Archive | October 2013

PESTY CHUGGERS

CHUGGER cartoon

(Image coreyjstephenson.blogspot.com) I save old newspapers for the cat litter tray. All right I know. TMI Too much information. See I am using youthful expressions after scrolling Facebook posts. I even say ‘cool’ these days.

So what’s new about the papers? Well, as we all know, the news in the papers you are about to dump in the green boxes is far more interesting than today’s.

 Choosing replacement paper was difficult today. An interesting account of how you can easily blow your insurance cover, an article by Allison Pearson (love her) and a few comment pages on political issues. Remember, no Guardian, no comment. But the one headline that caught my eye was about ‘chuggers’ – a new word derived from the phrase ‘charity mugging’ where  paid staff accostsp people in the street and attempt to sign them up to a regular payment from their bank account. Apparently, after a charity sent in chuggers to a seaside town fundraisers in the area boycotted the charity.

This caught my interest as, on a visit to Brighton two years ago, I was stopped by a girl wielding a clipboard and giving the impression that she was conducting a survey. I only gave the chugger the time of day as she was discussing one of the two deaf charities that I support. I read her badge thinking it was about time that deaf awareness was raised and felt pleased. My pleasure was short lived.

It wasn’t clear at the beginning that her intentions were to get my financial commitment on the spot. I engaged with her as I thought she was promoting the charity. A long animated discussion followed on the ignorance and lack of awareness in the present day of the difficulties faced by the deaf and how to communicate with them but one of her comments did not sit well with my view of present day services. A doubt festered in my mind as to whether she really did know much about the disability and government provision. When I tried to move on, she persevered in an attempt to ‘sign me up today.’ I escaped by telling her quite honestly that I hold fundraising coffee mornings in my own home town and also pay membership to one of them. Would I sign up to leave a sum in my will? I have already done this, so, without more ado, I was off to the Lanes.

I have to say I was shocked that my chosen charities were employing chuggers. I don’t know if they still do this but I find the whole scenario of chugging distasteful. The newspaper is 6 months old so maybe changes have occurred but the chuggers were still on the streets of Brighton only weeks ago.

Am I alone in my dislike of this practice? Perhaps it has become necessary as, with the state of the economy and the rise in the cost of living, fewer people can give to charities.

If so, it is a sad reflection on society today. A society where whatever your income or benefits payment you can afford a mobile phone but not a couple of pounds in a collection tin.

BIRTHDAY TREAT

Last week I celebrated yet another birthday. I would prefer not to count them but see them as an excuse to do enjoyable things and treat yourself for one day of the year, although in my struggle with depression, I have got much better at having ‘treat’ days and doing things I enjoy doing rather than the things I feel I ought to do. We all have things we have to do like the washing, ironing, washing up and shopping but now that I practise Mindfulness even these tasks provide pleasure.

 

Following a trip to London for Proms in the Park I have been bothered with a pain in my shoulder and have woken in the night with pins and needles in my arm and fingers. I have had this before after carrying heavy teaching and assessment materials for considerable distances on a college campus so I immediately linked it to this trip.  We decided we could do without our wheelie cases and survive with a back pack each. The weather was unpredictable so my backpack filled quickly topped up with lots of goodies for the picnic in Hyde Park. In London we found our hotel in Bayswater was not as convenient as we thought and we walked long distances with back packs attached.

 

On my birthday  I decided another broken night was one too many and telephoned my local therapy  treatment favourites (The Bay) to see if I could have a massage that day.  Unsurprisingly they were fully booked up but they managed to get an independent  complementary therapist to come in half an hour early to see me at lunch  time.

 

Mindfulness teaches us not to live in the past or future but to live ‘in the moment’ and focus on the present. It does include planning for the unexpected so we are not ‘thrown’ by events. I therefore decided I was just having a back massage and did not expect to be relieved of my painful shoulder, which the googling told me was a trapped ulnar nerve. Lowering expectations is known to relieve stress, depression and anxiety.

 

This was the best 30 minutes I have spent since becoming ill last April as Allyson persuaded me to return to yoga and emailed links to local yoga classes. I have now cleared my lounge rug to a yoga-friendly zone and undertaken some independent practice prior to tomorrow’s class. She was also exceedingly understanding about a mental health illness I have had for 24years.

