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Thoughts from a Small Island

Random words from my mind

A Tentative Start

This is going to be used by me as a means of escape from what is currently whizzing round my head.

I have no idea how often I will be updating it but I hope that by posting what I feel about things it may encourage others to speak up or seek help in their own way. It might not be easy to read for some and I offer no apologies for that but my intention is to help open doors and people’s thinking toward mental illness and how it affect not just the ‘patient’ but also those around them.

Stay safe

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Just Keep Stabbing

Before you all start to panic, this is NOT a continuation of the Finding Nemo series where Dory goes rogue and starts on a murderous rampage throughout the reef.

No, this is a little diddy blog about a new activity I tried today. And it is not as violent as the title may suggest.

I have often wondered about trying this particular craft and have seen a variety of items (from the basic to the amazingly detailed) made by crafters and professional artists. A wonderful artist by the name of Mab Graves has done a beautiful family of ‘Dino Kitties’ that all have such character that you would believe the animals actually existed at some point in the past. If you’re on Instagram pop her name in the search bar and go through her pictures, you won’t be disappointed.

Today I decided to have a go at something else I have never done, needle felting.

What is this sorcery you may ask?

Surprisingly the clue is in the name. You use a fine needle (which has little notches on the stem of it) and stab through wool repeatedly to turn it into a shape. The lady running the session supplied all the wool, needles, cookie cutters (for defined shapes) and foam for us to have a go. She even brought a box of plasters and gently reassured us that we would probably stab our fingers at least once. She wasn’t wrong.

So what is the point to this?

There is one……..honest.

As someone who has anxiety, one problem I have is keeping my mind occupied so I don’t let the wrong kind of thoughts to linger too long. By repeatedly stabbing at the materials I found it hugely therapeutic and a brilliant distraction. Not only did it mean I had to concentrate on just one thing (not stabbing myself), I also had something to show for it at the end of the session. And here it is, in all its multi coloured glory for you all to see:

So there you have it. Not terribly exciting for a blog but I felt really proud of myself for what I made and might even consider trying it again at some point.

It might even encourage some of you, dear readers, to have a go at a craft / hobby you’ve never tried. If you do try needle felting we were reliably informed not to try it while watching TV.

It’s not every day you can be told it’s ok to stab something as much as you like but this was one of those days.

Until next time……………

You’ve Got A Week Off?

As is probably pretty obvious from the title (it’s a bit of a giveaway really) I’ve had a week off work.

Now, the first thing people usually say when you tell them you’ve got some time off is “What are you doing?” and my answer is quite often related to jobs I have to do at home or appointments I have to attend but THIS week has been a complete week of just doing absolutely nothing.

Zero.

Zilch.

Nothing.

My wife has been off too and it has been great that we have actually had some time off together. She has had a couple of appointments in her diary but overall we have had no plans for anything in particular.

So what have I actually done then?

Well, it started with a bit of excitement when I finally finished the drawings I had been doing for some Christmas (yes, I did mention the C word) cards. I had an idea of getting them printed as limited editions and selling them in sets of 4 designs so went about looking into the costs involved. This quickly turned to disappointment when I realised that for 25 copies of each design it was going to cost me, on average, £60!! and that was before I even bought the envelopes to send them in. Had I been presented with this decision a year ago I would have mulled it over, made myself feel guilty that I would be letting people down if I didn’t do them and then, reluctantly, gone ahead with it. Then I would have been anxious about selling them, how much to sell them for and what I would do if I didn’t sell all of them. However, this time around I just said NO. And do you know what? It felt good to say it and mean it. My reasoning (which I didn’t really need to give) was that if I started to look at my art in a monetary sense then I am taking away the main element of why I do it. It’s nice to have a bit of pocket money from it but if I am beginning to outlay large amounts of money in the hope of financial gain then I only put myself under unnecessary pressure and it isn’t enjoyable anymore.

Then came a bit of sadness. A good friend of my wife lost her husband suddenly recently and we went along to the funeral. With my limited experience of funerals I have to say that the service was beautiful. Obviously sad as we remembered the loss but it was also full of good humour and happy memories. If anything, each funeral I go to makes me think about how I would want to be remembered at my end. While this may seem a little distressing and morbid to think about I believe it is important to have these sort of conversations sometimes. Personally I would want my own service to include lots of laughter, bad dancing and some very dodgy songs with even dodgier lyrics to sing along to. There would probably also be some sort of dress code involving bright colours, bold patterns and doc martens but I’ve got time still for working that bit out.

