Courage Mon Brave!

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Once upon a time I was a secretary. I could sit politely with my legs crossed prettily at the ankle and take the minutes of a meeting in shorthand. Sometimes I would even be able to read it back and type it up, mostly however, I’d wail pitifully as I struggled to make out even the names of the people who had attended the meeting. I tried once just making it up, but when the minutes were distributed later to the apparent attendees, it caused much confusion for everyone, especially those who weren’t there.

Oh I tried. I tried to be organised, but my filing systems were less of a system and more of a random putting things, frankly, anywhere. My desk was an extension of my in-tray, papers spilling over until the floor also was used as a workable space. Making mistakes whilst booking hotels and hire cars for my various bosses over the years resulted in many an irate repercussion. Apparently CEOs don’t appreciate sharing twin rooms even if there is a saving in cost, and admittedly I hadn’t thought through how five directors and their luggage could fit into something the size of a Smart car.

Oh the anguish! And I had more jobs than most people have changed their socks, trying desperately to find something, somewhere that I was even marginally good at, least of all enjoyed. How I tried … and yet, that funny little phrase about trying to fit a square peg into a round hole springs to mind.

And now, now I loathe paperwork probably even more than ever before but thankfully I manage to bribe The Colonel to do some of the more arduous tasks on my behalf … well, ok, for me.

My point in all of this, is that I’ve noticed of late that several of my friends here are having a change of direction in their careers and jobs, or at least pondering hard over it. And for that I heartily commend you! Don’t make my mistake, doing a job because it’s what you think you should be doing, because it’s what is expected. I can’t bear little whipper-snappers with no life experience telling me how to have a goal, make a plan, commit and do it, but this old bird has got more experience under her belt in this area, than there are bedbugs in a dodgy hotel room.

Do what makes you happy … and then tell us all about it!

Katie xx

What is your job? Do you love it or like it? Does it just pay the bills or do you bounce out of bed in the morning to get to it?

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HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

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For anyone out there who is like me, awake, excited and wanting to wake everyone up in the house, plus all the neighbours, … Happy Christmas!

And for those in different time zones, Happy Almost Christmas and Happy Boxing Day!

Have a wonderful day, and may it be full of love.

Katie xx

CBT … Stopping the Negative Thoughts.

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Good habits, bad habits, they’re a part of us.

I spend my life trying to halt the bad habits in their tracks with a large stop sign and a smattering of self control. I usually fail, dismally.

The limited good habits that I have and I am scrabbling around trying to think of what indeed they actually are, I am unbearably smug about. Ah yes, I don’t like dark chocolate at all and therefore I don’t eat it. Filthy stuff. So when offered some, I say with a sweet self-congratulatory and faintly superior smile, “Oh no, thank you, but I’ll pass this time!” as though I have some exorbitant levels of self control and treat my body like the proverbial temple. I don’t. I am effectively lying. I just don’t like dark chocolate. Oh God, I’m a fraud.

However, back to the point; stopping the negative thoughts. Do you have a habit of thinking about something vaguely depressing or negative (usually about the past) that within minutes can be blown out of all proportion? And one’s musings seem to slide downwards into the dark murky waters of depression? Well, in the wonderful world of CBT there is a name for this:

RUMINATION.

Now, when these negative thoughts start to take over, there are 3 points to ask:

1). Have I made any progress towards solving the problem?

2). Do I have a better understanding about this problem now that I’ve been thinking about it? And finally,

3). Am I feeling better or less depressed than before I started thinking about this?

If the answer is a clear NO, then yup, you’re ruminating.

Thinking about something and trying to find a solution is completely different and not to be confused with rumination. Trying to find a solution is positive. Rumination is not. Rumination is a habit, of the bad, disgusting dark chocolate variety.

How to stop it

The CBT experts will give you a load of chit chat about bringing yourself back to the present as rumination is so often about the past, I however need less of the chit and none of the chat. I need answers and solutions in what to do. So cutting through it all, the answer is this:

As soon as you have asked yourself those 3 questions above, recognised that yes, you are ruminating, immediately GET UP AND DO AN ACTIVITY. Um, yes it’s actually that simple but as with so many things, distraction is a powerful tool.

A pleasurable activity is of course the easiest way. Baby steps and all that. But in simple terms, find something, anything that ensures that your brain is totally and utterly focussed.

