Tag Archives: Anxiety

Nikki Grahame: In Therapy

42ed1fd300000578-4757264-image-a-54_1501764528746I recently watched an episode of the Channel 5 (UK) programme In Therapy. Each episode of the programme follows a different celebrity through counselling sessions, in the hopes of resolving certain issues.

I was particularly interested to see this recent episode as it featured Nikki Grahame of Big Brother fame, who developed anorexia at a very young age and spent most of her young years in treatment centres. Nikki endured herself to many, myself included, with her witty personality and intelligence, but sadly also her temper tantrums which displayed genuine distress.

I think the documentary can be accessed by UK viewers via Channel 5’s catch-up service below (sorry everyone else!):

Nikki Grahame: In Therapy

The Therapy Sessions.

The counselling sessions with therapist Mandy Saligari began with Nikki having a meltdown (panic attack?) about having to open up about the past.

It was sad to see this, and part of me wonders whether the media are exploiting her in the name of entertainment. But that’s another issue in itself.

For the most part I feel her open-ness about her condition is beneficial in helping people to understand their own issues and to reframe themselves and their identity in a positive light.

A Distorted Perception

It was clear during the therapy sessions that Nikki is very hard on herself, even to the point of hating herself in some moments: as suggested by the disgust she has felt looking at her body in the mirror- which she now avoids.

I think many of us who have an extreme sensitivity and have been through childhood experiences that invalidate our sense of self-worth, may have felt similarly that they do not like themselves, perhaps to the point of hatred. I know I have and it is painful to remember those dark times.

It is also clear we are looking at an intelligent, witty young lady, who also has insight into her condition and its effects on others. It is so easy to see the good in her. Her past anorexia has distorted her view of herself physically too- self disgust, yet she presents as anything but disgusting!

So, if I am feeling bad about myself, I can be assured that my opinion is probably completely distorted towards the negative, and perhaps other people see something good and worthy in me. I start then to think of good qualities they may see and then the good thoughts multiply and add to a growing positive relationship with myself.

9496tn1l70tebfRecovery from many mental health conditions seems to be about making friends with yourself, loving and taking care of yourself. This is what we haven’t developed throughout childhood- we’ve had mirrored back to us only the negative (the majority of the time anyway) which has coloured our perception of ourselves as “bad” and “shameful”.

Consciously Denying Feelings

One particularly disturbing moment of the shows Nikki respond to perceived criticism by Mandy, by making the decision to not talk. She stares at the ceiling and seems to numb herself to any feeling she might have about this. It’s as if she decides that she doesn’t want to deal with this situation or person anymore, like she can’t cope with it, and the only way she feels she can deal with it is by numbing herself of all feeling and denying it.

This was very familiar to me. I developed a similar pattern of behaviour (though less overt) when I felt I couldn’t cope with certain situations throughout childhood. It is a very childlike way of coping. But we have been taught no other way of dealing with our own distress, so have developed our own coping mechanism at 3,5,9,10,11 years old, whenever, and that part of us is stuck there with this behaviour. We have learnt no other way of dealing with overwhelming emotions.

At one point, Mandy makes the point that Nikki’s emotions are no stronger than anybody else’s, she just hasn’t learnt to manage them. I actually disagree with this. I think some of us do feel emotions much more strongly than others- our sensitivity makes it so. To imply we all feel the same intensity of emotion is quite simplistic I think, and invalidates Nikki’s experiences of her own feelings.

Thankfully Nikki begins talking to Mandy again and they work through what happened in a healthy way. She could have remained in the cocoon she created for herself and refused to finish the counselling. This is a majorly positive step, anybody who achieves a breakthrough like this in counselling or life in general is moving forward positively, to greater maturity. Congratulate yourself! Achievements in life don’t have to be about academic or vocational gain. We must learn to see all the positive steps we take in life, in order for us to see who we truly are- wonderful beings!

A Positive Future

Nikki has moved on from feeling so controlled by anorexia, though she still admits to obsessive cleaning. But it is evident she has more self acceptance than she had in the past and is developing a more positive relationship with herself. This is such a hopeful thing to see- we are all capable of growth and developing self-love. We will move towards the positive and recovery, if that is what we want.

Related Posts

Binge-Eating: Empty Inside

Counselling: My Wellbeing As Priority

I Am Angry and It’s Okay.

Body Image and Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’.

You Are Amazing!

 

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Depression: Return of the Psychiatric Shuffle

190901zab77uqg3I’m totally writing this for the cathartic experience, but I offer no apologies if it’s all a bit morbid and depressing. Guess what? Depression is depressing.

