Wellness, Anxiety, Psychosis
(and a little bit of travel)
"remember spring swaps snow for leaves"
Today I have been thinking a lot about 'psychological flexibility'.
I picked up on this idea two years ago when I was having group therapy, called 'ACT for psychosis'. ACT stands for 'Acceptance and Commitment Therapy' and is very similar to CBT, or 'Cognitive Behavioural therapy'.
I was not in the group out of any necessity or desperation, I just thought it would be helpful. There were five of us in the group, the other four were similarly aged females, but they were all more acutely unwell than me. It was given by two clinical psychologists, and it was about ways of thinking about our unwanted thoughts and feelings that made them easier to deal with, and I found it especially helpful for my fading anxiety.
The other guys felt that the advice was under-powered, but it was almost perfect for me. One thing we discussed was a thought experiment of 'the monster pit'. Imagine your problems as being a monster on the other side of a deep pit that you are playing 'tug of war' with. That is how anxiety etc. can feel sometimes.
Just let go of the rope perhaps?
These ways of viewing your problems can often sit in your unconscious, and for me, it made my unconscious feel like I had a tool, a way of dealing with the problem of anxiety and psychosis, and knowing that the problem can be dealt with unconsciously made my conscious mind feel on top of it, and sometimes a problem would feel like it had a solution, and then I'd forget that I even had a problem. We talked all about 'ACT' for eight weeks, and it's many components.
The ultimate goal of ACT is 'psychological flexibility' which I am beginning to understand. I have never really thought about it until recently, and today I was understanding that it is a way of saying that your mind is ready for anything, and being on top of your life.
I would recommend ACT, it helped me and your local mental health services may be able to find a course that you can attend. Sometimes you might be on a waiting list, but not necessarily.
Aside from that, today the weather has been fair and I am continuing to do some networking for my book and website. A Facebook friend shared a link to my site three hours ago, she has 80,000 followers and since then I have had 1000 visitors to my pokey little site. I think that is just way cool.
I've been busy.
Networking with people about mental health, looking for local gatherings where I can learn more about recovering from mental illness and possible avenues to contribute for the eventual publishing of my book. It's early days but I'm so happy to be at this stage after spending so long writing the 'damn thing'.
I have been asked by the Taylor and Francis Psychosis Journal to write a 3500 word first person account of my experiences, focussing on how I became unwell (psychotic) and things that hindered or helped my recovery. I've done 1400 words today and it's flowing nicely.
I never find it difficult to begin writing something, I can usually find the words. It is so often felt that mental illness isn't talked about enough because of the stigma etc. and that it can be embarrassing. I always want to add to that and say it is also because the words are just so hard to find! I have found again and again that the reason I can talk about it so much is because I have written my story and I can find all the words.
I have also learned not to be embarrassed, and talking is very very helpful. I sometimes have to stop myself talking about it - it fascinates me, but most people are simply not as interested in my journey through mental health as I am!
Still all good, back at work now after a long week off looking after my nieces. At 9pm I suddenly remembered while sat networking on my phone that I needed to put on a load of laundry, so I've just done that and now of course I have to wait for that to finish before I can go to bed.
I don't really like hanging up the washing at 10.30pm when I'm half asleep, especially when it's mostly underwear as it is tonight, but I'm sharing too much.
I haven't had even a thought of anxiety today, lucky me and I hope I don't tomorrow either. Downstairs on the TV is a programme about Meghan Markle, lovely woman, and good luck to her and Harry. I've spent a lot of my free time today searching out people on social media with an interest in mental health who might like my website and writing them a quick note to advertise it.
Since doing that at 4pm I've had over two hundred hits on my humble little site, such is the power of Twitter and Facebook to reach lots of people in a flash.
I've been waiting to hear back from the mental hospital in town that I attended when I was seriously unwell 12 years ago, as I have applied to do some work as a peer support worker there. I have been told that I am a shoo-in because it's only part time and voluntary at the moment, but I hope, and have been told that it could quite likely turn into a full time paid role.
