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How I want my life to feel

Recently in Cognitive Analytical Therapy, my psychologist got me to fill out a sheet, which got me to consider how distorted my thinking and feeling is, as well as how I would actually like my life to feel.

1. I would like to be more open with people, especially my partner. I tend to bottle things up, especially as many, including my partner, struggle to understand my battle with physical and mental health problems.

People tend to be either completely ignorant, or so afraid of saying the wrong thing that they say nothing, or avoid me. My partner is one of the few who really worries about what these problems mean for me, he sees it as a real possibility that he could lose me as a result of these difficulties, especially my mental health, and so he fears it. He emotionally blackmails me, in an attempt to keep me safe, as though that’s the opposite of what I want. I love him and my friends dearly, but sometimes I wish people would ask more questions, instead of just making assumptions.

It’s also hard when friends make plans that don’t take into account my disabilities. It’s nice that they see me as ‘one of them’ , ‘normal’ , but the fact is that I am different and I would love it if more often that difference was embraced, rather than forgotten. Especially as it’s a difference that I have to live with every day of my life.

2. I would like to feel less angry and more forgiving about my past with my family. I hold onto so much from the past and it is time that I started to let go. To do this I need to continue engaging with therapy and writing.

What makes me angry? That my family hardly ever call, that I always have to call them, that even Skype is too much of an effort for my computer literate sister, that my niece will probably grow up not knowing me as her aunt, that I am still ,and probably always will be, the black sheep of the family, That even when I was in hospital there were hardly any phone calls, and none of them contacted, or visited the hospital. Finally without the disruption of my childhood home life, I may have been more successful in my education.

Looking at it differently though, their lack of support has made me more independent, and even if I did have an amazing education behind me, my disabilities would probably still get in the way of me achieving, and my family are  not responsible for my disabilities.

3. I would like to feel happier. I want to finally win my long-running battle with depression. To do this I need to spend more of my days doing the things that make me happy as well as facing up to my worries.

The things that make me happy include blogging, creative writing, scrapbooking and being creative. The things that worry me are debts, health problems and my partner’s parole. As well as facing up to these problems I need to find time to have some fun.

4. I would like to feel less afraid of criticism, as I feel that this holds me back a great deal. To do this I need to continue to fight back by blogging, even if not everybody likes me. Instead of attempting to be a people pleaser, I need to focus on being honest, even if people don’t want to hear it.

5. I would like to feel more confident to follow my dreams, without constantly worrying about the barriers that I need to overcome to achieve them. To do this I need help to overcome these barriers, like my mobility problems, pain and fatigue. If, at my next appointment with the rheumatologist, he is still unwilling to do a great deal to help me, I will be finally requesting a second opinion.

6. As I mentioned before, I want to be less of a people pleaser, as this causes me to hideaway a great deal. I want to be less worried about how people will react if I just be myself. To do that I need to actually start being myself.

One example is my drinking, I usually only drink when I want to fit in, but I need to recognise that if I am going to show my real self, then masking it with booze every time I’m with friends, will not help me. On top of that, for health reasons, I shouldn’t be drinking anyway.

7. I would like to feel less anxious as I feel that this would help me to become more independent and less socially isolated.

A big part of me facing up to this is the possibility of me getting a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair through the Motability scheme. The thought of being more self-reliant makes me feel very nervous and excited. It would be great to get involved in community courses and activities and just to get some fresh air. Does anyone else have a Motability vehicle?

8. I would like to have better self-esteem, instead of constantly putting myself down. I’d like to start believing in myself. I could start this by praising myself for the things that I do well – however small, from getting more organised to posting on my blog.

9. I would like to feel more stable and in control of my mind. The only way I feel that I can do this is by persisting with medication and engaging with my care team. This includes attending and engaging with therapy sessions as well as my social worker and Community Psychiatric Nurse.

My dream to be confident, happy, organised and independent, seems so far away, but with the right steps I may be able to realise that dream sooner than I think.

Does anyone have any goals about how they would like to feel? What steps are you going to take to achieve them? Feel free to comment below or tweet @spursbythebeach .

