Month: April 2016

Quack quack!

Quack quack!

Just for fun – walking through the park I came across these two little ducks happily sitting there in the middle of the grass. They were quite well traveled for ducks since the river is a considerable distance away, a good 20 minutes’ walk I’d say.

Today I’m feeling a bit like a duck out of water too. I’ve got another virus (only just got rid of the last one!) and the arthritis and fibromyalgia pain is really bad. It’s a struggle at work today. As well as the pain I’m not managing to keep focused and I feel weird since I had a meeting yesterday as part of the investigation of the complaint I made about the hospital where I’m having treatment. It didn’t go badly but…I don’t know. I’ll post more about it at the weekend.

Wishing you a happy day. Time for me to quack back to work.

Ginny xx

Sounds and sights of Spring

Sounds and sights of Spring

Today is beautifully sunny and the first really warm day of the year. There are some grape hyacinths in the park near me, stunningly violet,  and some bright yellow tulips. Here’s a picture of some cherry blossom growing near my friend’s place.

It’s funny how strongly sounds and smells trigger memories. I noticed this week that the pigeons are “coo”ing in a particular way they only do on warm days in later Spring and early summer. I remember listening for that outside my window as a child and finding it comforting. Another “nature” experience that brings up memories for me is the faint smell of warm stone outside on really hot days. For me that’s the smell of a couple of very early childhood holidays in France when there were still some good and relaxed times with Dad and when we weren’t so cut off as a family from the outside world.

Spring is coming. No matter how dark it seems the sun is shining there somewhere.

Ginny xxx

Mixed up

It’s a night of confusing feelings. It felt like a strange day from the start as group therapy was cancelled. Tonight I keep nearly crying for no reason. My chest hurts. Feels like there’s a weight under my ribs. Anxiety? I don’t know. I just want a hug.

It wasn’t all bad today. Actually there was a lot of good. I met my friend for coffee. She has a beautiful baby girl, six months old. Baby was in the mood for cuddles, despite not having seen me for a couple of months, and giggled away in my arms. Being loved and trusted by her just made me really happy. With a little baby there’s no room for the second guessing and doubting that comes into all my other relationships (like the voices telling me they can’t stand me really even if they pretend to like me and finding proof all too easily of how bad I’m sure they think I am). With a baby it’s open emotion that I don’t doubt.

It was good to talk to my friend and I realised how much I miss her. She’s special, very astute and empathic and reflective. She is really supportive to me and still so through the fulness of her own life as a mum when she has do many demands and many people might understandably lose touch or be less “present” for friends.

We talked some about how I feel really unhappy with the hospital at the moment. On the way to meet her I’d had another upsetting phonecall with the hospital which I won’t bore you with detailing right now. Talking helped at the time for a little while and stopped me losing it but soon after the crashing guilt hit me, that I shouldn’t have said anything and shouldn’t moan and it’s my fault anyway and that I took up her time and took over the conversation; although I really tried not to and tried to turn the conversation back to her quickly, I worry what if it did. I’m trying to trust she meant it when she said she enjoyed meeting.

Through the afternoon spikes of anger kept hitting me about the phonecall. I kept actively choosing to do things other than self-harm, which did have the one positive effect that I cleaned my flat as distraction!

This evening I made a card for my colleague B’s golden wedding anniversary. Tomorrow evening B and her husband are having a party and she’s kindly invited us from work. I’m very happy for her and it’s very generous of her indeed to include us. At the same time I’m anxious already. I’m getting a lift with another colleague as it’s not really on a bus route, which means I don’t have control over when I can leave if I don’t feel good. I worry about spoiling things for other people. There’ll be lots of people, it’ll be busy, it’s in the evening, I don’t know the venue and it’s the first socialising I’ve done with colleagues outside work (apart from one coffee with someone). All challenges for me right now. I’m trying to just focus on being happy for B. and being warm towards new people I meet. I don’t want to waste all the good of the lovely celebration with my anxieties.

I’m missing N. and feeling very upset with how I left things with her. I’m determined to do something, go to see her, to tell her meaningfully I’m sorry and try to sort it all out but I’m not sure how she’ll feel about me approaching her or if it’s better for her that I leave things be now and don’t try to get in touch if I’d only cause more hurt.

Anyhow. It’s a lot of feelings to sit with tonight. I’m tired and I need to try to be still. Thanks be for tea and hot water bottles!

Goodnight. I’m praying for you.

