IBS Irritable Bowel Syndrome and me
I suffer with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Sometimes it’s just not present in symptoms, other times it is almost debilitating due to the pain the stomach spasms cause.
This was my stomach a few nights ago in the photo. I laid all night with a soothing hot water bottle across my gut. I was stressed and run down from the dental appointments and mouth infection I had from a root canal treatment that week. Not just that, but other stressors too. And it is usually stress that brings it on for me. A sudden bloating of the gut, pain in the lower gut to one side, a feeling like the gut it going to blow up it expands so rigorously. It also flares up if I get a bout of depression come on.
Other times I might get it because I ate too much garlic, onion or fatty foods or drank fizzy beer or coffee or some other food/drink triggers.
More of my posts including problems with IBS CLICK HERE …….Continue reading What IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) can look and feel like…
If you don’t want to read about my mental health improvements, then just read the second half of this blog; it might surprise you…
Anyone who has read my books, been friends with me or followed my blog posts/facebook or twitter account, will know just how much I have improved my mental health over the past few years. If you don’t, CLICK HERE for a snippet of what I was like in 2009. I had many debilitating effects from BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), OCD, anxiety, paranoia and depression.
I have improved no end since then, but I have already written about all that before, so I am going to concentrate on the past year alone and where I still need to improve.
For me, I need to be more responsible for myself and less impulsive with drinking and spending so that I can do my counselling course to the best of my abilities and pay my bills and have better health.
I have been in group psychoanalytic therapy for a year now, and am just about to start my third year as a BACP counselling student. After six weeks away from my group therapy, I went back on Wednesday to a great session. The therapist told me that I have come a long way since she met me and that the issues I had over the summer were a few blips. So, I am thinking of major improvements just during the one year in group, like:
- I have been having ‘days off drinking’ – I was regaining some willpower over that.
- I got to group sessions in the last year
- My time keeping was getting better
- I got to my counselling studies at college last year, did all my homework and passed the course
- I am much less angry
- Less anger = less self-destructive behaviours
- I have been eating more regularly
- I have been taking responsibility and looking after my cat, hamster and tropical fish really well.
- And more!
SO, if I can do all of the above again, and on top:
- Have more days off drinking
- Increase my willpower and decrease impulsive behaviours
- Even better time keeping
- Keep up with the harder level counselling course (level 4)
- Eat even better and more regularly
- Go to bed earlier at more regular times and get up earlier – routine every day
- Start to exercise – I have a bike!
Now for the surprising bit. Well, I say surprising, but in all honesty, I could see it coming…
When I split up with a previous boyfriend many years ago, I kept in touch on the odd occasion via text message. In one text he said something poignant. He apparently missed my moods, unpredictability and well sex, because our relationship was built upon that in the first place. He said that his girlfriend was boring, as she was just ‘normal’. Now he and I had issues when together, for many reasons, but he felt the wrath of my tongue on many occasions and I was in a mess, mentally, at the time. But, he still missed that unpredictability…
I was reminded of this a few nights ago, when having a serious chat with Chris on the phone. He and I do not have a proper relationship any more yet still see each other because we are very close – it has been eight years after all! I called for the chat because he has been so fed up lately about having to spend all his weekends with me. I compromised a few months ago and suggested we see each other at weekends only and he can have the week to himself either at his home or seeing whoever he likes without issue from me. It was working… but still not enough. He wants his freedom. “I’m fifty eight years old” he says. Well, yes, and I am forty years old, so what? He’s was married for 20 years, I have never been, so what? So what to all of it. The only thing worth thinking about here is the present and the future.
The other reason is that on many occasions he predicts I am going to cause trouble, when I am not. It is ingrained in him to walk on eggshells still, at times, and pre-empt my reactions when events occur. Thing is, I am a lot better now, and do not react badly like I used to, most of the time. He actually causes arguments and makes me react sometimes, just because he is almost goading me to.
So, he starts comparing himself to my ex as above, and said that he knew how he must feel because although I am better and that is a good thing, he misses the impulsive, unpredictable me. He preferred me, it seems, as a BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) nymph even with the problems!
I think they get used to the anger, aggression and impulsiveness. Either that or it’s just that the sex was so good that it was worth all the shit. Who knows… but, obviously, I am not as interesting as I was. That was hard to hear. OK my sex drive is at zero, most likely because of the Citalopram (a common side effect) but which is better?
I must admit that when I began taking medications for my mental health my fears were that I would become boring, lose my …….Continue reading This blog may surprise you – Mental health, mental illness, BPD, depression, Citalopram, sex, recovery and relationships…
Me (Amanda Green) as a young child
So, here’s a photo of me as a young child…
And an excerpt from ‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me’ …
‘Many doctors have asked me about my childhood and my earliest memories. And I always told them the same thing: one of my earliest memories was the feeling of being lost.