A is for anger

At least a few times a week I have decided to challenge myself, by giving myself an alphabetical theme to blog on. Each theme will be related to living with mental illness/ physical disability. I am also going to do the same challenge on my FBL blog Lifelovesandlipgloss.wordpress.com , although often using different topics for the different blogs.

I chose to write about anger first, because it is something that I struggle with a great deal.

Expressed anger

My experience of anger as a child, my parent’s violence and emotional abuse, taught me how much expressed anger can hurt others, so I tend to BOTTLE IT UP.

Triggers

My anger is mainly triggered by memories from the past which leave me feeling POWERLESS and UNABLE TO ESCAPE, stress which also leaves me feeling BACKED INTO A CORNER as well as UNABLE TO COPE, and being unable to cope leads to a great deal of FRUSTRATION, which makes me want to EXPLODE.

Turning it inwards

Instead of expressing my anger and frustration in a healthy way, I turn it inwards and attack myself. At first it starts off as a mental attack. INSULTS, ABUSE, SELF-HATRED. The things my parents and the bullies at school used to say to me, I say to myself: Ugly, fat, useless, pathetic, unwanted, better off dead.

The negative self-talk can only go on for so long before the anger bubbles over, like I’m in some kind of pressure valve, and I end up wanting to act on the negative feelings I hold towards myself, by physically causing myself pain, also known as SELF-HARMING.

Searching for a new anger-management strategy

At the moment though, I’m desperate not to follow the old negative patterns. I feel STUCK, TRAPPED. I know that I will lose my partner if I end up self-harming or attempting suicide again, and, if I do, I am also likely to end up back on the PSYCH WARD.

Alternatives

I’m trying so hard to change things. Firstly, I try to FILL MY DAY so I don’t have too much time to dwell on things. I try to do things that I know will RELIEVE MY TENSION, from watching a favourite TV show, to colouring in or other creative-type stuff. Blogging also really helps. It helps me to EXPRESS MYSELF in a CONSTRUCTIVE way and to feel LESS ALONE, when I realise that others are struggling with similar issues.

Hopes for the future

My hopes for the future are that my feelings of anger will lessen and I will FEEL MORE IN CONTROL of my anger,that I will learn to express it in a healthy way, that doesn’t leave me with feelings of REGRET after yet another explosion.

Do you struggle with anger? What ways have you found to manage it? What helps you to cope better with it? Either comment below or Tweet me @spursbythebeach.

When you feel like hiding from the world

Kitty feels like hiding from the world

Kitty feels like hiding from the world

For far too much of my life, I’ve felt like hiding from the world. It started when I was a child. I was ashamed of the way I looked, afraid of the bullies, worried my parents would embarrass me/kick off when they were drunk.

Now I’m almost 30 and not a lot has changed. This time it’s social anxiety, fear of being judged for my disabilities and severe depression, in which I feel like being around people just makes me, and them, worse.

There are things I’d like to do: Blogging meet-ups, physiotherapy groups, day centres, book clubs. Even when I was thinking about starting university the anxiety about being around hundreds of people during lectures, freaking out about fresher’s week and how I was going to go it alone as a disabled person and make friends, was tearing me apart.

I’d love to have another chance at education but at the moment my anxiety and depression are so bad that I’m constantly changing my mind about whether or not I should give it a try, because I don’t feel like I’m good enough. I’m not living, I’m existing.

I want to be a journalist and was given the opportunity to blog for my local newspaper but I’ve bottled out of doing it more than one time because I’m worried I’ll make a fool of myself. I know that sounds strange coming from a mental health blogger, but I’m ashamed to admit that negative feedback terrifies me. It causes me to beat myself up and is the reason I’ve spent too long hiding away or not doing the things that I love.

I want to change and I know that the only way that I can do that is with one small step at a time. I’ve started Slimming World and trying to wear make up more often so that I can be more physically confident. Mentally, is another matter entirely. I’m so scared of getting hurt or messing up. I’ve just started seeing a psychologist and I’m really hoping that it makes a difference as I’m so tired of being like this.