The week has just about come to an end but today has also brought another positive. My wife and I went to the Freshwater Coffee House so I could show her how great the place is but also so I could have a bit of a chat with the owner (who is a sterling guy by the way). I have been designing a tattoo for him and today was a chance for him to see the actual design in the flesh (well, on paper at least) and give it the final ok. Suffice to say it went great and he was bowled over by it. It also led to a conversation about me getting some of my artwork on display in the cafe in the new year. While this is hugely scary for me to think about (so I’m trying not to) it is also hugely exciting. The other good thing is that I have some time to get my head around the thought of it.

So before I return to work on Sunday I have one more day of relative freedom. The car is going in for a service, we are looking in to the possibility of trading the car in for a newer model and I might even manage to sneak a quiet pint in there at some point too.

 

We’re All Seeing Things Differently

When it is my Wednesday off work I usually participate in a local session run by the Anxiety Cafe team here on the small island.

It is designed to help those of us ready to try something different and meet new people. In the past I have taken part in interpretive dance, mindfulness, chat sessions and more recently a photography session (or series of sessions).

The brief we were given for the photography sessions was surrounding an area of town called the ‘Quay Street Triangle’ and what we see in it. We were given hints and tips on how to use our cameras and get the best out of the varying settings. It encouraged us to look all around us and take as many pictures as we liked. The end result was that a selection of our photos would go on public display in our local library to show the public the sort of things we get up to in our amazing little group.

Today was the day we went to see the exhibited pictures.

On arrival it felt quite surreal to see all of our collective works all printed, mounted and displayed but it also gave me (and hopefully the others) a pretty awesome feeling too. I was able to see my own pictures but it was also cool to see how other people had interpreted the instructions and what they had seen in the very same streets. I have my favourites in the ones displayed but I am really proud of the feedback I have received for one of my own pictures (the ‘Bell’) and that has been the highlight of this all.

Anyway, before I waffle on too much I will just share a couple of pictures I took of the display in situ. If you want to visit and see for yourself (might be expensive though if you live overseas 😔) it is currently on display at the Lord Louis Library, Newport, Isle of Wight until approximately the middle of November.

Until next time dear readers……….

World Mental Health Day

Yes I know I’m a little premature with this blog but just run with it as by Wednesday I have forgotten my train of thought (which is a regular thing for me really).

This coming Wednesday (10th October) is World Mental Health Day. Here in the UK we have a variety of ‘days’ for things such as nurses, grandparents, varying health conditions and sausages. OK, I made that last one up (or did I?) but you see where I am going with this. We seem to have either a ‘week’ or a ‘day’ quite regularly and while some of these are quite laughable, most of them are a good way for us to celebrate people or educate others on things they might not be so aware of.

As you know by now, I have anxiety issues and also deal with depressive episodes too. Any chance for me to highlight this fact is a good opportunity for me to talk openly and encourage others to do the same if they feel able to. Not everyone is in a position like me to be able to talk about their illness (because it is an illness) but I hope that by my doing so it may allow someone else to seek help or confide in a friend how they are feeling.

This last couple of weeks I have been a bit lacking in my self-care routine and I have felt a little distracted at times by things I should be ignoring. I have allowed myself to become angry at things I have no control over but I have realised this before it has become too late and I spiral downwards. On a couple of occasions at work I have felt it necessary to walk away from situations that are stressful and I have not felt guilty about doing so as I know it is the best thing to do. I am often telling my colleagues to walk away from angry encounters but this time I’ve actually taken my own advice and done it myself.

I have all but given up my running but I know deep down in my heart I will get back out there on the pavements again. Running gave me the freedom to not think about anything and the drive to get my body healthy as well as my mind. If I don’t get back out on the roads I am considering a treadmill in the garage but I will be running again and that is a promise to myself that I will keep.

