How to find a counsellor/therapist that is right for you

16 Jun

Hello! πŸ™‚

Since I last posted ..erm not a few days ago a couple of years ago! πŸ˜€ I have seen two therapists. I did see a counselling psychologist yeeeears ago but she freaked me out and I didn’t go back. I remember walking into a room that looked like a classroom from a horror film and the first thing the therapist said to me as I sat down was β€œI like youuuuu. Do youuuuu like meeeeeeeeee”. I said β€œOh! I don’t know you yet”. I don’t know if that was her personal counselling style but I found it strange and scary. She was probably employed by the NHS to keep mental health service users away and save themselves some money!!! πŸ˜›

I have realised that there are a couple of really important things to think about when deciding if a specific counsellor is good for you:

1. Do you actually like them? I don’t think you have to feel a friendship connection (actually that is possibly detrimental) but you should ask yourself; does this person make me feel safe, unjudged and do I feel better when I talk to them?. Obviously after counselling you can feel vulnerable, upset and low but you should still feel that you are gaining something from being there. I think it is good to give a counsellor a good chance but if you still don’t feel like you connect after a few sessions then perhaps it’s better that you look for someone else.

You might have heard of the term ‘The wounded’ healer’. Many Therapists have gone through mental health problems themselves and it has made them want to help other people as a vocation. Personally these are the kind of people I have found to be empathic and gentle and sensitive to your own mental health needs and problems. I’m not saying that someone has to go through a major life trauma to be a good therapist just that if you have fought your own battles you understand the scars of others.

2. Have you chosen the right type of therapy?
There are so many different types of therapies you can chose from ranging from branches of psychoanalysis to art and music therapy. I think it can be difficult to decide what is right for you. You may not have much of an option if you are being referred by a doctor or you may be confined by how much money you have or even by your mental illness. I was told for over 10 years that telephone counselling isn’t available on the NHS (for free) so I felt pretty desperate and like I had to go through things alone. I found a great charity (for those of you in the UK..I will try to find an American alternative!) called ‘Anxiety UK’ https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/ You pay 30 pounds (My keyboard is American and I don’t have a pound sign!! raaaaah!!!) a year membership and then you can pay 12 pounds per session if you are on benefits and a reduced rate if you earn under a certain amount. (For a while I was paying 7 pounds a session but they stopped that!! arrrr!) It’s a great organisation and they also have a 24 hour help line if you need to talk, which I know for some can quite literally be a life saver.

The main therapies offered will be either Person centred counselling or Cognitive behavioural therapy. I spent over a year talking to a Person centred counsellor and psychotherapist (I will write a blog about my experience soon!). Really, they are there to foster a safe space so that you feel able to talk about things that you have gone through or are going through. They shouldn’t advise you but help to guide you into your own understanding of your problems and your self. I actually would like to become a person centred counsellor at some point (Or a Counselling psychologist *Same principals more or less*) so obviously this is going to be my favourite of all the counselling styles!! πŸ˜€

At the moment though I am seeing (Well hearing!) a CBT because I felt that I had talked enough (Plus other stuff.. TBC!!!) and had to start to really push myself to get out of bad habits, change my mind set and also to set myself recovery goals as far as my agoraphobia and anxiety goes. We have only been chatting for a couple of months but I feel quite hopeful that it is helping I also know it will require a lot of work from me ..so obviously that is a bit scary too. I think CBT is great if you have a phobia or OCD or feel stuck in ways of thinking that aren’t helpful. Person centred counselling is great because well I think everyone needs to be really listened to without judgement in a safe space.

I would love to hear your experiences of counselling/therapy and your advice suggestions about finding counseeling that is right for you.

Happy healing!! xx Lisa

Facing my demons

13 Jun

Hello …

It’s been so long since I posted, that I feel like my feet are on fresh snow and I am looking out to a vast wilderness somehow. I forget how to post pics and what it feels like to just write my thoughts out freely but I will try my best.

I wrote this blog ‘forcing myself happy’ for a while but really I never addressed the mental health issues that cripple me most.. I am not sure if I thought I would ‘fake it till I could make it’ At that time (Almost 2 years ago now!!) MY partner and I were looking after a child for her old ‘friend’ who was well I suppose you could say ill.

I had a person centred counsellor that I would say helped for a while because I spilled the contents of my brain, heart, soul ..(Maybe just brain?) but she ended up more harmful that good eventually.

I always said that I wouldn’t talk about my partner, who is now my ex partner but I will still honour that promise.

I am now staying by myself, working with a Cognitive behavioural therapist by phone. My agoraphobia is pretty bad.. I self medicate. I am trying to work on a plan to get out and about and better.. and I need to write about it..

