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Category Archives: Mental Health

Reflections…Week Twenty two

canstockphoto8630797A week of uncertainty, a week of determination.

For nearly three weeks part of my medication has been unavailable, completely ending my dose just shy of a fortnight ago. No weening off, just a sudden stop, ended, and as it is the only one in its class, no alternative.

Luckily, I have had no side effects, BUT, and it is a big but – after multiple failures to obtain the medication it took a week , due to one thing and another, to find out if I was at risk of harm from the sudden stop and what my options were.

Not the risk of harm as in suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, the usual bag of side effects. No the question was more of physical, I have been on this medication for years and my body chemistry would have adapted, to a degree, at receiving it daily.

The staff at the groups I use have been kept aware of what has been happening and helping where they can, so I have good, knowledgeable, organisations as backup should things start going wrong. Family are also available, so two safety nets as it were. But it is the group staff that have had the most concern, they have seen people ‘go off’ their meds, and the results are not usually pretty.

If I was at the stage that my belief in the medication is the source of my healing, I would have been worried, but since being on the medications my health as a whole has decreased, co-incidental?

When you go onto medication and you show side effects that the doctors doctors don’t see as problematic, weight gain, brain fog, heck, even my illusions were classed as a side effect by one doc, the usual “it’ll go away in time” becomes the standard reply. This is, I believe, because you cannot test for side effects, so how do you prove/disprove they exist in a patient? My sudden development of a twitch and stammer could not be found in a book, not in patients over the age of 16ish, so that too got the “it’ll go away eventually” line.

Add in the factor of ones improvement due to therapies, that also has no test for it, you have two variables of ones health that do not fit into the equation. The drugs get all the praise and none of the blame, does this really help the patient?

There are reports by some doctors in America, including at least one Psychiatrist, that say the drugs are not the answer, and a homeopathic approach is better for the patient long term. Now I don’t know if that is true or not, since there is no profitability by the drug companies, there have been limited studies on it, but I don’t know why it isn’t available alongside as part of the treatment, possible side effects – better health, better diet, shorter amount of time on the medication, therefore less exposure to the common side effects of suicide, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety…

One goes to a weekly group that, for want of a better term, does life learning. Which is to say ones life choices, usually influenced at an early age, are questioned and alternative thought patterns are offered. The idea is simple, identify negative traits, identify why they are there, explore alternatives, implement small changes, find oneself and become oneself. Sometimes we are shaped, including our reactions, from outside sources, to a point we become less us and more what is expected to ‘be’.

Yes I am aware I speak as one and as multiple, this can also be a side effect of the shaping, segments of ones personality can get segregated.

Side note  pomegranate/pear/raspberry juice with spirulina and green superblend powders…yuck…eugh…nasty!

I believe I have been lucky in experiencing no side effects (to present), and I would not recommend stopping medication to anyone, but I would recommend you going to as many free therapies/groups/courses as you possibly can that are available in your area. The amount of courses/groups I have gone to is the reason I don’t fear coming off the medication, even as a trail, how else can it be proven if it was the  drug or whether it was changes made during my stay at the mental hospital responsible for the improvement of my mental state and whether the drug has been ‘working’ these past years?

In the West Midlands there are groups like Brighter futures, Echo, Mind, Healthy Minds and Changes, these are the ones I know about but not all of them, they are free and recognised Mental Health groups.

If a series of events and responses in the past are responsible for present, then is it not a good thing to learn to change the responses in order for the future be different than the present?

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

 

Reflections…Week Thirteen

IMG_0167Positivity section bellow the intro.

This week has seen a bit of a flurry on the blogging side; even as I write this it somehow still feels surreal.

I have just seen my blog on another website, not on the WordPress site I had the invite from but a different website. I am not disappointed my work ended up there, more surprised it had over 30 likes in two days, so for me it is great exposure, it’s one of those sites Facebook sends me to on clickbait.

If you had asked me at the very tentative beginning of my blogging if I thought I would be asked to guest write on another site, I would have thought you strange at best. I honestly thought it would end up like all journalling to that point… Short lived. Especially as there was no enthusiastic charge unto the breach.

Now my ego has had a massage, a shoulder rub of sorts, the kind that says – “it’s worth it.”

I still don’t know in which direction writing is going to take me, but I do know I can connect, even a few at a time, through it. And if that message is one of positivity, a positivity that can have a change effect, even by accident, is it not then worth pursuing?

