Unashamedly Brave

There have been so many great authors who have accompanied me on my path. They have helped me move stones, rocks and boulders that were blocking my way to an authentic healthy life. Maya Angelou, Alice Miller, Dr Scott Peck, Carl Rogers and Brene Brown to name but a few. They have provided the foundation but I have also found some amazing therapists who have held my hand and helped me to navigate some brutal terrain.

At the moment I am working with a great psychologist through the Community Mental Health Team. Today she was my ‘enlightened witness’ Alice Miller defines this as ‘someone who is aware of the consequences that neglect and cruelty in childhood can have. Enlightened witnesses support these harmed individuals, empathise with them and help them gain an understanding of their feelings of anxiety and powerlessness….’ Miller, 2001.

I am well acustomed to the mental health services in England being chronically underfunded, and I have felt the effects of this from all angles, being a service user, a relative of mentally unwell family members and as an employee for the mental health service. I am pleased to report that my treatment from the service I’m currently using has been great. The Consultant Psychiatrist, the CPN’s and the Psychologists have been second to none. Today I reflected on how lucky I am to access this treatment through the NHS, free at the point of delivery, Aneurin Bevan would be proud.

Although I’m 47 and I always thought I would be ‘fixed’ way before now, I am finally understanding that its not about reaching some sort of idealised self. Some challenges will be bigger than others, but there will always be challenges. Always ways to tweak oneself and shape oneself into someone a little healthier, a little stronger, a little kinder. Today I spoke about about things I had never told another living soul. Words that had been trapped in a shame ridden wound, that was growing deeper, darker and more infected. I spoke with great vulnerablity and courage and my enlightened witness held out her hand. Due to Covid 19 our consultations are online. Still, she conveyed to me, with unconditional positive regard, that she would not judge me and I would be safe in her hands. It was only our third session together. I am no novice to therapy, but I dont trust easily. I trust her.

It was another brilliant therapist who directed me to Brene Brown and her work on shame and vulnerabilty. Shame is where we feel that something is intrinsically wrong within us, whereas when we feel guilt, we know we’ve done something wrong but its the action, not ourself that is wrong. You can see why the two have very different outcomes. When I feel guilty I can make ammends. When I’m ashamed of myself theres no fixing things because I am bad, broken, defective in a permanent way.

When we keep secrets, they are usually linked to shame. When its a really dark secret, you’re in trouble. Like the wound I mentioned earlier, you will end up with sepsis as the infection spreads. You cant see it, but it is there holding you back from health. Sorry, but I’m not sharing my secret with you because its no longer a secret. Its a painful relic from my past and like a wounded animal I dont need prodding or poking. Thats the beauty of the enlightened witness he or she is providing a safe place for you. Ridding yourself of shame means being prudent with who you share with, or you run the risk of making things a whole lot worse. There are people who will collude with you and as Brene Brown said ‘What we dont need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human’ I dont think I ever used the phrase ‘you should be ashamed of yourself ‘ when raising my boys. I hadnt come across the psychology then, but I knew that the adults in my childhood used shame as a weapon, and it didnt sit well with me.

Perhaps this is why Catholics still go to confession. Sadly the priests in my life made a mockery of this sacrement when they colluded with my abuser. The enlightened witness will also safeguard the vulnerable, they can empathise, but they should never collude if someone is being harmed. The person you confide in must earn your trust, it is an honour for someone to bare their soul. I was the worlds biggest over-sharer and probably still overshare (I’m working on it – I didnt tell you my secret!) I now know I was looking for acceptance, sympathy, belonging in the wrong places. I do share less than I used to and its a direct correllation with my ability to trust, to accept and to rely on myself. A bit of struggle, as said earlier 47 years and counting.

I will end with this quote from Alice Miller, The truth will set you free: ‘ I sincerely believe that we not only have the right to know what is good and what is evil, we have the duty to acquire that knowledge if we hope to assume responsiblity for our own lives and those of our children…only in this way can we free ourselves from the fears and anxieties we knew as children…’ She’s not talking about a biblical good and evil, but human characteristics that we all experience from the cradle to the grave.

Aunty Phee

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Dearest Aunty Phyliss.  We never really called you Aunty as you were too young and hip for such a title.  You did become my Aunty Phee though, when I grew up.  I wish we spoke more about your life,  I know there were many difficulties and you had no interest in revisiting them.  You kept those rose tinted glassess on whatever the weather and distracted yourself with a bottle of red when you needed to (that was a little too often Aunty Phee, but we are all doing the best we can). You were one of the youngest, 9 brothers and sisters that grew your family into the  huge tribe that it is.