I’m Sorry, I realise this sounds so serious! I have two years of rambles trying to tell their stories through fingers and keys and a blank page.

My plan so far is to:

Get used to living by myself
Try to leave my house (Medicated or not)

I am also finishing my honours Psychology degree this year. So many things were getting In my way but I seem to be doing ok..

Wahhhhhahahahaa Am I sounding robotic? πŸ˜€ Sorry..
I do feel like I have shut my feelings off somehow.. I am working on getting them back too!

Love and light. xx Lisa

Reclaiming your power from yourself.

21 Jan

There have been many occasions where I have felt ‘less’ because I have allowed (Sometimes unwittingly) someone to take my power from me. These days I can generally get a sense if someone is an emotional vampire and I try my hardest not to become drained. This is not always easy, because sometimes emotional ties to people are like complicated webs that it can be tricky if not near impossible to free ourselves from.

I realised something as I have been thinking lately about personal power and that is that often the emotional vampire stealing my lifeblood, the negative force telling me I am no good and the one dis-empowering me is ME!

This realisation freaked me out a lot because while we can generally see less of other people or confront them about their behaviour, perhaps changing the relationship it’s impossible to escape from yourself (Though many, including myself have tried by using drugs/alcohol etc). It also seems very difficult to change thought negative thought patterns.

I have realised that in many ways I am self sabotaging. I have heard my internal voice so many times saying things like:
You are not really loved
You will always be anxious
Your friends don’t really like you
You are expendable
The world would be a better place without you in it
You are of no use to your family, friends, society or the universe!!!!

Dramatic eh? πŸ˜€ … Sadly all true though.

I don’t have any words of wisdom to offer as to how to reclaim power back from the self because I am still working on it. I believe though that we have to take all the negative things we think and absolutely reassure ourselves that they are false.

If we are are at the point of trying to reclaim our power back from ourselves and others then I think we are at the point where we can truly love ourselves and in turn others.

I know you will have different negative self thought than me. (I hope you have none btw!!) but the statements written above are just things off the top of my head that I happen to think sometimes.. or if I’m honest a lot.

I need to remember I am loved
I think in order to feel love we have to allow ourselves to feel a certain amount of vulnerability, which is why it can be terrifying. I am a believer that the things that take us time and effort to work on are usually the most precious of things. Love being one of these things.
I know I am loved by my family. It is in their own way and it hasn’t always been an easy type of love but we have all reached a stage now where generally being around each other is not harmful.

I remember being wee and feeling an unconditional love from my mother. The really secure kind of love that enveloped me in absolute protection. I wonder if it is this feeling people get when they talk about the love of a God.

That brings me to another point..For those who have read my blog a wee bit you will probably know that I am atheist/agnostic….kinda. Its complicated I suppose but I have always believed in some sort of universal connectedness (A cosmic consciousness?) which is greater than anything our human brains could fathom. What I believe in is not a religious God that needs to be worshipped but something very close to absolute love. .. Its hard to explain. My friend actually recommended I read a book called ‘Proof of heaven:A neurosurgeon’s journey into the afterlife’. I downloaded it onto my kindle today (Or as my friend said today ‘I Kindled it!’) and the description of ‘The afterlife’ and of ‘God’ is very close to the ideas (I guess more feelings) I have always had about what ‘God’ (For lack of a better term) is.

Somehow I have always felt like the Universe was somehow there for me (as bizarre as that sounds) and I get that feeling most when I am out in nature.

I have a song I wrote a few years back and one of the lyrics is:
“I won’t feel scared or small,
because it’s bigger than us all
Infinity can cradle me as I’m sleeping”

My human brain is too small to be able to take in infinity and everything (Just! πŸ˜‰ hehe) so I’m not going to worry about it. I am on a bit of a tangent here sort of. I believe though that the point of it all is love. An all encompassing, unconditional love. This might seem mushy but I feel we get glimpses of this in the love we can feel for other beings and the beauty in the world that surrounds us.

So, I feel not only is the Universe filled with love and positivity but that love and positivity is what we should strive for on this world in this body for the short time we are here.

I guess what I am saying (Not too succinctly!) is that If I feel that the Universe practically emanates love then why on earth have I built these walls to prevent myself from genuinely loving myself? Why do I question my worth or worry about what people think?

I want to try to work out the answer to those questions. I feel a lot of this stems from my anxiety and the mental illnesses I have suffered, all of my adult life and actually as a child too. Perhaps I have felt too damaged or too much hard work to be truly loved. This is something I am working on.

I believe that my partner loves me. She finds it as difficult as me to let anyone in and shuts herself off emotionally too, so our relationship has not been an easy one. We do have a deep love, understanding and appreciation of each other though and I feel that perhaps we are meant to be together because we challenge each other; relationship wise and also on a deeper level.

