Sleeping Sickness

Sometimes I feel like there is too much going on inside my head. Like there is a barrage of thoughts echoing their way through to get my attention. There’s a ghost of Christmas past, present and future guiding me through each awful thought. The only muppet though is me! I just can’t wait for them all to quieten down, so I don’t have people asking me constantly “are you ok?” and I respond with the only way I know how: “sorry I was just thinking about something”.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 14.12.46.png

What I don’t think a lot of people realise is that everyone is pretending. Pretending to have the perfect relationship, perfect career, perfect home, or perfect family. We never take a picture and share what we want to forget.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 14.17.04.png

What I find helps (taken from Tara Brach) is to take a moment and think of sitting next to the emotion you are feeling:

  • Fear – think of the people who would want to help you through this, and places you feel safe.
  • Anger – Understand the space that is happening in, and observe it whilst you stand next to it.

One metaphor I love is that this man drew a small V on a large piece of paper and he asked: what people could see? They answered “a bird”. After a while he said “it’s the sky with a bird flying through it”. This is remembering the big picture; to gain perspective. Whether that is playing some music, taking a walk, having a laugh, something that pulls you out of the fog that you are in.

It’s funny that all these busy loud voices can make you feel lonely. I think it’s so important to understand that, everyone has their awful times (we just see their picture perfect instagram lives) I mean look at 2007 Britney! You are allowed your bad times, and you are more than entitled to pick yourself up to reach for your good times. It’s ok to say you’re having a crap day because your mental health isn’t great that day. That makes you a hell of a lot braver than 99% of people in this world.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 14.39.45.png

UnTrust Us

We navigate through our lives, and let people into our inner circle of inside jokes, messenger group chats, relationships or “seeing” (the pre relationship… which is like watching an ice cream melt and not being allowed to lick it. Ladies don’t worry you got the flake right?!)

Screen Shot 2018-04-01 at 10.03.26.png

Sometimes the criteria that we let people into our “weird little worlds” isn’t set at the highest bar (and that can be ok). It can be based on a gut feeling (as long as its not a gut feeling for ice cream). Occasionally people aren’t quite who you thought they were, or didn’t act exactly how you think they should. Which is ok because we all grew up in different environments, with different experiences so how can we expect the exact same out of each other?

Yes people do leave our inner circle, and we have no idea why. This can leave us with these internal movies playing during the witching hour. Questions pop up in our heads like: “Did he leave because I have in jokes with my cat?” or, “Because sassy Sandra wears low cut tops?”

Screen Shot 2018-04-01 at 10.33.00

As the “what if” scenarios roll by, that inner Mark Corrigan monologue starts. It feels nearly impossible to stop.

Screen Shot 2018-04-01 at 10.58.59.png

One great way to step out of this inner movie is to ask ourselves these questions:

  • “What is true now?
  • What is asking for attention?
  • What is asking for acceptance?” – Tara Brach

Tara Brach goes on to explain that these are all cognitive questions. They help us listen in a receptive way, and snap us out of our 3am story telling.

The next time you and your anger lye in bed recounting the stories, the conversations, the body language, between you and someone else. Ask yourself the above questions. Most of the time we are feeling pain at the cost of wanting to be accepted by someone other than ourselves… Fuck that.

 

 

Fevers and Mirrors

What keeps you awake at night?

To quote Bright Eyes its:

  1. Fever: – “It’s whatever ails you or oppresses you”. In my case it can be depression or my strive to be perfect.
  2. Mirrors: – “Self examination or reflection. This can be vanity or self loathing.”

I know I can write a tonne of preachy stuff about what we should be do, but the truth of the matter is we all know it, and we choose to ignore it. (Including me at times!)

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 11.54.05.png

I used to think, (until Wednesday to be honest) that keeping busy was the best thing to do if you you have a big underlying worry. Let’s face it we have a lot to keep busy with at the moment. An endless scramble of property, promotion, marriage, children and happiness right?

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 12.43.51Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 12.44.00

My thinking was your mind won’t have chance to deal with loneliness because its too busy worried about sales figures in work. Wrong. The medicine of busyness to cure feelings of loneliness, soon becomes your poison.

