And… breathe…

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Unknown.jpegbreathing… the very essence of life… without it we can’t survive. Instinctual. Natural even? Something we take for granted? Something we are usually not aware of?

But sometimes, it’s the only thing we can manage, and it’s the only thing we need to manage.

I have been finding things quite difficult since the start of the year- and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what I am about to list is the full reason for my melancholy- but I’m sure it hasn’t helped.

  • A friend’s daughter committed suicide in January- though not personally affected by her loss, the impact on my mental health and ability to keep myself safe has been, and still is huge.
  • Another person I know has started treatment for anorexia. Her pictures and stories on Facebook have been hugely triggering for me- I know I need to block them- but like a moth to a light bulb I’m drawn to them…
  • My elderly neighbour with Alzheimers has been put in to a care home against her will. I have visited her every day for nearly 10 years- she is now gone. I’ve been to the care home to see her and it is just awful. I came out of there on Saturday and just wept- wept for her, and wept for myself, as I see before me my fear of what might happen to me…
  • School/Work has been awful (and still is) At times really unpleasant. I’ve felt betrayed by people I thought were friends and been stabbed in the back by parents whom I have gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping… I’ve felt rejected and abandoned and have hurtled in to fear of bankruptcy and losing my house… I don’t feel positive enough to stem the negative tide… I can only see the ongoing trajectory as downward…
  • I am working so hard (some things that I wish I wasn’t having to work at), so I live with the constant tension of not actually doing a good enough job at any of what I am having to do…
  • My studies (my treat) is being totally neglected
  • I am still trying to adapt to the new arrangements I have/ need to have with close buddies who now have children
  • I am on count down to having to stop with my psychiatrist due to re-structuring in the Trust. I have seen him for 12 years- never a good time to stop, but it really doesn’t feel like the right time to stop either
  • Plus, a couple of other things that I choose not to blog about…

Actually as I write this I realise I feel depressed. I’ve had other times in life that have been tricky, but I’ve not felt like this. I am filled with doom about the future. I can’t see a way through. I haven’t the energy to fight at the moment. Things that were more natural to me aren’t anymore. The black cloud has tightened it’s grip a bit. So this post hasn’t developed the way I thought it would… I didn’t expect to write this last paragraph- but that’s good- that’s why I blog, it helps me process, and this process has taken me to a slightly unexpected place… so I’m going to stop here and get back to where I started, focus on my breathing.

Thanks for listening

 

 

 

End of an Era

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Most of you will know that I am single and without children.

I don’t feel necessarily broody. It’s just the way life has turned out.

As you can imagine, most of my friends are not single and have children (some quite a lot!)

images-1.jpegTwo days ago, my last ‘childless’ couple, Brad and Angelina, took 2 children in to their care. Wonderful- but it’s the End of an Era to me. Please hear me- I’m delighted for them and jealous of course, but the issue for me is that when people say, when one door closes another one opens… I seem to have lots closing but not many new one opening!

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I love all my children’s friends dearly- I really do. But the presence of children changes the dynamics. I’m grieving for my last set of friends whom I could text and say fancy lunch.. or an impromptu thing… I know it doesn’t mean we won’t ever do those things again, but it will be different. And I think to ignore that on my part is a bit naive. I know they will involve me as much as I want to be involved. I know the children will be ok with me being around… but I’m still feeling sad about losing my buddies in childlessness!

This morning while walking the pups, I was thinking about the automatic thoughts and feelings this has arisen in me and as I blog, I want to try and challenge them!

  1. everyone else seems to move on in life… I don’t
  2. you will be even more alone than you were before
  3. other people can have families, you cant
  4. you wouldn’t be able to manage even if you got one
  5. they will be too busy for the business and for you

Actually, I’m really crying as I type!

Because those automatic thoughts feel like the truth to me. And this is where I always get with CBT. I identify the thoughts, but then can never challenge them because I believe them! Shit. This isn’t going to plan. I hoped that I would be able to challenge each point and end this piece of writing feeling totally different. Shit- not going to happen.

images.jpegBUT, it will have to happen. It might take me longer than the 10 mins needed to write this blog, but it has to happen. If not, I am going to continue to be very miserable indeed. So time to sign off, need to get the CBT text books out and get to work on these thoughts before I get too overwhelmed with sadness…. gosh, hadn’t fully appreciated how sad I was feeling about it. Thank you blogging for the gift.

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Thanks for listening.

 

 

Half Term

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Sometimes, things don’t seem to get any easier. (or maybe they do, but I only really focus on them when they are tricky?)

Unknown.pngHalf Term is once again upon me. I imagine lots of teachers are celebrating. I’m relieved, but I’m not joyful.

My ideal half term is a few days away with friends then a few days at home to potter and organise myself for the next bit. My usual go-to-family weren’t around this holiday, and I realised that I was really feeling sad about it. I’ve been trying to think through why… and I think its for two main reasons

  1. the dilemma is what do I do instead but also
  2. I miss them and that time with them… but why?!?