I am also lucky to have a few soul-friends; people on the planet that I might not see for a while but we are always connected, so when we do see each other or get in touch it is like no time has passed. I think this is an amazing type of love which makes me feel all the more that spiritually we are all connected in some way or another in ways I can’t quite grasp to articulate. (Which is frustrating!)

I wonder how you learned to love yourselves? If it’s still a work in progress for you? What stood in your way?

I know there are philosophers who have said that we need to suffer and get through it to really learn about ourselves. (Paraphrasing the greats here btw! :D) I wonder if that is somehow true; that we need to hurt before we can learn how healing works? …..

Love and light xxLisa

When bad things happen.

15 Jan

I read about some philosopher (whose name escapes me.. Seneca? (sp)) who said something along the lines of “we are miserable because we expect things to go well for us always”
I have no idea why I put quotations around that because I am totally paraphrasing!! πŸ˜€

I certainly think there is some truth to this.

On Saturday I heard mine and my neighbours doorbell ringing. I answered because I thought maybe my other neighbour needed us or there had been an accident. When I opened the door a drunk/possibly on drugs guy was standing and said he was looking for his “Uncle Beatie!
I said I didn’t know anyone by that name.
He then said “well just let me in your house so I can go out your back door to the lane”
I said I wasn’t letting him in my house because I didn’t know him…

His reply.. (Cover your eyes if you are sensitive to the crudities (Wait..aren’t they chopped up bits of veg? I am in trauma.. I am allowing myself mistakes! πŸ˜‰ )

“If you don’t let me in your fucking house I’m smash your fucking door in you fucking cunt”

Charming.

I repeated that I wasn’t letting him in and shut the door and locked it.

True to his word he smashed my glass door in.

Lucky for me there was a protective layer behind the bit he smashed or I would have had glass all over my face.

My adrenaline kicked in and weirdly I ran after him! Then It ran out and I freaked out a bit.

I met an old couple who were looking up an alleyway and I asked them if they had seem a generic Ned with pushed forward hair and white tracksuit. They said he had ran up the lane holding on to his right arm.
(Is it wrong to hope that he really hurt his frigging arm??!)

I was left a bit shocked really. I didn’t have time to freak out because we had tickets to go to see the musical 9-5 for my Mum’s 60th birthday. We had also taken her for dinner the Saturday before which was great.

It wasn’t till a couple of days later that I thought “why me?”

I suppose the question is “why not me”

It has been a difficult year (well counting last year) though I did have a lot of fun ‘forcing myself happy’!! I think though like that philosopher whose name escapes me (Though I do know he was forced to kill himself by Nero who was his student) said “we can make ourselves unhappy because when bad things happen we just don’t expect them ever to happen to us” (haha.. again totally paraphrasing.. actually he probably never even said anything like this!! πŸ˜€ )

Bad things happen to all of us but I think we need to concentrate on the good. Sounds like a clichΓ© hu?
I have a home, a cat a partner and I am allowed to study.
There is so much beauty to look at in nature, books to read and of course zombie films to watch!

I’m going to try hard not to concentrate so much on the bad things that have happened and think about all the good.

*I just wanted to say hello really. Sorry it has been short (My counsellor is calling me in a wee while and I always mentally prepare) I hope to write more soon but have felt a bit stuck in other areas. All the crap that happened with my Doctor and what to do about it all and feeling the pressure of studying a bit.

As ever love and light to you all. xxLisa πŸ˜€

Reclaiming your power. Part one- reclaiming it from people who take it away from you

24 Dec

I was taking to my counsellor about something I feel I am doing at the moment which I called ‘reclaiming my power’.
*Just so you know I’m not a superhero by night and I don’t go green when I get angry, though I would frigging love that!!*

I have a personal theory that a lot of anxiety comes from feeling powerless in a situation, within yourself or in life in general. So I have been working on trying to change that. I think I feel positive about the changes but they can also be pretty hard to implement, especially if people including yourself have been used to you being a certain way. I have noticed that not a lot of people like change and can battle against it. I think when we imagine power it is surging and sometimes destructive but actually it is our driving force and we absolutely need some. When we run out of power we just shut up or shut down. (I guess this is why if people over-power us in a conversation a lot of the time we just stay quiet)

Reclaiming power from other people
For me this has been very difficult. I am one of these people that ‘tries to please’ and ‘doesn’t want to rock the boat’. I know there have been many times where I have went along with something that someone else wanted to the detriment of my own happiness. I’m not saying you should get your own way all the time btw πŸ˜€ .. just that power relationships with you and another person should be as equal as possible. *If you are into S n M ..then just ignore everything I just said! πŸ˜› *

There are a lot of tactics people use to have power over you and it’s not always as obvious as the threat of a punch in the face. There is psychological literature written on this very topic but I think that If you feel someone is trying to take away your power, then they usually they are. I think you should trust your instincts.

