Loving kindness prayer

For myself and all beings

May I be safe and protected.

May I be healthy and well.

May I live with ease and with joy.

May I rest deeply on the earth.

May my cells be able to breath out.

May I love myself completely with no parts left out.

May I hold myself dear.

May I get what I need.

May I be soothed by the healing balm of compassion.

May I meet myself with kindness, gentleness and tenderness.

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Dealing with overwhelm

I’m feeling a bit calmer after my mini-meltdown on Wednesday evening. I was able to take Friday off work and spend the day being a tourist in London with two of my best friends. It’s amazing what a difference time with the girls can make sometimes, although it’s not always easy to coordinate as we live in different towns and countries! I was also able appreciate London and what a beautiful city it is to explore, rather than rushing in and out for work once a week like I usually do.

I saw my therapist on Thursday which helped too. I’d spent the night before trying to work out if I could cope financially working less hours, even though I don’t think for one minute that work would let me do that anyway. I was just feeling like I couldn’t cope, and that I’ll never be able to cope, that I’m too sensitive and not cut out for this life.

I wanted to write this post to remind me of some of the strategies we talked about to implement when I start feeling overwhelmed.  Start by asking myself this question:

Is there anything constructive I can do?

Can I ask for support at work?  Can I ask my mum for help staying on top of things at home like cleaning and washing? Can I start with small steps towards healthier eating again like buying some ready made salads rather than feeling like I need to cook lots of healthy veggie food? Look at recipe books and the inspiration to cook again might come.

Can I accept the food and home situation as being good enough rather than having to be perfect? The same applies to work.

Know that the  cravings for sweet things will pass after a few days of eating healthier foods and it will become more habitual. Can I leave my cards at home so stopping to buy unhealthy food isn’t an option?

Remind myself of the sense of achievement I feel after exercising. I was so good at going to the gym five days a week whether I felt like it or not. I packed my bag and it became part of my routine. It made me feel better about myself and I was loosing weight so I need to get back into that mindset.

What is this thinking give me?

I like to ask myself this question too. Is this train of thought or worrying going to lead anywhere useful? If not then it serves no purpose.

Plan things to look forward to

I know that working more than three months without taking some holiday isn’t good for me. I’ve done it before and end up feeling like this. I’ve been working on a project with a tight deadline though so my boss won’t let me take time off until after it. Last week I was feeling quite angry and resentful that everyone else I work with is on holidays at the moment and I’m not. However I do have some time-off in August to go camping and spend a few days with friends.

Having things to look forward to is really important – I feel like I live from one holiday to the next! I spoke to a friend who was open to the idea of going on holiday together in September so that’s really cheered me up. I also want to spend some time with my Lonely Planet India book. It’s my absolute favourite place on earth and there are so many more places there that I want to explore.

If I can’t take time off I also need to make the most of the weekends. It’s been difficult recently because I’ve had to work some of them which definitely contributed to how I’m feeling at the moment. Plan day trips for the weekends so I get a change of scene and sense of adventure.

Slow down

Make time to meditate and read. Switch off the phone and TV. Look back over things I’ve written and notes from therapy sessions. Don’t over commit – if I need to decline some social invitations and do a bit less for a while, that’s fine.

Be creative

Make time to write, paint, dance.

Look ahead

Look at other ways of making income in the long-term. Research possibilities.

Remember that I can cope and that I am doing this

This is just a normal response to stress. It’s not depression. Lots of people feel like this when pressure builds up and need to find ways to release it. Because of my past experiences I fear that I’ll go back to being like that again and it petrifies me.

Today I’m feeling crap.

Mary Oliver

Today I’m feeling crap. Work is really busy and I worry that I can’t cope. That I can’t do the job that I have or whether I want to.  I regularly worry about whether I’m good enough which triggers my depression. I’ve been imagining today that other people can do my job better than me and that really they just want to get rid of me. I don’t want the pressure of having to manage someone either and being responsible for their work.

I can see I’m in an unhealthy cycling of worrying, then comfort eating, not exercising, feeling bad about putting on weight, feeling unattractive and that it’s no wonder that no one is interested in me.  I want someone to want me, and that hurts so badly, especially as I’m feeling rejected by someone that I’d been looking forward to going on a date with since they cancelled it.

