Unscheduled Blog/Social Media Break

I have been noticeably absent for a few weeks as I haven’t been well. Rest assured treasured regular readers it really isn’t anything too serious and I’m on the mend. Authors I have not forgotten your books and I will be hitting my reading list again soon. 

I hope very much to tackle the backlog in books and blog posts soon. I’m thinking of you all and missing you. I hope normal service will resume soon. 

1001 Blog Posts

Without even realising it I published my 1000th blog post yesterday. It certainly doesn’t feel like I have published so many posts nor does it feel like I’ve been blogging for very long as I’m still learning stuff about blogging. 

When I feel pessimistic one of the things I think about to rally my spirits is the wonderful community and support I encounter from blogging. This is the reason blogging is so much more than keeping a diary. If I just kept all these posts to myself it would be a huge loss to me personally as I would not have the wonderful feedback and comments from fellow bloggers. 

Thank you all for tuning in and reading my ramblings, I hope I have something interesting to say in my future posts. 

Flawed Characters: Real Life vs. Fiction #books #bookbloggers #Weekendbloghop

After reading and appreciating a string of flawed characters recently: Audra, Nora, Kate, Isabel and Crazy Amy to name just a few, I was thinking about how I would perceive such characters in real life and shamefully concluded that I probably wouldn’t find their individual flaws quite as charming in real life. The irony of this isn’t lost on me.

It seems to be much more palatable to read about characters with a dangerous edge than to accept those around us in real life live with flaws we find unforgivable. No doubt the self-preservation reflex to avoid unpredictability and danger is the root of how we react to aberrant characters in real life, but I really wish I was laid back enough to appreciate the beauty of not quite moral decisions people make in real life.

With the advent of social media it is much more prevalent to make damning judgments of our fellow man vociferously and vocally, but isn’t this just diversionary tactics to diminish and camouflage our own flaws? When we are criticising others we boost our own moral values and attain a superior position from which to look down on others. It mitigates our insecurity to highlight and emphasis our moral security. Is this why we like reading flawed characters in fiction? Are we all looking to be better than the next person?

What is behind our need to find villains and vilify them, when we find a flaws and all character in a book so gratifying to read? Today I ask more questions than I can satisfactorily answer, so please do share your thoughts on flawed literary characters and our aversion to real life flaws. I am genuinely intrigued. 

 

What Do  You Do When You Are Tugged Down The Rabbit Hole (again)? #mentalhealth #depression #weekendblogshare

Most of the time I manage to maintain a sort of equilibrium, but occasionally I slip into a darkness akin to what it would feel like if the dementors in Harry Potter were real. In fact, the depression I am currently suffering from is real. It takes a lot of insight and self-awareness to realise a low mood, flat effect and compulsive pessimistic thoughts are not quite a facile lifestyle choice.

I am lucky to have an excellent sounding board in a therapy group I deeply care for, but when in session I focus on others and pragmatic problem-solving rather than expressing what I feel. Circling emotions is easier than expressing them. It’s a fear of being ashamed of showing my true emotions that hold me back. I know I would tell anyone else that they have nothing to be ashamed of when expressing how they feel in a depressive episode, but convincing myself is harder.

It’s been a long time since I found myself feeling this low and I frightened myself this morning when I woke to utter the words, “I want to die.” I have no reason to feel this way. I am well supported, feel pleasure from doing many things as hobbies, I have the freedom to choose to do anything I wish, but alas that voice in my head tells me I’m not a doo-er. My reading has slowed since my mental health began to deteriorate early this year. For the first time I find myself behind three books in my Goodreads Reading Challenge. It’s taken me weeks to write a suitable blog post about the truth of my mood.

When in therapy there’s a special type of shame that comes with failing to remain optimistic. It’s seriously like I’m failing a course, but I cannot deny how I feel and I no longer have the energy to push it to one side. I’m circulating a crisis, but I’m not being furtive about it. If I was having an acute asthma attack it wouldn’t carry the shame I’m burdened with for having an acute depressive episode, and why not? Administering drugs to ease someone’s airways is heroic as opposed to acknowledging the darkness in their thoughts, which at best is indulging narcissism at worst aiding laziness, if you ignorantly believe anyone would want to feel this way.

I’ve been open and communicated my concerns about myself, now I have to rely on that old adage of time and the new mindfulness based cognitive behavioural techniques I have read and championed. Not so easy when I feel I’m being smothered in a lead curtain of impending doom.I’m tired of being me and no amount of reminding myself how lucky I am, the miracle that is life is so rare and precious, can convince me I have a purpose. 

This too shall pass, they tell me. Eventually. 

Honouring My Biggest Commitment: Keeping Myself Well


Even though I limit myself there’s still a lot of competition for my time and never has it been as busy as it’s going to be this month. March will see trips to The Royal Hallamshire PVDU and an endoscopy, at my local hospital as well as diabetes outpatients and the usual routine appointments. Never have I felt less motivated to attend appointments or take long journeys, as in all honesty, I am tired. Not just physically but mentally too. 

I rouse myself from sleep with a bone deep fatigue that I cannot imagine ever being free from. I could happily sleep fourteen hours a day but don’t remember what it’s like to feel refreshed. I suppose I really do need these hospital appointments as clearly this isn’t me at my best and my ability to do the things I enjoy is severely restricted yet again. 

I make no apologies for prioritising my well-being and my outpatient appointments. Thankfully those with a modicum of understanding agree with my need to attend outpatients and are not demanding anything of me that would make matters worse. Those who aren’t so generous are not so deserving of my time. 

Emotional Bait and Switch #weekendblogshare

Whilst undertaking a couple of days of mindfulness, I battled away a few thoughts that persistently came to mind. The ones that stick out the most and stayed with me though were the fleeting memories I have of emotional bait and switch. 