 

Allyson is prepared to ‘mix and match’ her therapies so she can, for example, combine some Reiki with a back massage which I have not always found with other practitioners.

 

You can look at her website

www.equilibriumholistics.com, email her on Allyson@equilibriumholistics.com

or phone her on 07977 519141

This post first appeared on my BlogSpot site on 23 September 2013

EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique

This post first appeared on my BlogSpot site around March 2012

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EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique

This is taken from the website of  Christine Bosley-Collins, AET,BCMA, Reiki Master who is an experienced Energy therapist offering holistic treatments in Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Dowsing for Health and Answers, Mediumship Dowsing, Dowsing tuition, Allergies/Intolerances and their Remedies, Reiki, Chakra Balancing/Aura work.  She is based in Swanage and has worked with EFT in Performing Arts, Media, Public Speaking, Sports Performance, Motivation, Personal Development and Stress Management.

Christine trained for three years with Stephen  Coburn BEM EFT – ADV. MBCMA.DS Dip Vib Med, who was originally trained in the  USA by the founder of EFT Gary Craig.EFT Dorset EFT often works where nothing else will and has a high  success rate.
It helps cure innumerable problems such as:

 

  • Stress anxiety, trauma, panic  attacks 
  • Fears and Phobias – examples, fear of  dentist, flying, heights 
  • Addictions – examples, smoking, chocolate,  over eating, anorexia, bulimia 
  • Pain management, IBS, anger  management 
  • Headaches, Tension, PMS, Relationship pain  and conflict

It is an incredible tool for self help  with:

 

  • Confidence and self esteem issues 
  • Self empowerment 
  • Spiritual blocks 
  • Motivation 
  • Confidence 
  • Self belief 
  • Weight loss 
  • Stopping Smoking

EFT works on the premise that ‘The cause of  all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system’.
EFT  really makes a difference and the healing benefits are amazing.
EFT is  like an emotional form of acupuncture but without the needles! It is powerful  but gentle and often works where all other treatments have failed.
It  does not rely on a belief system and will work on anyone, including  babies.
It is common for clients to experience rapid relief from pain in  less than half an hour and emotional problems such as anxiety are often fully  relieved in just one session.
If you have a problem that is personal or  private then EFT is perfect for you. I can help without needing to know what the  problem is.

 

See her website on  http://www.facebook.com/l/UAQH555r3AQH4V_qmW9ar1f2Z3NrNosSqpoWuOI4etHm19A/www.soulhealing.me.uk

 

Depressed? Read yourself well.

I have collected books on how to cope with depression for what seems like forever.  For years I thought I would find the answer inside a book. I never discussed my purchases with others but occasionally offered a few books to someone on the point of desperation. My bi-polar was hidden away, secret, never talked about, the books, like men’s magazines in a newsagents, on a high shelf hidden amongst tomes on diet and health and fitness, particularly yoga.

Inwardly I thought that that I must be an ‘odd’ person who bought books on insanity rather than fiction or celebrity memoirs. The books remained gathering dust only perused when I was low and felt the need to revisit some well worn advice and inspiration.

While depression takes away the pleasure of reading, seeking out solutions can be a useful way to pass time when you do not feel like socialising. Also it is good to ‘read for health’ when well.

Recently I have been clearing out cupboards, files and bookshelves. I visited my local library but unfortunately they will only take books less than five years old, even if they are a donation. Seems a shame really as these books hold words of wisdom many mental health workers or service users would find beneficial.

Clearing my ‘mad’ books was therapeutic as their presence was a constant reminder of past periods of inactivity and stunted emotions. My first reaction was to bin them or even ceremoniously put them to the stake like a bad witch.

However, after hearing a doctor talk about various methods of treating depression, the subject of ‘bibliotherapy’ came up. When questioned, he said, he would give a list of books to a patient to take to the library. This was a revelation to me as the only time I have been offered a booklist was when I was waiting for a course of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and needed to see a psychotherapist for referral. At that time, I was recommended books on Mindfulness. This, in 2006, was news to me. I had heard of meditation and been helped in relaxation techniques at various points in my illness but the big M word was news to me.