I spend a lot of my time when I’m depressed trying not to feel sorry for myself and trying to be grateful for the good things I have in my life.

All the personal development courses I’ve been on, and the books I’ve read, talk about positive thinking in improving our lives and wellbeing. Challenging times and events in our lives are viewed as times of growth, which I do agree with, even though I’m kicking and screaming through each one!!

But sometimes it doesn’t work.

I think there are times in life when you can’t look at things through rose-tinted spectacles. Sometimes you need to see things for what they really are and to accept the downright shittiness of them.

Like now- I’m back to a depressive episode. I can only walk exceptionally slowly and probably not further than about 100m due to psychomotor retardation. And, do you know what? I’m not gonna suck up my pissed-off feelings behind a forced smile anymore.

Without really feeling those shitty feelings, without really experiencing them deeply, there is no authenticity in the experience. There is no real grounding in the depression.

I do feel sorry for myself. I was taught not to. I was taught to always be grateful. But I really want to feel sorry for myself. I don’t want to compare my experience to anyone else’s anymore. I know there are Syrian refugees going through enormous hardship out there, but trying to suppress my authentic feelings about my depression isn’t going to help them, or me, one little bit.

I think half my issues are wrapped up in the fact that I don’t let myself really feel my feelings. I was taught from a ridiculously young age not to feel, unless it was gratitude or empathy or some kind of joy that others could benefit from.

But right now I feel angry. I feel angry that I have to go through this experience yet again. Why? I’m getting nowhere fast in life. I don’t think I particularly deserve to wake up in the night with violent visions and impulses to self-harm. I don’t think I particularly deserve to feel so damn scared all the time. All the time. Of life in general. I’m so exhausted from going through this whole process.

The last couple of months have been really good. My walking speed has been back to normal. In fact I’ve felt fitter and walked with so much more energy!! To feel well was such a blessing! Now I’m back to the psychiatric-shuffle.

The Psychiatric-Shuffle (my term, not psychiatry’s)

This basically involves walking, but 20 times more slowly than everyone else. Commonly seen in psychiatric inpatients. A symptom of depression referred to as psychomotor retardation– thanks psychiatry for another fabulously empowering term.

It might sound very simple, but actually it feels like your brain and your body are working exceptionally hard to put your left foot forward then your right foot forward. Your legs are protesting every step.

It’s also highly embarrassing. Yes, people do notice. Today a child kept staring at me as she walked past holding her mum’s hand. She kept looking back at me. Bloody hell, do I really look that awful? It’s so embarrassing. And exhausting.

Back to the post……

ID-10091517So many great things have happened in the last couple of months- I’ve enjoyed them so much. Then a couple of weeks ago my good energy switched to bad energy and the surging prickliness and agitation coursed through me in an all too familiar way. When out in the street or on the bus I’d feel intensely annoyed with people I wasn’t even interacting with, my voice in my head became louder. I wanted to shout at people. Then it switched to anxiety about a week later, my heart was pounding, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Then last Thursday the exhaustion kicked in.

Before the ‘bad energy’ I hadn’t really considered that I was a bit hypomanic, but looking back, I had been getting more obsessed with ‘collecting’ things (this has happened a few times in the past) and had spent quite a bit of money I couldn’t really afford. I was feeling much more in touch with my spiritual life. I probably only had about a week where I was sleeping much less and still feeling really great.

Bipolar is exhausting.

Not just the symptoms of exhaustion.

I mean the endless cycle of it all.

I still feel like it’s my fault.

I’m so tired of it.

I’m so bored of it.

What is the point?!!!!

But all the years have given me the experience to get through it, to really know that it gets better. In my early depressions I felt that I was literally going to die, that I would never ever feel joy, love, peace, or anything positive ever again. But even though I’m depressed now, I know from experience that I will get better.

 

 

Exploring Negative Thoughts

ID-100114054I’ve done really well today so far! I’ve started my new sleep schedule over the last few days (bed by 11.30pm, wake up at 8am) which I’m keeping to and I went for a short walk this morning and did about 20mins yoga and some meditation.

So why am I down on myself all of a sudden?

I’m scared of the thoughts that are creeping in, and feel anxious about them. This is the sequence of thoughts once I got out my sketchbook and pencils:

1. “I can start to do this art work, but there’s not much point as everything I do is rubbish and it’s not like I have a career out of it.”

2. “I have nothing else planned for today. I must do something productive or the whole day will be wasted.”