POINT 1. 

I’ve known they were not around for ages- and I was actually trying to be very pro-active about this holiday. In good DBT style I was trying to consider what did I want… what did I need… and how could I meet those.

I’ve searched solo holidays, I nearly booked a ski-ing trip, but didn’t really want to go alone. I even booked a dog-friendly hotel for a couple of nights. I ended up cancelling it as I thought it might be a bit miserable… I considered another fitness boot camp… I tried to find a craft  or writing residential but I couldn’t… I’ve really researched but nothing was grabbing me. I either couldn’t quite face driving hours to get somewhere, or I didn’t want to leave the pups or it just didn’t seem like much fun by myself…

Unknown-1.pngSo I decided for myself, that I was going to stay put. Potentially a healthy choice. But then I found myself mentally preparing list upon list of things that I wanted to get done in the house, or in school, or in my studies or in my hobbies! I was arrested by the fact that my default position was busy-ness and achievements…

And then I refer back to my perennial issue of what does rest look like for me? the reality is, I love getting things ticked off my list- that makes me feel more restful, but as soon as one list gets completed- another one forms… somewhere and somehow I have to learn to stop.

So, at the start of half term, I decided that not only will I stay put, but also I will do my utmost to not be so driven and task-orientated. The main reason being that I had put things in place on a few days and I didn’t quite have long enough to make a visit worthwhile.

But things started to unravel pretty quickly! Firstly, I found out that I could have been to my friends… so that really threw me, secondly, to punctuate my week, I put some things in place- today’s got cancelled. Thursday’s isn’t looking promising and then friends I am visiting at the weekend are going out on Saturday night so I’m on babysitting duty!!!

But I’m holding on. But I hate that. Holidays are precious. I don’t want to survive. I want to flourish and replenish. I hate the thought of just getting through- that is so selling myself short. But I’m not going to run away.

POINT 2. 

This has been more revealing to me. I miss seeing my friends as I love them. They are adventurous fun-loving friends who I enjoy being with greatly. But also I realised they are my fix of ‘normality’. My fix of family. They have two wonderful children who have known me all their lives and who just accept me as  I am.

images.jpegAt New Year there was such a special afternoon. Each child was in their own room doing their thing. The dad was in his study doing his thing. The mum was doing her thing and I was in my room doing my thing. I absolutely loved it. Separate but together. It felt so wonderfully normal. People doing what they needed but coming back together (for food!). I miss that. I wish I had that. This half term that’s also what I’m missing and it feels painful to me at this  point in my life.

So what do I do about it? 

To be honest, I don’t entirely know. I am highly grateful for my home and my life. I do not think for one moment the grass is greener on side of any fence. My garden is pretty lush thank you very much. Wonderful friends and families that embrace me wholeheartedly. But something is missing. Really missing for me. And that has to be what I try and face. I just don’t know how.

Anyway, a longer ramble than usual- but needed to process much!

Thanks for listening.

 

disgust and decisions

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January has been a very busy month at work. After pay day, I decided to go and treat myself to a new dress as I had two parties the first weekend of February. I didn’t ‘need’ a new dress- but I wanted one and I wanted to treat myself.

I took myself off to the shops with money in the wallet ready to spend. It was a disaster! I limited the number of shops I was going to visit down to 3. I couldn’t quite face trawling through every dress shop in Westfields… I didn’t make it past shop 1!

I looked absolutely hideous in every-thing! Changing room lights and mirrors are quite revealing for us all, but the 360 degree view of my body was vomit inducing. I left with money still in wallet and feeling a lot worse than when I started!

Unknown.jpegBut I’ve been in the place before. I will always come back to where this blog first started. If I carry on doing what I’m doing, I will get what I always get. I can choose to change. I can make better decisions.

Unknown.pngThis is coupled with feeling physically completely rotten. This has also been coupled with a sugar-free new devotee in one of my colleagues. So events have conspired to get me to this place again. Refined sugar has to go. I’m a week in to no chocolate, sugar, cakes and biscuits or fizzy drinks. I can’t quite face the hidden sugars yet- but this has to be better than nothing.

I’ve been here before and I choose not to feel bad about that, it’s ok- I’m back where I need to be. At least I’ve come back to this place after falling off the wagon so to speak instead of continuing in the self-destructive spiral. And maybe this cycle will continue… but for the moment, I am choosing to control my food instead of food controlling me.

Huge test this morning my neighbour brought me in 2 bakewell tarts (I love bakewell tarts)…I have resisted. I will resist. I will change.

Thanks for listening

 

 

 

 

failure without failing

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My biggest strategy for survival has always been over-accomplishment, work and achievement. When everything else in life is chaotic, I could rely on my work or study to give me a sense of identity and success. Like all coping strategies, they can be positive but if not kept in check they can become unhealthy. And for me it has moments of becoming very unhealthy.