Despite some claiming to be able to multitask, it is impossible to truly focus on more than one thing at a time. Perhaps that is why rubbing your tummy and patting your head is so difficult, but maybe that’s just me. Whether this activity is turning on the television and cleaning out a cupboard, blogging, cooking, whatever floats your boat … it simply doesn’t matter. It’s just a case of stopping ‘feeding the beast’ and bringing an end to this self destructive habit called rumination.

Every time it happens again, repeat the process. Yes, your cupboards will be incredibly clean and you will have devoured the entire Game of Thrones series, but you will be learning how to stop the habit. And eventually, ‘the beast’ will wither and die. The habit will go and less effort will be required. You may become a serial cleaner with a penchant for trashy tv but hey … does it matter?

To me, this makes a lot of sense, and yes, I’m doing it. And yes, it works.

To summarise for those who haven’t read the above:

. Recognise it and act on it.

Give it a go … you have absolutely nothing to lose, but a happy and peaceful life to gain.

Katie xx

Do you ruminate? Do you let it lead you into the depths of despair or do you try and break the cycle?

NO! NO! NO!

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Snuggling contentedly amongst my other issues, I have two rather deep seated and firmly ingrained problems that I have recently discovered are linked. This actually is rather good, because that means that I now have one rather than two. Please note the positive spin – I am if nothing else, eternally optimistic.

Issue 1

I am a people pleaser and find it incredibly hard to say no.

Issue 2

I am unfamiliar with the notion of ‘moderation’.

And the link is this: I can’t say no to others, or myself. I simply cannot say “No! Stop! That’s enough”.

I suspect I am a people pleaser because of a need to be loved. The problem with this, is that being a fairly needy individual but loathe to be a burden, where one feeling should in theory neutralise the other, it doesn’t; it simply makes me complicated.

So I do things for people that I don’t want to do, consequently get grumpy and do whatever it is with extremely bad grace.

And then my neediness kicks in. Imagine husband dearest trying desperately to leave for work in the morning, briefcase and coat in hand, with me attached to his ankles being dragged across the kitchen floor wailing, “Don’t leave me! Don’t leave me!” Not that he’s quite beating me with his umbrella to detach me but …. Admittedly I am exaggerating somewhat, but you get the gist.

As for moderation, this tends to happen when doing something that I enjoy, for example:

Certain types of exercise (ie cycling until my body starts shutting down)

Nibbling delicately on a biscuit (read: devouring a twin packet whilst locking myself in the larder),

Getting excited about an event (hyperventilating, shaking and nausea)

Again, I hope you get the gist.

There is simply no “Off” button. No bright little button with “Time to stop now Katie!” flashing on it. No sodding great beacon with a man holding a megaphone shouting “No, you stupid woman, just Nooooo!”

I can’t say No!

So the question is twofold:

1). How do I stop this impetuous, people pleasing doormattish behaviour, and

2). How do I dig deep enough in order to find my inner self control? (As in, where do you keep yours? Clearly close to hand, perhaps in a little pocket somewhere …. whereas I think I left mine at a childhood birthday party many decades ago.

All answers, suggestions welcomed ….

Katie xx

The Past, Present and Future

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Morning all!  Firstly I’d like to make it clear that there is absolutely no correlation between this rather bendy green man and the following post, but it rather made me smile and besides I am wearing a fabulous new green jumper today.  Moving on …

So I was told an interesting fact last week (by an expert in the field I hasten to add) but I’d love to know your take on it. Oooh I love a bit of debate and discussion!

In essence, that the best way forward is initially individual counselling detailing the past, what happened historically and the real reasons behind why we do things and to recognise what previously may have been triggers. Followed smartish by CBT therapy (whether that be one-on-one or in a group situation) that being about the present and the future and how we can work on altering our way of thinking so that we respond to future triggers and/or stresses and negative situations in a more positive way.

These two therapies combined with daily exercise, medications if necessary, yoga/Pilates/meditation, mindfulness and social interaction with the world will thereby see us on the straight and narrow with regards to our mental health.

So my question is this: Can one ever put the past to bed? Does there become a point when one simply has to draw a metaphorical line in our historical life timeline and move on? Does there become a point whereby simply going over the past again and again is helpful or is it a way of apportioning blame? Perhaps it depends on what actually happened. Is it simply down to our genetic makeup as to why some people, despite horrific childhoods are able to become well balanced and fulfilled individuals, whereas some flounder, never being able to exist (in some form of normality) in this extraordinary world that we live in?

