I usually plan what I want to write, but this is just a 10-minute “splash” with a few photo’s
I have just returned from my writing class at the Recovery College. I’m normally feeling fairly up-beat, but this week is different.
Opposite to where I live, is the River Thames. I’m only 2-3 miles from central London, so it’s quite a highly populated area. The property in London is extortionate. A very small one bedroom flat along this section of the Thames will start at £250,000.
Across the water in Fulham, they are building new luxury flats. Prior to this, there were derelict warehouses that lay empty for many years.
This got me thinking about how I used to walk up and down a stretch of the Thames over recent years, while my own life was pretty much derelict. Attending the Recovery College is helping to bring everything back into focus. You could say my life is now under construction.
Today in class, the group were to review all the things we had written over the last 7 weeks. I went straight to the first entry in my journal, which is something I have blogged about recently – Avoidance. I really am convinced that I avoid avoidance.
Lately, I have been struggling with loads of things. It exacerbates my uncanny knack of avoiding one of the most important things in my recovery – ME.
For years, I badgered my old Psychiatrist for a more up-to-date diagnosis. It used to be “Depression secondary to PTSD”. The most recent diagnosis is Borderline Personality Disorder and Recurrent Depressive Disorder.
You would think that I might embrace the diagnosis and research more of how it can relate to my own life. Initially, I did read a little about BPD, but forget most of the facts, other than much of my mental state are consistent to the disorder. As for Recurrent Depressive Disorder….well, I can only guess it’s what it says; a recurrent depression…. And, trust me, I feel every bit of it.
Knowledge is power and empowerment can bring about change, but I doubt much of that will come about unless I am willing to focus on education and recovery. The only way I can achieve this, is by striving to live in the present moment and embrace each minute of every day.
I wish that was as easy as it sounds. My mind is in a mess. Concentration is very limited. Memories of day-to-day things are almost non-existent, but that seems to be more about not concentrating on what’s happening around me. My brain can remember little if I am not focussing on the here and now. I know that sounds messed up, but it would be a true reflection of my insane life.
I’ve just started to read “A New earth” by Eckhart Tolle. It’s a struggle to actually absorb the writing. I love a statement he makes in his intro
“To recognise one’s own insanity is, of course, the arising of sanity, the beginning of healing and transcendence. A new dimension of consciousness…”
And to end with, here’s a smile from Jack…
that whole ‘mindfulness’ thing is much easier to say than to actually accomplish. i try to be mindful and aware of my everyday moments, but unfortunately i find i forget to be aware most of the times. i guess the old saw ‘practice makes perfect’ applies here, and we just need to keep trying to be mindful until we are mostly successful. its good to know there are others on the same path as me.
Hey Kat… indeed it does help to know other people are travelling on a similar journey. I do believe practice makes perfect and I also feel that HUGE blessings can come from the trying.
Thank you so much for dropping by *big smiles* (dunno how to do the posh smiley ones)
Prices for property here in BC, Canada are ridiculous as well, funny enough I was literally just chatting at lunch with a co-worker while looking at a real Estate listing paper and telling her that I have come to the conclusion that I will likely never own my own home. (A one bedroom crappy “condo”, that was once a derelict old apartment that you would never have intentionally rented – not in a million years , is going for roughly $200,000. The average house starts at $300,000 and I live in a town noted for cheaper real estate, yet still closer to the main cities…)
As for your progress I think you are doing amazing things and making good progress. Facing your demons is hard, moving past them is harder. If it is not too bold of me to say so, I am so proud of you Cat! ((Hugz))
Awe, thank you MSH. You are always such a huge encouragement in my recovery. Days like today, I can catch sight of some of the things other people can see about me.
I did own my home many years ago, until mortgage interest (tax) rates went through the roof; my property lost £10k in valuation and my monthly payments almost doubled. In the UK, we are very fortunate to have low cost public sector (council) housing and I am lucky to live in one of them! My rent is £110 per week. If I was renting this same flat privately in London, it would probably be around £300p.wk.
Cat, I am continually struck by your day-to-day courage. You possess this incredible tenacity to grab onto life and hang on. Each time you write, through your transparency, I see someone who is not just surviving but thriving. It may not seem like it some days, but through the things you learn, through your own insight, and through your experiences, you take those threads and weave them into a tapestry which tells a story of application that becomes a solid picture of healing.
One day, you will be able to stand back, far enough, feet apart, arms crossed, head cocked to one side, with a wide smile on your face, to see the brilliant picture that it is.
Thank you Susan, that means a great deal I do tend to believe that we learn and grow from some nasty experiences and some days I do catch glimpses of peace and wisdom. Blogging-friends, like you, make the journey all the more fruitful and enjoyable. You have a beautiful way of communicating.
Thanks, Cat. It’s amazing to me how we connect with certain people on this blogosphere at a deep, heart level. For me, you are one of those people. I think you know my faith means much to me; I learned something new today that struck me to the core. As God works in us, as we trust in Him more, sometimes He exceeds our expectations not by taking us higher, but by taking us deeper. I am at that place in my life now. I think I recognize that in you.