It feels like a natural career progression for me to work in mental health, and I'm quite enthusiastic to start.
Nice weather again. Went to Barton's Mill, a local restaurant by the Loddon River with my dad and younger brother, a bit pricey at 22 quid for a plate of roast lamb but I wasn't paying so whatever. We went for a nice walk too.
Whenever I go to restaurants I can't help but remember back in the day how I found it so difficult with my psychosis and anxieties, sure that I was standing out like a sore thumb and spreading my general misery to other people. But to be forgetting about all that bullshit and knowing that these days it's not a problem and I can enjoy it always makes me smile.
It took years, from about 2006 to 2012, of being pushed by my family to go to social events even though I was afraid of my mental illnesses, but it eventually paid off, and since 2012 I have enjoyed being social. It really does get a little easier each time.
So now my nieces and their parents are successfully back home in Denver and my younger brother is back in Bristol, it's back to life as usual in our household for my mum and I. We had a video call with my nieces today and apparently the first thing my four year old niece said when getting home was 'daddy we should video call Grandma and Uncle Pete because they are probably missing me'. That's my niece at 2 and a half in the pic at the top of the page, she sure is a lovely little thing.
Tomorrow being a bank holiday I am off work and will probably go to the gym, watch the snooker and continue putting the finishing touches on my book.
Warm and sunny today. My nieces and their parents flew back home to Denver this morning, so fingers crossed I'll get some free time to work on the search for a literary agent next week. Mental health is still good, I've not been thinking about any anxiety the last couple of days.
I had a short reminder of it yesterday at dinnertime when a glass of French wine went to my head, but that soon morphed into pleasant tipsyness. I rarely drink alcohol, being actually drunk is not great for my mental health, apparently alcohol can inhibit the benefits/effects of my anti-psychotic pills I take - Clozapine. It takes a ridiculously small amount for me to feel a bit drunk, probably because it mixes with the Clozapine I think.
I was reading an interesting man's website today, he's a writer and I was reading his thoughts about being a christian who believes, like me, that God sometimes talks to him in various ways. But, again, like me he also has elements of psychosis. It can be challenging to juggle the two and live your life anyway, but it can be done.
That kind of thing, unless the person is severely unwell, is, for me, a fairly simple 'first world problem'. Not for people who are acutely unwell, but sometimes I just feel lucky to not be living in poverty, or in Syria for example.
Took my nieces to the trampoline/soft play park today, with their dad and grandpa. Needless to say we all liked it. I am liking taking my nieces out in the car in their car seats, a new experience for me.
Without traffic it took me 20 minutes to navigate myself out of the haphazardly scattered town centre car park, the road markings were barely visible and I didn't know what I was doing. My blog is not set out to be about childcare, it's more about my mental health. Which has been good today, I always think less about my anxiety when they are visiting. My mum and I then took them to the library, and they were happy looking around while my mum and I had a little sit down.
It is important to me to be able to do that a few times a day, otherwise I find it hard, but then life is hard sometimes. I think life is supposed to be challenging at least one day in every three. So I did think about anxiety a couple of times today, but it doesn't really take hold. Oh and it rained today, which my mood is sensitive to. Like lots of people I certainly perk up when it's sunny.
Spent the day with my nieces, almost two and almost four. They live in Denver and are staying with their grandma and me for a week (brilliant).
We drove to Eastrop park, which was nice. I was remembering the last time we took them there, last summer, when I was bothered by my fast heartbeat which I used to get from time to time, a product of having panic attacks for a few years back in the day I think. It is superb to remember how much better my health is now.
My nieces being born and stepping up to the challenge of looking after them is something that has always made me feel very normal, and it has been instrumental to my improving mental health.
I am doing much better now than I was almost four years ago. It has been good for me to look after them, they lived close by for over three years, it took my mind off of my own mental health problems a bit, and taught me some of how to be a confident and responsible adult.