Recently I organised a Birthday dinner for my Mum. I Spent ages calling family, booking the restaurant and making sure I could go in before hand to decorate. Firstly my Dad said my mum didn’t want this which I knew to be untrue and I waited till I could ask my mum and she told me it would be lovely and was exactly what she wanted. (I suppose actually that was an example of me taking power back for someone else too so I got a toofer there!!)

Then a week later my Dad called again to say my mum wanted to go to an Indian restaurant, even though he knew I had everything booked. His phone call was very abrupt “This is what is wanted. Do it.” (More or less). I spent all day feeling really stressed. I would have to call all the family and let them know, I would have to cancel with the restaurant that had been really accommodating with me regarding menu changes for our veggie guests and lots more and I would have to book a place in a restaurant that I didn’t think was suited to meeting up with people who hadn’t met up for over 10 years. (It looked pretty formal with a piano etc!)
Really it wasn’t my responsibility in the first place to book anything but I didn’t think there would be so much hassle. Again I talked to my Mum and she said she actually didn’t want to go to the Indian restaurant and was happy where we were going.

The reason I am talking about this situation is because it almost seems innocuous and like there have been wee mix ups here and there and really nothing serious is going on. Actually though one person is trying to wield all the power over the situation.

If you feel that someone is trying to take away your power you should probably ask yourself:

Do they do this a lot? Do I always or often feel this way around this person?

Basically if someone gets away with something for long enough they will just think this is the way things are always going to be for them.
I know that my Dad pretty much has always got his own way about everything. My Mum ‘doesn’t want to rock the boat’. When I asked her “Just let me know what you want, because it doesn’t matter. Things can be changed with no hassle (I just said that so she had an actual choice)” She was quiet and then stuttered a bit and sighed and said “well I want other people to be happy”. It became clear to me that she meant this is what my Dad wanted.

Start to notice when you feel someone is trying to making you feel powerless in a situation

After stressing about things all day to the point of anxiety. I think partly because I had to change things but mainly because I felt my Dad trying to take away the autonomy of other people to get what he wanted. I called him and said “Ok. If you want to change restaurants then you can call the family up, cancel with the other place and book the restaurant you want.”. I notice that when I am with people who have tried to take away my power I have literally felt drained, often bad about myself and usually harassed. I think if you don’t feel good or even neutral after a conversation or encounter with someone but feel bad it’s probably that they have taken some of your power away. I am sure there are many reasons why people might want to do this but I generally think it’s because they don’t feel they have enough power of their own.

Understand the techniques people use to take power from you

I think people are different in the ways they try to remove your power and assert theirs but this is what happened with my Dad:
Right away he started getting defensive saying “Why are you doing this?” (Much of the time when you decide to reclaim your power back a person who is used to taking your power will not know how to handle it and feel like they have been really wronged. Something some people call going into “Poor me” mode.)

First he got annoyed saying “It’s not a big deal to change it!” and I said “Well that’s fine, then you do it”

Then he transferred the blame away from himself saying “Oh one of your aunts said the other place was too expensive” I actually reminded him that a couple of the people going didn’t actually even like Indian food and that there was no parking there even though we have disabled guests.
Next was ‘poor me’ mode when he said the “Why are you doing this?”

Don’t feel bad for taking your power back because it was yours to begin with!

I think something you have to be prepared for, that not all people who are power thieves (as I shall now call them) are raging and angry and take your power by frightening you. In the past my Dad has tried to use that tactic but it is getting less useful for him these days. I have found loads of times after an exchange with someone my power levels feel really down and I feel bad about myself. If I look back over the situation I can sometimes see what has gone on but it can be difficult to know what’s going on at the time.

I am only beginning my journey to reclaim my power, a part of which was writing this blog so I’m no expert but I will let you know how I get on. I have to admit that when standing up to my Dad I did feel bad. People who are adept at manipulation understand what will upset you and are good at placing the blame with you and not them. This is part of the reason why I think a lot of people including myself get scared to challenge people like this because in the beginning it can turn out that you end up feeling crap. I think much of the time, especially if the power thieves are engrained in your life you might feel crappy or sad for a while but I’m pretty sure it will be worth it in the end.

I was thinking about this exchange with my Dad (and actually a few since and many before) and I thought to myself “I don’t want to have to be in a constant battle with my father for my power”. Sometimes there is only so much you can do. If someone is going to take away your power to the point that you find it near impossible to fight back, and if you notice that It’s probably better to try to not allow them the opportunity. If I’m honest, I don’t see my Dad that much these days because I always feel really mentally drained afterwards. Perhaps this method of taking my power back will change things and if not, then I will protect myself by not being around him.