Here is such an attempt.

Try this out when you walk, it will surprise you how  effective it is, well it surprised me.

From now on, no matter how sh***y you feel, no matter what the weather,  no matter how tired you are or how alone you want to be, headphones on or off, big dog, little dog, Black dog. I know the feelings of wanting to be alone and the effort it will take to do this, I started at two, I also know that the excuses will come easily, if you let them.

Pick a time or place to do this that has the least negative emotional impact on you, doubly hard if just getting outside the door is a monumental task, such as a dog walk route you regularly take or the little diversion on your walk home from work, your weekly walk around the park even. You may have noticed I walk, Spot, my ever faithful Jack Russel, has kept me going outside, out of the door, for most days; but I need the open space to do this technique. Adapt it to suit your way.

For those of us that wear a mask, this will sound all too familiar and will almost be ‘second’ nature, but will have a different outcome than the usual dance.

Practice your smile because a good looking smile is key, even if it FAKE!

As I stated earlier I started with two for the first week, after this I challenged myself to Three. I am now on seven, yes I know it’s anal to keep count at this point but it’s what I do.

Smile to the chosen number of people each day, on a dog walk this should be relatively easy. Look them around the eyes and Smile, the best smile you can do, and say a greeting, whichever you feel comfortable with. You don’t have to stop and talk, heck you don’t even have to slow down. They don’t need to hear you, so headphones are not a barrier and they don’t have to make eye contact back, so no staring!

You will get some odd looks to start, this takes time to take effect, but eventually you will get a repeat pattern of people who see you smile. If you live in an over crowded area, pick out stall people, you don’t even have to shop, just make it easier on yourself to do this.

Here’s the science:-

When you smile within a certain group of people, other dog walkers for instance, you will get noticed because of it, especially when a pattern  starts to take place. The greeting is an added bonus. As people start to recognise you as the person who gives them a smile, they don’t know if it is real or not but its natural to believe it is, they will start to smile back. This way on your journey you have strangers that smile when they see you, take it on face value it is genuine, it will have a tendency for both of you to genuinely smile in time anyway, so why not start with that belief.

Now this is where it gets interesting. Your smile has a great probability of having the person smiled at, smiling to at least the next person they walk past. So if you have chosen three as the number to smile at, and each of them has the chance to smile at a minimum of one other, on your chosen route, that means six have been smiled at because of you!  If they smile at one it’s nine. You may even cheer someone up who needs a ‘friendly face’, even a strangers on a street.

Smiling is infectious apparently and we subconsciously like places that are ‘friendly’. The chain effect of people smiling at one another makes for that  friendly place, this in turn draws the same people back and they in turn catch the smiling bug. Without conscious thought those smiles turn to genuine ones.

Try something that seems to have been forgotten, something free, something that can improve your mental health as a by-product.

SMILE 🙂

Be radical!

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Reflections…Week Ten

canstockphoto8630797Positive well-being was the course for this week.

Run by Brighter Futures and Echo, these free learning courses cover subjects, in my opinion, that should be taught in schools, and here I am half a lifetime later just learning how to social interact.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t for one minute blame my teachers for the playground bullying and the social awkwardness I felt, nor do I think that the teachers should be doing these subjects whilst teaching other subjects, I think this should be a class of its own. Self development. I believe the school “holiday’s” at Stanley Head was the closest I got to this.

But this was out of context to normal life, most of my bullies were of an older age, so not there, and as every “team event” from that point onwards seems to be sorted – outcasts were paired or grouped with outcasts.

Could my life have been different if I was taught how to recognise different personality types, therefore having mine recognised for its benefits, and how to best interact and work with each? If I was taught how to build my self esteem, would that have put an end to the bullying, at work if not at the school? Would I have not turned down promotions, because I had been told by my peers at school that I was worthless, so could not possibly hold the position? Could I take rejection better, or even praise? Could I have been a better human being?

The term human being may seem a little odd, de-personalised even, and in a sense it is. Having had the point in my life of being so low as to be sectioned, being sectioned is not the same for everybody -this is my own personal account – and questioning the very existence of the world around me whilst trying to comprehend the in-comprehensible implosion of my life. Implosion does not even begin to explain the complete claustrophobia, of ones own minds creation, and the fears it creates to try and protect itself, but I could not fathom a better word that describes the inward collapse without referencing some obscure theoretical physics reference.  You become the ultimate weapon to defeat yourself.

