I have been struggling with my physical, mental and emotional health. It all hit at Christmas, and I’ve been caught in a downward spiral ever since. And I went low fast.
Physically, last year’s continuous struggle with my auto-immune dis-ease, with the severe asthma and breathing problems I had, exacerbated by the stress I was under from malicious, hostile neighbours, the move to England; all of it took its toll. And of course, being so weak physically impacted my mental and emotional health, alongside the grief I am still experiencing in losing my beloved Reilly.
I moved to England to make a fresh start but I’d packed all the stuff I needed to get away from in my head and heart and brought it with me, and once I got over the euphoria of the change in location, it all decided to crawl out of its box.
I know, I’m supposed to be ‘the expert’, the one you come to for help with your problems and here I am telling you how I am falling apart. I preach about self care, loving yourself and seeking help when you need it and yet, how can I help anyone else when I can’t even help myself?
True, right? And I sunk so low I couldn’t help myself. I knew what I needed to do, what I ‘should’ do, what I knew would work to pull myself out of this hole but I could not find the inner resources to do any of it. I might have given a half hearted try at meditation one day, and then stop frustrated after a few minutes because I couldn’t get into the right frame of mind for it. So I’d walk into the kitchen and make a cup of tea and have some biscuits (a lot of biscuits!)
Another day I might try self hypnosis to get some clear space in my head only to give up the effort because I couldn’t focus my thought to connect at the level I needed to do the work. On a different day, I tried to write in my journal, always a failsafe method of sorting my head out but despite the hope of wanting to write my way out of this fog of despair, I ended up covering the page with all the things wrong with me. Which, of course, didn’t help much 🙁
And it went on and on. And lovely people would phone to book consultations and sessions and even as I was talking to them about the great impact of the work I do, I was despairing about the possibility of not being able to help myself never mind anyone else and energetically, I was rejecting them, pushing them away.
And then came the tragic news that Caroline Flack has taken her own life and I was devastated. I didn’t know her, but for a week I followed every story about her. I wasn’t being malicious or vicious or even prurient, I was bewildered and heartsick that someone so vibrant, funny, sweet and loving could feel such despair and hopelessness, and I wanted to see what had driven her to such a heartbreaking final act.
And her torment at the hands on both online and offline news media as well as ordinary people on social media was obvious and overwhelming. No wonder she broke under the pressure. And I also realised I was becoming part of the problem, clicking on headlines from the very outlets that had shamed Caroline, websites who’s daily offering is a twisted mess of cruelty, misogyny, and belittlement of women.
I could also see how this daily, hourly consuming of toxic news was impacting on me and making me feel even worse.
My self care habits had eroded in the face of extreme exhaustion and physical ill health, I was eating crap sugary foods to get an energy boost and then collapsing in a heal when the hit wore off. I was eating everything except healthy food. I was drinking endless cups of tea and hardly any water and Amelia’s walks were getting shorter and shorter because I simply didn’t have the energy to take her far and was too ill and worried about whether I’d make it back. A couple of days, I was so sick, I couldn’t take her out and luckily a friend took her out for me.
Asthma worsened, pain in my chest and lungs, constant wheezing and breathlessness, high temperature, congestion, vomiting. I was not fun to be around and it sure wasn’t any fun for me.
Eventually, I reached out to my new doctor and when I got to see her, I was completely honest about all my symptoms and asked for help. Not the help she wanted to give, a list of prescription medicine as long as your arm, no, I wanted to see a counsellor. Because I know getting well meant me overcoming the stress in my system and that all came from my thinking.
Its been 4 weeks since I started seeing the counsellor and whilst its not the only thing I’m doing to aid my recovery, its a contributing factor. And I can boil that down to one thing. I clarified my problems and stresses into one statement and that helped me see how I could deal with it, overcome it.
That didn’t pull me out of my hole, but it stopped me digging it deeper.
Once I started feeling a bit better, I engaged with friends and colleagues and other healthcare professionals. I had several RPET sessions with the amazing Annette Amyler, wonderful dreamscape sessions with her that aided my recovery massively. I had lessons and session in EFT and in Clearing Old Beliefs with my mentors Margaret Lynch and Lion Goodman which helped enormously and I started taking Amelia back to our favourite place to walk beside the canal.
I’m now making nutritious meals most days, I reached out to friends for support and I got it, a flood of well wishes online, by phone and message and email. And I started my journal writing again, of which, this post is evidence.
I switched off the news, although right now its hard to escape from, and I stopped mainlining Google and Facebook feeds and celebrity news. I’ve been absent on social media too and all that has helped my recovery.