Are you/have you been affected by any ‘Power thieves’? How do you/did you cope?

I want to write a bit more about this idea of reclaiming my personal power because I honestly think that feeling that you have a certain amount of autonomy over things can really reduce anxiety. For now though I need to do a mega quick Xmas tidy as we have aunties and pals coming over soon for xmas related madness!!

Having relationships when you have agoraphobia/anxiety

13 Dec

I wanted to write something about having relationships when you have anxiety/agoraphobia. (Something the title of this may have given you a clue to! ;))

When you suffer from Anxiety/agoraphobia as well as a lot of mental illnesses you often feel like you are not good enough or that you are unloveable.. erm just me? :/
For me then, I felt unlovable for a long time because I didn’t love myself. In fact I didn’t even particularly like myself.

I often had thoughts like “who could really love me?” especially when I was going through really bad periods of agoraphobia or anxiety and leaving my couch let alone my house felt like an impossibility. You know though, during the time I have been agoraphobic (about 10 years) I have had 3 relationships; one for 2 years, one for 3 and my latest one for 5 (TBC lol!) ..Oh! I have also met lots of friends on and offline and have continued to have relationships with friends I have known since before my anxiety.

For anyone who feels unlovable because they suffer from a mental illness I have a secret. You are absolutely loveable and most probably wonderful!!

I wont lie to you, I have met a couple of people (one person sticks in my mind quite clearly as I write this) who might just find it too much like hard work to date someone (Or even be friends with someone) with mental health problems. The way I see it is that it’s better to weed out these people right from the start because, well who would want to be friends (or date) someone so shallow and self involved anyway?
In a way, mental health problems are a good way of weeding out fair-weather friends!! πŸ˜€ *See.. See how I put a good spin on being mental?! :P*

Helping people without anxiety/agoraphobia understand your needs

*I am going to talk about anxiety/agoraphobia because that is what I am suffering from at the moment. I have had OCD, severe depression, phobias and many more mental health problems over the years but my anxiety and agoraphobia are what I am dealing with at the moment*

The thing is, people who have never suffered from anxiety or panic attacks just can’t understand how bad they feel. They think “well this doesn’t seem to be physically hurting you so why can’t you just get on with it?” If you are agoraphobic they might think “Ach.. it’s just leaving your house..it’s not like you are doing anything stressful”

I believe that most people are good and want to understand and help others. *I am a bit of an optimist when it comes to humans I must admit!* So, taking into account that people who don’t suffer from anxiety don’t have a clue what you are going through here are a few rules I now follow which make my life much much easier!

1. Tell people how you feel!!

I know this sounds really obvious but if you think about it we spend a lot of the time purposefully NOT telling people how we feel!!

“How are you?”
“Fine. How are you?”
“Fine”

Now.. how often have you had that conversation as you walk past someone on the street or chat to them on the phone and then go on to talk about everything under the sun rather than talk about how you are actually feeling.
I think the reason we do this is because we feel we don’t want to bore people with our problems. We might also feel that telling someone about our mental health makes us vulnerable. Actually it makes us stronger. If we tell people how we feel and they understand (as much as they can) then we have someone on our side that we don’t have to explain ourselves to when we can’t meet up with them or if dinner has to be at our house or if we are having a walk with them and have to flee ……

For years I never told anyone how I felt and secretly when they went home I would cry myself to sleep and I would cut myself just to feel something. I am not suffering from depression any more; I believe a big part of that is the fact I learned to trust people with my feelings and I also don’t self mutilate (It’s just not useful for me any more as a means of coping and I have allowed myself to feel. even though that has been pretty scary… I will talk more about that another time.. erm I think we were talking about relationships.. but as you know I ramble a LOT!)

So I would say rule number one when starting a new relationship with someone, whether it is a friendship or more. Is just tell them how you feel.

Letting people know how you feel can include how you feel about actually suffering from anxiety or letting them know about your symptoms. If you have a social phobia and get anxious when talking to people then I think it’s good to actually let them know. I once met up with a person with an almost crippling social phobia at a party. He was literally shaking as I went to talk to him. I told him that I suffered from anxiety and that sometimes that made it difficult to talk to people and he opened up and told me all about his social phobia. As soon as it was out he became more comfortable right away. If you are pretending everything is ok when it is really not and try to keep things inside your physical symptoms end up worse. By trying to not focus on what you are feeling it’s almost as if the feelings start waving to you shouting “hey ..I’m here.. deal with me!!”… If you do.. a lot of the time you can feel better.
This has been my experience but I know that some schools of thought are that you should try to think about other things as a distraction.. If that works for you then you should do that. I still think though it is good to tell people how you are feeling. You will be surprised at how many people will understand or at least be sympathetic. If they are not then they are probably not worth getting to know as a friend anyway at that point.