You were fiercly loyal and we did not always agree on things.  You never spoke to me about how you felt when I reported your brother to the police, but I slipped out of the family knowing you would not understand.  My heart breaks that you are gone.  You were kind and fun and little Jeanette adored you.  You were beautiful and Mellanie and I wanted to be just like you.  If I was upset, you would never tell me ‘I will give you something to cry about’  You would hold me silently and secretly you told me that you understood.

A single mum,  it was obvious that Tasha was your world.  You werent perfect, its a bit of a family curse, really.  Partying a bit too hard and running away via alcohol.  I wished you had faced your demons in a more constructive way.  Maybe Tasha and I will reconnect after all those years apart.  She is all grown and married, and she cared for you so well in these recent tragic times.  I see so much of you in her.

You stand out in my childhood memories.  You never frightened me as most of  the other grown ups did.  The two or three times that I saw you over the last year mean everything.  We forgave each other and it was if no time had passed.  I am glad to have kissed you goodbye.  I am glad I got to say thankyou.  I am glad that you left us knowing how much we love you.

 

Why I love Rap music

 

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I have always loved rap.  I love the baseline. I love the passion.  I love the music.  When my youngest son started listening to grime he rejuventated my love for Rap.  This was a couple of years ago now, but since then I am immersed in Rap music again.

So how does a 47 year old feminist, peace loving, socialist, grandmother love a medium that is often talking about drugs, guns and women in a very degorgatory manner? Actually it is my socialist and progressive beliefs that has a lot to do with it.  There are whole cultures out there that are marginalised and ignored.  The way they make themselves heard is through music.  As George the poet says ‘We were lost, and we made it sound good’ George the poet, 2019. That in a nutshell is Rap.  Rap is a social discourse.  It is a way those we ignore make themselves heard.  It is a theraputic medium for the artists and their audience. It it so damn political. George ‘sees black music as an institution, a school, a news channel, a wealth creation machine, for people who’s potential was suffocated by social exclusion’ George the poet, 2019.

George visits prisons.  He addresses why our prisons contain Rap artists who havent found a way out of crime and deprivation.  Hip Hop has been with us for so long and yet the wealth is distributed amongst so few.  Rap is still owned by the record label, and the wealth is NOT getting into the communities from where it is born and bred.  There is so much work to be done.

Education is still failing young, poor people. Alot of them are black, some of them are poetical genius’.  I don’t know how anyone can claim to like poetry and not see the genius of Rap.  I think humanity has a lot to learn from the lyrics and stories these talented young people write. Of course not everyone can be a succesful musician and I’m grateful to artists like George the Poet, Stormzy and Lloyle Carner who are investing their time and money in their communities (they are our communities too).  On the other side of the pond J Cole and Kendrick Lamar fight the good fight.

I love Rap music, look beyond the aggression.  The anger is very often justified and the music is Sublime. Eminem is one of my favourites and when you understand the horrific realitly of growing up with a heroine addict as a mother, you can gain some insight into some of his seemingly offensive lyrics.  Rap can give you a window into our country, the part of the country many of us are afraid to set foot in.  Many rappers are striving for change, for themselves and their families.  No different from you and me.

Listen to the brilliant Podcasts from George the Poet available here:

https://www.georgethepoet.com/podcast-library

 

 

 

 

Hypomanic Nana

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I’m so excited.  My first Grandson is 1 year old already.  Today is our turn to celebrate with him.  I’ve been decorating the house for the last few days…banners and balloons are everywhere.

I’ve not had much sleep for the past week.  High energy.  Busy mind. I was at the supermarket by 7.30am yesterday.  Buying food for the tea party today.  Time to pull out that label full of stigma: She’s hypomanic.

When you have this illness its very hard not to be put in a box.  People become concerned and that can feel like judgement.  I wonder if other people who have trouble sleeping get the worried looks that I do.  These looks can make you feel like you are broken.  That intrinisically you have a problem.  You are faulty.  This can contribute to depression.

My husband is concerned.  He struggles with my hypomania.  He told me I was being impulsive yesterday.  This wasnt fair and he took it back.  I have been impulsive in the past and like a stigmatised criminal I have to wear that label.  Its not fair.  I am mildly hypomanic…but I am also me.  He made a comment yesterday that he didnt want to ‘encourage’ me.  What the fuck does that mean? You CAN NOT encourage mania.  The chemicals in my brain can be moderated by drugs, but not someones encouragement or disapproval.   I am   Someone who loves birthdays, and loves to celebrate and be with the people I love this is who I am.