 In Chinese the symbol for busyness means “heart killing”. Tara Brach illustrates that when we are busy “we walk around with this tightness in our body”. This tightness makes us seem unapproachable, and inevitably puts a block on the softness of human interaction.

However, with a brief pause we can acknowledge the underlying feelings in our bodies. Whether thats fear, shame, loneliness etc. So often we are staying busy, to show the world what a great career woman/man we are, or what a perfect parent we are. Labelling our feelings, allows us to be present in the moment. For instance, I have battled with loneliness, but whenever I feel it I acknowledge it, and I look at who I have in my inner circle. I’m really thankful for that.

There will always be self loathing, heart ache nipping at your feet. But take the time to acknowledge that they come and go like waves. To be present for a moment in this insane world of schedules and repetitiveness is so freeing.

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 12.29.20.png

Dramamine

I feel that lately dating is diluted by the ice cube that is your phone. Whilst you’re staring at it, someone could be trying to make a connection through one hell of an opening line (answers on a postcard please! – I’m still struggling with that!). Or even trying to drum up the courage to ask you out on a date. In the “good old days”, romance was buying a girl flowers, or walking her home. Now, I think I would vomit on my shoes if a guy bought me flowers on my first date.

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 15.02.29

Let’s just think about this for a second. We live in age where “ghosting”, “simmering” or if we want to be all scientific about it “stable ambiguity” (Terry Real defined this with keeping a person hanging with keeping meetings postponed with excuses). By doing this people avoid commitment and loneliness. However, I feel this leaves us with this horrible feeling of emptiness, and uncertainty in the age of Bumble/Tinder.

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 15.04.00

I’m not going to go on and say that we should get rid of internet dating or throw our phones out of the window in a huge statement. I am suggesting presence in the moment with people. (Let’s face it, if I go on a date and the guy doesn’t get his phone out I am IMPRESSED).

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 15.11.29.png

Esther Perel hits the nail on the head:

“As we navigate this world of digital connectedness, we’d do well to remember that behind the screens lie the same sensitive human hearts that have always longed for intimacy, empathy, meaning and adoration.”

Romance, these days can be found in taking one small step behind the cushion of your phone screen. Ask the guy/girl out on a date! (I know I’m the absolute worst) Just call instead of text (baby steps maybe?!). It’s these small steps that I think make up romance these days. It shows that you have gone outside your comfort zone to change the dynamics of dating, for the soul purpose of getting to know that person. I really think if you say what you think then you’ll get more from the other person (in the long term).

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 15.02.09

The worst thing that can happen is you waste your time. Not that you fought for what you thought you wanted at that point in time.

Time is more precious than pride.

 

Method Acting

As I walk sober through the crowded bars (now I’m not going to lie)… For a hermit like myself, its not my favourite thing to do. Actually, I think attending a family event with ripped jeans would be more favourable than walking up to a guy sober.

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 20.52.08.png

One thing I’ve learnt is in order to do this I can’t just be ok with myself. I have to truly love myself (I know, I know your vomiting all over this page). But its true! You have to take time to fight those demons, and not let yourself feel shame for any mistakes that you have made. Mistakes are something that you will learn from and you will grow.

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 20.58.39.png

What I have taken from this is that; I am extremely awkward with people I don’t know. I genuinely think my life is a series of embarrassing events, strung together by telling my friends about these embarrassing events. (For example: I just answered the door and a salesman asked if my parents were in.) I used to be so socially anxious. I didn’t go out. Now I go out… but I make fun of myself (baby steps). I don’t take myself too seriously, and I don’t dwell on any awkward interaction.

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 20.46.51

What I love the most about people is that they all have these demons that they are trying to fight, and we have no idea. When you glimpse of these demons, that to me is an essence of who they are. That to me is true beauty. I love it when I see it.

