FREEDOM!

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Sitting yesterday outside my coffee shop, I heard a man coming towards me. In actual fact until he came into sight, his gender was questionable due to the extremely high notes that he was singing. Indeed, the word ‘singing’ should be used rather loosely as well …

He was tall, wearing dark sports clothes and carrying a backpack with a couple of racquet handles poking out of the top. Finally, atop his head and covering his ears he wore an oversized pair of headphones. Headphones that clearly were muffling the sounds of the outside world whilst immersing him into his own wonderful bubble of music. And how he sang!

Great, sudden high-pitched screeches with wild arm movements sent fellow pedestrians ducking and fleeing in fright. Long and musically debatable notes were (loosely) held until he began to run out of breath; whereupon he appeared to grapple with deciding whether to continue on the warbling note, or to allow some much required air into his oxygen-depleted body.

His walking pace slowed, his arms raised high as he momentarily paused creating a brief silence as his audience of coffee drinkers and pedestrians alike also held their breaths in anticipation … He then took a deep and long inward gasping of breath and then burst forth with renewed vigour, passion and more animalistic wailing noises and his walking pace quickened once again. His head moved vigorously from side to side and a wide, broad smile beamed across his face.

As he passed us and went on his merry way, we all smiled at each other, brought together for a moment in time, enjoying the happiness of one individual, so deep in his own happy world and so oblivious to ours, that we almost felt a little envious. How carefree! How wonderful!

And it made me wonder, when was the last time that I felt that free and uninhibited? Indeed, when did you last feel and breezy? For me, it was cycling in France. Perhaps time has made me nostalgic, but of late I find myself pondering wistfully of my month away with only myself and Claude my bicycle to consider. The freedom was so utterly welcome, it was bewitching. I had indeed liberated, and seeing the man yesterday, made me yearn for it once again.

Perhaps the man had returned from a tennis or squash session and was high on endorphins; in which case I think I should dig out my own racquet and balls. Or perhaps, just perhaps, he was simply high on life. In which case I shall consider another trip, another adventure to bring back that glorious, glorious feeling of total and blissful freedom.

Katie x

Do you feel free?

Do you yearn to be liberated from your anxieties, marriage, commitments or depression?

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Anxiety, Excitement and Looking For My Knickers.

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Anxiety … It starts with butterflies, then the clammy hands, tingling feet, dizziness and nausea, until finally in order to prevent passing out I have to either lie down or somehow get my head lower than my heart. Usually this involves bending over so far that it looks as though I am interested in looking at my knickers.

These deeply unpleasant sensations also occur if I am too hot, dehydrated and/or haven’t eaten enough.

Embarrassingly this happened on my second date with The Colonel. I had been a teensy bit overexcited, had forgotten to eat all day and was wearing a rather natty little dress of the faintly Grecian variety with lots of lengths of fabric wrapped round me. Alas, I think I had bound myself up slightly too tightly, and promptly had a little fainting episode. Not awfully sexy having your not-quite-boyfriend shove your head between your thighs, but I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t give me a fireman’s lift and douse me in cold water.

I digress … my point here is this. Apart from the dehydration and lack of food causes for these symptoms, I have found that more often than not, my brain is confusing anxiety, with excitement.

Now this anxiety is really just a way of my body and brain recognising that there is a potential danger. It is simply preparing for fight or flight. As we know, in times gone by, the Sabre-toothed tiger approaching the entrance to the cave required some serious action. A delicate fainting, reaching for the smelling salts or practicing my breathing techniques would probably have resulted in ‘Kitty’s lunchtime’.

However, it’s perhaps a little unnecessary to have these rather extreme reactions when I am standing on a chair to change a lightbulb, or kneeling on the kitchen unit trying to reach the top cupboard. It can be a fairly long winded task to change a lightbulb if every few minutes as the adrenaline starts racing through my body, I have to be upended and forced to look at my knickers again.

So I have taken to changing my thought process.

Each time I feel those dizzying, clammy, nauseous feelings of anxiety I say (out loud) …

“Oooh! I am so excited! What fun I am having!” several times and then repeat, and again …

Now slightly simple, unhinged and odd I may well be, but slap me down with a feather, it jolly well does the trick. And dare I say it, on a par with, if not better than, my previous deep breathing exercises.

It appears that by forcibly telling myself that I am excited rather than fearful repeatedly whilst doing the stressful and loathsome task, I can overcome the need for a little lie down or reach for the sick bucket.

So I shall persevere with this and fingers crossed it could be the way forward … I suppose the only worry is if I try to incorporate both past and previous remedies. I suspect that by saying, “Oooh! I am so excited! What fun I am having!” whilst my head is up my skirt and I am heavy breathing, I may well be sectioned or frankly, arrested.

