They’re not going away- I just need to dive in. images.jpg

Thanks for listening.



time and skills


My last session with Penelope was a sobering one. Challenging- which always fills me with an equal mixture of hope and despair. Something that came up is still very much at the front of my mind- as I think it could really help if I was able to grasp it. As always, these posts can be a bit meandering when I’m not totally clear in my mind- but that’s why I blog- to help get it clearer!

IUnknown-1.jpegt’s all about how I view time/ my day/ my week/ my month/ my year. And it seems that I have actually begun to use a helpful DBT skill and it has now become unhelpful. When I have had episodes of depression- I get through my days by breaking it down in to 15 min blocks. Where getting through an hour seems so overwhelming I can just about manage 15 mins and if its really hard 5 mins. (I still can’t wear a watch- when I am really struggling I become obsessed with counting the seconds until I die)

Unknown-2.jpegWhen I am not depressed, as a matter of routine- I break my time down into 3 slots: morning, afternoon and evening. I started it when I was revising for my GCSE’s and I still do it. It helps me ‘make’ time for things like my crafts and I try and plan in ‘rest’ sessions if I need them. Doesn’t sound too bad does it…. but the big problem- I’ve got so used to putting my life in ‘boxes’ and panicking if I can’t see some ‘rest’ slots, I’m living for the next ‘slot’. If I’ve only got 45 mins before i should be doing something else I panic. If I can’t see any ’empty’ slots I feel the overwhelm rise. I’m never in the moment. 

I have a rigid view of what I can allow myself to do when… I ‘sew’ on Sunday mornings. I can only watch a film in the evening. I only tidy during the day. I can do school work in the evenings but not my Masters…WHAT AM I DOING!!!! I only listen to the Archers on Sunday’s. And then  I begin to realise its not just time I am like it with…

I’m also like it with money. I can only buy a ‘non- essential’ when I deserve it. I can only pay for the dog sitter when the money I’m earning justifies it- that’s fine, but what I’m seeing is quite bonkers is that I equate the sessions. So today, I will earn about £80 – if I pay £20 for dogs- that’s not ok. But the reality was I earned £300 last week and I can pay the £20 for today out of that…. but in my head, I can’t… wowzers… this is all feeling a bit wonky! I also do it with food…

Over New Year I had glimpses that things could be different. I was staying with friends, and a couple of times I realised- I didn’t have any sense of the time. I noticed it was 5.45pm one day- it wasn’t the end of one slot or the beginning of the next- it was just 5.45pm. I also observed that they weren’t governed by time in the same way- they might watch some tele, then go back and do some work and then go to the gym. They watched films in the MORNING…. that is TOTALLY OUTRAGEOUS BEHAVIOUR!!! The day flowed/ merged. And I liked it.

Unknown-3.jpegI know it stems from trying to manage my overwhelm, but ironically I panic if I don’t see ‘slots’ for rest- but the issue with that is I can’t yet appreciate that I can ‘rest’ in shorter ‘slots’, or I can ‘rest’ while doing something else or I don’t have to prescribe ‘rest’ at Monday 7-9pm- I need to listen to my body and mind and rest when I need. Or even more shocking, I cancel something else to make time for me. Gosh, I know this sounds weird, but I have really been living back to front! My life is decided by my ‘to-do’ list. I am a slave to the tyranny of time- too much, totally freaks me, too little, stresses me… I live by the clock, because if I don’t I fear I will drown.

images.jpegI have time for work, time for crafts, time for study, time for my dogs, time for friends, time for family…. but as Penelope observed- it’s all my time. It doesn’t belong to anyone else. I’m ‘appointmenting’ out my life. The antidote- being mindful. Time to dig deeper in to that practise me thinks.

Thanks for listening