Ginny xxx

My rescue box – update

A while ago I posted about making up a “rescue box” as a tool to help me cope in times of crisis. You can read more about the principle and how the box helps here and I’d strongly recommend reading that before reading this post. In brief, the Box is a way of putting together in one place, easily visible and quickly accessible, the things that will help you cope when you are feeling bad. For me feeling bad tends to mean very upset, crying, struggling with voices and other hallucinations, and re-experiencing traumatic memories. The Box is not a cure for how you are feeling and is not meant to make the emotions go away. It isn’t intended to be a way to suppress them. Having said that, it is to some extent distraction, and a way to access tools to lower your very heightened emotional state so that you can then be more able to cope, to think, or to avoid impulsive actions that may be harmful to you. The CPN who explained the idea to me recommends it as a tool for BPD sufferers. I would imagine it could help people dealing with a variety of other situations / conditions too.

I promised an update about my box once I had put it together, so here goes. I’m new to this technique and I’m sharing updates as I go along.

I made my Box by covering a cardboard packaging box in gift wrap. I’ve started to stick some pretty things to the outside of it as well – a flower, some Hello Kitty stickers because they make me smile, a few little snippets of encouraging text – and I’ve put a little plastic pouch on top with a pretty card and a message from a dear friend. I’ll continue decorating the box with more sensory, pretty, attractive things and things that have a meaning for me and remind me of good times. I think this increases the likelihood the Box will be in my mind and be an appealing thing. (Half the problem with coping strategies, I find, is remembering to use them when the hard times come – often the distress can be so consuming I just don’t think of how to access helpful tools and techniques! Anything that helps me call them to mind has to be a plus!)

rescuebox

The contents of the Box is very much a personal thing, of course, as different things will be important to each of us. In case it’s of interest, here are some of the things I keep in mine (you can see them in the picture).

  • A couple of little stuffed animals – I’ll freely admit I am very childish! 🙂 I find them comforting and have quite a collection. To be honest, Bunny is usually next to me on the sofa, not in the box 🙂 and I collect “ty” Beanie owls and my-little-ponies. I guess stuffed toys also give a soothing tactile experience when you hold them, which can be useful for BPD sufferers. As a soothing sensation increases, the unpleasant sensation of very heightened emotion may reduce (again, I explain this better in my earlier post).
  • For similar reasons, a little bottle of scent. It’s soothing and distracting and if you are trying to control your breathing, the pleasant aroma can help you be aware of exhaling and inhaling.
  • A coaster, to remind me – make a soothing cup of tea! Drink it really focussing on the warmth and taste.
  • A special smooth, flat pebble from the beach, which is calming to hold (feeling the cool, polished surface) and which reminds me of the happy day on which I collected it.
  • A CD – at the moment it’s a CD I like with songs that lift my mood. This is a new one for me to try and I’m not sure which way it will go. When I am not in crisis, I enjoy listening to music. Putting on particular kinds of music and even dancing to it (well okay that’s a strong word – bouncing, at least!) can really pick me up. I’m not sure what kind of effect listening to upbeat music when I feel absolutely dreadful will have, but I’ll give it a go! It’s a way of trying to take an “opposite action” i.e. forcing yourself to do something “happy” or good for you when you are feeling sad and bad about yourself. The idea is this may in turn lift your thoughts. So listening to happy music and making myself move around to it might help lift my thoughts and feelings. Equally, at times music that expresses some of the anger or sadness I’m feeling can help as a way of “letting it out”.  I think I am going to trial both and then put together a playlist of favourite tracks specially for times I’m feeling down. Good job I live alone so there’s nobody to suffer for the fact that if I sing along I sound like a mouse with a particularly bad chest cold 😉
  • A favourite book I know well, which encourages me at the very hardest times, and some prayer cards with very short prayers. I can read over passages of the book, or say the prayers in my head, to repeat a hopeful and loving message to take the place of spiralling panicky thoughts, or the voices I hear telling me that I’m evil.
  • A few cards and a pen, to remind me – could I write a note to a friend? I.E., something nice to take me “out of” my own mixed up head, to force myself to do something positive, thus acting against the negative thoughts in my head, and making somebody else happy too?
  • A ball of wool – could I do something creative? Make pom poms? Do some cross stitch embroidery? Colouring?

I’ve tried to include a mixture of things that are happy and soothing of themselves (eg the stuffed animals, the scent) and things to encourage me to do something positive (eg the cards or the music). I’m also going to add to the box some pictures of my family and my close friends and my godchildren, basically people that matter to me, as a reminder of reasons to keep going and all the good things and good times that I can be thankful for – all things that can so easily be eclipsed in times of extreme distress.

So, that’s my Box! I hope perhaps this might be of interest…. I’m new to this and I will post another update about whether / how I find that it helps me.

