Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Update on Life

Hey I can’t quite believe how long its been since my last blog posting (although I have kept up with my ‘Jax writers spot’ blog). So here goes with a brief summary and update of my life:

It was the first Christmas without my Dad, so I went to my Mums to cook Christmas dinner, and it was a really lovely day. Spending time with family is after all what I believe Christmas is about. An added bonus was that as I was driving, I didn’t end up feeling rough by the evening which I do when I stay at home and have the first glass of wine while I am cooking. We (all my daughters and I) also still went to my Mums for the traditional cold meat and salad Boxing Day lunch. All in all not only did I really enjoy our couple of family days, but my Mum enjoyed herself too, which is all I really wanted.

My bestest Christmas pressie was a MP3 player. I still need a little help when it comes to putting music on it, but I love it. To supplement the swimming I now also go on a long walk (or should I say stomp) every week, listening to some of the 20plus odd CD’s I have stored on this oh sooo tiny device.

I am still swimming a couple of times a week. As I’m not doing the sponsored swim at first I found it little more difficult to motivate myself, especially as after new year the pool got really busy for a while, and I really don’t like having to dodge people and being continually splashed in the face, but as the new years resolutions were abandoned the pool got quieter again, I seem to have settled into a routine and generally swim a mile and a half a week.

I have decided not to hide aspects of myself on this blog (after questioning whether admitting a history of mental health may affect work prospects). So after feeling brighter and happier than I have felt for many years, I am now ready for and looking at returning to Advice and information work (while still continuing with writing), and may have some work lined up to start in June (when the funding is available). I am taking it step by step.

Probably the biggest news this week is I am going to be in a book, it is a local small paperback book, published by the mental health team, that can be picked up for free in doctor surgeries etc, but never the less it is a book. I am going to the book launch on Friday, at a conference at the Eden project. After lots of thought I am going to share my piece with you as it is also probably the best update of the changes in my life:

Changing my perception of panic
For many years negativity, fear, and anxiety have been a big part of my life. Last year I had a feeling it would be a good year, however it was a year of disasters starting off with the unexpected death of my father, and shortly after that I experienced a traumatic assault. My anxiety went off the wall, and I was experiencing a lot of panic. I recognise that that mental health is often misunderstood, and I felt that people seeing me in a state of anxiety when I was out and about, may think I was just overreacting, and I should pull myself together. I internalised these imagined perceptions, beat myself up for not ‘having control’, and I ended up hardly going out of my front door.

Apparently ‘Disaster’ means from the stars, indicating a long held belief that bad things happen for reasons known only by the heavens. I can’t pinpoint when, but one day I realised that only I could turn myself around. Experiencing such trauma actually kick started a journey of transformation; It was not an easy journey, I started listening to some self help CDs on self esteem, which made me step back, look at my life, and discover (not always good) aspects of myself. By recognising these aspects, they were easier to deal with and I was less likely to beat myself up for my perceived weaknesses. The CDs helped me value my own opinion, instead of placing so much importance on what other people thought about me. The only person’s approval I need is my own. By listening to the CDs every day I was basically reprogramming and changing my thought patterns. I also started meditation; at first I was terrible at it, but it got easier, and I found the deep relaxation very beneficial in reducing anxiety.

After many months of ‘self work’, I found I was not only able to go into town shopping, I was also able to go in with a smile on my face, a smile which was there not as a mask but because I felt good. I do still feel fear take over me, and get caught up in negativity; however I am now gentler on myself. I recognize anxiety is a part of me, I accept it, I don’t beat myself up about it, and I am able to bounce back quicker. After many years of being completely overwhelmed by any stresses, a cluster of disasters has actually enabled me to feel more positive than I have done for around 8 years. Maybe it was a good year after all.

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