Tag Archives: mental health

Little One Run Free

I had cause to use one of my favourite bombshell phrases at work today. I describe it as a “bombshell phrase” because when I voice it, there is always a reaction. Some people look blank at me thinking I am some kind of scary revolutionary. Others look at me as if I am some kind of inspired prophet and speak sacred truths and wise proverbs.

The “bombshell phrase” I voiced was “WE ARE NOT BATTERY CHICKENS”.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Both the person I addressed that phrase to, and those around me all seemed to marvel and be comforted by this.

But not long afterwards I was back at my desk and receiving cold glares because I had been absent for longer than it takes to make a coffee or use the bathroom.

I arrive at my work early every single day and stay late every single day. I never take my full lunch hour. I sit at my desk and work solidly. I don’t have my personal phone with me, I just work. I know I am doing a lot of work. I have a very good reason for not being at my desk for half an hour. A very good reason. If my colleagues were interested, they could find out the full story from HR about how I just happened to be in the right place at the right time when a colleague was in need of some human kindness.

I am not going to worry. I know something that not everyone appreciates – when you do what is right, when you do what is kind, when you do what is good – it is noticed. It is always noticed, even when you don’t think anyone does see.

What kind of people do you think will live on this earth forever?

The Passage Of Time And Trauma

In my thoughts this past few days has been the events of seven years ago. I don’t want those memories in my thoughts – but they persist. Yet I have felt mostly safe this year – with family and long-time friends.

The first night I was here, some of my family ended up having a weird conversation – not about me – in which I overheard them using words that are particularly hard for me to hear right now. I heard words like “rape” and “battered” and “police” and “attacker”…and I froze.

I could not move, I could not ask who they were talking about, why they were having this conversation. I just froze. It passed. It was just a conversation they were having about someone else, perhaps something they saw in the news, and they were just forgetting I was standing there, and that the date of my attack was hovering and bringing everything back to my mind.

But on the whole, I think it has been easier this year. Partly because of my job change I think. When I was dealing with scores of patients and weary with traumatic memories gripping me like a vice – it was hard going. But this sitting and staring at a screen malarkey – it takes zero emotional effort.

The passage of time does help to a degree when it comes to trauma – it is always going to be there – but it won’t always be quite as awful. This year it is not quite as awful. I am just sleepy tired more than anything. But not quite so on edge as normal. That has to be a good sign.

The Accumulation Of Emotional Tiredness

At the end of last week, I felt that sludgy emotional tiredness that gives you a lump in your throat and brings tears to your eyes with the smallest prompt.

There has been a lot stretching me lately. A new job, lots to learn, lots of new people, I don’t know them, they don’t know me. The enormous emotional and time demands on Jack, and an increase of work for me as we communicate with volunteers who are working with all their heart right now.

I realized….that tiredness, being at the point when I feel ready to break down in tears just because I cannot figure out the coding for an invoice….it is a sign I need some extra rest.

I did try….I really did…but somehow, it has not worked. I have slept well. I think I just genuinely feel heartbroken about what is happening right now….and in some respects, it is hard to care about coding invoices when there are millions of people who are displaced, frightened, bewildered and traumatised right now.

Jack cooked for me last night….and it was actually very nice. He is going to read this and ask why I made it sound like a surprise that his cooking worked out. The truth is….I could fill an entire blog with stories of Jack’s misadventures in the kitchen.

Human Fragility And Fortitude

I have been thinking about what to write about the events of the past few days. If you are like me, you have kept an eye on the news, but have tried not to sit for hours watching every development minute by minutes – because it is truly frightful.

I spent most of the weekend with a close friend of mine who is terminally ill, and yet is showing amazing strength of heart despite her prognosis. Jack is tied up with lots of phone-calls and online meetings. He speaks Russian and Romanian fluently, and is busy in talks with all sorts of people who are making decisions.

I was able to help my friend to enjoy the snowdrops that are growing just outside her current accommodation. We talked about a famous short story called “Snowdrops”, written by Leslie Norris. Many of us studied this particular story in depth for our GCSE English coursework and exams.

The story which is told through the eyes of a young schoolboy has profound themes – death, grief, human fragility and fortitude, and other moving undercurrents – and the metaphoric allusion to snowdrops. I am not doing a great job of summing it up, but it is a story that has stayed with me for the past twenty years.

Human fragility and fortitude. I think a lot of people were shaken by the Pandemic. Facing unprecedented restrictions freedoms, anxiety over finances, social isolation, and of course for many the suffering of actually being effected severely health-wise by Covid-19, or losing a loved one to the virus. Disagreements with loved ones about vaccines. Frustration with those who seemed to be contributing to the spread of the virus by not following measures put in place to limit it. Cabin fever, leading to increased stress and irritation at home. Outrage about injustices that via social media were witnessed internationally and provoked huge outcry.