Even with such a large family it’s possible to feel that way. In fact I often wonder if I’ve always been lost; in one way or another. Perhaps those early memories are a metaphor for my life.
I was in a department store that first time I felt truly lost. Mum and Dad hadn’t noticed me wandering off. Next thing, I remember standing there on my own. I was thinking maybe they’d forgotten me. Where were they? Maybe I did something wrong? But what did I do? Finally I was approached by a stranger. She used the tannoy; there is a lost child in the toy department. Did she mean me? Was I lost?
Then we waited.
It must’ve only been a couple of minutes but it seemed like hours before they came to get me. My dad looked flustered, asking me why I’d just wandered off; Oh Amanda, never do that again. But seeing him there all I felt was joy, overwhelming joy that I wasn’t lost anymore. I was found. I was safe. For now.
The next time I remember feeling lost was my introductory appointment at my first school, a few weeks before I started. Of course now it’s a haze in my memory. So long ago. But I still remember the feeling of being lost.
We remember only fragments of childhood
I was standing in the classroom, a room full of children, strangers. They were all looking at me. I was a lost child again. What was happening? What had I done? That’s when I saw them – brightly patterned pots in the middle of each table and me in that moment thinking the only thing that mattered was what was inside them. I could hear the teacher talking to Mum but in that moment the nerves dissolved to nothing. I had set my mind to those pots with their colours. I guess I stopped being lost, lost instead in the colour – the possibility of what I was to become.
When I think about it now I see how, like so many moments in life, the ability to climb inside a moment, to be absorbed by something so completely was a way of not thinking; of not seeing. You see, while I was just being a normal little girl, there was always that shadow over our family. Maybe that was what made us different, not that I would have understood it. I just always knew my mum was sick. In fact my mum had catatonic schizophrenia.
But all I knew was she wasn’t the same as other mums. And that meant I wasn’t the same as the other children.
Did the teachers know?
Did they know that big fancy word for what was wrong with Mum? Could they see it? …….Continue reading A photo of me, as a child, and an excerpt of my memoir ‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me’ depicting that time……
My think different t shirt
I watched the whole series of ‘Filthy Rich and Homeless’ on ‘London Live’ last night, and learnt even more about homelessness than I knew already.
The programme was based around five rich volunteers (ranging from 21 – 39 years old) who gave up their money and possessions to put themselves in the position of being homeless. They endured 3 nights on the streets of London by themselves, apart from a visit from one of the organisers at some point and the camera crew were with them some of the time.
The next 3 nights were spent with a ‘buddy’. The buddy was either homeless themselves or they had been homeless in the past. Each one of them very different in their circumstances and both male and female.
The last 3 nights, for four of the volunteers, was spent in a London hostel.
The whole experiment unveiled the realities of homelessness, the types of people who were homeless (a pregnant woman, an academic, alcoholics, drug addicts…) and how they felt and survived on the streets or in hostels etc.
On the other hand, it highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the volunteers. We saw some very positive changes in some people, like Ravi, who has been money driven since his dad left the family home leaving Ravi to become the breadwinner for his mother. He was so money driven in the beginning he couldn’t understand how anyone could be on the streets and homeless. He thought they should all be like him and be able to pick themselves up and get a job. But, the point is that we are all individuals, with individual issues and traits, and most people do not choose to be on the streets, or if they find themselves on the streets, they can accidently get themselves into bad things like drink or drugs. Not just this, but there’s a serious lack of jobs in the UK and a person needs a fixed address to get a job, and many more things. Placed in a ‘wet’ hostel (a hostel where alcohol is allowed) called Arlington House, he was shocked by the realities of alcoholism and befriended one of the Irish men there. Ravi’s dad was a drinker.
Clementine Stewart was the biggest let down! At 21 she is a spoilt brat (daughter of Alastair Stewart) who even at the end talking about helping out homeless, she said she was too busy with her social life and eight ponies… Need I say more. However, I shall as she was so annoying and such a cheat! She asked for help from presenter Fern Britton, who let her into her apartment to clean up and gave her £20 when they were supposed to be making their own way without money and she even left the hostel because she was ‘bored’ and got her boyfriend to take her out for lunch and a glass of wine!
However, it was an interesting programme. I was touched by young Thomas (also twenty one) as he learnt so much, really got into his challenge and he was humbled by his experience. He also keeps in touch with some of the people he met in Aldgate hostel.
Charles was another contestant who we didn’t see a lot of. He was trying to decide whether to leave his dads farm. His dad was totally ignorant and suggested that homeless people are criminals and squatters who he would never want in his house. Personally, I could see why Charles wanted to leave his father’s home!