Do you use any kind of toolkit like this to help you in the hard times? What would you put in your rescue box?

Ginny xxx

 

Radox for men

This is totally off topic but it made me laugh today.

A month or so ago I bought some bubble bath gel. It was reduced to £1 – good bargain, I thought, plus it was labelled “muscle therapy” with ginseng and something-or-other… mmm, good for a nice relaxing bath after a long day at work maybe? One thing that sometimes helps with the fibromyalgia pain is warmth so sometimes I’ll have a bath when it’s bad.

Anywho…. so I’ve been using this bath gel for about a month. Only this morning, I noticed that it is labelled “for men”! How exactly did I miss that? Admittedly the label is not terribly prominent and it was in the ladies’ section of the pharmacy!

Which leaves me to wonder – have I been going round smelling like a guy for several weeks, without realising? 🙂

Ginny xx

“Are you one person or two?”

“Are you one person or two?”

I’m writing this in a coffee shop. I was just thinking about therapy on Friday when a lady came up to me. “Are you one person or two?” she asked straight away. I had to smile – nope, I’m not currently in a dissociative episode but thanks for asking! (It turns out that what she meant was “is this seat taken?”)

It does feel like having to be two (or more) people sometimes. The socially acceptable me that has to cope at work and pretend to be fine, and the emotional mess underneath. The me that is vulnerable, scared and crying and still re-experiencing the traumatic events of my childhood and desperately wants a hug. The me that is angry and bitter and has lost all compassion or patience.  The me who is hypervigilant and whose thoughts are spiralling, and bound to the voices and obsessional thoughts, and the me that is out of it, numb and disconnected, only watching the world outside, losing huge chunks of time.

Sometimes it isn’t a question of having to be two separate people because part of me is so unacceptable (for example, having to hide what’s really going on in order to function at work, or in social situations). To some extent I suppose having the other “me” that goes to work is some kind of a coping strategy. Otherwise I might be hidden at home under my blankets crying all the time. The problem is, sometimes it’s a question of flicking, uncontrolled, unstable and without wanting it, between the different “mes”, and being taken over by the different emotions and reactions to the emotions the different personalities experience. I think maybe, because my emotions are so all-consuming and take me over so much that I don’t seem to exist outside them, when I have such a surge of different emotions, going through them feels like being split into different people, all dissociated from each other. Another problem is losing memory around the time that I experience the strongest emotions, so feeling I have not been present at all. And whether switching people / personalities is wanted or not, it is shattering. When it’s unwanted, perhaps because it’s frightening. When it’s wanted, it is completely draining constantly trying to conceal what you’re really feeling and act against it, and it can make me feel that I am being very false,  and that I am so bad really on the inside even if nobody else sees it yet. I guess because I think the emotions I label or experience as “bad” make me bad. That’s something I probably need to try to examine.

Now, particularly for fans of The Big Bang Theory, this could of course turn into a particular skill, a la Sheldon Cooper 😉 :

[Raj wants Sheldon to sign up to an online dating website.]

Sheldon: “Are you sure? I’ve heard that on those sites, often when you think you’re corresponding with someone, it’s actually a computer program pretending to be a real person.”
Raj: “And you’re afraid it’ll do a better job than you?”
Sheldon: “Excuse me. No one does a better job pretending to be a person than I do. Siri comes close, but I know more jokes.”

Certainly it can feel like pretending to be a person. Or pretending to be an “okay” person, at any rate! I’m trying to focus on the fact that even when we are in pain or turmoil or angry or whatever it may be inside that we feel is not okay, it’s what we do and how we act that is important in terms of good or bad. I’m not saying that I think it’s bad to express these difficult emotions, to get upset, sad, angry and so on. I’m learning that we need to do that. I mean that whatever we feel, and indeed whether we think it’s a bad feeling or not, we can still do good. Even if I’m angry and upset inside, I can still choose to be dedicated at work or to do some little thing to show kindness to a friend. Having the difficult feelings inside doesn’t mean we are worthless, or can’t do any good. Everything is harder, for sure. It costs us much more to smile, go out of the door, talk to people, go to work, etc etc, when we are having an awful day. If anything this increases the value of the good and the kindness we do because it is done with all the more effort and love.

Keep drinking the coffee 😉 and keep going!

Ginny xxx

[Photo from Gilmore Girls episode “Luke can see her face” (season 4 I think) …..The Big Bang Theory – directed by Mark Cendrowski, produced by Faye Oshima Belyeu ; Gilmore Girls directed by Amy Sherman Palladino. All rights belong to the respective artists.]