It has been a tough two years for many many people – there has been a general feeling of weariness. From around mid-January, I noticed that a lot of people seemed to relax here in the UK with regards to Covid. It may well be due to statistics showing lower numbers of cases and vaccine efficacy, but I think it also had a lot to do with people being anxious prior to Christmas because they did not want their plans to see loved ones to be cancelled, and then once the holidays were over, they seemed to not care anymore. I also noticed a lot of people seizing the opportunity to book holidays abroad as soon as travel restrictions were lifted. Perhaps they hope that two weeks on the beach in the sunshine will help them recover from a challenging two years.

But now….all of a sudden…world events have taken another turn, and I have noticed a very mixed response. Oddly, I have heard some who seem to have no interest in what is going on, and are only concerned whether their football team will win their match at the weekend. I have heard conversations about parties, holidays, shopping trips, meals out at restaurants….and all sorts of recreational events…and some have reacted to anybody mentioning the situation in Ukraine with “Oh, I am not watching any of the news, I don’t want to think about it”.

Although I can understand some of the feelings that might prompt someone to say that, it is also a little concerning that they are giving an impression of indifference to the plight of millions, yet maintaining their enthusiasm for football or Netflix. Yet, I am aware that many people are genuinely exhausted by the demands on them during the Pandemic, and cannot cope with feeling of something so awful.

There are many others of course who despite feeling rather helpless, are deeply concerned with the events in Ukraine, and many are doing what is in their power to help the many hundreds of thousands (or more) who have fled from their homes.

There are fierce winds blowing and shaking people, just the way that late winter freezing winds batter those delicate snowdrops. Humans are so beautiful, so fragile, yet have such an amazing ability to show strength in a hostile environment.

A Walk To Remember

I was so tired after a long day yesterday. I climbed into bed, set my alarm and noticed a flashing image. I don’t often read news stories that randomly appear through my search engine. But I quite liked this one – whether it is 100% reliable or not.

Travel, Destination, Peak, Adventure

It is about a gentleman from Swansea who was broken – and made what seems like a rash decision to start walking…around all the coastlines that make up the UK. Almost four years later…and he seems far from broken.

And…Breathe!

I can process a lot of secular stuff. I have to. So much work to do!!! But I also have to switch off. And I don’t just mean sleep. I need to let my heart breathe.

A Tree, Nature, Heart, Cherry, Flowers

I find work very satisfying and enjoyable. Even when it is stressful, there is also a sense of reward.

There are certain things which really lift my heart (besides Julie Andrews films) and I need to schedule more time for them. At the moment much of my truly free time is spent curling up next to Jack. It feels good, it feels wonderful.

Maybe because of the Pandemic, and maybe because of a general sense of wellbeing, I am just not making enough time to get out and do the things that refresh me.

But there is time ahead. There is. I am looking forward to spring and summer – that’s the time when my heart breathes most. Until then….curling up with Jack is very sweet.

Treasuring Gems Of Happiness

Have you ever watched one of those swashbuckling films featuring the quest for an immensely priceless treasure?

Well…have you thought about compiling a treasure chest to hoard, collect, safeguard precious memories of happy times with people who have made life wonderful?

The last suggestion on the MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT post I published on Monday is to have a scrapbook or a journal containing both positive thoughts and some of the positive experiences you have enjoyed.

I have a few physical scrapbooks or journals. One is full of the life-changing experiences I had out in West Africa. It is so thrilling to read and look at all the little souvenirs I collected there. I ought to prepare a post giving you a closer look at it actually. It is quite a treasure in itself.

Something else I have (and please don’t laugh at me!!) is a book of all the text messages I sent and received to and from Goldfinch. My old phone would no longer charge, and I realized I was going to lose all those conversations. So….I wrote them all down before my phone died completely. And….I truly truly treasure them. I am so deeply grateful that Goldfinch came into my life and I put a high value on how much he helped me at such a difficult time.

I also consider my blog a little bit like a scrapbook full of happy memories. It has definitely made me smile to go back over some of my past posts, especially those sharing the people and experiences I treasure most in my life.

How about you? Do you have a treasure chest full of memories and experiences? Collecting gems of happiness may prove to be more valuable that you could ever imagine, especially during a mental health emergency.

Mementos With Memories

The next suggestion on the list of items you may want to include in your MENTAL FIRST AID KIT is mementos to remind you of people who love you.

I don’t possess many mementos that have sentimental value. I am not one for clutter. My favourite possessions are generally dresses. I have never really been the type to get attached to “things”. But there are a couple of possessions that make me smile because of the memories that they stir.

One is my glass frog:

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Aaaah….my glass frog has been with me for twenty years now. Considering it is so small and delicate, it is remarkable that it has survived. It brings back memories of my trip to France with Mumma and our trip to the mountain village of Èze while we were touring the French Riviera.