However, Caroline Flack’s untimely death and my own spiral into depression made me realise how fragile we all are, just as the world is gripped by the fear and confusion over the coronavirus, making us even more so. We all try to keep going, pinning that smile on our faces, trying to get through the day because we think we have to keep up appearances and we can’t fail because its just not an option. Its what we do because its what’s expected.
Suck it up, get on with it, pull yourself together.
I say its long past time we stop that. We are now in a mental and physical health crisis, and that was before COVID-19. We have been operating in a state of crisis for a long, long time. And we’ve gotten used to existing in this miserable twilight of living a half life. And there was no money, no resources available to help people, to educate, to help recovery, to give hope and purpose and dignity to everyone, including those written off as hopeless and useless and deplorable.And yet there’s always money for other things that are more politically expedient.
Everything has been upended by the Coronavirus but in normal times, if they come back, we need to challenge the systems that have been built into our society and the societal norm of living. The whole social structure needs to be pulled down and recreated fit for purpose. We are not in Victorian times, this is not the industrial age and people should be given the best possible support in their lives rather than little to none. Seen for the whole of themselves as worthwhile human beings instead of fodder for factories.
That means we all have a responsibility to reject those norms, to reject the structures and judgements around us. To step up and say ‘I’m not feeling great and I need time, help and support to work things out,’ and equally to support others who step up to ask for help too.
This takes courage, especially when the structures to offer support aren’t there yet. But maybe, if enough people ask and demand them, they will be put in place. It won’t happen tomorrow but maybe we could start seeing things being evaluated differently. The whole of someone’s being being taken into account and social, educational, mental, emotional and physical support and wellbeing services being provided.
I’m lucky. I have knowledge and experience to understand my own mental and emotional state and how that impacts on my oftentimes precarious physical health. I know what I must do to keep myself right.
And even when I get so overwhelmed I am forced into inaction, I know that I must, MUST reach out for help from my doctor, my counsellor, my hypnotherapist, and other healing practitioners as needed. And I also know that they make their living from helping me and deserve to be paid well for it.
I know I have to invest to get the best help, so I do. The NHS cannot serve all our needs, especially those of us who do not want to be on medication for the rest of our lives.
I know that’s an idea that some people struggle with, the idea that they should invest in their health themselves, that they need to do so to help themselves feel better. The NHS can only do so much, we also have to take responsibility for our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Now I’m starting to get back to myself and I’m thinking about how I want my work and my business to proceed. I love this work, I love what I do and I can attest personally to its effectiveness and I have a bucketload of client testimonials which all say the same. It helped pull me out of a dark hole, its part of my ongoing mental and emotional health practice and with regular maintenance sessions, its keeps me from stumbling too far back down into it. I’ve come out of a major depression in a matter of weeks not months or years.
I also know I have to do regular maintenance work myself, that’s where self care comes in. Never letting yourself get so low that you can’t make the daily effort of picking yourself up and giving yourself love and compassion.
My self care includes eating good nutritious food and rejecting processed food and especially sugar and chocolate.
Its exercising regularly with restorative yoga poses and moving my body the way its meant to be moved and rejecting sitting on the sofa night after night watching lousy tv and the news.
Its reading good books that feed my brain, encourage learning and help me grow professionally and personally and rejecting the addictive buzz of social media and gossipy cruel tabloid tattle.
Its having the daily discipline to do the things that make me feel good in the long term and reject the things that are a fleeting pleasure but make me sick and take me away from my goals and living my ideal life.
I’ve been reading about the 12-step programme recently and its something I’m kinda adapting and adopting for my life. Giving up the things that feel pleasurable at that time but make me feel lousy, low and unworthy in the long run.
There’s a lot to unpack in the 12 Step Process and I’m only scratching the surfacee at the minute but my favourite prayer right now is the Eleventh Step.
‘Higher Power, as I understand you, I pray to keep my connection with You open and clear from the confusion of daily life. Through my prayers and meditation I ask especially for freedom from self will, rationalisation and wishful thinking. I pray for the guidance of correct though and positive action. Your will Higher Power, not mine, Be done.’
And whilst thinking on this and on my current state of health and the fact that I don’t particularly want one to one clients and yet I still want to serve and help people. I had an inspiration to create a Guided Meditation Group, a closed group to which I deliver a new meditation every week. Building a fabulous community of people that I can help by serving up bite sized pieces of my hypnotic healing work, rather than asking people to invest in an expensive six month programme.
Face to face therapy is expensive, there’s no getting away from that.By creating this group, I can help more people more cost effectively. And I take the pressure off myself to sell courses I don’t have the energy and wellbeing to want to deliver right now. This is a win/win situation and I love that.
I’m currently figuring out the how and when of Oasis, but it will be very soon and I hope to go live with this idea this week.
I’m so excited, and can’t wait to help more of you this way.