Category Archives: Mental Health
I have some really great Coping Mechanisms for my Mental Health issues.
Thankfully there are my Family and Friends. I have a great support network, even though I rarely talk directly about my Mental Health to them. It is no secret but I prefer not to burden them, they are aware and they know that sometimes I need extra support.
But Coping Mechanisms are often things you have to do yourself.
For one there is my writing:
- My Judge-Tutor Semple Blog is great for my Mental Health. I enjoy writing about what I enjoy. I also enjoy that it seems to give others some enjoyment. Some of the creative people I have written about have personally thanked me. I’ve received some lovely gifts from one or two. Not to mention preview Pdf copies of comics (I much prefer paper so I often buy what I got for free anyway)!
- I am also working on a few other writing projects, such as a 3 book series of novellas that I plan to publish on Lulu.
I am aware of physical indicators – such as raised body temperature, increased heart rate & breathing prior to a Panic Attack. By being aware of my body I have been able to stave off Panic Attacks effectively, I haven’t had a full Panic Attack in daytime for at least 2 years.
I very often notice my mood swings and can try to regulate them, or at least be aware that after Hyper mood might come Sadness or more often Anger. So, if I feel Hyper at work I e-mail my Team Leader; she is fully aware of my Mental Health issues and is a great help. Telling someone I am experiencing mood swings at least gets it ‘out there’. I mentor people at work & have had to tell them sometimes, ‘I’m experiencing Mood Swings today, if I am less patient than usual and snap at you, please be aware I don’t mean to.” And I have sometimes snapped or been abrupt and colleagues understand because I am open. (I know that doesn’t work everywhere)
I can also feel when Anxiety is building or if I am drifting in to Depression. I have lots of Distraction Techniques:
- I write (as above) to distract myself sometimes.
- I go for walks
- I watch favourite DVDs
- I watch TV shows on Catch Up (BBC iPlayer, 4OD, etc). Usually History, Science or Nature.
I try to look after myself physically. I walk a lot and I eat a varied diet including healthy options alongside things I enjoy. So I eat chocolate as snacks but I eat fruit and nuts/seeds too; which I actually like a lot. I have Arthritis in both my knees so looking after my body helps my knees as well as my Mental Health
But sometimes I neglect myself and resort to bad or Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms.
One of my less harmful Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms is Lego… yes I am being serious. If I am down I buy Lego sets on the spur of the moment. I sometimes spend more than I realistically should on a treat in this manner. It isn’t as bad as when DVDs were my Retail Therapy… I once spent £100.00 in one trip to HMV, then spent more in another shop. At that time I might forget to buy a proper meal for tea but pickup two DVDs in the Supermarket. So this one isn’t too bad compared to the past, I’m getting there on this one.
The one that is still a big issue is Alcohol. I was once diagnosed as Border-Line Alcoholic. Alcoholism is a misunderstood illness. Mine was a coping mechanism for Depression when it started. I don’t drink much at all at home. In June that would be 2 litres of Cider (one 2 litre bottle in one night, my son had one too – it was a treat), maybe 12 cans of Bitter or Lager (at most three in a night more likely 1) and 3 sips of Irish Whiskey – this is for the whole month. In fact that is a high intake month for me, some months are zero.
So most people would say I am not an Alcoholic, I agree – but I a still have a problem. I social drink. I used to avoid going home on the nights my Children were at their Mother’s house. I have custody and the first few times they went to their Mum’s was awful, coming home to an empty house. My Children are very important to me, as are my Grandchildren now I have two of those. My Son is 19 and still lives with me, my Daughter is 24 and married with two Daughters of her own. I would drink 12 or 13 pints three nights a week – every week – to avoid that empty house. Sometimes I would go to a nightclub when the pub shut, with the Barmen as I developed a friendship with them. I was in that pub so often I even got invited to staff parties. I don’t get hangovers so I never missed work due to it and no one could tell I was doing it.
One Unhealthy Coping Mechanism I never do now is pretend to family I went to work but didn’t. I used to get ready for work, take my children to school and walk off towards the bus stop. I’d then go home, but leave the house before my Mother came to provide Childcare.
But this drinking… I find it hard to go to the pub with Work Colleagues and drink responsibly. I have achieved it a few times this year which is great. I managed to go to the pub after work 6 Fridays in a row & average 2 hours with some great colleagues and drink on average 1 pint of Guinness and 2 Diet Cokes (is Diet Pepsi alright?). I am fine when I drink with my best mates, three or four over four hours is now possible and we rarely do that as one lives in Scotland and another in Hong Kong – he finds the commute to Leeds for a pint a bit inconvenient.
But sometimes… like last night… I went out with colleagues. Started OK with two pints in about 180 minutes. Then speeded up. I ditched my Colleagues to go meet my Nephew – to be fair I invited them but the pub was further than they wanted to walk. I should have kept drinking with Colleagues separate to drinking with my Nephew. We sometimes meet up in my local pub for two or three pints and a natter, that is healthy as we both get worries and niggles off our chests. But by combining drinking with Colleagues to more excess than I really want at the moment with meeting up with my Nephew… I drank much more than I like to. At the time I didn’t care and I was doing it just to be drunk.
Today… no hangover I NEVER get them. Guilt. Because I only did it to get drunk. The relaxed socialising with Colleagues stopped and I just wanted to be drunk and not feel lonely. That is a disservice to my Colleagues, to my Son, to my Friends and Family. But most it is a disservice to myself.