Being honest about how I feel, especially on here, helps a lot. The support I’ve received from Brokenglassshimmers’ followers, has meant so much.

I’m thinking about branching out with the blog too and doing an email newsletter for followers to chart my progress, what works/what doesn’t, perhaps even interview some of you too if you’re interested. If you would like to receive something like this then please let me know. I’m available on here as well as on Twitter @spursbythebeach .

Checkmate

I thought I’d give you a brief update of what life is like, just over a week after I was discharged from a psychiatric hospital.

As most people probably find when they leave a long-term hospital admission, my financial situation is a mess. No DLA (Disability Living Allowance) has materialised since I got out and it could be weeks, if not months, before this is resolved.

This is extremely worrying as I have now got into heaps of debt, struggling to pay for my carer as well as other disability related expenses. Money is such a worry right now, it must be for me to even be mentioning it on here, for me to be crying down the phone to my dad during his out of the blue phone call today.

I spoke to my new Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) and social worker, and I’ve been instructed to write a list of how much I owe and to whom, so that they can help me to take action against it. I’m so worried about what that action will involve, and I wish more than anything that my physical and mental health weren’t so bad that I could go back to work and repay what I owe.

Also playing on my mind is that I will be waiting at least 4-6 weeks for an outcome in my PIP (Personal Independence Payment) assessment with Capita. I’m so worried, as without that financial help, my future options for paying for care and mobility related costs, will be greatly limited.

My care managers are trying to make a referral for me for additional support but I will still need the practical support that I get from my carer, as long as I can afford to pay for it, which is becoming less and less likely.

I’ve tried to continue writing, both blogging and creative writing. I’ve sent off a couple of pieces to competitions and the blog has had increased popularity in recent days, but this is causing me quite a bit of frustration as I’m still having to juggle my blogging/writing with how well I feel.

There are days I spend the majority of my time in bed and other times I’m in so much pain or having so much fatigue that I can’t concentrate on what I want to be able to do.

The level of my isolation is still really bad. Hardly anyone has been near me since I got out of hospital and even the ones who have, usually only want to meet on their terms.

I can’t help but feel sad at how far I’ve deteriorated in the past year. This time last year, I was all set to return to London to study for an English degree, I’d even given up my council flat to move into private accommodation nearby. Due to misinformation from different people at DWP, eventually causing me to become even more unstable than I was in the first place, I had to move back to Wales or risk -and here’s the joke – getting into debt.

Now things are so dire financially, I’m miles behind where I was academically, and emotionally I feel like I’m in ruins. I was counting on getting that degree so much, I had it all pictured in my mind, I was going to put everything I had into it and now I’ll probably never get that chance again.

The odds were always going to be stacked against me, living with disabilities, but now I haven’t even got a degree to show for it, my life looks as though it has been one huge waste.

I long to become a writer or journalist. I wanted so badly to get my voice heard but now I feel like it is being stifled.

I get frustrated blogging about how bad things are and I’m sure that you all get sick of hearing about it. Why doesn’t she just do something about it? I bet people are thinking. Well, I’ve tried and it’s left me in a worse position than the one I was in to start with. I feel like there isn’t a single move forward that I can take, like I’ve been checkmated.

Happy mothers’ day??

The phone call

Well I just got off the phone from my mother. I nearly didn’t call her at all but thought I’d try to be civil, despite her being as far from a mother as she possibly could be.

How it all began

It all started with her drinking problem when I was a kid, the things we had to witness and get in the middle of when she refused to leave my violent dad. Then when he turned on me, mainly verbal abuse, but of the most awful kind that sticks in my mind to this day, she stood by and said nothing. She said nothing when he told me I was all the disgusting names imaginable, that no-one really liked me and I would be better off dead. Perhaps she was scared but that doesn’t excuse her behaviour since then.

When I, at fourteen years old, confided in her that I’d started to self-harm. Instead of providing the comfort and reassurance that I needed, she told me to ‘stop being so stupid’.