We simply must help stop the stigma of homelessness and educate people like Charles’ dad in the programme to understand that homeless does not equal lazy people or criminals. If I think of myself without support of any kind or mum and dad, or Chris, when I was in the darkest places a few years ago, I could well have ended up homeless too. I was impulsive and unable to look after money, I was totally depressed and suicidal at times and didn’t have any sense of who I was and my purpose in life. A breakdown, a break up, a redundancy, mental illness… there are so many reasons people end up on the streets homeless.
Females are more vulnerable on the streets, with sexual abuse and introduction to drugs being two of the worst things they face, so they do have priority over men when it comes to getting help and it is very sad that men get little help. Things need to change. I think things are getting a little better but it’s about time more people realised that poverty and homelessness does exist in the UK – in big numbers.
I wrote my book ‘Behind Those Eyes’ to try to help break the stigma surrounding homelessness – take a look on Amazon and I have set it as a FREE download from 27th August 2014 for a few days – I hope it helps break the stigma with a few more people …….Continue reading We need to reduce the stigma surrounding the homeless. Many of us are surrounded by homelessness yet choose to be ignorant. ‘Filthy Rich and Homeless’ on London Live…
So, we have come to the last day of my ‘Six days to mindfulness and better relaxation – day six is all about using all our five senses consciously (if you are blessed with all five senses and if not, use all those that you do have )
I want you to think about everything that you smell, taste, feel/touch, see and hear today. This is a hard one in some ways as we often do not have time to take in absolutely everything, but our senses are there all the time if we wish to ‘plug in’ to them.
- So, really take time to taste anything you eat or drink or chew
- Take in all the smells around you
- Really look around at your surroundings – not to the point of danger if you are driving, but you know what I mean
- Listen out for any sounds, as they are always there
- And finally, be aware of the feeling of everything you come into contact with
Go back to my earlier posts to get the inspiration for some ways to use your senses and have a wonderful day! VIEW THEM ALL BY CLICKING HERE
How do you feel emotionally?
Really connecting with our five senses helps us to enjoy our time and surroundings and allows us to connect with our world more fully.
I would also like you to be aware of your breathing today, connecting with your own rhythm and your own being
Seals and wildlife
The more you practise these mindful techniques, the easier it will become for you to reach out to each ‘sense’.
We can change the way we are feeling because our senses are linked with emotions, so if we wish to feel more relaxed, we can use lavender oils or something that is relaxing for us, like eating a certain food or going somewhere beautiful in the fresh air. If we want to feel uplifted, we can watch a great film, listen to our favourite music or take a bicycle ride in the sunshine.
Everyone will have their own ‘comfort’ space or taste or smells and so on, and if we are aware of them, then we can use them to our benefit in everyday life.
So, I hope you have enjoyed the six day journey of my simple ‘sense’ mindfulness techniques, and that you feel better for practising …….Continue reading Day six (the last day) of my ‘Six days to simple mindfulness and relaxation’ – today is all about using all the senses throughout the day…
My plants outdoor August 2014
So, we have come to day five of my six days to mindfulness and better relaxation – day five is all about what we smell (if you are blessed with the sense of smell)
I want you to think about everything that you smell today. This is one that we do tend to notice more than other senses, as we come across many pungent smells, but we still do not notice everything automatically, so you still have some work to do!
Some obvious ones:
- Toast burning
- Coffee brewing
- Passing wind (sorry but it’s true)
- Grass after it’s been cut
- Fresh smell after it’s rained
- Everything you eat
So, some are nice smells, others not so nice, but taking notice of all of them is what is key here.
So concentrate, wherever you go. I want you to really smell everything. Things like…
- The smell inside your car
- The smell of your freshly laundered top as you put it on
- Reach out to smell flowers
- Really inhale the smell of your food
Other half of my outdoor plants August 2014
Anything at all that you smell – and you will smell many things during a whole day!
How do these smells make you feel?
We can change the way we are feeling because our senses are linked with emotions, so if we wish to feel more relaxed, we can use lavender oils or something that is relaxing for us. If we want to feel uplifted, we can make coffee or wash with fruity shower gels. We may have our own ‘comfort’ smells and if we are aware of them, then we can use them to our benefit. …….Continue reading Day five of my ‘Six days to simple mindfulness and relaxation’ – today is all about the sense of smell…
The sound of flowing water and ducks quacking
So, here goes with day four of my six days to mindfulness and better relaxation – day four is all about what we hear (if you are blessed with the sense of hearing)
I want you to think about everything that you hear today – and this is a huge one!