Now that I feel ready for the world of dating me and my friend made a list of attributes… From my research… Worst idea ever. For a bit of colour I’ll share this with you:

  • Beard
  • Long Hair
  • Funny
  • Sarcastic
  • Smart
  • Has a good job (and ambition)
  • Kind
  • (Looks like Dave Grohl)

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 20.52.36.png

The list goes on but we would be here all night. What Esther Perel (psychotherapist in sexual and relational health) has pointed out that when we were young we weren’t afraid to see where relationships would take us, and what stories they would write.

Now as an adult we come with these expectations, and these check lists (which don’t even work even if the guy/girl checks all of the above). These lists are anti romantic, and do not allow for surprises or stories to unfold. After all stories are what we tell every day, stories are what makes up our lives.

It’s ok if some stories are short, and some are long. Love stories aren’t about lists, pro’s and cons, they are about surprises and gut feelings. Follow your feelings and your story will unfold. 

We are Nowhere & it’s Now

Relationships are seen as the pinnacle these days. The constant rat race to pursue the perfect one. To feel the breath on the back of your neck whilst you sleep. The beat of reassurance that your mood is untouchable.

I feel that with age I’ve either become wiser with my choice (not likely) or more picky. It’s no secret that divorce rates are sky high, and people break up because they aren’t right for each other to begin with. So what’s the point? It’s the same point everyone is labouring…

Screen Shot 2018-01-31 at 21.54.20.png

I hate this feeling of being forced to pick a man. When I go out its like I’m a rose in a vase. I’m not sure if I have a lot of water left… There are loads of other flowers around me… I just can’t be bothered moving face into the sun anymore.

I refuse to admit I have become a cynic. I want someone to laugh that I’ve put my underwear on inside out (it happens). I want someone to tell me to come home safe after travelling with work.

Screen Shot 2018-01-31 at 21.58.29.png

Charlie Munger (American Investor) has some great thoughts about relationships: I’ve noticed in a long life time that the people who really love you are the people who help you during difficult times, and you jointly got through it. In the end these people will love you more, than those people who you’ve just shared an uneven prosperity through the whole thing

The truth is a good relationship works because they have got through something awful together, and are tied together with that bond. Its the crap relationships that fall apart at any hurdle (first hurdle to even get a text back!), or you don’t even share these hurdles with them.

I have come to learn to filter out people’s advice. I used to desperately seek it. I wanted someone to agree with my great desire to stay with this one man. To the point I was talking to online therapist from India (red flag right there!). I used to think he was “the one”, and I had to do everything to impress him. I swallowed any pain he caused. In the end I was using 95% of my time and the effort wasn’t producing 1% happiness. This switch in thought process, moved him from a sword in my side, to a thorn in my paw.

Screen Shot 2018-01-31 at 21.51.07.png

One thing to have in mind is that everyone has different experiences and these are not your fairy tales to live out. You can build your own.

 

Blank Page Empire

Let’s just cut out this “New Year New Me” bullshit right now.

IMG_0110

Every year we have this quick scuffle to the gym, to try and lose some non existing love handles that no one else sees. Instead of enjoying what is awesome about ourselves, before girls use their tits as scarves, and guys have to use a little blue pill!

IMG_0111

Please stop the worrying about that box of celebrations you ate today, or the fact you went to the gym twice and not three times. Enjoy the moment, because these are the moments you look back on and think… “God I’m hilarious” (I am though!) or… “I was fit”… “Why didn’t I use my talent then when I didn’t have arthritis?!”

One thing New Year is good for is sparking the use of reframing a situation. Take this quote from Jane Hirshfield:

“I moved my chair into sun

I sat in the sun

The way hunger is moved when called fasting”

I do hate feeling at a loss of control in any situation. If I reframe it’s like suddenly realising I’m reading fact not fiction. Most of our lives our brains make up fiction. Maybe this year we can go through with it with a healthy dose of facts instead.

 

They Spun a Web for Me

Every once in a while, I (like other people) get caught in a web. Going over and over all the stupid things I’ve done. I found out recently (believe it or not) we are hard wired to be happy?!