I ( me specifically) find it hard to accept these mental health labels. I have no idea whether this is resistance in my soul at being placed into a neat little box. But I also know that sometimes I seek clarification of “what is wrong with me” in order for me to know what it is I’m fighting and maybe this too will enable me to find suitable mechanisms for living safely that aren’t destructive. I’ve been told that maybe I am borderline on a few occasions. The way I move in the world fits many of the criteria listed. But another part of me wonders “who doesn’t react badly to perceived abandonment? How many mental illness specify stress, anxiety, inappropriate anger and suicidal ideation as part of their condition?”
I suffer with the condition of Little Voice. And that’s the crux of it. I have no doubt we both find comfort in kindred spirits seeking to be honest about life as it is for us. Your insights are full of real-life, humility and profound searching; I am glad to have read your blog. It provides people like me comfort in knowing I am not alone in all ‘this.’ Thank you Cat x
That is so sweet of you to say and now I fully understand the title of your blog…. sometimes the obvious stares me in the face!
Until just recently, I had strong feelings about the importance of a diagnosis. Not for everyone, of course, but maybe 50% of people. I used to be so annoyed with my last Psychiatrist for not being prepared to re-assess my diagnosis. Now, after a little research and listeniing to fellow bloggers, I can understand why he didn’t want to fit me into a little stigmatised box.
In saying that, before my BPD diagnosis, I was so ashamed of most of the nasty symptoms that I couldn’t admit them to anyone, not even to the Mental Health Workers and Psychiatrist. As soon as I recognised them as being part product of a MH condition, I was more ready to be honest about where I am coming from.
I’m so grateful for your participation in my blog, thank you
Can I suggest that you try the audiobook for New Earth? I am not able to be mindful and in the present 100% of the time, but I did learn and get a great deal of practice by listening to New Earth rather than reading it (eventually I had the chapters on shuffle with other music so I would get “surprise lessons”). I am touched by everything I have read so far on your blog and look forward to reading more. Your honesty and willingness to share is a gift that I thank you for.
Hey Jamborobyn… thank you so much for such a lovely comment. It never ocurred to get an audiobook, although I suspect concentration might drift off somewhere. It’s certainly worth a try
Agree. Concentration does drift in and out with the audiobook but surprisingly, I still took in the information with less resistance than reading. It didn’t take long for mindfulness to be my automatic response to the sound of Tolle’s voice which is the bonus I’m telling you about. It’s possible to learn it before you understand a single word.
Most surprising to find out that I don’t have to agree with something or give it my full attention for it to have an effect.
Anyway, I look forward to reading more from you soon. Take care.
Hi Cat!! 🙂
I’ve had an incredibly stress-filled day doing things I don’t normally do — getting out, interacting w/others, etc. I wanted to comment on something you wrote but my concentrate is shot to pieces. I had to read the last four paragraphs over and over again and I still don’t think I know exactly what you said. (Sorry, about that!!) Normally at times like these I do not comment at all.
However, since you ended your post with a photo of Jack, I just had to say thanks for letting us see Jack once again. It was so good to see him the last time you showed a photo of him (I don’t think I commented, but did think it) b/c when I first found your blog Jack was sick. So glad he’s good!! So glad you have him!!
God bless you both!!
Many thanks, Kathy. That’s exactly how I can get when reading.. zero concentration. I appreciate you commenting. Jack is a fab little dog and very friendly. He is still apparently sick with liver problems. I won’t allow them to do a biopsy, so we can never be 100% sure. The vet is almost certain he has a tumour within his liver. I did start to feed him a liver cleansing diet for dogs, which I researched online. Within days of eating it. he wanted to walk again and we haven’t really looked back! I stay away from the vets while he’s active, but will take him for blood tests before Christmas. I’m touched you remembered him *big smiles*
Just writing to say I’m here listening. I hope you will be able to find some peace and regain your focus. I love the picture of the path. I hope it’s somewhere you can frequent.
London sounds like New York City, which I can take only in small doses. Thanks for the smile, Jack 🙂
Thanks Rising, the walk is only 10minutes from where I live. It is actually next to a very busy public pathway…looks can be deceiving, eh!
Great photos…I love seeing Jack and happy you have a sweet friend in him.
I’m thinking about mental health (illness) labels and being mindful. It interesting to consider them together. You brought them both up in this post. To identify or label what your mental health issue is can be empowering, as you said, it can give you access to tools and support and gives you a way to communicate about your “problem”.
Something I’ve noticed for myself is when I hear myself using a label like “depression” when I’m in it, starts to feel stifing, or like I lose track of what that means. So I’ve tried this: when I find myself thinking I’m depressed, I ask myself to describe it. By describing in I get more connected in the present moment to what is actually going on. What are all the bits that make up the experience of depression. Doing this creates a bigger space around it and helps me feel that I’m not just the depression. I have found that depression is not one thing, but rather a constellation of things….for me it’s usually fatigue, constant negative thinking, hopelessness, stuckness, powerlessness, irritability, low self esteem, inability to feel inspired or to have a sense of larger purpose, and there are other things as well….Usually a few of these things will predominate. Other times a different combination will predominate. By seeing the different parts of the whole ball called depression, I feel a little more empowered. Usually there is something I can take action on. Instead of depression being the vague big tangled ball that I’m stuck inside of, it is something I “HAVE” and it’s not all of who I am.