But through therapies, courses, art and persistence, I have started to realise that my actions of the past were heavily influenced by the negative actions of others.  Some where quite literally beat into me, and to my shame, I interacted with others the same way. This also had the effect of making me easily manipulatable, having a previously unknown sense  of wanting to please, easily falling for a “distress story” requiring help and being self destructive within my personal life.

It’s easy to look back and say “yes, it could have!”, but strangely this action would hold me back from going forward, would have..should have..could have.. belongs to the Three Stooges, not me.

I may be a late starter in self development, but a start I have made, its kind of like learning a new language, you either have to be taught it or shown how to implement it through interactions with a range of people in a controlled positive environment, these courses do both.

Through the blogs I have learnt that it is not just what you have to say, but also the way you say it that impose barriers. I have to learn to replace I’m with I am, I’m has become a negative for me. Never do I go to the trouble of saying “I am not” it is always “I’m not” when the following words are negative. I have even been shown that no can be said in a more positive way.

This word simple swap and pause can empower…

“I, AM”

This is my way forward. This is my way to a better me.

I,am change!

I, am my future!

I, am now!

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Reflections…Week Six

Try something new, it’s good for the brain.

That is what I have been told many a time, so when the opportunity to do a one day course came along on a day and time one could do, one did. Team Building. To make this more interesting, one was going alone.

Not knowing who was going, nor how many, put my system to into a panic. However, having been to the building several times before, and being in a larger size group in the room gave some calm to my mind. The room is quite spacious and even at capacity  still feels like there is plenty of space to escape. Toilet facility and door sitings, the primary locations to look for in a new building, are known, and it has noting to do with Feng Shui.

The morning arrived, my stomach churned for hours before I made my way to the course, I nearly backed out, it would be easy to do. Truth be told, with it being run for people with mental health problems, it’s kind of expected, and what do I need with team building? Every ‘team’ I have been on, and it’s not many, have been dysfunctional at best and at worst…a bunch of individuals clumped together. Solitary, shy and introverted by nature, oh and antisocial now, thats me. Not the abusive neighbour or troublesome element of a neighbourhood, more the “he just kept himself to himself officer”, “such a lovely man” kind of person. Heck I have even been called antisocial on social sites due to my non interaction. Do I really want to build teams?

The course was run by a lovely young lady, genuinely enthusiastic, warm and welcoming. I was first to arrive, promptly choosing a seat furthest from the door facing, toward it. Two more came in and sat on the table in front, then Three came in together, two of whom I recognised, and sat at the first table. This is pretty representative of my social life, not in the ‘clic’, not on the fringes, just about in the room.  Sometimes there are others, each circling the outer edges, occasionally bumping into one another, or into a group, jostling for a little while, then resuming the orbital path.

It was suggested that since a couple where know, I should sit with the first table, at least until the others arrived. Two more made Eight. Moved again, I joined three strangers on the second table. I was not looking forward to this.

Quite quickly it became apparent that this table was the table with the extrovert, bad enough, but he had an enabler, someone to feed his id, now I really started to question why I was there. I cannot speak for the fourth in the group, but his demeanour was that of a quiet reflect-full man also on his own, we were outnumbered.

Exercises to build ‘team spirit’ where a runaway, I have never been able to be heard against an extrovert. They run, I walk, if not sit. My ideas get drowned out by the enthusiasm extroverts create around them selves, at a certain point that energy is a repellant and I quietly drift back to the edge. This time however I was noticed, only by the course runner, but I will still take the notice, my ideas where heard and hints to the group were given, they were not heard though, the train had left the station and the passengers were chasing behind it.

The pattern repeated itself with each tasks, same old same old. Hints by the course runner could not have been more obvious to include, nay, listen to, the quiet ones, only to get squatted away like an annoying fly. I did things that I found uncomfortable, at one point I swear I was glowing with embarrassment. But I plodded along, right until the last task. A daft little task but my geek came out and it wanted to be heard.

Build a structure out of marshmallows and dried spaghetti, the tallest to stand on its own for thirty seconds wins.