I have developed my artwork into a certain ‘style’ and am keen to try out new methods soon. I find that painting / drawing allows me to switch off from what is around me and concentrate on making something that I can appreciate in the future. I am never too concerned about whether others like it because it is all about me and releasing my mind to somewhere it doesn’t get the chance to go to all the time. I know I have a following on my Instagram and my Facebook pages regarding my artwork and this is a great confidence boost but, and I mean this with all my heart, if it all stopped tomorrow I would not be upset because I would still keep drawing. I have lovely people who tell me I could do more to sell my work or promote it more but at this point in my life I have no desire to do this because, if I did, I feel it would take the enjoyment out of it for me and become more of a chore. My art calms me, it relaxes me and it gives me freedom and I cannot, and will not, lose this.

Another thing I have begun to enjoy again is photography. I like to think I have a bit of an eye for a good photo (along with my wife who is also a great photographer but doesn’t get out as much as I do due to other commitments) and I have lately taken some pictures I am really proud of. I have recently been part of some sessions run by the anxiety cafe I go to that have included photography and the end result of this will be that our collective works are going on display in our local library. Now, the thought of this terrifies me as in my eyes it is another chance for people to judge me. My work in the public eye!! What if they hate it? What if they don’t understand why I took photos of a broken tile? What if nobody goes to look at them at all? These are all things I cannot control but I still worry about them. We are going to view all of our works on the 24th October at the Lord Louis Library, Newport and I believe they will be on display for a couple of weeks to about the middle of November. If you are around it would be wonderful if you could go to see the pictures we have all taken and support the amazing work the people at anxiety cafe do.

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I realise that this post is a little on the down side but I feel it necessary to show that we all need a break sometimes.

We can’t forever go on being up beat about everything if, in your heart, the spark isn’t there.

This is when it is o.k to just say “you know what, I’m just going to retreat for a while”.

And that is just what I’m going to do for a bit. I am concentrating on my family and friends, my art work and allowing myself the time to recharge at my own pace.

I may occasionally share things on my Facebook page (unsurprisingly also called Small Island Thinker) but my blogging activity will not be as regular for a while until I find my passion for it again.

Until next time.

Much love x

 

Who Do You Believe When You Don’t Believe Yourself?

Helloooooooooooooooo

It’s that time again when I open up my keyboard and type whatever is going through my head at that precise moment in time.

The topic in my mind is self-doubt and it is something I’m actually pretty good at (along with over-thinking things).

For a long time (longer than I probably am aware of) I have had a bit of an issue with self-esteem and thinking that I am not good enough at what I do. This results in me needing almost constant reassurance that I look o.k. or that the work I’ve done is done well.

But, and here’s the kicker, even when someone tells me things are good I don’t believe them. It could be plastered all over the walls in big shouty capital letters and I would just look at them and go ‘meh’. My wife could tell me all the time that I look fine and my head would just think ‘…yeah she’s only saying that because she loves me…’ and I would continue to scrutinize my outfit until I just get fed up and wear something safe instead (much to my wife’s annoyance).

The latest installment in my self-doubt story is all about my artwork. I still think of it as straight lines and fail to see the artistic merits of any of it. I am incredibly grateful that people appreciate it and am also blown away that I have sold some of it and that people have something I have done in their own homes. Even writing that sentence is filling me with a sense of wonder as I just think they’ve only bought my stuff to keep me happy. While that me be one reason people like my work, I’m pretty sure the main reason is that they see something in my art that I obviously do not. Now, I’m not saying I don’t appreciate my own stuff, it’s just that I see it as something I do to calm my head. I can zone out for an hour or so at a time and have something tangible at the end of it.

All of my work is shared on my Instagram (smallislandscribbler – shameless plug) and I also have a Facebook page of the same name (shameless plug no.2). It varies in size and style but is all centered around my style of line drawing where it draws you in. I think the tunnel effect of my drawing is my own way of expressing how I see and think about things.

I have a wonderful group of supporters and fans of my work and it is my latest piece that caught the attention of a coffee-house owner here on the small island. I posted a picture of it on my Instagram the other day and it was a bit of an experimental piece as I decided to drizzle paint over the canvas first and then go around all the various spits and spots with my trusted sharpie.42059611_1263497813781896_5026502970716454912_n

‘Likes’ came in and then there was a comment ‘conversation’ from the owner of the Freshwater Coffee House which is over on the west side of the island. It went like so:

thefreshwatercoffeehouse: Love it!
smallislandscribbler: @thefreshwatercoffeehouse thank you 🙂
thefreshwatercoffeehouse: @smallislandscribbler have to get one on our featured wall at some point 😀
smallislandscribbler: @thefreshwatercoffeehouse wow that would be incredible and such an honour.

