More Breaks More of the Time! 

Well that’s the plan anyway…… intense periods of work require intense periods of reflection and rest.  So think about how you are feeling right now? Are you stretching yourself beyond your limits to get that deadline over the finish line. If you are it’s too late , the damage is done ,for now ,but next time think about balance . Research tells us we perform better with regular and timely breaks . Our brains absorb more with a change of activity or environment. 

Other people’s pain……

I hold it most days and take it in my stride. I am not special, I just have the ability to hold others’ emotional pain and dark thoughts. It’s not a gift, it’s just the way it is. I have learned that sometimes it feels too heavy and I have to find ways of getting my verve back- not too often thankfully, but I can step away for a nano second and recharge and get right back to it.  Maybe it’s a good way of reducing my own pain ? I could analyse it til the cows come home. But it’s a privilege and a wonder to share others’ pain or fear and accompany them through some of it. Sometimes I witness a lifting , a diluting, a change or an acceptance and then there is the reward. It feels good doing the job I do. I am lucky to have found my vocation.

 

Why you might consider Journalling……

Jornal smoking seriously damagesIt’s not some namby-pamby-airy-fairy activity for navel gazing. Well, to be fair it can be- but it’s a bit like saying all dogs of a certain breed are dangerous; it’s down to the owner/ circumstances./ attitude/ perception and all that jazz.

If you jot down your thoughts in away which is open- minded and curious then I would wager, it might just help. Why not try? What have you got to lose? If your head is full to bursting, your thoughts and problems tying you down to the hamster wheel of life? Your body raging under the skin of facade, bones aching with the strain of all that pressure, every sinew straining towards snapping; actually you probably feel like you might actually combust ?

Then my friend( in the therapeutic sense of course), you are most definitely overloaded! Take action. A vent of some kind is recommended, preferably one which doesn’t hurt yourself or cause distress or damage to others or property……

If talking about it to someone like me, is a step too far, then consider using your own inner guide, you know, that wise one inside you who has advised, counselled countless friends, colleagues and acquaintances to good effect in the past. You have experience- use it to help unburden or problem solve your own load for a change.

As a person like you, and also as a professional, I can suggest you might think about writing a bit of it down as a venting method initially. You would be surprised where it can lead you- insight previously dormant can pop up and sock you in the eye- the light bulb moment can be yours.

A very sceptical friend of mine, having difficult times, who found a jotting months later to be just that- well, a catalyst for change anyway. Her then, angry, sad, hurt, confused, thought scribbled on the back of a fag packet, was later to change her mind about the efficacy of getting something down on paper. Finding the said, crumpled empty pack at the bottom of her skip of a handbag ( most of my friends have skips for handbags , so I will offend them all, no one will feel singled out).

She had written the date( three months previously), and in bold green ink next to the warning about how smoking can ‘seriously damage your health’- had written ‘ I am damaged beyond belief, but not by fags, I will never trust another man as long as I live!’

As she read, she remembered how bad she had felt the, the searing pain, but from a distance.  Yes, still felt, but surprisingly, not quite so intense this 3 months later. She had written these words sober, whilst sitting on a tube train enroute home from work. Those green inked words conjured up the memory.

She then recalled her reflection in the black mirror of the tube train window rattling along the Northern line, or was it the Central line- no matter. Staring back at herself, the relationship damaged, wild looking, unkempt recently evolved self (my friend is a usually immaculately kept good looking Essex girl, the envy of us all).

The devastating end of a relationship. Deep loss. The end of trust for her. She was adamant this was now her. Damaged by the intense 3 year long meant-to-be-forever, with the man of her dreams. But now he was gone ( as it turns out off to pastures new with another Laydee). Leaving behind lies, disbelief, an ugly black TV stand you could recycle as a garden shed, and a ruined life. Or had he?

Reading these few words had a very powerful effect upon my pal. Something stirred within. Distance of time and the re- reading of those words attached to her pain resulted in her light bulb moment. Her perception of being the damaged-done-to-person started to shift. She jotted down in the notes on her phone ‘That’s not me’! (That’s indeed not who she is). In that moment she herself recognised it.  She is far more . In the words of a Frank Carson funny, repetitious and deliciously corny departed comedian ‘ and there’s more….!’ In that moment my friend knew it, and more importantly wanted it- life again. Hope springs eternal however you want to describe it, there it was.

Miss Sceptical  went right out and bought a journal. Not just any old journal though; a very special beautifully bound A5 embroidered, bejewelled precious book. Not some old scrap of an exercise book (good for her). After all, our thoughts and feelings are indeed priceless things. We should Value them, value ourselves more than we do. We can learn more from ourselves than anything else if we are willing to do so.