The self-harm continued for years. Then because she refused to see the signs that my dad was mentally ill and needed help, she allowed him to be in the house alone with me while she was off drinking. He cut his throat in front of me and everyone afterwards, including him, blamed me for it, including the police treating a frightened, sixteen year old girl like some sort of villain.

When dad was sectioned, she got the support from her friends that she needed, my sister was watched like a hawk, but no-one seemed bothered about how traumatised I was becoming. Blaming myself for his actions. All I had done was ask him why he was emotionally abusing me and told him how it made me feel. That was his response.

The slap

Age seventeen and me and mum got into a fight. She was drunk and started hitting me so I slapped her back, because for once I refused to be a victim. It’s not a moment that I’m proud of but the fact that her and my sister then got me on the floor curled into a ball while they rained punches and kicks on me, that makes me feel a bit less guilty about it than I would have otherwise.

Homelessness

That was the last night I spent in that house. Mum called the police on me for one slap and they took me to stay at a friend’s house. From there I ended up in hostels. The whole time my mum was happier to see me staying in those dingy places because she now had her perfect family, now I was absent from it. Till dad turned on her.

By that time I’d been housed in my first flat, and mum, who had been cheating on my dad towards the end, moved in with her new boyfriend, who had a flat of his own, and left my sister with my dad.

When I told mum I preferred for him not to stay at the flat, she began to use my place like a hotel. Doing her laundry, eating all my food when she was working full-time and I was living on a pittance. I asked her to start contributing but because she was spending nights with her boyfriend she thought that gave her the right to stay at my place free of charge, whilst I was getting further and further into debt trying to support both of us.

I asked her to leave as she wasn’t staying with me anyway and she spread the rumour around my entire family, that I had made her homeless!! As a result of which none of my aunts and uncles and cousins and maternal grandmother have spoken to me properly since.

Needing help

I got sexually attacked when I was nineteen. I tried turning to her again and she couldn’t even look at me, let alone do what I needed her to do, which was to hold me, reassure me, and call the police, so that the perpetrator could be brought to justice. Instead, because of her reaction, I didn’t tell anyone else for a long time. My mental health deteriorated, I got into a lot of debt and ended up leaving the area to move hundreds of miles away in the hope that putting distance between us would help me to cope with her rejection. It didn’t.

For years I leant on other people , including my ex husband. On discovering that he was a sex offender, I made the brave decision to report him to the police. This resulted in me losing everything, my home, my support and most of my belongings. In the hope that my family would finally be the support that I needed, during the most awful period of my life.

Giving up

My family weren’t interested though. And after an argument with my mother in which she told me that my dad didn’t want me, I took my fourth overdose in six months and nearly died. For each of my hospital stays after the overdoses, not a single member of my family visited me. Apart from a single friend, I was alone. Not long afterwards, I moved away again.

Since I moved away, apart from some disastrous visits (me visiting them), and one even more disastrous move back, I have hardly seen them. I have made efforts to keep in contact with them but they are rarely interested, just completely wrapped up in their own lives. Even when I was hospitalised for four months on a psychiatric ward, I did not have a single visit from my family, and they didn’t even call the hospital once to check on my progress.

The final straw

The final straw for me has been getting out of hospital and not having a single bit of support from them. I know that I’m not perfect and that it must be extremely hard to have a daughter with an unpredictable mood disorder, but all I get from my mum now, if I want to confide in her about a bad day, is that I’m moaning, or how much worse she has it. I’m tired of her being so self-centred. All I ever wanted is for her to love and care for me, but now I just want to know how to move on from her.

This post is a shout out to everyone who gets a pang on mothers’ day when the adverts and news stories are all about perfect mothers. This is for those of you who don’t know what that feels like, that maternal love, because for some reason it’s been missing.

I know that there are many people who have worse mothers than I do, and I really feel for them. I hope though, that in sharing this, you will feel less alone for not having the perfect family.

Feel free to share your stories in comments or on Twitter @spursbythebeach . You are never alone.

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