It might be:
- Alarm clock
- Phone ringing
- People talking in the background
- Conversation with someone
- Cat meowing
- Dog barking
- Children playing
These are fine, but I want you to concentrate on much more than this. I want you to really listen out for ALL noises. If you try hard enough, you will hear things that you would not normally even notice. Things like…
- Birds singing
- Faint train sounds
- Humming of the computer
- A plane going by overhead (wonder where they’re going?)
- The ‘pitter patter’ of rain on the windows
- Even the lack of sound when it comes to silence
Anything at all that you hear – and you will hear many things during a whole day!
A computer humming or a cat purring
How do these sounds make you feel?
Our senses are linked with emotions so if we eat something we really like, we may feel comforted, if we hear a slow song we really like, we may feel soothed. If we hear fast, loud music, we may feel energised. If we see a beautiful scene or flower, we may feel uplifted. And so on…
Really connecting with our five senses helps us to enjoy our time and surroundings and allows us to connect with our world more fully.
The more you practise these mindful techniques, the easier it will become for you to reach out to each ‘sense’. …….Continue reading Day four of my ‘Six days to simple mindfulness and relaxation’ – all about sound and hearing…
I must say I am struggling this week with the news of Robin Williams suicide. I am so sorry that he felt unable to deal with the recent progression of Parkinson’s disease due to his depression and anxiety. What a lot to deal with! I cannot imagine what I would do in those circumstances and I cherish what I have, but when I hear of suicide it is with me every day and despite my planning of my 6 day mindfulness plan, I am struggling. I am now missing my group therapy which is the whole month of August! I know it is more than this news for me, as I have more issues than that, but it is definitely a trigger. It is so easy to give up yet so hard to keep going, even though I often feel ‘recovered’. But lives lost have to be a message to those of us who suffer with depression to carry on and not go down that slippery slope. I so wish that Robin and so many others could have won their battles with depression too. I hope that many more will seek help and support as a result of this sad passing. xxx
The sense of touch
Welcome to day three of my six days to mindfulness and better relaxation – day three is all about touch, which we should all be able to participate in.
I want you to think about everything that you touch today.
It might be:
- Stroking the cat
- Stroking the dog
- Your hair
- Soft dressing gown
- Slippers on your feet
- A cool duvet as you go to sleep
- A tin of food
- A glass
- A mug of hot tea
- An apple
- Computer keyboard
- Toilet cleaner bottle
- Washing the dishes
- Having a bath
Anything at all that you touch – and you will touch many things during a whole day!
A rough wall and the tread of concrete underfoot
Titus my cat and his soft fur
However, I want you to go further than what you touch by hand. I want you to think about how your whole body ‘feels’ whilst
- Sat in a chair (comfortable, back ache, posture, hard chair…)
- Sat on the sofa (soft, cosy…)
- Sat in the car
- Lying in bed
- At work
- Laying on grass in a park
- The wind blows through your hair
- The sun shines warm on your face
- Walking on hard concrete or spongy grass
Whilst you are doing anything during the day, are you
Lastly, I would like you to sit comfortably, or lay down preferably, and for a few minutes, just concentrate on how you feel from your toes up to your head, one limb or area at a time. Slowly. Let your back or bum sink into the chair, bed or whatever you are on. Let your arms relax as you take notice of them. Let your head go heavy. Once you have found a relaxed position, just stay there for a few minutes and try to keep focussed on how you feel.
DONE! So if you did all of that, well done! I hope you feel more relaxed!
The more you practise these mindful techniques, the easier it will become for you to reach out to each ‘sense’ …….Continue reading Day three of my ‘Six days to simple mindfulness and relaxation’ – today is all about touch and feeling…
fruit smoothie and acidophilus
So, here’s day two of my six days to mindfulness and better contentment – day two is all about taste, so let’s go…
I want you to think about everything that you taste today (obviously if you are blessed with the sense of taste)
Everything you eat or drink, whether it’s:
- Fizzy water
- Ice cream
A nice cup of tea
vegan chocolate cake
The idea is that you take in ‘everything’ that you taste, in detail. (hopefully healthy stuff, despite my mixed list there!)
Really ‘taste’ everything and enjoy the flavour. Eat or drink ‘mindfully’
This can even be good for eating issues and can be a great comfort for us generally.
If it’s a drink, is it warm, cold or hot? Is it strongly flavoured or mild?
If it’s food, what texture is it? How does it taste? Is it delicious? If not, why not? Try something else.
Hopefully this is easy for you.
Really tasting our food, chewing it properly, enjoying it – it is all good for our digestion, our feeling of fullness, our comfort within, and it can be soothing and uplifting. So, just try to concentrate on what you taste today and I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I will, as I will do this too. …….Continue reading Day two of my ‘Six days to simple mindfulness and relaxation’ – all about taste…