This put me on such a high when I saw the notification and I messaged a couple of good friends my news. They were so happy for me and proud of what I had achieved which also fuelled my good mood.

And then came the self-doubt.

Why do they want my work on their wall when they could have a proper artist showing their work?

Why do they want my work at all?

What if no-one else likes it?

I’m not even an artist.

This type of thinking is my downfall and as much as I try to change this thinking it is difficult to alter it quickly. I am getting better but it’s a gradual process and while I am grateful for comments and praise it is often very difficult to accept positivity when you’re used to batting back with a negative.

Regardless of what happens I am going to continue with my drawing and I already have ideas of projects to work on next involving paint / canvasses and plastic pots (sounds intriguing doesn’t it?) but I need to clear more room in my studio (garage) before I can attempt anything like that.

I don’t think I’m ever going to make a fortune out of my work (dammit, self-doubt again) but I’m going to enjoy making it and be forever grateful for the support I am given along the way.

I shall keep you updated.

Until the next time……………………………….

We Need Each Other

Good evening and welcome to this evenings installment of a day in the life of me.

I’m inclined to say it’s not overly extravagant but it’s my life and, for that reason, I can say what I like and hope you enjoy it along the way.

Before I start I must say that the topic of my blog today is around a very sensitive subject that may upset some readers but I just need to make you aware that it may unintentionally cause distress. If this happens to be the case then please read no more.

 

 

Today, as you may or not be aware, is World Suicide Prevention Day and although I have never been directly affected by the subject in that I have not lost anyone close to me in this way it is something which needs discussing. I am not going to quote you facts and figures because that isn’t really the focus of this blog today but instead I am going to focus on the importance of talking.

When I was at my very lowest point I had thoughts of how the world would be a better place without me in it. Various thoughts entered my head about what would / could happen and how that something might happen. I never had any intention of carrying out any action but it truly scared me that I was thinking like this. I (eventually) opened up to my wife that on this particularly low morning I had laid all my tablets out in front of me in the kitchen and just thought (nothing more) I could go to sleep for a very long time and everything would be better without me. I thought if I wasn’t there then people wouldn’t have to look after me or use their valuable time checking I was o.k. . I was the man of the house and I was supposed to provide and protect and if I couldn’t do that then what I was of no use (I knew this to be untrue but at that point in time it was all I could think and believe). I had actually initially told her I was fine and it wasn’t until I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment that I finally let it out.

I was genuinely scared of myself.

My wife was (and still is) absolutely amazing and calmly told me to keep going to the doctor and tell her EVERYTHING. How she managed to remain so calm is still a mystery to me as she must have been terrified and it took us a while after to actually talk over what happened that day.

I turned up at the surgery and let them know I was there and requested I sit in a separate area as the thought of everyone looking at me, judging me and making assumptions was just fueling my fears. It was only a minute or two (but felt like hours) before the doctor came and got me and I went through to her room. All the emotion came tumbling out and the immediate decision was that I was to have an urgent referral to the mental health team at the hospital.

Later that day I received a phone call and was asked to report to the hospital and see the team. I went up and had a very frank chat with a lovely nurse who reassured me that everything I was saying was fine and it was good to get it all out in the open. My wife was with me every step of the way, except for the talk with the nurse, and I finally felt like I was getting somewhere.

The rest of my story from this point on is documented (quite openly at times) in previous blogs but the main thing is that, for me, I was able to talk to someone. many other people never get that chance, or feel like they may have that chance.

Through my journey in to recovery and beyond I have been fortunate to have met some incredible and inspirational people who have actually encouraged me to be more open with both myself and others. My closest friends are all aware of my main issues and understand these. My family probably know more about me than most and for that I am truly thankful. Without both of these support networks in place I would have genuinely struggled more than I have and found things that much harder to deal with.

