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Let it go..

Let it go.  You’ll be pleased to hear I’m not about to burst into a rendition of every small girl’s favourite song.  My post today is, what I hope will be, another useful insight into how to calm the busy mind and bring a bit more order into the chaos.

Learning #2 – Just let it go.

This weekend I have been decluttering. My son and his girlfriend have been living with me since graduating last summer, but they have finally managed to afford to move to a place of their own. This has not only meant I now have a spare room, but has given me the opportunity to have a good clear out.  I have moved three times in the past three years, but somehow I still have too much stuff.

stuff

So I’ve been ruthless. My clothes now all fit into one wardrobe. I have thrown out some old tatty furniture as a result and now feel I have space to breathe and move. I still have more to do but it already feels good to have less in my life, to simplify, to focus on things that really matter rather than worrying about where to store things that I never use (let’s just ignore that fact I’ve managed to ‘lose’ all my bedding in a dyspraxic moment of brain dysfunction, I’m trying to move on from that! :)).

And it set me thinking. It’s not only possessions that I have been letting go of.  Too frequently, in the past, I have found myself stuck in old ways of thinking, old difficult memories, old conversations and old events. I have found myself wasting so much of my time, energy and mental capacity focusing on stuff that I don’t need; in a metaphorical sense, on stuff I don’t have room for.

So how to declutter the mind? My daughter reminded me one of the ways to get rid of physical things is to stop touching them, that way the sentimental and emotional connections are broken, and it’s easier to throw them out. I think memories are the same. Find ways to break the connections. In today’s world it’s too easy to be reminded of the bad stuff; our lives are recorded and posted, Facebook, Instagram, email, blogs (!). It’s all there to be read, reread, analysed; the neural pathways constantly being reinforced.

Having a bit of an addictive personality, it’s very easy for me to get caught up in the stuff that hurts, looking at it, constantly torturing myself. So now I use the delete button. Anything I think might harm me mentally is decluttered, sent to the virtual municipal dump in the sky, so my mental wardrobe has more room for the stuff I like, the things that make me happy.

Does it always work? Of course not. And I can’t get rid of places that remind me of things I don’t want to remember, I can’t always avoid hearing songs that upset me, of smelling aromas that take me back to a bad, sad memory. Those negative thoughts still come to me, like waves on the beach, sometimes gentle and manageable, sometimes crashing and deafening, sweeping me out to sea with their scary force. But hey, I can only control what I can control. Better to lessen the impact, rather than constantly scratching at scabs and reopening wounds.

It has worked, I’m definitely calmer and less bothered by intrusive thoughts – the constant nemesis of the anxious mind – than I was in the past. I’m also making a concerted effort not to dwell on those thoughts when they do come, which is something I will talk more about in a future post.

So yes, my lesson learnt today is let it go.

The cold never bothered me anyway.

Mood soup

No not my current state of mind 🙂 but a soup I just made myself to help keep my mood level elevated.

Put 500g of mixed courgette, kale and peas (fresh or frozen) in a pan with two stock cubes (chicken or vegetable) a few chilli flakes, a good sprinkle of celery salt, cumin and dried herbs, some coriander stalks, the green parts from a couple of spring onions, and salt and black pepper to taste.

Cover with boiling water (just a little less than a litre) and put on the heat.  Bring to the boil then leave on a high heat (watch it doesn’t boil over) for about ten minutes.  Use a ladle to take out the courgettes, kale and about half of the peas and blitz to a liquid. Return to the pan and bring back to a rolling boil.

Ladle the soup into a bowl, drizzle over some cream (or creme fraiche/yoghurt), coriander leaves and the white parts of the spring onions, finely chopped.

Enjoy!

Karen

Tacking right

Going to go off on a different tack this morning.  I said I wanted this to be a blog about how to find our way through to happiness in this overwhelming world.  So I wanted to start to share some of the things I have learnt in my life.

learnt

Learning #1 – Hold back : Attending to my own needs is ok.  

In fact its more than ok – it’s essential. It’s very easy to listen to the demon on my shoulder whispering to me, telling me my needs are somehow less important than those of others. These messages began in childhood, the school bullies, the family members with their own issues, the jealous friends. The self-effacement becomes the easy option, people pleasing becomes a habit. Over time it was who I became, I was simply a reflection of other people’s needs.