Let me explain; as most of us know bait and switch is a term used to describe the situation where a merchant/seller gets your interest with a product but then when you purchase you get something of inferior quality or one which is more expensive. 

What I consider emotional bait and switch is when a group of trusted loved ones say, “if you want to smoke go ahead, we’re really relaxed about it.” However, after you take your first puff they tell you off for being disrespectful and smoking in front of your elders. So you were lured in with the promise of understanding and acceptance and then humiliated for faith and trust in what those you’ve known all your life were saying, rather than deciphering what they were thinking. Believe me it ruins the memory of your first ever puff irreparably.

Bait and switch is ultimate emotional betrayal. You think you’re getting acceptance, unconditional understanding/love/support, but the cold reality hits when you realise the ropes attached and perceived underlying love, understanding or whatever it is, was an illusion. 

Of course I didn’t see these situations at the time for what they were, I thought and was allowed to believe the fault lay with me for being unacceptably imperfect in the way I trust people, understand the world around me, was curious about smoking and my shocking inability to have children. 

Yes, even my endometriosis/infertility wasn’t spared the bait and switch but I don’t want to lower my mood further by going into the specifics of that exchange. 

There’s a huge gulf between what those I have trusted in my formative years have led me to believe and what I actually got, but I think most of us have complaints of this nature. I’m just glad I understand it for the cold emotional betrayal it was and maybe in a decade or so I will understand why anyone would bait and switch those they allegedly love. 

#Mindfulness February #mentalhealth

Every now and then I suffer from mental fatigue. The bouts of mental fatigue are more regular at the moment, largely due to averaging a few hours of sleep daily for the past few months. 

Some days I don’t like dealing with words so I colour to ground myself and clear my mind. The following is the result of one of such day. 

Physically I am enduring frequent hot flushes and headaches, although these do not affect my daily activities as much as they affect my sleep. 

Maybe I need more mindfulness days? 


#MentalHealth Review #OCD 

Despite being seen three times a year by a psychiatrist to review the nuts and bolts of my OCD, depression and anxiety and the effect prescribed fluoxetine and anxiolytics are having on my general health, I now have another sort of review in my psychodynamic group therapy. Every six months we take stock of our goals, risks and achievements. I volunteered to go first in this new uncharted territory of therapy as it gave me less time to dwell on it and arouse the many critical thoughts that may have disabled me from benefiting from this event.

Reviewing myself or letting myself be reviewed, as a group activity, was odd, firstly because it is the only time, unless you want to have the spotlight in group, you are thrust into the group’s crosshairs. I was grateful for only having a week to ruminate over what initially felt like a bureaucratic hoop, but in all fairness I think I forgot about it by the weekend and only brought it back to mind the morning of my next session. 

Refusing to be cowed and rendered defeated by my thoughts I considered the individual points of the review in my allotted fifteen minutes at the start of the session and found that, without being completely aware I was doing so, I do actually keep a mental ledger of where I was at the start of my therapy and where I am now. With so much food for thought from each session over the weeks months and now years my mind has mulled over the problems presented to me, not just about my own psyche, but those reflected to me by others around me. I consider it one of my greatest achievements to take into account the way others might see me differently to my perceived view of myself and find I am able, albeit in an analytical fashion, to accept these observations to reflect and think about without drowning in a sea of my self-made negativity. 

I have never formally looked at what therapy is doing for me in such depth verbally or mentally, so viewing myself, my thoughts, emotions, goals and progress in this way clarified what my goals are from here on out. It was encouraging to see the positive work my ever chattering mind can do, even when I don’t feel in focus of the sessions I have weekly. It appears, as I have always suspected you don’t need a therapist to be with you daily but a mental voice that represents a therapist does exist in my cognitive choir. This maybe why I don’t feel defensive about the way I feel or come across and am altogether willing to consider the effect my behaviour has on others and on myself. 

To date I am grateful for the increased self-awareness I have developed in therapy. I am glad I appear to cope with the depression and anxiety I have more constructively whilst being more aware of their origins. Each session seems to increase my arsenal of tools to augment or mute my analytic thinking and self-reflection leading to a neuroplastic change that benefits me a little at a time. I am burdened with fleeting dark thoughts on a daily basis but I am finding more balance with the lighter thoughts I seem to be able to generate. 

I may have a few chronic illnesses, but my OCD and whatever else keeps it company, has to date affected me the most in my life and I have tools I am getting better at handling to cope with the condition. I know what my next step is in my self-development, and here’s hoping I generate the impetous to take it before the next review. 

#Non-Fiction #BookReview Sane New World: Taming of the Mind by Ruby Wax #Fridayreads #self-help 

​I found this book immensely helpful in understanding my depression and anxiety and piecing together the physiology and psychology of living with mental illness. Ruby Wax goes from the evolutionary viewpoint of why we are anxious to exercises helping us to retrain our minds to focus on the here and now. 

If you aren’t a Ruby Wax fan you may not get on with the style in which the book is written but as a sufferer of mental illness and cynic I found Sane New World filled in blanks for me and gave me a level of understanding of my illness that I had previously struggled with. By no means is this book a replacement for medical therapy and as lightheartedly it is presented it is actually on my shelf of go-to manuals, which I refer back to for exercises and reference when the need arises.

I was heartened to find myself already doing some of the things Ruby mentions in the book when it comes to dealing with negative thoughts and am delighted to have pages of exercises to try to master to help with my anxiety, depression and OCD. 

I found this to be a good book to begin building my personal mindfulness arsenal and am sold on the technique as Ruby cites a number of studies and references to back up her endorsement of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. A definite must-read for those suffering mental health issues, provided you like the humour Ruby Wax. 

Links To Book:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Goodreads