However, I am also aware that not everyone has this opportunity to be able to open up to friends or family for various reasons. These reasons can range from fear of being judged, not being properly understood or the simple fact they might not want to upset those closest to them. If that is ever the case I would urge anyone who is struggling to try to talk to someone completely independent of the situation. That may be a GP, a counsellor or a charity such as the Samaritans. Likewise, if you think someone close to you may be struggling, try and reach out to them or gently try and let them know of help if they feel unable to open up fully.

It is a really important subject and one which carries a huge stigma around it but hopefully by reaching out and talking we can all help to change that.  Below I have included a number of links that may be of use to anyone you know who may be struggling :

Samaritans UK
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) – For men
Prevention of Young Suicide – for people under 35
Childline – for children and young people under 19
The Silver Line – for older people
NHS – Page with links and helpful information

Until next time xx

Taking My Own Advice

To be honest I couldn’t think of a title for today’s blog as it covers a whole variety of things this time around.

I’ve been on a bit of a good run lately with my mental health and have been enjoying the relative ‘freedom’ it has allowed me lately. I’ve felt stable in the mornings when I get up and have been extending the creative side of my brain (I do have one…honest) by writing what I think could be called poetry but I’m just going to call it ‘words on lines’. Work has been going well (most of the time) and I have had some days where I have come away feeling like I’ve done a good job.

I have also involved myself in a new hobby (to go alongside my artwork) of rock painting.  These rocks have then been hidden somewhere in town on my way to work for someone to find. My hope is that when it has been found by someone it makes that person smile and just enjoy their day a little bit more. The ‘finder’ then can keep it or re-hide the stone again, it’s entirely up to them. There’s nothing else to it, it’s all about spreading a little kindness around.

Now, this isn’t to say I haven’t had some hard days in among all of this but I have now realised I am a bit more equipped to deal with these a little better.

This last week has seen some rather autumnal weather appear on the small island and when that happens it can only mean one thing. All the holidaymakers don’t really know what to do anymore as there isn’t much to do under cover here. Instead of staying in a  nice dry hotel, caravan or tent everyone decides to leave the comfort of a dry room and head out in the rain to the big city (it’s not really a city, just a slightly big town). This then makes for grumpy families as kids get bored quickly and the parents are ready to pack it in and go home.

I have had a few days where little things have constantly irritated me and I have had to deal with confrontation (something I’m not good at) after which I have become rather angry at myself for reacting negatively to situations out of my control. At one point this week I almost walked out of my work area as I was letting myself get stressed by the actions of people we were trying to help. My work colleagues are all amazing and they all seemed to notice I was ‘out of sorts’ before I even did and were asking how I was doing at times throughout the busier periods. When it was my turn to escape I took myself upstairs for my lunch and sat in the TV room. Fortunately it was empty so I got my iPad out and put on Spotify (other music streaming apps are available 😉 ). My playlist of choice was a soothing piano list which is a world away from what I usually listen to but it was enough to slow my thought process down and calm me. I also sat and wrote a poem, posted it to my Facebook and thus pushed the thoughts out of my brain so that by the time I went back downstairs to work I was in a slightly better place than when I left.

This made me realise that paying a little more attention to myself and that I should look after me first. I always say to others to take care of themselves, say ‘no’ to things they are unable to do and do things just for themselves every now and then but I am terrible at following my own advice. I even read a lot blogs from some lovely WordPress friends about the benefit of self-care but in my own life I have let this side slip away gradually and it has begun to show in how I am feeling about myself.

Well this weekend I made a bit of a change.

My wife and daughter have spent the weekend camping with the Girl Guides so it has meant I have been home alone since Friday evening. I didn’t sleep very well that night as it was too quiet in the house and I kept hearing every single sound and trying to work out what it could be. Normally I drift off to sleep to the gentle hum of my wife’s CPAP machine (it helps her sleep apnea and allows her to breather better) but without it in the background it was strangely unnerving.

Anyway, fast forward to Saturday morning. I was awake early so I put on the washing machine and had some breakfast. The weather was to be good so I decided to use that to my advantage. I planned a day out to the western end of the island where I would walk over the chalk downs and take lots of photos (I even remembered to charge my camera batteries….yay me!).