In schema language apparently I have a strong ‘unrelenting standards’ of primarily myself but sometimes others. Whenever this has come up in therapy- to be honest, I try to brush it aside. The thought of one of my crutches giving way feels too terrifying. But like everything else these things have a way of rearing their head if left alone…

A couple of weeks ago, I ‘failed’ at something. I didn’t pass. I was not accepted. I did not meet the required standard. I was accepted on to the training of being a school inspector, after 3 full on days, I was told I didn’t meet the required standards and wouldn’t be progressing with my training.

images.jpegMy initial reaction was to laugh. I thought this was the funniest thing ever- the training had been pretty shoddy, I didn’t like the trainer and actually the thought of all the extra work it would bring in to my life for very little reimbursement, I felt like I had dodged a bullet. But that was until the shame kicked in…

And stupidly, I didn’t expect the reaction. I know I should have, but I honestly thought my initial hilarity was genuine (and maybe it was) but as I let conscious brain kick in- I crumbled. Oh the shame. I wasn’t good enough. The humiliation of having to tell people/ my staff that I hadn’t passed and my colleague had. I passed my Masters assignment but anyone can do that, this was a failure in my profession. Maybe I shouldn’t be a Head. I’ve been found out. Someone has sussed that I don’t know what I’m doing. I need to resign. I just crumbled.

Unknown.jpegI went to DBT with tears already flowing while waiting in the car outside. Penelope’s reaction… “good… I’m pleased you failed.” AND SHE MEANT IT… I was in pieces, she was  laughing! And that was exactly what I needed to hear. A lot of the work I do in therapy is opposite action and de-sensitisation therapy. And the route to being released from unrelenting standards is to feel the pain of failure and knowing that it doesn’t define me. Boy, its blooming hard! But I persist. This blog post is one step in that process.

 

 

 

Sanity and self-soothing

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Self-Soothing is a key skill in DBT Distress Tolerance. It’s something that I find difficult and I often don’t feel very soothed even if I do the things I meant to… but sometimes I know I have to just keep persevering and practice.

The last few weeks I have been cross-stitching. I don’t remember doing it before. It has helped keep me sane! It needs total concentration- I can’t do anything else at the same time- I need to count and plot! So its not been something I can really do with other people. However, I have spent hours beavering away at the image and its nearly there.

I think the need to concentrate on something totally different has been helpful. The colours always bring joy to my eyes. The physicality of using needle and thread has also been helpful- Ive been connected with the materials. Again, I’ve seen a blank canvas turned in to something beautiful.

Beautiful isn’t it?

IMG_2280.JPGThe back of the canvas doesn’t look quite so pretty…

FullSizeRender.jpgbit like the inside of my mind at the moment!!!!

But I love the fact that even the messy side looks beautiful in its own way.

As  I get better at cross-stitch apparently the back of it will look better… but Im not overly bothered really- I think it looks fab.

Thanks for listening

actions speak louder than words…

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Over New Year I spent some time with special friends. While walking the pups, Phillip asked me what was the main DBT skill I used. Immediately, I replied ‘Emotional Regulation’. I then went on to pontificate about the importance of keeping myself well… avoiding crisis, averting issues and generally making sure I’m ‘topped’ up.

Unknown.jpegThe last few days have made it abundantly clear that the words are a lot easier to say than live!

Readers will know I am a Head Teacher of an Independent School that I co-own. Term has started back two days ago but things really took on some critical intensity from Thursday/Friday of last week. The details of the events are unimportant for this purpose. Suffice to say, as the heat went up my emotional regulation went plummeting down.

I’ve eaten rubbish by the bucket load (and only rubbish) – pizza, chocolate and biscuits basically . I’ve drunk coke by the litre. I’ve hardly slept. I’ve medicated myself in front of the tele. I’ve spent money that I shouldn’t have. My Christmas decorations haven’t been put away. Bills have been unpaid. My medication had run out and I hadn’t renewed the prescription.My anxiety over leaving the pups has been the highest ever. Its been pretty appalling. I then wonder why I feel so incredibly sluggish and awful! It really isn’t rocket science some times…

Today, I woke up literally and metaphorically. Time for the pity party to stop. I was able to give myself the shake I needed. I can’t just look after my health in the holidays. I need to grow in my capacity to emotionally regulate even when I’m busy. I know that emotional regulation isn’t optional… it’s essential. So this afternoon, I packed the decs away. I cooked some food for supper. I emptied the car. I filled a box of decluttering for a charity shop drop. I can’t face the humiliation of hockey at the moment but I did go for another run yesterday.

images.jpegSo as I look ahead to a busier term than usual, I’ve got to get organised. The only way I can eat healthy is to have food in the house and prep my food in advance. I’ve got to pack my bag the night before an early start- to ease the morning stress. I’ve got to ration my TV watching. I can’t have coke or bread in the house. And its not just about operation survival, I want it to be operation flourish.

Thankfully, I’ve only had a few poor days- I’ve seen it now and I am going to practice what I preach. Emotional Regulation all the way!

Thanks for listening