What was being built lacked structural integrity, strength and geometry. I drew out a stronger design on paper, it was ignored, I tried to explain the reason why the structure being built would fail, it was ignored, or how I spoke was not understood, same result either way.  I then went as far as an engineering example of what I was saying, and with the help of the course runner I was finally heard. Then ignored again. Having seen the strength in what I was saying, the extrovert upgraded his design, but he didn’t need the bits he did not understand, so I was ignored. I got stuck in this time and did the structural cross-members and support beams whilst arguing the point of having a solid base. It was not easy, but each success was seen and copied on the other sides. We became an ‘awkward first date’ team, stumbling along but managing; just.

I have, in my past, helped to break in a horse, and I had the bruises and cuts to prove it, for days after I ached. This was comparable.

Time was called and the structure stood firm-ish, the top layer had not been finished so it twisted around on itself  but it stood up. We won.  The course runner gave tips, the biggest for me was that I gave up to easy when I had the best idea, because I had the best knowledge on the subject. “You just need to boost my confidence in yourself” she said “and fight to be heard longer”.

The course next week …Assertiveness.

With the biggest class she has ever had!

Someone somewhere is takin the ….

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

The best laid plans

IMG_0469

Here’s a picture of a newborn goat, and why not. No story relevance whatsoever.

Oh the saga of the cycle conversion, this was supposed to be simple!

Finally I have managed to unbox the conversion kit, all the parts are there…but wait, there’s no manual on how to put it all together. Really, the amount of money that they charge for this thing and they cannot print off an instruction manual? Back in the house, cuppa distraction, print off the manual. Back out, the wheel does not fit, not a complete surprise, I have watched enough videos to know that this is quite common. Fiddle, Faff and curse, the electric wheel is no lightweight to lift. It fits! So now to the fitting of the tyre and inner tube.

What no rim tape? I am supposed to use the tape on the current wheel, not the same width, stingy b… It will have to wait till tomorrow when I nip the cycle shop. Fit the brakes then. Off comes the hand grips and the brakes, along with the gear selectors, they are all one unit, so the electric cutout ones are back in the box, they looked cheap any way and so long as I stop peddling the motor stops, so no big issue. But I can feel the weight of the shadow pressing down on my shoulders, the doubt of making the right choice looming, it’s too late to return now there are marks on it.

Fitted the battery holder, unfitted the battery holder, fitted the bike pump on the other bottle holder fittings, refitted the battery holder. Fitted the controller bag, connected some wires and zip tied them in place. Now the throttle, or should I, It is illegal in Britain to use it on the road, will I be tempted?  Sod it I might as well, the parts in the box are not decreasing and the value for money is looking like I could have ordered a skinny kit, if they did one. Nope it will not fit, 45 minutes of trying it this way, that way, the other way and the variations of all ways. Upside down was even tried, It will not fit on, back in the box.

Ok, the accessories list like thus:-

  • Brake levers, in the box
  • Throttle, In the box
  • LCD  screen

The LCD took another hour to get to fit, and even though many a time it looked like it to was destined to go back to the box, it cost too much to not use it. Even if I had to duck tape the bloody thing on to the handle bars it was going on. One out of three accessories made it out of the box and stayed out, progress

Onto the PAS system, quite a simple system really. A sensor is mounted on the frame by using the bikes own fitting and a plastic circle with magnets on is slipped onto  the crank arm behind the peddle. Off with the peddle, easy when you have the tools. Off with the, oh, my bike does not have one.

This is the point where if I still drank, I would have been off to the pub for more than a few pints. Not one part of this easy conversion has gone to plan. Think man think. My brain is clouding over, the weight on my shoulders increasing, the shadows are starting to embrace. Before my breakdown this would have been child’s play, now; now it is more like sinking into cement whilst carrying an elephant. Glue, that was the solution, that is what was used. Tomorrow I will find out if my other me agrees with that decision.

Time was called, and in I have come. A torque arm has been purchased to help combat the wheels twist (spinning out of the dropouts) and to ease my mind, well, by ease I mean stop the headache of should I, should I not.

So here we are, on hold. Aching, heavy and full of doubt.

I need Ice cream.

Paddle in the sea.

DSCF0934As the mid-way point of yet another Bank holiday has passed and the rush to the coast to enjoy the good weather, judging by the lack of traffic on the roads here, I have allowed a small smile to cross my lips at my choice to go a walking barefoot earlier in the week.