2. Let people know about your mental health problems

Usually in the first conversation I have with someone I will tell them that I have agoraphobia that I am working on and suffer from anxiety. I tell them other things about me too because my mental health in no way defines me. It has partially shaped me and can be limiting to an extent but it doesn’t mess too much with my sense of humour, intelligence and all the other things that make me me! (I realise that sounded a bit big headed there.. but actually I stopped myself from going on to list my other wonderful attributes!! :D)
I suppose this should have been first on my list really and actually I suppose telling people how you feel and telling people about a specific problem that can make you feel a certain way are pretty much connected… I really like lists though, so indulge me! πŸ˜‰

I suppose putting a name to things gives you a point of reference. If in the future you are with a friend and have an anxiety attack instead of listing all the things you are feeling you can tell them you are anxious or having a panic attack which will let them know and also save you from having to explain how you are feeling as you are trying to breathe properly from under your covers!

3. Tell people about the symptoms you might experience

Hmm.. I know for a fact this is something that makes me feel quite vulnerable when I tell people because the symptoms themselves make me feel really vulnerable when I am feeling them. They are not attractive particularly. *Unless you have a fetish for drooling shaking people* but they can’t be helped so if someone is going to know me, love me, care about me they should know what to expect if I have a panic attack.
-I feel that I can’t breath and my heart rate increases so I start to get red and my breathing gets gulpy.
-I get very fidgety, especially if I can’t escape e.g. If I am in a car
-I can start to drool (which is probably the most attractive thing I do!) because I am unable to swallow. I usually try to have a hanky with me so that I am not salivating all over myself!
-I might get to the point of crying. Actually by this point my anxiety usually gets a bit better because I am letting go.

I have had other symptoms but those are probably the ones people will notice.

4 Tell people what you want them to do when you are anxious

Know what helps you or what you use to help yourself. When you are anxious do you like the reassurance of someone to cuddle you or hold your hand or do you prefer people to leave you alone? Personally I usually prefer to be alone. If I am in the house I will go upstairs and try to calm myself by reading with my small kindle light or just lying in a dark room for a while. If I am still anxious after a while I will take medication. (I hope to be able to manage my anxiety attacks in the future without the use of medication but for now this is also an option for me). I find that icy water helps. If you hold an ice cube on your wrist it can cool you down and make you feel calmer. Each of you will have things that make you feel better so just let the people around you know what it best for you. I promise this is not a hassle for people. If someone loves you they wont want to see you suffering and will try to help you. Just think, if you saw someone you loved suffering you would do what you could to help them and you wouldn’t have to think twice about it. This is how people feel when you are suffering from anxiety.

5 Remember that people are only human and might not always react exactly as you might want them to

I remember being in the car with my partner as I was having an anxiety attack (with all the usual symptoms) She said something like “FFS you are almost home! Why are you panicking now?” I felt this to be particularly cruel.. While I was having the panic attack I thought “wow..it’s like she is kicking me when I’m down by getting angry while I am suffering”. She told me later that she felt very stressed. It stresses her when I am having a panic attack because she feels helpless. Actually, there isn’t much she can do when I am panicking. I did tell her thought that actually shouting or being pissed off will make me feel worse.
I know that when you are actually having a panic attack it’s almost as if your whole world focuses in on you, your symptoms, things that are making you feel worse, anxious thoughts that enter your mind etc.. but really the world is still inexorably trundling along and other people are feeling their own stresses and frustrations. I think it’s important to try to understand that people who care for you can also feel affected by your anxiety or they may be feeling stresses of there own as you are panicking, so even if you feel they should have been more understanding you should give them the benefit of the doubt.

Personally, I have found that because my partner has been honest with me about the way she feels this type of thing doesn’t really happen any more. So as well as telling your loved ones how you feel you should make sure to let them know that it’s ok to tell you how they feel too.

**********************

I’m pretty sure as soon as I switch my computer off I will think of loads of other ‘rules’ but that covers what was in my brain when I started writing. πŸ˜€

If you have mental health problems how do you relate with others? Are you honest about your problems, anxieties, fears and phobias?

I would love to hear your stories

Love and light xxLisa

Who you really want to be V’s who you think you really should be.

10 Dec

I have been thinking a lot about this recently. I will be finishing my psychology honours degree within the next year and then I have the option of going on to do my Doctorate in counselling psychology or to train to become a counsellor.