The bus ride there was, thankfully, uneventful and the walk was beautiful. I then got the bus back to the nearest town and got a coffee in a wonderful coffee house. There may have been a bit of cake too, just for replenishing my energy of course. From there I then decided I would walk along the old railway line to the ferry port. I happened to bump in to my lovely friend Kerry (owner of the wonderful Cupcakes and Anxiety blog page) and had a lovely catch up with her and her son, before heading to the beach to have a bit of lunch.

From there I then headed over to the other side of the island to where the hordes of scooters had descended for the annual Bank Holiday scooter rally. Hundreds of amazing Vespa and Lambretta scooters in various colourways were lined along the street and the seafront and it was an incredible sight. I took more photos, stared in awe at some of the amazing decor on the bikes and watched some of them darting along the esplanade before heading off to somewhere else.

That somewhere else was back to the coast where I managed to get a few shots of the ‘pre-sunset’ sky and a passing tall ship before heading home for some much-needed rest. But not before I found a painted rock that someone had hidden in a flower bed along the sea front (cue a big smile on my tired face).

Which leads me to the moral of my tale (in a kind of teen american movie way).

If you ever doubt yourself or are beginning to struggle, just listen to yourself and take your own advice. If it was a friend in a similar situation, you would advise them accordingly so why do we find it so hard to advise ourselves?

I’m going to try to be a little more forgiving on myself and try and listen a bit harder to what I am saying to myself.

Be kind.

To yourself and each other.

It sounds so easy doesn’t it?

 

Wonky Veg

It’s been a while since I last wrote a proper blog post here and didn’t just share things on my Facebook page (which, by the way, is also called Small Island Thinker if you ever wanted to check it out – shameless plug) but the truth is I have recently been in a much better place mentally and have been keeping busy with work and my drawings.

However there was one thing recently which came to my attention and thought needed talking about. It’s not particularly groundbreaking in its content and I don’t think I’ll be winning a literary prize for its subject but it is something I got thinking about (probably too deeply but there you go).

The subject in question centers around a recent TV advert for Morrison’s supermarkets and concerns the selling of ‘Wonky Veg’ (yes there is such a thing).

Now, apparently supermarkets reject huge amounts of fruit and veg because they don’t look at their best or have little wonky bits on them. This is a big problem in that lots of produce gets unnecessarily wasted when there is nothing wrong with it at all. We are led to believe that modern consumers are afraid to buy anything that doesn’t look perfect and so the shops dictate to the farmers what is good quality and what isn’t.

There are other companies that sell ‘wonky veg’ and have done it for years with no big fuss but Morrison’s stores have now decided that they are to sell this wonky veg and have created a whole range, and a big fancy TV advert, dedicated to it (yay Morrison’s) and this is their statement on their website “We’re committed to supporting our farmers across the UK, and that means buying whole crops from them – including Wonky fruit & veg. So, at Morrison’s, you’ll sometimes find Wonky carrots that are a bit crooked, Wonky parsnips that might be extra pointy and Wonky fruit that comes in different shapes and sizes.” This is where is my issue lies. Shouldn’t this veg just be included within the regular crop and treated the same as the rest of the veg?

By selling this produce separately and packaging it differently aren’t we subtly telling people that it is o.k. to be a little bit different and a bit flawed around the edges but we’re going to keep you away from all the good bits so you don’t frighten them. If we were to apply this kind of thinking to everyday society there would, quite rightly, be outrage.

I like to class myself as a little bit wonky (I think I have in a previous blog post) and flawed but if it wasn’t for these traits then I wouldn’t be me. Just because I have freckles, knobbly knees, pasty pale skin, anxiety issues or a mental health condition doesn’t make me different to anyone else (except that it takes me longer to get a decent suntan) and I certainly have never felt the need to package myself up as wonky so that society will take pity on me and eventually accept me as I am. I never got put in a separate part of school for freckly people. I never had P.E. lessons just for people with knobbly knees either. That might sound far fetched but essentially that is what we’re doing by keeping ‘good veg’ away from ‘wonky veg’.

We’re all a bit wonky in our own ways and that’s what makes each and every one of us unique.

Instead of packaging wonky things separately and selling them in a separate area wouldn’t it be better just to teach everyone that it’s o.k. to be a bit wonky? By educating people properly it may just help the next generation to be a bit more accepting of differences, be they physical disabilities, mental health conditions, people’s looks, skin colours, religion or anything else which may make someone feel like an outsider.