Anyways, it’s through describing – in as much detail that I can – what I’m actually experiencing when I’m depressed that seems to be putting mindfulness into practice. Just sticking with the label “depression” feels like a dead end.
Blessings to you and may you continue to walk those beautiful paths with your companion Jack.
Just thought I would add that another blogger just wrote about the topic of diagnosis and whether or not is it helpful….you might find it interesting.
Her blog is at extralongtail.wordpress.com
Thanks Gel, I did have a read…. very interesting
Hi Gel…. sometimes people say things that bring about a huge shift in awareness. What you say sounds very helpful. Contemplating ‘living in the moment’, I tend to think along the lines of absorbing/embracing the more pleasant kind of things, rather than being fully aware of our depression. Next time I feel overwhelmed, I will try to look at the bigger picture.
Thank you, Gel
Love that quote. I’m losing faith in diagnoses. It seems far to reliant on who your psychiatrist is and how they’re feeling themselves that day. Did I say that? Cynical aren’t I? I wonder what diagnosis that would get me. Meanwhile love the pic of Jack. Now he must do wonders for your MH. 😉
Hi Cate. I would agree and under the NHS, Psychiatrists performance can be extremely poor. They’ve not got much to work for, they get excellent pay whether we like em or not.
Hi Cat, it seems to me like you are picking up the peices of your broken heart and putting them back together again in a much better way. When we are doing this we don’t always realise it and see the progress we are making. Though many people can advise us the hard work is always down to us. I find that I have great patience with others but not a lot with myself, I want total healing and I want it now… but is that realistic? Its our pain that drives us forward and we become better able to help others because of what we have been through. Don’t worry about time, it will take as long as it takes, you are moving forward my friend and I for one am proud of your courage and compassion for others, despite your pain.
I just love the support and input I get from my fellow-bloggers. What you say is so true, Athena; I am picking up the pieces of a broken heart and SHOULD be proud of that. Easier said than done when we are more inclined to feel impatient and disheartened.
Thank you so much for your kind comment, it really makes me sit up and realise the difference between back then and now.
I love this. And your dog is adorable.
Thank you Borderlion
That last quote resonated with me. Here’s what I wrote about that recently, as it is apropos:
“Knowing that I’m One and Many at the same time means that I’m insane, outsane, unsane, and sane—and none of those mental states, conditions, or views. Knowing the Truth about Myself gives great clarity to My life. I could consider Myself sane and deny insanity; but then, isn’t that just like Me to deny what I truly am.”
Thank you, Eric
Been thinking about you, Cat. Hope all is well with you. Please keep us updated on all that is going on. May you enjoy countless seasons of love.
Awe thank you so much. Lately has been a little difficult….well, if the truth be known, it’s been ruddy awful. Thankfully, today I am beginning to feel a bit better. For me, the ruminating anxiety is the real killer. I am so touched by your message. How are you doing? I have read a couple of your posts recently, but couldn’t comment. Punishment issues are really triggering for me. I can usually deal with it, but not so good when I’m feeling down.
How I strive to remove labels on my blog and continue on my learning journey by reading from experts like you, Cat. Recently in workshop on BPD I am taking as a relative or close friend to someone who suffers BPD, I am seeing glimpses of me in many of those “labels” and the fine line and struggle to live in the present. I imagine there may be a part that senses relief when there is finally a name for feeling the way a person is feeling but that should stay on us as a “shingle” labeling us…it should be used, as you are doing so beautifully, too learn about it, to move through the darkness at times, to embrace the pain other times, and finally walk towards more clarity (light). For the first time this year I am learning differently with this workshop…rather than take it at an academic college, I am finding much more truth and understanding walking through the pain…seeing glimpses of me in certain situations. It makes me feel more in touch with me so I can humbly try to accompany my loved one but also my brave lovely youths who reach out at my work. Thank you so much for sharing this piece and I do so love the images as well…I visited London many moons ago in my late 20’s. Cheryl-Lynn
I think there is a fine line between fitting into labels and educational growth. The workshop sounds productive and enlightening. As always, thanks for your encouraging words.
Wow.. just wow! I accidentally found your blog and started reading from the bottom up (I always do this) and just had to say that I wish I had your courage and insight. I have been a self diagnosed functioning introvert with several “issues” for years. It is exhausting. I have never been diagnosed by a Dr. with anything except depression and anxiety and I am sure that is because I have avoided therapy and psychiatrists. I took up blogging to try to heal myself. Denial is my friend….I can’t wait to read the rest of your posts!!!!
Awe, thank you so much, it is always nice when someone relates to things I write. I have not been diagnosed introvert, but that most certainly runs through my MH.
We know ourselves better than anyone, so self-diagnosis is usually fairly accurate. In the beginning, I used to hide many symptoms just in case they locked me up. Like you, I was also in so much denial over just how bad things had become! I found my courage through blogging and do believe I would not be healing so quickly if it were not for fellow bloggers.
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, appreciated 😉
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