The mountain village of Èze on the French Riviera

My glass frog is one of the very few possessions I have taken with me whenever I have moved. It brings back wonderfully happy memories, and it is also just incredible cute!

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I am not, absolutely not, one for cuddly toys. However….I guess I make an exception for the teddy that Goldfinch hid inside my suitcase. Isn’t he a sweetie!

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So they are my two sentimental possessions that I keep because they remind me of people so dear to my heart. They are a sweet part of my MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT, and they do make me smile even on a cloudy day.

Comfort Penned Thousands Of Years Ago

Now not everyone will choose to put comforting and upbuilding scriptures in their MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT. It’s up to you what you put in your kit remember, it’s supposed to help you in a mental health emergency.

After I was assaulted and left for dead, and then taken to hospital for urgent medical treatment, I was at the same time bombarded with questions from police and hospital staff. It was awful. Absolutely awful. At the time, I was alone (well apart from everyone buzzing around me) and I did not know who I could call. I have already mentioned in a previous post that my closest friends and sister were not available when I had wanted to talk to them the day before. Now I had this extra horrific challenge, I felt so desperately alone.

Ambulance

But something rather strange happened to me. The mind is a funny old thing. Sometimes, we are plagued by unwanted thoughts. But when I was in one of the most intensely stressful situations of my life, feeling desperately alone, not knowing who I could turn to for support…my mind began to recall words that were penned three thousand years ago.

I could recall every word of Psalm 139 – every single word. It was as if a voice, not actually my voice, was reciting those beautiful words to me. I particularly remember the power that certain parts of Psalm 139 imparted.

Verses 15,16 reminded me that I was not alone, and there was somebody who knew me better than anybody else, than any other friend. He had known me since before my mumma knew I even existed. He had watched me developing hidden away, as just a few cells multiplying miraculously.

Verse 12 told me that even though this seemed like the darkest day of my life, and even though the stress over the past two years centered around Jack and the bullying, harassment and trolling from all these thoughtless people had darkened my outlook and made me feel despair….well, to my Creator, the darkness that that had encaged me was not too much for Him. He could banish the darkness. He could see clearly, as clear as daylight, how to bring me through this trial.

I also remember receiving a card from a colleague who shared with me some very sweet thoughts of her own, and a scripture that she said had comforted her. In fact, I thought about that word “crushed” a lot. I had been crushed by the oppressive effect of slander and malicious gossip, cruelty and coldness from people I thought were my friends. My colleague shared a scripture in Psalm 34:18 which spoke to my heart. I knew that when I was in one of the worst situations imaginable – laying in a hospital bed after a brutal crime committed against me, I had felt my Creator was extraordinarily close. I felt as if I was wrapped up in His arms.

Since that astonishingly trying and traumatic period of my life, I have added more scriptures to my own personal MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT. But I mentioned those above, because they were the ones that flooded into my mind when I was on my darkest day, and the ones that meant the most as I recovered.

Inspirational Sayings And Encouraging Articles

Whenever I have been through a challenging time, a period when stress is overwhelming or my spirits are very low, I have to admit one of the things that annoys me most is cliches. In addition, I have been through stages when I had become so vulnerable due to chronic emotional exhaustion, that a powerful saying could have a dramatic impact on me.

I tried to explain this latter phenomenon when I wrote about sailing and tacking in the Annabelle Riley series. I was like a boat at times (or a car) that was told by someone else, “look, you are doing things the wrong way, you need to do this instead.” In my vulnerable state, I would effectively try a handbrake turn, drastically pursuing the advice of the person that had given me their wise words, and then finding later down the line, that it was not working. As I became more stable, I realized that with regards to most well-meaning advice, it’s a matter of tacking, or making more minor changes, to make some progress in accord with the prevailing winds, but never forgetting your destination.

Yet there are some sayings that I have carried in my heart, and they do cheer me up on rainy days, or when I know I am starting to feel overwhelmed by a challenge.

These are two of them:

They might not register with you particularly, and that is the thing about inspirational sayings, they are going to be something very much unique to you. So when you are preparing or updating your MENTAL HEALTH FIIRST AID KIT, choose wisely.

As for encouraging articles….well, nowadays, some of the articles or stories I have read over the years and drawn huge encouragement from, I can hardly remember where I originally read them. But I have written about some of them.

I like the stories that impart power. The first story helps me to see that often we are treated harshly, without love, and than can have a profound impact on our esteem and wellbeing. But when we understand how precious we are, it is energizing.

I liked the second story, it does highlight how ridiculous the world economic system is. I won’t say anything more because because with all happening in Glasgow, they look as if they are going to be lynched at some stage over their role in ruining our planet.

I have picked some sayings and stories that have impacted me, and they remind me of who I am and who I am trying to be. Pick sayings and articles that will inspire and encourage you for your MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID KIT.