We’re all human.

I may just be overthinking the issue, as always, but it was something I had a bit of a problem with.

Wow, who’d have thought that wonky fruit and veg would be quite so philosophical?

Oh well, now I’ve got that off my chest I wish you all well and will post again soon xx

I’ll Try Most Things Once

Within reason of course I will try most things.

I know what my limits are so I’m not exactly going to go cliff diving or mountain boarding without any supervision or training but if it’s not dangerous or life threatening I’ll try it.

Once.

However if you have anxiety issues (which I’m sure by now you know I do) this presents a challenge in itself. Not only do I have to contend with the thought of trying something different, I have to contend with my head telling me in no uncertain terms that it (whatever I’m doing) is extremely difficult and I should turn away and run before I even consider it.

Today was no different.

I had woken up with an idea of what I was doing for the day and it began steadily with some breakfast (weetabix if you’re interested) and getting some washing in the machine.

After that I took a walk into town to join in the activity at the Anxiety Cafe morning session and catch up with some friendly faces. The activity I was to partake in was Tai Chi and it’s safe to say I didn’t really have any idea how the session would pan out. Now, to me, Tai Chi brings to mind images of wise old oriental men and women in silk pyjamas, in lines in a park making slow and graceful movements in sync with each other. It all looks incredibly relaxing but the reality is actually quite different. There is a real skill to getting the movements correct and trying to get your joints to do something else from what your brain is telling them to do. An example of this was trying to move our wrists in a circular motion. Not too difficult, I hear you say. Well surprisingly when we moved our wrists we automatically pulled our fingers in too which caused our tutor to correct us all. The reason for this correction is that by moving our fingers we were moving the energy from our wrist to our knuckles instead of concentrating it in one area.

Our tutor was very patient and had a wonderful manner with us all. He was in no way condescending in his language and he put us all at ease by making the movements and explanations quite light hearted. There were a few of the group unable to do all the movements due to personal limitations but he never made anyone feel bad for not taking part. Instead, with gentle encouragement, he helped everyone do what they could.

But, was it relaxing?

Personally speaking………..no

I appreciated the slowness of movement and focus on breathing but, if I’m honest, I felt uncomfortable in a group situation. My personal experience was that I was constantly watching others and then checking my own movements to see if I was doing it right. This was neither calming or enjoyable as I was forever putting myself under unnecessary pressure. There are elements of it I will take away with me such as the breathing exercises (always handy in an anxiety inducing situation) and I will do my best to practice these whenever possible. To me though, I prefer my calming exercises to be done by myself where I can close my eyes, listen to a soothing voice or music and drift into another world.

But…..I tried it. It’s kind of like that saying we are always told when we’re children about it not being the winning that’s important but the taking part. Well that’s how I felt today. I may not have won but I took part.

After the morning, I then met the lovely Kerry (of ‘Cupcakes and Anxiety’ fame) for a cuppa and a catch up. We sat and had a proper natter about everything and anything and it was good just to chill out before she went to work. Kerry has always been a big supporter of my blog and my scribbling so I also had done a drawing for her just by way of a thank you and she was pleasantly surprised to receive it as we got up to go.

I then met my mum for a catch up and we met my daughter off of her school bus and went for a drink and a bit of cake. We had a bit of a wander around the charity shops (one of my favourite pastimes) but I couldn’t find anything I liked today. Still, it’s always good fun looking and I’m often amazed at what I find. I got an awesome pair of ray-ban sunglasses for 50p recently which my daughter seems to want to get hold of but I’m not so sure.

Anyways, not much more to say about today. It’s been a good day altogether and I’m pretty pleased with myself for putting myself out there in harms way for a little while and getting through it unscathed.

I’m not entirely sure when my next update will be as I am beginning to find that it’s easier to write when I feel like writing, instead of when I think I should be writing. I also feel the content may be more interesting that way (please tell me if I’m wrong otherwise I’ll just keep waffling away) and more genuine as I’m not forcing myself to come up with a subject. I’m also going to Cornwall soon for a bit of a break with my family so I intend to relax, take photos, scribble, drink beer and eat my body weight in pasties for a week.

Until next time, take care of yourself and each other xx

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