The weather forecast was for a sunny day, but to honest I have not been to the sea since last time I wrote, so being able to go, I would have gone regardless. There is a peace wandering down a near empty beach, the sound of the waves being the main auditory input.

Once, there was a feeling , nay, a longing, that the sea gave me, a draw unto itself if you will. I felt I understood what it was that made the first people venture forth unto the unknown toward a new destiny, the very sound of the waves calming the spirit whilst enthralling it . I revisit the coast now to try and rekindle the feeling. Walking with the hot sand enveloping my toes, a thought came to mind.

Do the people, who may have never even seen the beach, fleeing their country due to war get that same feeling?

I was a toddler when first introduced to the sea, so the memory of seeing this great expanse of water for the first time is lost. Did the sense of wonderment gradually build up, or has it always been there? Does the sea have a subconscious connection with the human brain? The sea has claimed many a life, by being what it is, no emotional drive or impulse, so we should fear it as we fear all things that can cause harm. But as a species we are drawn to it, why? It goes beyond gathering resources and materials, there is an affinity with it.

I pondered this a I wandered, my body taking its own path, no real destination for either, when suddenly I was bought back to the now with a wave splashing up my thigh. I had inadvertently been paddling in the sea, not much excitement in that statement I grant you, but I, over half a lifetime ago, stopped paddling, because the sea was too cold. And here I was knee deep in the sea and not minding the temperature one bit nor caring how long I had been in it.

The inadvertent paddle left me with a sense of familiarity and memories locked away from my childhood Holidays came trickling back, times of hours spent in rock pools catching shrimp or gathering molluscs. The feeling that the sea used to give me may have faded, replaced by a small spark of hope; hope that nature will ultimately be my guide to where I need to be, or at least the path I need to be on.

A thought also goes out to all that embark on the journey across the sea, may your journey be a safe one.

A crossroads reached.

DSCF0966Perception.

Perception is a curious thing, it taints all we see or it reveals, it all depends on your view point. Perception is individual and yet it is, for all under a psychiatrist, supposed to be what someone else has perceived to be normal. And not all the people who wrote the book come across as what would be perceived in this ‘modern’ world as ethically correct. Case in point would be John Broads Watson, the ‘Father’ of behaviourism and the ‘little Albert’ experiment, an experiment on a nine month old infant to condition a phobia.

If you take 100 people off the streets today, ask them all the same 100 questions, on a scale of 1 to 10, then take the average from all the results; how many would be normal? A Mathematician does not think like an Artist who does not think like a Writer, and yet there is art in all three. A flower will still be a flower when all three perceptions put there respective art onto paper as their representation of  the said flower. Not all will be understood by all viewing, but that by no right makes one  perspective wrong. As long as there is no harm done, that pretty much is universal.

Mental Illness has a mask, a false projection, not only to others but also to the sufferer. Perception of ones self is not what you would expect, many a reflection is of a stranger, coping well, whilst failing. Being asked the same questions over and over, on  a scale of 1 to 10. Never wanting to answer truthfully if experiencing a really bad patch, for the fear of being put back into ‘Hospital’ is a real one. A Hospital where the beds can be broken and should have been thrown out ages ago. The last one I slept in I had to put a folded blanket under the mattress to fill the hole in the bed itself. Not to mention the negative stigma that would come from ‘another’ stay in ‘the’ Hospital.

And when did someone come up with the idea that a person with a Mental health problem has the perception to answer the questions correctly when it has already been perceived that they do not have the mental perception that they are ill in the first place. A drunk will never perceive the level of drunkenness they are at, so asking them to rate their drunken state on a scale of 1 to 10 is pointless.

If by now you are wondering if I have a pet peeve with the forms resembling a customer satisfaction survey, Yes I have.

But if the system is not there to help one recover, rebuild and remove ‘shackles’ from the past if necessary, then what is the point of the system. When it feels like you have been drugged up and shipped out to pasture, is that the time to question the process? What if the drugs are making you ill? Or there is the chance they are making you ill, don’t you have the right to be told?

Imagine breaking a leg, being told you have broke your leg, given pain killers at varying strengths until the pain is blocked, told you have to accept that your leg is broken and all that can be done is to monitor the pain killer strength (the side effects of the pain killer include pain), ignoring the techniques are out there to mend the broken leg.

Wouldn’t happen would it?

Unfortunately it happens at a regular rate when the mind breaks.