Are those really my only options and do I need to do them right away? What is driving me? Is it something pure and good? ….

A friend who works in a charity shop brought me loads of amazing books on The Roma (gypsies) including what can only be described as pamphlets that have been stapled together, naming all the Roma names and where the families are from.

I am half Roma on my Dad’s side (a Didicoy) and shamefully I have never really read up much on my heritage. I know the odd phrase (As my Dad speaks Roma) but it’s all mad stuff like ‘Dog’s arse’ and ‘Say nothing’. The Roma language is dying out, which is such a pity. Mainly because it was always kept such a secret and would just be passed on through the generations. The Roma felt that if outsiders (Gorgios) knew how their secret language they would be more able to hurt them. Another reason the language is dying out is because younger people aren’t wanting to speak it as much and many Roma are settling (The government make it very difficult for travellers to live the way of life they have been living for over 500 years in the UK and much longer in Europe)

The reason I talk about The Roma is because they seem to have a ‘way of life’ and it is something that they respect so much they would die to protect it. Many Roma can’t read or write and many don’t go to school but instead learn practical things -how to fix things, what plants to eat, how to trade. I feel sad that this isn’t respected more as a lifestyle choice.

I was thinking about what makes us happy and I know that helping others is absolutely the Key to this. I wondered whether I wanted to achieve my doctorate because it would make helping people easier or whether I would like to become a Doctor in something because having the title says things about you.

I actually wonder how many people gain qualifications to please other people or to make themselves feel more secure about things like their own intellect, social standing or to make people think that somehow they are successful.

I know if you want to do certain jobs you need certain qualifications and I know in order to counsel people the least I would need would be to do counselling training…

Is this even what I really want to do or have I been led to this on a wave of my own mental illness and the fact I chose psychology to study from home for something to do because I was agoraphobic.

I know that I want to do charity work before I do paid work and perhaps before I do whatever training I decide to do. I want to know more about my Romany Roots. You know I actually feel If I was travelling I wouldn’t be anxious. Also all of the Roma side of the family are anxious in some way, whether it comes out as anger or fear or worrying. I often wonder if this is because they are settled and not a part of a culture that has been built into them for so many years.

I think I should be
A Dr of counselling/clinical psychology. Totally sorted. Earning money. Thinking about moving house. ………….

Who I want to be
Someone who helps people to heal. A calm person who lives in an environment that is also calm. I would like to live somewhere that has a garden or that is near a forest. I want not to be anxious all the time and know how to tame my anxiety (I believe it will always be with me but I know I can learn how to control it), I want to be around animals and old people and children. I want to be around my friends more. I want to help and to make people happy

Who I am right now

I am healing. I am very still and read a lot. I would like to see my friends more often. my anxiety overwhelms me. I am studying, I often feel sad and angry that my healing has taken so long and I feel I have a long way to go. ..

I think there is a big disconnect between who we are meant to be and who we end up being. I think the reasons for the disconnect are many.

Who do you want to be/who are you? Is it far from what you want?

Perhaps I will just get a bow topped caravan and travel about for a while…perhaps that’s what I really want. Perhaps that would heal me.. I am a big woose though so it also may well kill me!! πŸ˜€

Today I want to run about in a forest but I have no idea where the nearest one is… I should try to go for a walk anyway.

Sorry.. I’m a bit ramblesome today xxLisa

Slowly letting things out. Everything seems insurmountable.

10 Dec

I am finding it difficult to express what has happened to me over the past month or so. I guess there are lots of similes I could use to explain almost how I felt/have been feeling; ‘like a tortoise on it’s back’ or ‘like some animal that has just been partially squashed by a truck’.. I probably shouldn’t go on!

I think when you suffer from anxiety small things in life that most people seem to deal with during their lunch breaks feel like huge mountains to climb.

I think I explained the whole Doctor situation with you all. I am off to post (get someone to post) my letter to my Doctor. It’s strange that the situation has paralysed me so much. (Almost physically too ..I literally feel at times that I can’t move) .. So I apologise my typing fingers haven’t been doing much work.
I have been processing things a lot.

I wonder how I let things get so bad or go so far in regards to my mental health and the seemingly huge dips in it.

I really loved having Michael stay with us but it meant really keeping a lid on a of other things that were going on in my life, not being able to break down even when I felt like it.

I wonder if people with children are better at keeping their own problems to themselves, or if eventually things must come out and they either explode or let things out slowly?

I remember when I was younger I had a lot of anger and sadness inside me and would play my guitar and sing and write songs about how I felt. I think that without music .. I know that without music I wouldn’t be here today.

Today I find it difficult to let things out. I’m not sure I have ‘an outlet’

What do you do to help you get what’s inside out?