But I forgive me, I have to or I will dwell on it, I’ll get Depressed and perhaps wallow. It has happened, it is over now. Next time I have a drink with Colleagues it will be Diet Coke (is Diet Pepsi alright?). Then if I choose to stay out late, it is because I want to spend time with my Colleagues or my Nephew or my Friends or my Son.
A large number of people from all walks of life will have made New Year’s Resolutions. Some will have broken them already.
Many people take such things lightheartedly, others take the process very seriously. There will be some the shrug off failure, some that regret making a resolution, some who downplay success. In other words how well someone does with their resolution and how they feel about it will vary greatly.
I tend not to make resolutions, mostly as I know I am not good at keeping them. Also partly as I don’t have a clue what sort of resolution I could really work on.
I am already trying to increase my fitness and reduce my weight, so I can’t make this a resolution. I’m already re-evaluating my career, so again not really resolution material. And I’m already writing more, so again not really working there.
And I am happy with this.
The thing is when you set yourself a New Year’s Resolution do remember what it means to you. Don’t set it too high if failing will hurt. Don’t set it too low if you really want to be stretched and know that failing is a possibility but trying is worth the risk.
- You set the rules so you get to measure the success
- You can change the rules, they are yours after all
- You can keep your resolution secret
- Failure just means you can try again
- Some success is still a success
Don’t put yourself under pressure if you know pressure is already high enough. But if you made a New Year’s Resolution good luck with it.
Maybe I’ll make one next year…
I had a great childhood, really and truthfully. I had a happy home and loving parents.
My Dad was in the Royal Airforce (RAF) and was often away. So family occasions were important. Christmas was huge… my Dad used to insist we always were all together and we were not allowed to go out and play with friends. The whole day was just family. It was great, I loved it.
When I became a dad I set the same ground rules. We didn’t go anywhere Christmas Day, no one came to our house. If anyone was coming for Christmas Dinner they came Christmas Eve & went home Boxing Day.
It was a bit of silliness, everyone accepted it as a bit of fun.
I even used to fill a rubbish bag with all the wrapping paper and open the back door and just toss it in the general direction of the bin. After all I couldn’t go outside on Christmas Day. My children would giggle and see how close I got it to the bin.
Then my marriage broke down. Thankfully I had custody so I had my children on Christmas Day. But the joke about leaving the house on Christmas Day became real.
I couldn’t step out to put things in the bin. There was a barrier I couldn’t push through. My old jokey approach turned in to a cell.
Don’t get me wrong, part of it I still thought was fine. If I’m having Christmas guests I still think Christmas Eve to Boxing Day is the way to go. It just gets much more of the holiday spirit going. So when my Mum invited me and my Son round to hers one year, my Daughter having flown the nest and started her own family, we went Christmas Eve,we came home Boxing Day. We had fun. Yeah OK we dominated my Mum’s TV… but we had fun.
Two years ago I decided I needed to do something. My Son was 16, I wouldn’t have him at home forever. I needed to get over this self imprisonment on Christmas Day. Otherwise I would end up a very lonely man at Christmas, a season I love very dearly.
We were again at my Mum’s for Christmas. My Nephew was there too, but he was working Christmas Day; he is a chef. So I decided I would go meet him when his shift finished.
We live just outside Leeds, UK. A village called Rawdon. My Nephew works in the next town over, Yeadon. Two thirds of the route is fields so I could fairly safely avoid people. My route was planned and getting out the door was easier than I thought, not easy but I did it. I walked to meet him and walked back. It was a great feeling. However there was something nagging at me, that wasn’t my front door I had managed to cross the border of. My door might be harder.
Last year we were at home. I decided to push at that barrier again, it was harder. The time to leave the house kept being put back and I had had quite a bit to drink by the time my Son said ‘come on, Dad, we ought to go now.’ My Mum didn’t know we were going but if we left it much later it’d be a bit late to pop by. We had given her a present to unwrap but we had another, one she would like more. That helped to get me out the door.
And again, it was harder, but after ding it I felt good. More when I got home again I felt really good.
This year I didn’t leave any presents with my Mum. My Nephew and his Fiance will be there, not given them anything yet either. So tomorrow I will be pushing that barrier again. As I write I can feel tension, it isn’t easy yet. I may always feel that little tug as I cross the threshold. But I will do it and I will keep pushing.
Barriers need pushing sometimes, because something better just might be on the other side.
Dung Beetles, there are many varieties but they all have one obvious thing in common. They keep their shit together.
No, seriously, keep reading please.
We have a lot of different pressures in our lives. Beyond the base needs, shelter and food, your needs may vary a lot from mine.
Pressure is natural. We are designed to use pressure to do things. On a simple scale a pressure might be hunger. We feel hungry and need to do something about it. So we go get something to eat.
Each pressure adds to the first. So we have something to eat and it rains, we need shelter. So we look for somewhere dry.
Most of us have a home that shelters us and food is easily found.
Dung Beetle has his shit together, literally – you must have seen him on TV ruling a ball of dung. That is possibly his home and definitely his food. So long as his shit is together he is happy plodding along.
But those pressures keep coming. How do I pay the mortgage/rent? Why am I single? Why am I not single? What school/college/university sould I go to? Or send my children to? Should I have children? Why can’t I have children? Why do people think I ought to want to have children?
The amount, complexity, variety of pressures we have can shrink or build at any time.
Sometimes we can’t cope. It happens.
Maybe, just maybe, when you can’t cope. Think about that Dung Beetle rolling his ball of dung. If he can keep going, so can you. Just keep as much shit under control as you can, as long as you are plodding on. No matter how slowly you are plodding along maybe you are doing OK.
And just maybe Dung Beetle is thinking about you.