Katie x

How does your anxiety manifest itself? And what do you do?

 

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

Lethargy, Depression and the Slippery Slope

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I’ve had to have a wee chat with myself of late. In truth it was more of a stern waggling of the finger involving some rude words and the occasional metaphorical kick in the shins.

And why? Because I was sensing a slight return of the lethargy, the tiredness and the excuses. The desire to light a fire, put on a pair of unattractive fluffy socks, matching pyjamas and woolly hat and vegetate makeup free was fast becoming just a little too appealing. Now fear not, I have come to recognise this. It is my very own slippery slope; my uncontrollable freewheeling downhill on Claude the bicycle when the brakes have failed and the only option, unless I am prepared to hit rock bottom, is to take an almighty leap to get off in the full knowledge that it’s going to hurt.

The problem with my ‘slippery slope’ is that the end point is even more unattractive than me in a pair of fluffy pyjamas. You see, I’m just not that kind of gal. I’m a “where’s my nothingness of a silk nightie … can’t find it … never mind, better do a Marilyn Monroe and wear nothing but Chanel No 5.” You get the gist … I fear that if I didn’t jump off said slippery slope, within a fortnight I’d have eaten my body weight in ginger nut biscuits, would be drinking like a fish and be found, the size of a small whale reading Barbara Cartland, wedged under the bed. As it happens I have always had great admiration for Barbara; frankly anyone who managed to write that many books is a hero in my mind – I can’t even do one (yet).

Now don’t get me wrong, I can give you a thousand reasons why I should be kind to myself and give in to the lethargy. Well, one or two …. my folate levels are apparently low, and ummm, well it’s winter isn’t it?

So in truth, without a plethora of excuses, I’ve had a ‘wee chat’ with myself, have bounced out of bed, slapped on some face (makeup, to the men out there), have embraced the cold air with gusto and have come to my coffee shop. Much too long a sentence once again and for that I’m sorry, but you see I’m just a bit excited. I took that metaphoric almighty leap off the freewheeling bicycle and not only was it easier this time, but the landing didn’t hurt. Yes, it’s only a meagre trip out of the house, but what I’ve found is that if I start the day with the right attitude, everything follows suit with my jobs done and the house and husband sorted. I then go to bed that night happy, fulfilled and tired enough that whether I’m in my birthday suit, a beautiful little nothingness of a silk number (marriage number two therefore efforts and standards must prevail you understand) or wearing a flannel onesie with a picture of Bart Simpson on it, I’ll sleep like a baby and the slippery slope will be a thing of the past. Or at least until the next day …

Katie xx

Of COURSE I’m not going to ask what you wear in bed … as if … but instead, what do you do to combat lethargy?

A Little Self Care …

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The past few days have seen a slowdown in the writing of my book. A tiredness and lethargy combined with family commitments are poor excuses; and yet when one’s brain is foggy and the body is longing for a sleep that never seems to remedy the situation, it is hard to see the wood for the trees and make progress.

As it turns out, my folate levels are at rock bottom but in many respects, I’m rather glad that it’s not simply my own laziness that has been the culprit relating to this fatigue. So it is with almost a sense of relief that I have been told to be kind to myself, something that I have never in truth been an advocate of. But needs must, and when the wise doctor speaks, I must take heed of his advice.

So strangely, I feel reassured and as a consequence am further determined to write, albeit in bed! I’m not entirely sure that this recumbent form of filling the day is what my medical guru was intending, but as I sit surrounded by soft pillows, light-as-a-thousand-feathers duck-down duvet and the soft light glowing from the bedside lamp, I must confess to feeling rather marvellous, if incredibly guilty. I am if nothing, one to take advice to the extremes.

Sadly however, this being London, there is a car intermittently blasting it’s alarm, a thud, thud base of music resounding through the walls from the traffic jam outside the house, and God forbid, the thought that my wonderful mother-in-law will be making her daily FaceTime call shortly is more than enough to end this sedentary self-care. Life quite frankly just go on, and the shame of being in bed at half past nine in the morning is shocking even to my befuddled, exhausted little mind.

So up I shall get and face the day whilst munching on some dark, leafy vegetables, and find my folate supplements. I shall seek peace and solace in my writing and make progress once again. As for the car alarm, I shall continue to huff, puff and mutter about moving to Outer Mongolia for a bit of peace and quiet. Alternatively, I could just hide for a little longer deep under the duvet, so that the sounds of life in a city are softened and a little muffled. But by God, it’s hot under there and as I emerge red faced and sweaty, I can hear my mother-in-law trying to FaceTime me …. Yes, enough self care, it’s time to crack on.

Katie xxx

How do you combat tiredness? Is your bedroom noisy or are you in Outer Mongolia?

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!

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?