Monthly Archives: December 2020

What I’ve Learnt In 2020

2020 has been a hellish year for pretty much everyone. A global pandemic seems to make life difficult, who knew? But I’ve learnt a few things in 2020 and I thought I’d reflect on them.

1. I have amazing friends

OK, I’ve known this a while but it’s become even clearer this year how amazing they are. We’ve supported each other so much and I’ve known they are always there for me. I love them dearly.

2. Random acts of kindness are special

I’ve tried to do some random acts of kindness this year to cheer people up. I’ve also received some too. They have made me feel so special. They’ve brightened some of the darkest days.

3. Lockdown birthdays suit me

I loved having my birthday during lockdown. The lack of pressure to do anything was awesome. It’s the most relaxed and perfect birthday I’ve had. I want that every year please.

4. Validation is so important

Having someone agree about something I am experiencing has happened a couple of times this year, especially linked to my mental health. I had a psychiatrist who agreed with me about my depression getting worse and a psychologist who could see OCD behaviours and thoughts. The validation made me feel like I wasn’t just looking for the bad but that what I was feeling was real.

5. A smile can make your day

Here I’m not talking about just receiving a smile from someone but actually starting off the smiling. On my walks with my dog I have taken to smiling at the strangers I pass and have mostly been rewarded with smiles back. It brightens my day just a little and creates a little human contact that I can cope with.

6. You can’t make eye contact on zoom

This was something pointed out to me by my DBT peer support group’s facilitator. It is impossible to make eye contact as you are always looking at the wrong bit of the screen. Even if you both stare straight ahead it won’t work as you then can’t see the other person’s eyes. This is information I have imparted to many people since. They’ve all had their minds blown. So thanks Sally for that info.

7. I do actually need physical contact

I’ve never thought of myself as someone who needs physical contact before but hugs from friends are something I’ve really missed. Being in their presence, even, is something I miss greatly. Just to be with those people is so important to me. I also missed hugging my nan for all the months I couldn’t. Having that back is so special. I appreciate those hugs.

8. Pets are amazing

Again I knew this already but this year they’ve really stepped up. My dog has kept me going out and in some kind of routine. My cats are just loving and have entertained a few people on zoom (especially when they scare the life out of me, try to eat the laptop cable or knock a pile of stuff to the floor). Also having cat cuddles during and straight after therapy has been awesome. I now do not want to do therapy without a cat. When it becomes face to face again the cat is coming with me. That would make them look I’m sure.

9. I can draw

I’ve always tried to draw and never felt any good at it. Then just before lockdown I did some art things with a group I’m part of and it started to make me wonder if maybe I could draw. During lockdown I decided I’d try it out and began drawing every day. To begin with I’d draw animals and cartoon characters for friends, family and their children. Most was simple. I then developed it further and I feel like I’m getting a lot better. I’ve even shared some of it on Instagram and Facebook.

10. People are mental health aware but…

This is probably going to be the most negative one. With lockdown there has been a lot of talking about helping people’s mental health during these times. People are showing they are aware of needing to look after their’s and others’ mental health. But it has become clearer that we need to make people mental ILLNESS aware now. People may understand mental health, they don’t all understand mental illnesses and what it’s like to live with one day to day. There is a long way to go with. This means that instead of a mental health awareness week/day we really need a mental illness awareness week/day. We need people to see the difference between mental health and mental illness. I plan to write more on this in 2021.

So 2020 has definitely been a year of learning about others and myself. I’ve deliberately tried to keep the negative out of this list (believe me there are many things I’ve seen this year from people that have shocked me in a bad way). I’d love to hear what you’ve learnt so feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I’m aiming to be busier on all these platforms.

Lastly I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has read, shared, commented or supported me in any way. I really do appreciate it and wish you the best for the years to come. You’re awesome. Be kind πŸ’š

Covid Christmas

Christmas has come around again and this year is going to be different. A lot of people may be separated from those they normally spend this time of year with. This may be a blessing for some but awful for others who may feel lonely. The pressure of Christmas to be good is still there too.

This post is just going to be some things that may be useful to know about and some other things to maybe consider. A lot will be UK based as that’s where I am but if you have something you wish to add feel free to use the comments so others can see it.

The first think I’m going to share is a hash tag on twitter, to help those who are feeling lonely or struggling with Christmas. It was set up by the wonderful comedian Sarah Millican a few years ago and has been very popular. The hash tag is #joinin. Everyone is able to connect via the hash tag and hopefully reach out to each other. As it’s on Twitter you can use it from anywhere in the world.

For a lot of people money has been tight this year with lack of work or losing jobs. If you’re struggling don’t feel you have to give a gift. And if you want to don’t worry about going expensive. Gifts, if able to be given, should not be about reciprocity. I give because I want to make people happy, not to receive something in return. I’m sure whoever it is you want to gift something too would rather you were able to manage to live than give them something and struggle. If they wouldn’t then they don’t deserve a gift (I know this is different and harder with children and I apologise for not having suggestions for this). Also if you want to give why not spread it out so they get a surprise in January?

In the UK if you need someone to talk to you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123. They are available at any time though lines may be busy. This doesn’t mean they won’t talk to you so please hang on. I know people who have found them very useful to talk to. There are crisis lines available in most countries and you can find some of these via the menu on here.

If you don’t feel safe mixing with other people during this time then remember you are allowed to say you don’t want to. If it helps to make an excuse then that’s fine. You have no reason to feel guilty for putting yourself first. You are important. I know this is easier said than done, I really do, but it’s not selfish to put yourself first.