3. “I could go and get some biscuits and chocolate and watch some movies/tv, then sleep off the sugar hangover. (Feel excited by the prospect).”

This is when I decide to blog first. Writing out a conversation with myself yesterday really seemed to help pick me up.

I’m going to respond to the first thought, as it seemed to trigger the others:

1. “I can start to do this art work, but there’s not much point as everything I do is rubbish and it’s not like I have a career out of it.”

Why do you feel this way do you think?

I’ve never studied past GCSE level (high school). I’m behind everyone else my age. Nothing ever looks the way I want it to. I don’t enjoy it anymore.

If you don’t enjoy it, maybe you don’t have to do it?

ID-10053350I feel I want to. Everyday a little voice inside me says draw, paint, let me have my voice! I don’t understand why I feel the need to suppress this part of me.

This voice, could it be your inner child?

Yes, I’m certain it is.

Why don’t you want to let her speak?

Because she can be scary and out of control. That same part of me that wants to create, my inner child, she has had major tantrums before and can be completely out of control.

This is what young children are like! They know how to express themselves! But adults teach them to suppress these ‘difficult’ emotions, usually because they can’t handle them themselves.  Sometimes children aren’t taught to deal these feelings in a healthy way.

What is a healthy way to deal with feelings of anger, disappointment, shame, etc?

Well, let’s look at how you feel now?

Ashamed that I can’t function like a normal person.

Ok., so how do you think you ‘should’ behave? What do you see as being ‘normal’ behaviour for an adult?

ID-10034835I should have a job and be earning my own money. Not scrounging off the government. I have heard so many working people express anger and resentment at having to pay taxes, so that others can have benefits. 

Ok. So how much income tax actually goes towards benefits? It is 20%. (UK) Therefore the working population are taxed 80% for many more things. Why are you so worried?

People will hate me and ridicule me. I feel so ashamed at not being able to support myself. I know I have more potential.

It is highly unlikely anyone will bat an eyelid about you being on benefits. Other people are wrapped up in their own lives. Any ill-wishing you receive from them is their karma, not yours. It is time to start releasing the need for the approval of others, a little bit at a time. It is safe for you to be you! It is safe for you to express your feelings and to paint and dance and make a mess!! Please don’t expect for this healing to take place all at once. It is likely to happen gently over a long period of time, so that you are not overwhelmed.

What do I need to do?

Be aware. Be aware of when you are trying to please others or gain approval. Be aware of when you are putting their needs before your own. You are your world. You do not need to make others feel safer or be responsible for their fears and insecurities. People are generally living their own lives, and aren’t too concerned about what others are doing, as long as it doesn’t affect them.

Why do you feel you should have a job like everybody else? Why can’t you do the things you love and make money that way?

Because it’s standard and acceptable to society. It’s easy to go with the majority. It’s difficult to forge my own path. I don’t know how I would start! Having a mentor would be very helpful. I don’t believe I’m good enough. I don’t believe I’m worthy of earning money for doing something that makes me happy!!

But you are worthy and you are good enough! Other people are doing it so why shouldn’t you?! Why do you feel so unworthy?

ID-10081670I don’t know. It still feels too childish. I want to feel deserving of earning money by being my childlike self and drawing or painting, writing, or creating in some other way. Or helping people! I feel if I’m earning money then it should be by directly helping others. Being creative feels selfish.

You are worthy. You are good enough. You are talented and deserving of using this talent and nurturing it. By being creative you are shining your own light into the world and making it ok for others to do the same. You are forging a path through which others can follow. You are making it easier for them! Therefore you would be helping others by being creative! You would be helping others to shine their love and light into the world!

It still feels difficult to draw or paint. I still feel a resistance to it.

It will take time, patience and practice. Start slowly- maybe even 15 mins of doodling at a time. Opening up to your creativity, it will be very healing and open many new doors for you! Allow yourself to feel worthy! Allow yourself to receive from the universe- be it financial gifts, or spiritual ones!

Thank you for the guidance and for caring enough to sit and listen to me.


So I don’t feel loads better. But I am grateful for the guidance, whether this is from my higher self or a spirit guide. I am grateful to myself for writing, rather than running to the chocolate straight away. I am grateful to myself for at least trying to overcome unhealthy habits. I am doing my best in these circumstances with the tools that I have.

I love and approve of myself just as I am.

I am worthy of living as my true self.

I am worthy of expressing my true self creatively!

Related Posts

Conversations with Myself: Exploring Low Mood.

Releasing Judgement: The Love Thermometer.

Overcoming Boredom

10 Ideas to Distract Depression: Don’t Feed the Monster!

Photos: freedigitalphotos.net

Mend The Gap: from Deep Despair to Spiritual Awakening.

Last year, Katie Mottram kindly contributed a guest post to Emotional Wellness: Mental Health v Spiritual Crisis.

Katie has been busy writing a book about her experiences, and I am so excited to say it will be available in 2 weeks time, from Amazon!10308395_1514097745498070_1330305545595162063_n

Related Posts

Emotional Wellness: Mental Health v Spiritual Crisis: Guest Post by Katie Mottram.

Bipolar Disorder as Spiritual Awakening

Bipolar Disorder and Depression: Baby Steps Towards a Spiritual Solution

Bipolar Disorder: A Spiritual Perspective for 2013

Mental Health and Spiritual Crisis: Guest Post by Trish Hurtubise.

Overwhelmed!

Overwhelm seems to be happening a lot at the moment.

I can cope with one thing in a day, eg. work, but not 2 or more. Try adding on choir, cooking, seeing friends etc and my anxiety levels shoot up. Being productive with any other activity other than work is just not happening- I can’t concentrate, get easily distracted and restless.

Overwhelm seems to happen when exciting things are happening too. I recently went away to Edinburgh to sing in a choir I’m part of. Most of the members I hadn’t seen for a few months and we were all really excited to see each other again- well, I was excited anyway!!! Couple this with singing awesome music and trips out to shows and tourist attractions and soon I wasn’t coping. Too much excitement!!! I had three panic attacks that week. I hadn’t had one previously for a good few months. I was overly emotional.

I didn’t take this limitation very graciously, and was very angry and frustrated with myself for not being able to join in everything I wanted to. I could try, but panic attacks had already resulted from doing too much.

Accepting limitations is something I’m still working on! Remembering it’s not my fault is important, but also to evaluate whether I’m putting too much pressure on myself or judging myself harshly.

Affirmations that I’m finding helpful from Louise Hay’s companion book to You Can Heal Your Life are:

I have the power, strength and knowledge to handle everything in my life.

I relax into the flow of life and let Life provide all that I need asily and comfortably.

I am enough just as I am.

Louise Hay

 

Newly Diagnosed Bipolar: You’ve Got This!

Healthline have just launched a video campaign for bipolar disorder called “You’ve Got This” where bipolar patients can record a short video to give hope and inspiration to those recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

You can visit the homepage and check out videos from the campaign here: http://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/youve-got-this

Healthline will be donating $10 for every submitted campaign to To Write Love On Her Arms, so the more exposure the campaign gets the more the videos we’ll receive and the more Healthline can donate to research, support, and treatment programs for mental health disorders.

Below is a beautiful video posted by Julie about her experiences with Bipolar Disorder:

Related Posts

To Write Love On Her Arms

Resources

Healthline

To Write Love On Her Arms

 

Blog For Mental Health 2014

In the spirit of contributing to mental health awareness and lessening stigma, I would like to take part in this year’s Blog For Mental Health campaign as initiated by A Canvas of The Mind.

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”  

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Panic Disorder in 1998 at the age of 18, when I left home for university. Since then I’ve been through many ups and horrendous downs, but I am less inclined to call myself Bipolar, as I believe the symptoms I’ve experienced have been, in part due to my innate extreme sensitivity, as well as a reaction to life events, beliefs, and choices I’ve made which have taken me away from being my true self. I also believe that I am getting more and more healthy and that a diagnosis is NOT a life sentence.

Through learning to love and accept myself increasingly for who I am, and putting my own needs first, I am moving forward in life. The aim of my blog is to share insights and wellness tools which work for me, in the hopes that they will help others. Many of these tools are of a spiritual and energetic basis through meditation and the consistent use of Bach Flower Remedies (in addition to my medication), as well as through personal development which is ongoing and includes reframing beliefs, thoughts and perception of life.

For more information please see my posts:

Bipolar Disorder: A Spiritual Perspective for 2013.

Bipolar Disorder As Spiritual Awakening

Twilight Fantasy

Twilight Fantasy- Copyright Rachel Miller.
To view more of my artwork, please click on the category at the top of the page.

For more information about , please see my blog posts:

Bipolar and Sensitivity: Guest Post on Mental Health Talk

High Sensitivity

Managing High Sensitivity

You’re So Sensitive

More posts are accessible by using the search facility and entering “High Sensitivity” or through the “High Sensitivity” category.