I’m worrying that I won’t be able to see my psychiatrist if I get unwell again as my insurance company won’t cover it anymore and I can’t afford her private rates. My latest NHS psychiatrist is also leaving – I haven’t seen the same NHS doctor more than once! I guess that leaves me feeling a bit unsteady too as I don’t have that support either.

I am seeing my therapist tomorrow after four weeks as we’ve been winding down, but whatever she says, I have to do things for myself. She can’t stop me binge eating to get me to the gym! I only have myself to blame.

The work stress has been keeping me awake at night. I either can’t sleep because I’m worrying or I wake-up and can’t get back to sleep because of it. This morning I had some thoughts about self-harm when  I work up for the first time in ages which is a sign that the pressure is becoming too much. This evening I’ve also gone back to fantasizing about suicide. Another sign.

I don’t feel I can talk to anyone as it will be ‘oh no, not this again’ and I just want to avoid being around people. I have a busy couple of weeks ahead and am already thinking that I can’t face it and want to cancel arrangements. Work have been so accommodating but it’s been a year now and I can’t react like this and let them down every time things get stressful.

But if I don’t do this job, that what else do I do? Most jobs are stressful, and if I had an easy job I’d get bored from not being stimulated. I wish I knew what do with my life.

All the bright places

All the bright places

I’ve just finished reading ‘All The Bright Places’ by Jennifer Niven, described as “The story of a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die.”

I’m drawn to books about or by people suffering from mental illness – partly because when I’m suffering myself, they are the only books that speak to me. They make me feel less alone.

The boy in this book is called Finch. He suffers from the intense highs and despairing lows of bipolar disorder. There are so many things he said that I identify with and want to share here.

  • Each day he wakes up and asks himself “Is today a good day to die? If not now, then when”
  • Standing on top of the bell tower at his school he thinks “I could just step off.It would be over in seconds. No more hurt. No more anything.” I often have this thought walking along the cliff tops, the roof of a multistory car park but the top floor of the office at work.
  • How for the millionth time in his life he wishes he has an illness that people could see.
  • The suicide ideation – researching various methods like hanging, drowning, over-dosing, shooting himself, stepping in front of a train.Finch also struggles with images of seeing himself dead which is something that also really affects me when I’m not well – I see myself hanging – it’s not just the thoughts but these images that appear in front of my eyes.

Violet, the female character in this book who meets Finch at the top of the bell tower describes her experience as:

When I went to the tower, I wasn’t really thinking. It was more like my legs were walking up the stairs and I just went where they took me. I’ve never done anything like that before. I mean, that’s not me. But then it’s like I woke up and was standing on that ledge.

This sounds very similar to my own experience of attempting to end my life on December 2nd last year. I hadn’t slept for a few days and laying in bed at 4am in the morning, decided I need to know how to tie a noose if I was going to hang myself and looking it up on You Tube. I was in a bedroom at the same psychiatric hospital I’d been in 5 months before. During that first admission I’d fantasized about hanging myself in the shower. This time I was going to do it. I had a scarf with me and also my laptop cable.  I took them with me to the bathroom and I remember looking in the mirror and seeing someone staring back at me. It didn’t feel like me.  It’s like it was my evil twin who was trying to kill me.  Obviously it didn’t go as planned as I’m here writing this, however that feeling of not recognizing the ‘me’ that was doing this and the image staring back at me from the mirror is haunting.

Finch and Violet quote Virginia Wolf poetry to each other. I’ve imagined that this could be my suicide note too and wonder whether it would be any comfort to my mother.

I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel that we can’t go through another of these terrible times…So I am doing what seems to be the best thing to do….You have been in every way all that anyone can be…If anybody could have saved me, it would have been you.

Finch writes a list of things that help keep him ‘awake’ which reminded me of own list of Things that (sometimes) make me better. His list also including running, writing, being around water, planning and organizing. I’m understanding more and more that it’s the everyday things that make life more bearable and enjoyable – the little things.