Studies show three months after every earth shattering event (with some exceptions), it has had little effect on our happiness. Dan Gilbert talks about why we don’t know this about ourselves:

  1. We don’t see our minds doing this
  2. We are built to be strangers to ourselves (so we try to save our relationship or our job)

After the major life event, we “reframe” our views on the world for the better e.g. after breaking my leg I’m always thankful that I can run/walk/drive every day.

Whilst someone is in those horrible 3 months it is good to have someone to listen to you. Some of the best ever advice I have heard on active listening is below. This advice not only gives someone with depression/anxiety the space to heal, but it is great advice for two people with extreme views to communicate.

If you don’t get this right… Well I don’t think I need to explain…

IMG_6537

  • Don’t multi task; be present (no phones!)
  • Use open ended questions (who/what/where/when/how?)
  • Go with the flow (thoughts will come, let them go. Not everyone loves hearing about Dave Grohl)
  • Don’t equate your experience with theirs. It is never the same.
  • Listen.

Celeste Headlee

I really want to highlight that no one’s experience is the same. If you are constantly outdoing each other with “who’s job is more stressful” you could be there all day and no one feels better for it. The greatest healing will come from that person from feeling fully listened to and understood.

If the person likes or respects you they will leave a forum for you to give you space to air your views/experiences.

Ps always remember your facial expressions particularly when listening to adverse points of view.

IMG_6538

 

 

What were we Talking about?

What is the secret to happiness?

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has found the answer the answer:

Hold on a second…There’s some science I have to tell you, so you can piece it all together.

“Our nervous system is incapable of processing more than 110 bits of information per second. In order to hear me, and understand what I’m saying. You need to process 60 bits per second. (That’s why you can’t understand more than 2 people talking to you.) When you are really involved in something you cannot feel that you are hungry, tired or remember your problems at home. Your identity disappears from its consciousness.”

This is called a “Flow” experience. Here are some examples:

  • Playing Music
  • Listening to Podcasts
  • Life Drawing (got to make sure I don’t make eye contact)
  • Looking at Dave Grohl (I get lost in his eyes)

 

IMG_6372

  • Writing a Blog
  • Making sure I don’t die at PE
  • Having that conversation about nothing and losing time

IMG_6374

Bin off your phone. It takes 20 mins to settle back into the activity/Flow moment you were in, once you have put your phone down. Was it life changing what you have just looked at? Did Geoff just text you? No! Should you care? No, he’s a massive bellend!

IMG_6373

Even if you aren’t an artist/muscian/gym goer/podcast listener, having these moments where you are lost in deep conversation are priceless. Your nervous system is lost in a sea of words, where it doesn’t feel hunger or sadness from your own life.

“When we worked so hard to pull all those weeds out, what were we talking about?”;  Neva Dinova

Hope

“It doesn’t matter to me
I tell myself repeatedly

What a nightmare it seemed
To honestly think anything

I won’t leave indentions of me
I won’t leave intentionally” – Manchester Orchestra

The above encapsulates how I really felt during the worst of my depression. I wanted all these horrible thoughts (I wasn’t even sure what they were anymore) to leave. I wanted to “reset”. How I wanted to reset, was the messed up part. I didn’t want to “leave intentionally”, but I knew when someone said “see you on Monday” I might not be around.
I’d smile and leave my friends and drive straight to A&E. Or I would spend an evening on the phone to the Samaritans being talked down from whatever state I’d worked myself into.
If you are going through this, then there is help. You can walk into A&E and talk to someone. You can call your GP and see them every week if you can’t get a therapist.

FullSizeRender (28)
The most important thing I learnt from this, is to always be kind, because you have absolutely no idea what is going on in a persons head. Also, the petty bullshit you deal with on a day to day basis… Does it really fucking matter?

“There’s a ghost and it knows what I know.
So I let it go, there’s no ghost, there’s no ghost” – Manchester Orchestra

After all this, I have learnt to let go (most, always working on it) of my anxieties. Like the rings I wear on my finger. I try to get through life with some “grace”, and I always have a “choice” in what I can do/how I act. No one can “make me feel” a certain way. I choose how I feel and react. That’s the best piece of advice I’ve ever had.