I grew up with an emotional disorder believing I was unworthy of love and acceptance.  Its hard not to take it personally when people judge me and treat me in a certain way because of my illness.  I wouldnt mind if I was behaving inappropriately, but I am not.  The fact that I can say I am in a hypomanic phase means I have insight and means I’m a little unwell, you know, a cold, not the flu.

I have been up since 4am.  I’m collecting my Grandson at 9am.  I have type 2 bi polar disorder, but I am a great nana and I am worthy of love and respect.  My husband loves me very much by the way.  He is my best friend and we walk this difficult path often falling flat on our face. We always pick each other up though…and I Love him.

 

 

 

Here in this moment to myself

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I used to like all the changing seasons, but in recent years, Autumn and Winter have brought heavy sadness and a bleak feeling like soggy leaves and cold grey skies.

To sit here at 8.00am basking in the sun feels so good.  I feel content.  Contentment to me is the elixir of life. Not the energy sapping adrenalin that can come with hypo mania and of course not the darkness of deep depression.

However, with the sunshine there is always a shadow.  It takes the shape of doubtful questioning.  It whispers in my ear, this wont last.  Soon you will be empty and cold again, struggling to see why you should exist.

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I have learned that the key is not to supress these thoughts but to patiently acknowledge them.  Then to gently come back to the moment in hand: The chorus of birds, the soft pink flowers on the balcony table, the tingling sensation of the sun on my skin.  The knowledge that in a few hours I will be in the company of two beautiful friends, eating, laughing and sharing the minutiae of our lives.  The knowledge that in all probability my best friend and husband will return from work and keep me company till the morning (‘All probabability’ – theres that shadow of doubt again).  That my sons, my grandson and his lovely mum are just around the corner, each taking their place in my heart.

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Moment by mindful moment, I feel content.  I feel glad to be alive.

Bind Weed

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Bind weed is pretty

Its flowers are delightful

A sight to behold

From a distance

People think you look pretty too

Bind weed chokes other plants

Strangles them

Kills them dead.

I cut you back

I flourished and grew

But you are tenacious

And had grown roots

In my mind

So its a lifelong task

As I cant remove my DNA

But I keep my tools sharp

And clean

I cut you back

I cut you back

So I may be free.

©Copywritten by Jaydhalia 2019

Mental Health Week

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How are you all?  Its been a while.  So here we are…Mental Health Week (theres always something isnt there?)   The system has its problems.  Its hard to fight your corner and your demons all at once.  Please don’t give up if you are struggling to access help.  Your health and life is so important.  More important than anyone else’s.  You deserve access to care (you’ve heard mental illness compared to a ‘broken arm ‘ like a broken record) but i shall bang on anyway…its important and you can get better.

I think a nice thing to do this week is reach out to someone who is a little lonely.  Lonliness is an unspoken epidemic.  We all know someone who would love to hear our voice, recieve a card, (you know those things we make from trees that don’t involve a screen.)  Make someone feel loved…its good for our mental health.  Just tell them, those three words.

As for my mental health.  I’m in a good place.  I’m finally in the system and have seen a lovely Consultant Psychiatrist.  Weirdly, for those unfamiliar with bi polar, I take Lithium to stop me getting depressed or high but I’m taking sertraline as well (antidepressent) as I was a bit too flat.  Its all about the balance!!  I’ve dropped a day at work to take the pressure off.  I’m doing some work related training and back seeing our lovely patients.  (Lets not forget Dementia in mental health week)  I’ve lost 2 stone in weight and I’m looking forward to the summer.  See..you can get better.  Okay, I will get ill again at some point, but as the end of last year was so dark, I’m going to playing in the sunshine a while.

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Thank you.  To my darling friends and family (especially my Grandson Chub Diddy) To my amazing work colleagues.  Thank you.  You’re my lifeline and my hope.  Love you, need you and here for you.

The extraordinarily ordinary moments in-between mental illness exist – I promise — The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog. This post is beautiful in its simplicity.

But it does get better. Some parts of our lives are really hard, really dark, and when we look back it’s kind of like reflecting on what a long winter felt like when you’d go months without being able to remember what it felt like to feel your toes and fingers because it was so […]

via The extraordinarily ordinary moments in-between mental illness exist – I promise — The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog