Something to Cut Down On

Avoid avoid avoid

Unless you’re wise enough to have added only close friends and family that you trust on social media, and to only engage with positive conversations, it’s likely that social media is seriously adding to your stress and anxiety.

Many people say how bad they feel on there, yet continue to engage, without realising that the only way they will feel better is to build a time-line that is positive and empowering for them, and avoid all contentious issues.

We love to know

I’m as addicted to social media as anyone, or I was. In the past year though that’s changed. I do have some wonderful friends on there with whom I still communicate, but more and more I’m keeping to myself and only engaging when it makes me feel good to do so. Remember that saying:

The pen is mightier than the sword”? (Edward Bulwer-Lytton)

Social media is the modern version of the pen. No matter whether they’re written or typed, harsh words hurt. You know that, you feel it in your stomach when you read them. So it’s vitally important for your mental health that you approach social media with caution – forever more!

No one can help you…

But you. Often loneliness is a side effect at the least, maybe the cause, of anxiety and depression, which drives us to find people to connect with. It was much better in the day-and-age where you needed to go out in order to do that, or pick up the phone and hear a voice. Even though discussions could be painful at least you could ask questions, leave, or hang up. Now we’re subject to the first thing that pops up when we logon and often get mired by scrolling to the detriment of our mindset.

If you want to feel better you have to be the main person who helps you. The help and support of others is wonderful, but if you’re not the team leader then no one else can help you.

So be a leader, take control of social media. If you are on absolutely everything it may be healthier to choose your favourite, that will cut down your exposure and time very quickly. But whatever you do, if you find social media upsetting, stop hurting yourself.

All it needs is a quick readjustment of your connections and things will be much brighter, and so will your mind and emotions.

To your happiness

Deb xx

Stop Torturing Your Mind

Let it be!

Anxiety isn’t nice and it can make you feel slip into self blame and self loathing at times. Asking yourself over and over again why your mind has to do this, what’s wrong with you, why are you like this and other people aren’t? It’s something you need to stop doing.

I’ve already covered in another blog the fact that you’ve got to this place for a reason, and just as you wouldn’t walk on a broken ankle without a plaster, you can’t put your mind through hell because it’s just had enough!

Forgive

Even if you did something stupid to break your ankle, you might be a bit miffed with yourself, you might say a few curse words and call yourself a few names, but you’d probably land up giggling at yourself sooner or later and telling the story at the dinner table, to huge gusts of laughter. You’d forgive yourself, probably concluding that you’ve paid the price and there’s nothing more to be done.

Now forgive yourself for being anxious. In all honesty why doesn’t really matter, yes as the person you are now you could have made better decisions, but you’re judging your past, younger, less aware self and finding them wanting. You’re doing the best you an as the person you are at this time, and they were doing the best they could as the person they were at that time. Plus:

It usually takes the words and actions of more than one person,
and more than one difficult event to make a person anxious.

Heal

Allow yourself to heal, as I say over and over again (and guess how I know), meditate. As importantly, build some fun into your life, read enjoyable books where everyone doesn’t die in a plague, natural disaster, at the hands of a serial killer. Read something that makes you feel good.

Read books about the way the mind works and learn to understand yours, Joe Dispenza, Gregg Braden, and Bruce Lipton, to name but three, are awesome on these subjects.

Play happy music as much as possible, always have it on in the background if you can. Get friends or family to join you on a day out, go somewhere interesting, get into discussions about what you saw. Go the beach. There is so much positive you can do that will allow that mind to rest and recuperate. A holiday would be ideal, with some fun people.

Learn to Manifest

I’m a Law of Attraction Practitioner and Infinite Possibilities Trainer ™, and one thing I love about the whole Law of Attraction, Cosmic Ordering, thing, is that you have to train yourself to think about what you do want, not what you don’t, and you don’t have to worry about how it will all happen. Miracles have happened, and fairly regularly to those who practice manifestation. All you really need to do is:

Visualise – show up – do something (Mike Dooley)

In other words daydream (paying detailed attention to that daydream) about the ideal life for you, then go out, meet people, research, think about what you could do.

Do anything that involves thinking about what you do want, how you want to feel, and the sort of life you want to live. Do nothing that involves focusing on how you’re feeling and where you are at the moment, positive change and a happy life should be your own focus. The more you hold that vision the more likely you are to find surprising events turning up in your life. The right job on a better wage, the right house where you feel happy, a great car, friends, maybe romance.

Language!

Think in only the best language, speak in only the best words. Talk about a great job, fantastic friends, plenty of money, a wonderful car, a terrific holiday, how well you get along with people.

If you ask for an okay car, that’s what you’ll get. If you have a habit of doing things like that then sit down and ask yourself one very important question:

If others believe that they deserve the best, why don’t I?

The only difference between those you’d wish to be like and you, is that they’ve done different things and made difference decisions. You can do that too.

Believe that you deserve the best and you will get it. Deliberately and consciously choose that belief and nurture it.

If bad thoughts or old thoughts try to get in the way just say ‘change’ or ‘stop’ and deliberately think a good thought.

It will work.

To your happiness

Deb xx

Festive Stress

If your festive season doesn’t feel like this!

Anxiety isn’t helped by the festive season, you may have to see too many people, go to places or events you’d rather avoid, or simply don’t have the energy to cope with all the extra work that comes with relaxing and enjoying a huge meal and time with your loved ones and friends.

What to do?

Meditation is something someone with anxiety should be making a regular habit. Once you learn to meditate you will be able to take yourself into a state of relaxation sitting in a busy place with both eyes wide open, because you will know what it feels like to be relaxed. Remember to start by listening to beautiful music, there are many great tracks out there including nature sounds, and just learning to listen to the music and really hear it.

Stop and think. You might feel pressured to be a kitchen wizard at Christmas, or have loads of people over for a meal, but if you’re struggling then your mental health comes first. You must say no if you need to, or say that you’d love a get together but it will be on another day, or later on Christmas day with simple nibbles available. The people who love you will accept it.

Ask the family to help you with preparations, and flatly refuse to lift a finger if they don’t, that should work. It’s one year, it won’t hurt them, and they might have fun. You could encourage them to try making part of the meal and create something they’d like to try. You can grab dusters and have a race with a prize at the end for who can dust a room the fastest; properly and without breaking anything. Ask for help, be creative, your recovery is to their benefit.

Do NOT fall into the trap of feeling that you’re ruining Christmas by being anxious, you will be anxious for a reason and it’s not for anyone else to judge that reason. If those around you want you to feel better, and you want to feel better, then you might just have to put yourself first, or make a few changes, so that you can continue your voyage of recovery. The sacrifice of one year to not normal will pay dividends in the long run.

Remember

Nothing is more important than feeling good.

It really is as simple as that, and if you won’t help you then no one else can.

To your happiness

Enjoy the festive season

You deserve it!

Deb xx

Living Under a Door

Not for me a mind like this beautiful and tranquil scene

In the middle ages one of the ways in which a woman was tested for being a witch was to take a wooden door, lay it on top of her and put rocks on it. If she lived she was a witch, if she died she was innocent. The ultimate lose/lose situation. I used to wake up in the morning feeling relaxed, and in an instant it would be as if that rock-laden door was descending on me, and the brief moment of peace was gone.

How to Face the Day

If you struggle like that I would suggest that you always start your day with a meditation that calms the brainwaves, something that takes you into alpha and theta brainwaves. These are the brainwaves of peace and tranquillity.

In alpha brainwaves you have space in your mind to think, theta brainwaves are the space where healing of the mind and body takes place.

Driving in Alpha Brainwaves

My best example is driving. When I started to learn to drive my father had just had a heart attack, I was 18 years old, stressed beyond belief, scared I would lose my dad. My ex said to me that I should learn to drive because I would have been able to drive my mother up to St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Anyone who knows London knows that driving up there takes a huge amount of skill and attention. Some natural drivers, like my brother, are able to do it easily, I was not a natural driver. All my life I’ve known when I’m ready to do something, and I knew that I should wait a while before I tackled driving.

I failed my test twice, changed driving instructors and passed on the third attempt, however, I was never a happy driver. I had to psych myself up to drive anywhere, even somewhere I drove everyday. I never ever drove a car if I didn’t need to.

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself

I have mentioned Joe Dispenza’s book and double CD meditation set before, and probably will again, and I will admit that I didn’t even stick to the programme with these. Blogging isn’t the only thing I can be random and undisciplined about. However…

About three weeks after I started doing the meditations I was out driving, and I realised that I’d just hopped in the car and was driving where I needed to go. My mind was clear, untroubled, and focused on what I was doing. It was a hugely surprising moment.

That’s what alpha brainwaves do for you.

Big Deal Huh?

To someone who likes driving and doesn’t suffer from anxiety, no big deal at all. To someone who’d been frightened for over 40 years – pure unadulterated magic!

It’s an odd thing, but when you’ve suffered from anxiety and start to beat it, your life becomes far more magical and amazing. Obviously I would have preferred that it had always been that way, but hey, take the wins wherever they come from!

To your happiness

Deb xx

Loss of Momentum

Charging at life or hesitating?

If you’ve been reading this blog you’ll probably have realised by now that there’s been about a 3 month silence after the initial rush of enthusiam.

I’ve found throughout my life that I’m given to wild splashes of activity followed by completely forgetting that I was doing this thing in the first place.

Case in point – this blog.

Important or not?

This blog is extremely important to me, I suffered from anxiety for over 22 years undiagnosed and 35 years before I felt I’d mainly beaten it. So you’d think I’d keep writing wouldn’t you?

However, the most important thing I’ve learned in recent years, which has taken a heck of a lot of pressure off me is:

At times I will lose track of things and let myself down.

The second most important thing I’ve learned is:

I don’t beat myself up about it.

Yes, I started a blog that I hoped would be helpful, kept meaning to do another post and became side tracked. No that isn’t ideal. Yes, I’m only human. Vitally:

At least I’m out here trying to do something to help, trying to do some good.

Instead of Beating Yourself Up…

…and feeding your anxiety over not being good enough:

  • Learn to accept your humanity as a fact
  • Apologise if necessary (and I am sorry)
  • Get back on track

And in my case…read your to do list!

We’re all imperfect, we all try, we all fall down sometimes, but your anxiety will thank you if you relax into who you are, understand that life gets in the way, get back on track, and find solutions to help keep you on track.

To your happiness and self acceptance

Deb xx

Unprecedented Times

Keep your mind safe at this time

During this most unusual of years I’ve watched social media carefully, as I do. It’s the place where I get most of my inspiration, and learn about how many ways people can find to upset and stress themselves, and others.

For those suffering with anxiety and depression, social media is often not a good place to visit. Never more so than now.

Theories and Facts

Social media has been awash with some very alarming theories and ‘facts’, facts that so far I’ve seen no proof of other than someone somewhere says so. Various ‘experts’ have been trotted out, on both sides of the equation, and those who believe one thing the other is an idiot, and vice versa.

Because we don’t know what’s going on, we’ve never had to deal with a pandemic on this scale, it has been a steep learning curve for governments, the medical profession, scientists, and individuals. Obviously mistakes have been made, and it should have been obvious that they would be made.

As you grow through a new process you learn, re-learn, and eventually have a clue what you’re doing, until the next time when it’s different. There was a Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, it spread as far as it did as military people were returning home after the war. It was particularly cruel as many had survived the war, then the flu hit the camps, and their families had to be told that after surviving years of horror they had died, abroad, of the flu.

As you may imagine, people reached back to that pandemic as an example of what we should do during this one, over a century later. In a time when international travel is rife. It was always going to be bad.

Governments

Many humans push the responsibility for their lives onto the government, whilst complaining about living in a Nanny state. Opposition parties see their role as constant criticism. MPs and PMs are not medical experts, they are not education experts, they are not scientists, and so on. As such they must rely on the people who are experts to guide them.

It’s been clear throughout this pandemic that some people will try to help, some will do as they please, and many are bewildered.

So What Does This Mean for Anxiety?

It means that you have to distance yourself from what’s going on. If you’ve been, or still are, engaging with social media, the news media, and various conspiracy theories, it’s likely that you will be feeling much worse than you need to. Apart from knowing what it is safe for you to do, you should be focusing your mind elsewhere.

It’s not avoidance, it’s common sense when there are no real answers and few real facts. Why subject yourself to the pressure of the opinions of others when it makes you feel ill and frightened?

When it comes to conspiracy theories, I have a nice upholstered armchair firmly on the fence. Undoubtedly there are things going on in this world that would make my hair stand on end, and probably had a peaceful person reaching for a bat. However, I can’t prove any of those things and frankly I wouldn’t know where to find proof I could trust nowadays. Between computer hackers, the media, and social media, I’m not even sure the truth is out there anymore. There are so many factions interfering in so many things, unless you have absolute proof it’s better to sit back and wait. Work out what you believe when you see some concrete evidence.

This is a bad time, accept that it’s a bad time and it will have affected you, but you have the power to decide how much it’s going to affect you. Never forget that. Your mind is your own, and only you have the power to protect it.

To your happiness

Deb

Judged and Found Wanting?

We’ve all had the feeling of being judged and found to be less than someone else thinks we should be, but have you ever stopped to consider the kind of person who would be judgemental, especially towards something with mental health issues?

Sometimes it’s easy to think you’re less than them because they’re saying so, but isn’t judgement cruel and unkind? I would say that’s far worse than struggling with your own mind for good reason.

However, the stronger you get, the more centred you become, the sooner they will fade to the edges of your life and disappear once and for all.

Here’s something I wrote in 2004 when I was feeling judged and found wanting, from all sides.

The Eyes of the Judges

Ten times ten

And ten times one thousand

Everyone watching everything – everywhere

Nothing and no one escapes those looks

Seeing – knowing – judging

Glowing with their superiority

Their eternal rightness of being

While the watched struggle and strive

Just to stay sane and alive

With no time for perfection

Or to wallow in the luxury of being right

No thought to impress

Trusting that in the next breath

The next instant

Everything will change

Those who are wrong will be right

The righteous will fall from grace

And the rest of us will continue being real

Knowing that we are enough

Flowing with the process of life

Free and easy because we’re free of them

Slightly concerned about the price of jam

And tomorrow’s weather

That is all

Deb Hawken – 2004

Writing a Crazy Book

Just a quick aside. I have an alter-ego called Mildred Scrunge, where the idea came from I don’t know, but I am a creative writer. Mildred is a law unto herself, refuses to conform with anything or anyone, and lives life by her own terms.

What I find therapeutic about her is that she forces me to look at life in a different way, more importantly she used to force me out of my acute anxiety in order to make her funny.

Sometimes, when you’re feeling low you need to think about different ways to help yourself. I started with poetry, some of which I will put on here, some of which I tore up years later because I couldn’t bear to have in writing how awful I used to feel. I moved on to plays, then self-help books. However, I’m having far more fun channelling my crazy alter-ego than I was doing anything else.

What is something totally different that you’ve always wanted to do? It might be the time to grit your teeth, screw your courage to the sticking post, find your stubborn gene, and try it. You might think that you haven’t got the energy, but in truth it’s staying with the old habits, old thoughts, and old ways of being that is draining your energy. However, small it is, try something different!

Be adventurous

Deb

Let’s Talk About Marby and Geris

Marby (Marbles) on the left
Geris (Gingernut) on the right

These little scraps saved my sanity

By 1984 I was in such a bad place that I decided that the only thing I could do was find something more important in my life than myself and what I was going through. I was fighting so hard to stay sane that my entire mind was taken up with the battle.

Having been terrified of cats since I was 9 years old, I suddenly decided that the answer was two kittens. As you may imagine that surprised everyone that knew me. My ex wasn’t keen (understatement) and it took me 3 months to talk him into having a cat; they were 3 months old when we got them. I now see the spiritual support in how that happened.

I called a few rescue centres and one told me that they had 3 kittens a ginger and white, a black and white, and a tortoiseshell and white , I knew that where we had to go. My ex said that if he had to have a cat it would have to be a ginger tom as they’re crazy and fun. Before we went I chose two names, Gingernut to placate him because they were the only biscuits he liked, and Marbles for the girl on the grounds that if she ever went missing I could go to the police and tell them I’d lost my marbles. It stopped being amusing when they hid under the sink and I couldn’t find them for two minutes.

When we got there, there were only two kittens, those two, and the lady said it was really odd because they’d called him a ginger nutcase that morning, and commented that her colouring was just like a marble because none of her colours blended, she was either black, ginger, or white. It’s these things that showed me, and still do, that our spirit guides, guardian angels, and soul group will always help us if they can, and we allow it.

The immediate change I hoped for

I had been under the hospital for two years by that time with gynae issues. I will say they’d been magnificent and I couldn’t fault them, but as a sufferer from medical anxiety being under a hospital was torture for me.

They were spayed and neutered a month later, and the next day I was due a check up which included a test many women do not look forward to. I walked in, hopped up on the couch, said “Can we get this over quickly please because my kittens were spayed yesterday and I really need to get home?” I spent the test time worrying about Marby, who had decided that the only possible place to hide and demonstrate her displeasure was under a pile of grubby decorating equipment (I’m wiser to those shenanigans now), in case she got her wound grubby. For the first time ever I wasn’t impacted. It was exactly what I’d hoped for, I was no longer living trapped inside my own mind.

The Marby and Geris Lesson

What those two beautiful beings taught me was that it’s important for someone with anxiety to have something important in their life, somewhere they’re needed, someone who needs them. You might fear that you’ll let people down by being unable to cope, and not everyone would be suited to looking after animals, that’s not a criticism, we all have to find our own way and why.

I would though encourage you to find a why, a purpose, something where you know you’re contributing. It doesn’t matter what it is, it doesn’t matter what you do, this is your journey, as long as it has the Marby and Geris effect of freeing you from your own mind.