Her outpourings became less as her demeanour became calmer. Her well turned out appearance, along with her sense of humour returned. Back in her brocade kick- flares and with a gloss to her hair that is the envy of many, ( no, she hasn’t given up fags but what were you expecting a fairy tale with a perfect happy ending, come on now this is real life….). She is well and truly back. She writes in her journal , it’s her confidential, no danger of gossip, new BF.

Our writing can be mere musings or something more important; it’s all about perception. We can find meaning in the smallest of things if we choose. Journaling is a record of where we are now which will become a record of where we were then. Evidence of overcoming adversity gives us strength to keep going( nothing stays the same , everything changes). We can look back at sadness and it makes the joy all the more poignant and much much more. Go on, give it a go.

Personality Disorder……

I, like many colleagues find this an extremely difficult but fascinating area. I am not happy with the word’disorder’ as the very meaning of the word means ‘a disturbance or a derangement’- this has a demeaning implication and harps back to 50s style mental health labels.

Working as a therapist with many people over several years, I notice how, in relationships, when drawn into another’s world, an attraction above and beyond our conscious awareness, may be present. A desire to mend the ‘bird with the broken wing’ ; their need in turn, to find ‘ a rock’.

The universal laws of attraction? Or simply our own personality traits, tending to guide us towards others issues. So a situation where one is the ‘doer’, the ‘rescuer’, the ‘problem-solver’ might evolve. A mutual meeting of needs, a dynamic may begin to form- each with a subconscious part to play.

In a loving,equal ,healthy relationship this ebbs and flows and difficulties can be resolved. Compromise is made by each in order to remain in a generally harmonious and supportive place. Time passes and each gets to know the others ways, including negative traits, but these are ok as the firm foundation has been set and obstacles are far more likely to be overcome because of this.

Where one of the partners does not have a stable personality and is unable to develop trust for instance, the smallest of triggers can create mayhem. An emotional hurricane is created by over-reaction to the other. Feeling out of control is frightening and a need to take back control is natural when feeling insecure, but I notice how this taking back of control often has to be absolute. e.g. ‘If you leave the house now, ( even after I have told you to leave) , it proves beyond all doubt that you don’t love me , in fact you never did’ ( because I am unloveable, hateful, rotten to the core, ugly, fat -and any other negative I can conjure up). Trust rears its head, ‘ You will cheat on me at every opportunity'( even though there is no evidence you have or will do this). Cue the arrival of the dreaded jealousy, ‘ I must also protect myself by suffocating you and knowing your every movement and by isolating you from all others so you are just with me. If you aren’t prepared to do this then you must leave!'( This will prove how right I am that you never loved me). ‘ BUT if you leave I might hurt myself, or worse.’ This inner double-bind is created and the partner is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Emotional blackmail has entered the relationship. Patterns begin to form.

There is little or no logical rational thinking , the motivation comes straight from the emotional core. Anxiety, low mood, anger, pain, frustration and more may then all be transferred onto the partner; why wouldn’t someone with this lifelong burden want to share or ‘dump’ the load? Projection is a habitual tool and the other person often becomes the ‘whipping boy’ or scapegoat.

Calmer moments are sublime, but even these become tinged with doubt and the stable other, starts too, to feel unstable and seeks to reduce any triggers ( book ‘Stop Walking on Eggshells’ , Mason.P& Kreger.R, 2010).

I have noticed too, how sometimes the taking on of the other’s desirable traits and characteristics begins, whilst the stable other themselves starts to crumble. Projection and denial abound. One seeks therapy in desperation, often in love and attached to their damaged other, but the other can’t know, it has to be a secret or there will be another emotional Tsunami- or worse.

Violence is often appears; usually to the Self. ‘I get so frustrated with him I smash plates, throw plants- always my own and then regret the loss and the mess’ or worse ‘ I punch myself, hit myself off the wall- it’s a relief for a while’. But this can also escalate , ‘ She gets in my space , won’t stop talking and I push her away’, ‘I hit him because he tries to control me- I won’t be controlled. It’s not my fault- (it never is). ‘ No one understands me, least of all him!’. These are all statements I have heard over the years and people tend to seek help later rather than sooner.

What can you do? Speaking to your GP is always a first port of call. Visiting http://www.mind.org.uk or http://www.helpguide.org
Can provide a wealth of information about signs symptoms and where help can be sourced.