In essence, can therapy in all its forms work to put the past to bed and allow us to have a present and a future that we love and are excited about?

My view for what it’s worth, is yes. An absolutely, completely and utterly full-on resounding yes with a cherry on top and bells ringing loudly. Life is for living to the absolute full; and even if it takes years of endless hard work battling our demons to be at peace, happy, excited and full of love in roughly equal quantities, it’s worth every knock-back that we will inevitably encounter. For that surely, is a part of living too. The good, the bad and the ugly. It’s just about how we deal with it.

Katie xx

All thoughts on the matter very much welcome!

Attacking Life, or Running Away

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Tell me … you have the answers … how do we get past a negative event or series of events?

Do we rely on time to be the healer? Isn’t that what our elders taught us? Or do we need to be thoroughly modern and undertake endless therapy? Or perhaps, is it just a combination of the two?

Either way, we still fail to quieten our over-zealous minds which are ravaged by the repetitive fear that history will repeat itself; and to add insult to injury, we see, hear or smell something daily that re-awakens the memories yet again.

So do we rise to meet the challenge of winning against our own mindset of negativity and fear and take a calculated risk that yes, we may be hurt again, or do we simply run away to protect ourselves?

Do we make ourselves strong again and further develop our life skills in order that should anything happen again we are better able to cope? Or do we hide in fear, creating our own little frightened coping mechanisms; after all, if we don’t take on life and attack it with fiery gusto, then surely it can’t bite back at us and hurt us?

Sometimes I think I have the answers and I am full of strength, optimism and a zest for life, and yet sometimes, just sometimes I want to be rid of the memories, the pain and the fear that my heart and soul will be broken again.

Katie xx

Well? Truthfully, what do you do, and does it change every day depending upon your frame of mind?

What do you do to Combat Depression and/or Anxiety?

 

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Having written and read endlessly about depression and anxiety it seems to me that depending on where we are on the spectrum of this disease, we all follow pretty much the same routines. However what I’ve noticed is that the higher we are on said spectrum the less we are able to do, thereby the situation consequently becomes worse in that repetitively circular cycle. So what is this routine that we are all doing?

We all know that exercise raising the heart rate, yoga/Pilates or a breathing controlled form of exercise, CBT or other forms of therapy, healthy diet etc etc all make the sort of difference that medication alone cannot achieve. No shit Sherlock. But do we do this on a regular daily basis or do we wait until we’re at the stage whereby we’re hiding in the cupboard under the stairs with only a duvet, multi-pack of crisps and the spiders to keep us company? Do we wait until we are in this commonly-known place as rock bottom, before we head off to the doctors and/or contemplate whether sitting in our pyjamas and not having left the house for a month perhaps hasn’t been altogether conducive to a healthy mind and body? After all, aren’t physical and mental health intimately connected? Isn’t there a correlation between the two?

Now don’t get me wrong, I am barely on the spectrum; I, like billions of others have my moments of utter despair and given half a chance, I’d be climbing into that cupboard. So my question is this:

Do we all, most of the time, have some semblance of a routine? A routine that includes all of the above which give or take a few blips, that being simply life, keeps us roughly on the straight and narrow. Surely however it would be abnormal not to have moments of sadness, lethargy and downwardly spiralling thoughts, wouldn’t it?

What I think I’m also rather ineloquently trying to say is that for me, if I keep on top of my mental and physical health then I am at least somewhat better prepared for when troubles arise (which is again, simply a part of life) and I feel more able to not only cope with them, but to resolve them and not only to minimise the detrimental mental effects of said troubles but in a far shorter time.

I personally compare my efforts to a vacuum cleaner. As in, if I don’t empty the dust and debris each and every time that my hoover (mental stability) is required to deal with biscuit crumbs and dirt (the rubbish that life consistently throws at us), then it becomes clogged up and is more difficult to reach into the depths of the machine (brain) to remove all the muck, dust and dog hairs (negative thoughts) and of course thereby takes considerably more effort and of course longer to clean out. So for me, a little bit of work every day works a treat. I’m not perfect and I’m certainly no saint, but as a friend once said to me,

“Lots of nothing adds up to nothing, but a little bit and a little bit adds up to a lot.”

Katie xx

What do you do? Do you empty your vacuum cleaner regularly? Do you have a routine? What works for you?