My therapist described it as empathy gone mad.  So other people’s problems, their issues get absorbed in to my psyche.  And if I can’t make them better, well then I’m just a failure, I beat myself up.  Even worse, I take on their pain and make myself depressed and anxious. And you know what, for the people closest to me, it leads to co-dependency and stress instead of letting them find their own way. So it’s not actually that kind or empathic after all!

But the last couple of times I have felt it happening I have recognised it, reflected on it and gained insight as a result. I now feel stronger and more peaceful.

So my first learning is to hold back, be kind and supportive but not too kind, not too supportive. Look after myself first. Listen to me and what I need. Tell the demon on my shoulder, the whisper in my head, to just push off BECAUSE I’M BUSY!

More musings later.  Need to make myself a cuppa now 🙂

Love Karen

three is a magic number

So my post today will be the upbeat one I promised.  The crisis has passed and I’m feeling hopeful, dare I say happy.  I did all the things my brilliant therapist I was seeing last year recommended to me and it worked!  This is the first time I have faced the dark abyss since I stopped seeing her (and I’m off meds) so I feel really proud of how I’ve pulled through on my own.

Self care, reflection, mindfulness, rest, starting this blog, and a sudden moment of insight that I’m no use to me or to anyone else if I don’t put me first, and suddenly things have fallen into place.  I know I need to be vigilant and complacency is something I can’t afford, but I really do feel a sense of peace and calm that is both unusual and wonderful.

I am perfectly aware, and accepting of the fact that I will face challenges in the future, but   I really feel, for the first time in my life that I have the tools to control the demons. Not today, because for now I need to focus on me, but soon, I will start sharing my journey to where I am now, to help the many people I know face similar issues.

For now, much love to all

Karen xx

 

in two minds …

So here’s the thing.  I can’t work out if I’m ok or not. Never have been able to.  I wake up and think I can do this.  And yet …

Just half an hour ago I spent a while in the company of the black dog, contemplating my continuing existence. A few tears later and I’m back on an even keel.  Aye and there’s the rub.  My brain is broken, tossing and turning on a cruel sea of emotions and biochemical processes. It is tiring and depressing – my depression stems from my mood swings, not the other way around.

Right now I’m recovering from a meltdown last weekend, brought on by too many stressors (some good, some bad) all converging. So here I am safely ensconced in  bed, in my pjs but still managing to do a full day’s work.  I can cry and yet function, hide and yet write, always in two minds.

But I will not be beaten. I always pull myself out of the mire and this time is no different. It’s a full year since my last major fall, a record for me, and I take strength from that – I can and will go forward. I learn each day. Now I just need to work out how to be properly happy.

Background check: I have chronic PTSD brought on from traumas earlier in my life, combined with a learning ‘difference’ that makes basic tasks harder than they should be. I’m forgetful, clumsy, and struggle with stimuli such as noise and light, meaning I’m frequently overwhelmed. As long as I keep everything on the straight and narrow – people, work, diet, exercise, sleep, then I function well. But if things get out of kilter then the world starts turning upside down.

which sound?

via Daily Prompt: Sound

Sound one. I hear you. With your big crashing, noisy size ten boots. Overwhelming my senses, fear and loathing in East Herts. Anathema to the sensorially challenged.

Sound two. I see you.Water stretching long and wide with a  dark black dog face. Lapping over me. Sinking into the icy depths without a trace. Losing my way.

Sound three. I feel you. Asleep. Home safe. Happy to be alive. This is the sound I cherish – the one that gives me hope. Guiding me back to where I want to be.

before the first

Hi I’m Karen.

I will tell you more about me as we go but I live alone in Hertfordshire, work in the City, like theatre, reading and cooking, try to eat healthily and exercise, with varying degrees of success!

I also struggle with mental health issues from time to time and have dyspraxia which is sometimes very amusing and sometimes not.

Hope we get to know each other better and this blog proves to be both entertaining and informative.

Much love

the first

Why have I decided to blog?  To be honest I’m not completely sure.  Part a desire to express myself, part a hope I might be able to help a few people and part ….something else.  Therapy maybe?

My posts may be wide ranging – let’s just see how it goes.  Things I know I’d like to write about include some basic financial education for all our futures, and some personal coaching stuff. But I’m sure my personal mental health and learning disability battles will also figure quite prominently and my current struggles towards a happy and healthy future.

Oh and I promise there will be some funny stuff too :).

So maybe that’s what my blog is about – ways to be happier in a world that can sometimes be overwhelming.

I intend to learn as I go, so forgive me when I miss the mark.  And I appreciate any help and feedback – this is all about growing.

Much love

Karen