When I was younger I also used to cut myself most days but I haven’t found that a useful technique for over 5 years now thankfully.

I followed my counsellors advice to go out when I was arguing with My Partner and to transfer my anger/anxiety/frustration into physical energy. I did that last night. I told my partner I was going out to the bank and to go get us food… It was funny because she didn’t hear me and when I came back she was standing in the hall with a blanket on her head!! She had gone upstairs because she had shouted on me and I didn’t reply (Because I was in the Chinese take away place about 10 minutes away! :D) and she thought I must be really upset at our argument (That I can’t even remember now) So had went upstairs with a blanket straight out of the tumble-drier (Which I love) and then realised I wasn’t in the house! :/

I feel like I should only write when I feel I move forward with my anxiety/agoraphobia somehow. Going out felt amazing! There were drunk people stoating about and the town was semi lively but the cold night air seemed to muffle them somehow. I always prefer going out at night. The town has some Xmas decorations up and it was quite nice walking along looking at them. I think being agoraphobic either deprives your senses so that when you do go somewhere it can go one of two ways. One that you appreciate every human encounter and every tree, flower or drunk person’s ramblings and you feel alive. Two that you feel over stimulated and it feels like every hand is a fist and every mouth open to speak feels like a snarl, lights become too bright and almost mingle with your other senses until you can almost taste and hear things you see. Smells are all over powering. Sounds become brash and the world sort of feels like you are in the film Eraserhead, what with its incessant unsettling industrial background and the strange and frightening detached unrealism.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qrl3n2ZtK2E
Actually, this is one of my favourite bits in the film..

In summery, for me Panic attacks are like being in the film Eraserhead! πŸ˜€
How so you describe yours?

Love and light Lisa..

When stress becomes physical

29 Nov

Part of the reason I haven’t written for almost a week is because my anxiety got so bad I could feel it in my body. I have pains in my stomach when I eat and acid indigestion. This has happened to me twice before and both times I was under a huge amount of stress for over a month. I think finally my body says ‘Ok! Enough stressing now or I will give you an ulcer!!!’

I can feel my anxiety in my body which I have been tensing every day for quite a while now. Something has got to give and I would rather let go of the stress than become physically ill.

It reminds me how interlinked our bodies and minds are when my anxiety manifests itself physically and it makes me feel even more annoyed at the whole ‘It’s all in your mind’ saying.

How do you feel psychically when you are stressed/anxious?

Went to see my new Doctor

29 Nov

I am so happy that I saw my new Doctor!!

I was really worried because my old Doctor had convinced me that I was making a huge mistake by moving surgeries (I know he wanted to see me to talk me around because he has basically got himself into more and more trouble by contradicting himself and stating in writing that he went against the wishes of a psychiatrist regarding my medication *More to come about that later*)

I’m sorry I haven’t written for a while but my stress levels have been insanely high. The night before my appointment I didn’t sleep and by the time it was morning and I had to go for my appointment I was having the type of panic attacks that root me to the floor and I can’t move.

The surgery were very cool about it and let me have an appointment at 11 instead.

Maybe it was fate as my Doctor was great. She had a really awesome name and looked like she was from the middle east but with a strong Glasgow accent. Right away she said “Ok, you seem anxious so we will just sort out your medication right away and then we can talk about as much as you can manage” *My old Doctor had told me that no other Doctors would prescribe my medication!!*

I know this sounds crazy but the atmosphere just seemed nicer there. The surgery has four women Doctors and the waiting room is very calm. They even have a wee couch out on the landing that I sat on. It’s probably for people who are really infectious but I thought “aww how lovely.. a space for anxious people to sit!!” πŸ˜€

This was something I had been dreading. My hand was forced really to go find a new doctor because my other one was actually starting to be abusive. The letter he wrote to me was so humiliating and inaccurate and well so patronising. I just didn’t actually want to see him again.

Anyway.. just thought I would let you know my new Doctor seems lovely. You know when you can just tell when someone is kind? The patients seat was even right next to her’s when normally the Doctor sits behind his desk so impersonally. She even actually apologised to me when she was talking loads about ways in which I could get my prescription from the chemist and she was quite close and I freaked out a wee bit and stood up. She had no need to apologise but I felt it showed that she was very self aware and also aware of how I was feeling.

I am so glad I moved Doctors now. It was scary because I had no idea what my new Doctor would be like but it turns out they are 100 x better than my old one. That is one more thing off my mind.

Hope you are all well. xxLisa

ETA- I just want to say that if you are not happy with the way you are being treated by your doctor then get a new one. Doctors work for you and it is your right to find one that suits you and that you like. Change can be scary of course, especially if you have an anxiety disorder but being treated poorly is worse. xx