Self care can go by the wayside sometimes during busy periods but this is when it is most needed. If you can, try and do one bit of self care each day. It doesn’t have to be huge and may be something you’re already doing. Taking note of it will show yourself that you are worth looking after. It can be as simple as having a shower (which isn’t always simple I know) or having some water. You are worthy of being looked after.

For those who have an eating disorder, Christmas can create all number of challenges. I’m no expert on this but in the UK the charity Beat will be available for support everyday from 4pm to 9pm. There is also information on their website about things to consider at Christmas and their support services.

These are just a few things that may help. As I said at the top of the post if you have a useful resource then please add it to the comments or you can share with me via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and I will try and get it shared. This means if you’re looking for something I haven’t shared it may be worth checking the comments or one of these places.

Please take care of yourselves this Christmas. You are all important and awesome. Be kind πŸ’š

Poinsettia Drawing by myself. There is a meaning to this flower. For more information look here.

Therapy 2020: Session 16

Date of session: 16/12/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

Today was my last session of 2020. It was also meant to be the last session of this course of therapy but that has changed and will be now continuing in the new year.

Yet again the anticipation of the session was overwhelming. In all honesty I’ve just felt incredibly tired since last week and no idea what else I have felt. I’ve not really had the time to investigate what I’ve been feeling either.

Today we looked again at the stopping of self harm. To do this we looked again at the motives behind it and how I feel when I try to stop. The huge anxiety it gives me. This made her more sure this was now an OCD behaviour. We looked at intrusive and obsessional thoughts and how they relate to my thought patterns. I did get a little frustrated that I wasn’t being understood.

Because of looking at this as an OCD behaviour it has meant we are going to look at a certain way of combating this. I think it was called habituation and changing the way I see it from a need to a want. We looked at what is classed as a need and what is classed as a want. It did leave me feeling guilty about my self harm. There will also involve a behaviour experiment about what might happen if I don’t act on the thoughts.

Part of the habituation means giving up the self harm and riding out the urge and the anxiety it causes. This feels scary and my anxiety started to creep up just talking about this. It was edging on panic. The thought of losing the self harm is scary. I’m terrified. I have to log everything about how I feel, what I think, what I do to distract/help myself and how long the anxiety lasts. Apparently anxiety shouldn’t last more than 40 minutes. This is not my experience but we shall see.

This time of year is hards for me. Part of me wants to say this isn’t the right time to stop but is it just another excuse? I’m dreading later on when I don’t do it. Will I just be a failure either way?

I have two weeks to see how I go. Two weeks until another session. I hope not to be a burden to others. I’m hoping I don’t compensate with other behaviours I use to ease anxiety. We shall see.

Therapy 2020: Session 15

Date of session: 09/12/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

In this session we discussed my self harm. It’s the barrier to me gettting proper trauma therapy. I had a decision to make whether to just carry on self harming and forfeit trauma work or give giving up a go.

Before the session I’d tried to write down some questions and thoughts linked to this. It started off OK but I spiralled down into self doubt and hatred. Please see the image for my thoughts.

In the session I discussed some of these thoughts. We talked about how the intention to try needed to be sincere but trying to give it up could continue alongside some prepatory work for trauma therapy. This means that in the new year I will have another four sessions at least and see where we go from there.

This has made me feel all sorts of things about myself. Hatred is very much in there, towards myself. I’m defensive of the self harm even though I know it isn’t healthy. I have discussed some reasons behind it with therapist.

We also looked at the year and a bit I managed to have without self harm and how that happened. We went through if there was anything significant at the time. We discussed some behaviours and thoughts and I was told it very much sounded like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This is something I’ve tried to discuss before with professionals and been dismissed over so it was validating to have it recognised.

This is where we brought the session to an end as we’d already gone over the fifty minutes by half an hour. Next week is my last session of the year. It will probably be a crucial point. We shall see.

Therapy 2020: Session 14

Date of session: 02/12/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

Getting round to writing about this session has taken a while. The session left me in a highly emotional state and it took time to get that under control before I could even begin to process the session. There will be holes in this as some personal things were discussed that I’m not ready to share.

The start of the session was taken up with starting to think about what will happen after my time is up as I’m only meant to have another two sessions. There was a discussion of trauma based therapy and EMDR but this won’t happen unless I stop self harming completely. This has left me with some choices to make and things to consider. In the session I felt myself becoming very defensive around this conversation. It’s something I need to work through before next week.

We did the usual scale of how I am and I just couldn’t think how I was. It’s been a tricky week but it’s not been the worst. But I don’t feel great. It’s all very confusing to me. I really don’t feel I have a handle on this at all.

We then went back to the formulation we’ve been working on to look at my core beliefs and whether things have changed. And when looking at them and working through it, they have to an extent. Instead of using evil to describe myself it’s gone to bad but I also added in that I’m a burden. My core beliefs when related to other people have also changed though this was harder to look at. It really showed black and white thinking in my world which is hard for me to acknowledge most of the time.

This therapy has definitely made me see that a BPD diagnosis does fit but it has also made me start to question whether something else is not quite right too. This again is something I need to look into.

We seemed to make progress in this session and where I had written out some things after the session last week, I shared some of this. That was never my intention but I found it helped me explain things so she understood it better. She seemed to find this useful too.

I’m finding my issues with language surrounding events is still there and it makes me extremely uncomfortable to hear certain words. I know I shouldn’t be scared of words but I am. This is part of the reason I became highly emotional at the end. The session did seem to end suddenly though and I don’t feel that helped. But it could also be that I started to dissociate.

Overall it was one of the better sessions in that I feel progress was made, even though I’ve felt awful ever since. A technology glitch may also of helped in that the video link wouldn’t work so it was all on the phone and I couldn’t see her. Let’s see where next week takes us.