Obviously I lost them

Having homed them in 1984, I lost Geris in 1999. That was something I didn’t think I could survive, but I did because of them. I lost my darling girl in 2001, and the loss of the second one of my saviours was so, so hard, but again I survived it, because of them and what they’d taught me.

Our path has been to home other cats in trouble and need, and when I say our, I mean the second husband who actually likes me, Tony. He’s as cat crazy as I am, and we’re up to 11 and 12 now, technically speaking, with 5 living with us, including 19 year old Jo-Jo. That’s an entire other story and I’ll tell you in one day to really demonstrate the power of believing that there’s more to this world that what we can see, hear, touch, feel, smell, and sense. Much, much, more.

Just grab the take away, that finding something important to you can be a complete life changed, and the life belt you can cling to as you work on your recovery.

To your happiness

Deb xx

Attitude IS Everything

The thoughts you put out create your reality. Think wisely.

Attitude is everything is one of those clichés which is in fact a simple statement of fact. Everything you think about creates the attitude with which you approach and live your life.

At the moment we’re in a particularly turbulent time, perhaps the most unsettled time in my entire life – of over 63 years. To complicate this we have social media. A million different opinions, a billion gurus, and thousands of people who think they’re attitude is right because they’ve chosen the evidence that supports it. That’s true of the vast majority of humans of course, but what keeps things balanced is a flexible approach and the willingness to listen, and that’s often lacking.

Engage With Care

If you suffer with anxiety it will come as no surprise to you that I’m recommending that you’re highly discerning as to to the conversations you engage in, and the people you engage with. If your wall drives you crazy and adds to your stress, have no embarrassment in reducing your connections to people that you can deal with.

There is an attitude that to be ‘someone’ you need loads and loads of Facebook friends or Twitter/Instagram followers. Unless you’re famous you don’t. You need to be enjoying your life and controlling your social media threads will help enourmously.

Does it matter what they think?

Does it matter what you think? I’m an arch communicator, handy for a writer and public speaker, but by the same token it’s not been the greatest thing when it comes to social media. I always have an opinion, which has turned out to be a very bad idea a number of times, and I try to be a voice of reason, which is generally well received but not always.

One thing I have noted and had to accept though, is that thinking about life, having an opinion, and then defending it, is emotionally and mentally exhausting. I’ve tried to dial back considerably on the opinions I share, and come from more of a perspective of world peace and how on earth do we find ways and reasons to like and respect each other.#

If you’re suffering from anxiety one of the things you may need to do is to lessen your levels of communication. This does not mean not talking to people when you’re down and struggling, it does mean not engaging with people who are angry and convinced they’re absolutely right, when your energy is low and you’re struggling to cope.

Would they subtitle the X-Files differently now?

If you were a fan of the X-Files you will know that the subtitle was “The truth is out there”. I’m not so sure it is now. So many billions of people are engaged in this truth, so many more are playing fast and loose with the truth, interfering wherever they can and trying to destabilise something or other for some reason or another, even more have become researchers without research training. So they’ve looked at information, which they share, but you never see the counter-arguments, pointers to those ‘facts’, and why they reached their conclusion. There’s a real skill to ensuring that your conclusion is based on facts.

The only truth you need to be engaging in at the moment is your recovery. Wasting time on social media arguing opinions is unlikely to help you. Plus, those opinions can be rather unkind, and many people have said recently that they’re becoming scared to have an opinion. You can’t afford to use your energy in this way.

Happy Thoughts = Happy Life

Amongst other things I’m a Law of Attraction Practitioner, you may call it cosmic ordering, and actually my preferred term is manifesting – because it reminds me to get off my butt and be proactive about my life. Basically they all mean the same thing. Crystalise your thoughts about the life you really want, keep visualising it in great detail, then get out there and live and see what comes your way. Not limiting yourself to your current dreams, always ‘this or better’.

The real beauty of Manifesting though is that it requires you to keep your mind in a good place, focused on what you do want not what you don’t. That is an incredibly powerful way to think.

Just try for a week to say ‘stop’ to any negative thoughts, and redirect your mind to a dream life. Visualise the house, the job, your appearance, your leisure time, the holidays, visualise it in great detail. Take 10 minutes every day to do this, and then turn your mind back to it if it decides to wander into the past or focus on a current irritation. See how you feel? If you manage to do it you should feel things starting to change, maybe a bit of a spring in your step.

Just try…and also try to think carefully about where and when you engage, what on, and with whom.#

Your mind will thank you…no…it will absolutely adore and worship you!

To your happiness

Deb xx