Category Archives: self compassion

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.



self-compassion and how to do it


During the last few months lots has been going on. In the midst of lots of rubbish and drama, I’ve had so much clarity which has truly been significant for me. In my sessions with Penelope, I have been doing a lot of work on loneliness- an affliction that quite regularly paralyses me if I let it. We have been working on it for years to be honest and I jut feel its one of those things that Ive never yet had any success with. It always comes back to this one, I’m stuck in it and I want to get unstuck.

Penelope always says the same things really… look at the evidence, I’m not lonely, it’s my self-talk, its the judgement I place on being by myself- its because I don’t have a relationship with myself… and I know these are all true but they don’t help!!!! I still hadn’t found the hook on which I could grasp and then work with.

unknown-2-1.jpegBut I think I might have now… in my recovery I always come back to is this definition of stupidity. If I want to be different, I have to do things differently. So simple- but so profound.

But sometimes we just need what I call, the ‘click of clarity’. The way I have been relating to myself for the past 40 years is totally screwed! Its obviously not working! You’ve got to do something different. IT AIN’T WORKING! And in that moment, I set my intention to do it differently. To relate to myself differently. Kindly, with compassion. Not berate myself. Not say the most awful things to myself. Not abuse my body or wretch in disgust. But to be kind to myself.

And then of course, once you’ve set the intention, God or the Universe seems to kick in and ‘coincidences’ start to happen. A suggested post on Facebook, a chance conversation with someone, a book crosses your path…  all three have happened for me.

I already had this book, but have never read it… but as I’m packing for a cheeky week Unknown.jpegaway it ‘pops’ out at me. I read it and I start doing it! The same with the Artist’s Way- I’ve had it for years… but now I’m ready to do it.







Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying I read the books and things changed- it was sort of the opposite- I changed and then the books have helped put flesh on the process for me. One of the hardest things about recovery, is that it demands a different way of living to what you’ve been used to- but most of us have never experienced or seen that different way and just don’t have a clue how to do it!

If you were ever in my secret chamber you would hear my pleading to God- ‘but I don’t know what that looks like, I don’t know how to do that’. When Penelope and others would say, you need to love yourself, I would be shouting inside- WTF does that actually mean? You are talking gobbledegook. SHUT UP!

The Germer book in particular has really helped with practical suggestions- which have been intellectually credible. But the key to all this is in paragraph 4- I had to want to do it differently. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude that miraculously I’ve got to that point of wanting that. Thank you. 

Thanks for listening.

sex book


The sexual fantasises book that I wrote about in this post Sexual fantasies and changing faces part 1 has been published. I can’t quite believe it was 3 years ago (is that right?)

I have read the whole book and quite frankly some people lead very interesting lives!!!!

I had proof read my chapter so I knew what was coming and that was fine. What I hadn’t really expected/ prepared myself for was the reviews!

An article appeared in a national newspaper and referred to my story as ‘horrific’ and ‘harrowing’- (in a very sympathetic way). I didn’t expect that. I still don’t think of my story as anything but ‘normal’. But consistently when people read or hear it- they don’t think that. I want to be able to see my story differently. I want to be able to look at my life with empathy and compassion, instead of saying to myself Hepzibah, get a grip, don’t be so pathetic. I want to start being as nice to myself as other people are to me.

I’ve said it before, but hating yourself is really quite an unpleasant existence. Some one who had never met me, thought of me with compassion (in not an entirely glowing review of the whole book) I am going to do some work on looking at myself through different lenses… because there is something I haven’t quite grasped yet I think. Exciting!

Thanks for listening.


It’s all about the food! 


Space to think and recharge is so important. For me the key is boundaried space. I don’t manage very well when it is endless- but when I know I have space for a finite amount of time- I find it helpful and restoratative. I have such a week. 

Skiing with friends. They ski. I do the après-ski morning, noon and night. They hit the slopes first thing, I hit the crochet hooks and wordpress. I have my little routine, I make myself get showered and go out for a small walk and then I engage with the outside world at the local bar. My quest for a really comfy sofa continues. 

Yesterday I began to see where things went not so well for me last term. The DBT module describes it as ’emotion regulation’. I describe it as looking after myself. And quite frankly I was appalling at it. 

For the past 10 weeks I have only eaten filled wraps and crisps for lunch and my evening meal has been two crumpets with cheese in Joan’s next door- falling asleep before I could even think about preparing food. I have survived on biscuits and cake in work, coke when I’ve really needed more fuel and a carbohydrate fest at the weekends. No one else to blame. I let it get bad again. I genuinely think my body and therefore my mind has suffered greatly for this lack of care. 

And I can change it. And I will change it. I’m sad that I’m not learning as quick as I would like. Self care is not the optional extra. It is the foundation. Ironically, when things are tricky and I have least motivation to look after myself that’s when I need it most. 

I have been running, which I am really enjoying. Unfortunately I damaged my calf muscles again so had to sit out for 2 weeks- it also meant I had to go back to the near beginning of my programme- I’m still on 1.5 mins running but I don’t really care- at least I’m moving. 

Last term I was also more slap dash with my 24 hours no work rule. I had a number of busy weekends for valid reasons but I now see it would have been wise to try and re-arrange the space. It makes a difference. 

I will need to work very hard at regaining the lost ground. But I will. I’m feeling Operation Rescue starting to form together. I’m off to shower, I will go and walk around a lake me thinks.

Thanks for listening. 

A Shared Post and a Lesson Remembered


This morning, I did something relatively unusual for me. I shared a link on Facebook. It came up on my news feed, I read it, thought about it and then decided to share. It felt a risky share for me, because I could have been this woman…

but it took me a while to realise that I was this woman!

As I was reading it initially I was thinking, “how awful for her… must have been embarrassing… she must be really uncomfortable… I bet that hurts…” and then I had that moment of thinking, flaming nora Hepzibah- YOU HAVE EXACTLY THE SAME CONDITION!!!!! I honestly, didn’t equate the two things initially!!! How strange is that!

I too have no large intestine. It was surgically removed 12 years ago. I too have a J-Pouch (I think technically mine is an ileo-anal pouch but I’m pretty certain they are the same thing). I too have ‘accidents’. I too make the most horrendous noise in the bathroom! I too, create absolutely awful smells. I too, am usually too embarrassed to use the disabled toilet even though I have a key. I too have had groups of people laughing at me in the toilets. I too, have skin burns from the acid.

And I choose to show myself the same compassion that I felt for this woman. Yes, it is awful. Really embarrassing. Painful. Just terrible when I mess myself.

I don’t deny the condition and of course, people who know me and have to share a bathroom with me unfortunately know it very well 😦 But equally, many people I work with or spend time with would have no idea I have this adaptation. As with many things I tend to laugh about it and shrug it off. But actually, sometimes it isn’t always so funny. So I decided to make my voice heard this morning. I shared her post.

Penelope sometimes remarks to me, that she ‘forgets’ how poorly I can be (or is it ‘am’, or is it ‘has’…) not a grammatical or existential question- but a question of identity for me. The issue is, I am fine on the whole with people forgetting my physical struggles, but I must not forget them. I must not forget that on the whole I do my best within the limits I have. The gift I can give myself is to remember that for myself.

Thank you to that lady for sharing.

Thanks for listening.