Suddenly I didn’t feel an ‘odd ball’ any more. I could give myself permission to buy or borrow a book and attempt some re-education to improve my mental health. Doctors and therapists recommend books so, far from feeling a failure for needing such literature, I feel good about it.

And that is how, when I cleared my bookshelves the other week, I collected all my old ‘mad’ books – they filled a large carrier bag – and took them to my local support group. I walked home later empty handed feeling happy that someone may be helped by my donation.

From experience I know that the chances of the books reaching the right people if donated to a charity shop are slim. Most are well-thumbed and some have brown tinges on the leaves. These would most certainly find themselves in a recycling bag and never see the light of day in the living rooms of the depressed and anxious.

So which books did I donate? Some examples are Living in the Light by Shakti Gawain, Overcoming Depression by Paul Gilbert, The Book of the Mind, Raj Persaud, Why Am I Up, Why Am I Down (Understanding Bi-Polar, Roger and Elizabeth Granet, An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison.

Books that I have kept on my shelf are Full Catastrophe Living, and Wherever You Go, There you Are, both by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and both recommended by the psychotherapist in 2006. I also have Dr Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat and a simple guide to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy by Dr Stephen Briers.

A book I have often borrowed from the library but, for cost reasons, do not possess is Mind Over Mood, (changing how you feel by changing the way you think).  This is also a self-help guide based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. More on CBT in a later post.

If you are struggling with depression or debilitating mood swings which can take over your life, books mentioned on this post are all available through your local library. Take my advice and avoid Amazon purchases. Reserve your books online and get an email when they are ready for collection.

There is no need to be depressed AND poor!

HIGHS AND LOWS

Having struggled with two to three months of wading through treacle as I navigated the downside of my bi-polar, I began to feel my mood lift in July when the better weather and some family activities became enjoyable once more. However, I was still sleeping ten hours a night and not waking until 10am most mornings. The will to get up and enjoy the sunshine was just not there so I was rarely up and moving before about 11am. I consoled myself with the view that much as I was losing a good part of the morning I was, once I was up, making the most of the day. I began swimming in the sea, treating myself to ice creams as I read my latest library book on the sea front, initiated outings and enjoyed family visits. The bottom of the trough seems to trundle along for ever but when we look back it was often a shorter period of time than we thought. A mood and activity diary helps here.

In August I began to feel pleasure in activities returning and my energy levels began to rise. September was also a good month. However, I am aware that I have an abundance of energy at the moment, am full of ideas and confidence. The problem now can be that I agree to take on responsibilities or work commitments and socialise to such an extent that eventually when the mood drops I will be unable to sustain the activities. The usual pattern is to begin backing out of meeting up with people, hiding away, giving up doing things after which I suffer a damaged self esteem and considerable guilt which combines to bring on a further depressive episode.

But I am learning. Whereas in the past I bumbled along and let my moods control me, now, although there is not much I can change about my condition, I am more aware and avoid falling into some of the traps of the past.

There is much written about combating depression but not that much about managing the highs.

Gone are the years I sat up wide awake at night writing poetry until I lost sense of reality. My medication now ensures I do sleep a good eight hours. I do always take my medication. Tip 1.

Tip 2. I take myself to bed slightly earlier with a milk drink and a book. This helps me wind down from some of my more frenetic activity. I take my tablets earlier in the evening so there is no danger of staying up until the early hours.

Tip 3. I keep off Ebay and internet shopping sites. If I begin to plan purchases I tell myself not to do anything for a week. If I still need it after that time, then I probably will get it if I can afford it. A week allows me to think about whether I really can afford something. The answer is often that I can’t.

Tip 4  Since my last illness in April, I have agreed to discuss large purchases with at least two of my three daughters. On a course I attended this was called ‘The Rule of Three.’ But little things mount up. However, at this time of year I can satisfy the spending urge by shopping around for early Christmas presents – money I would spend later in the year anyway.

Tip 5. If I do go shopping I leave all tags on my purchases and keep receipts and bags. Then I take time to mull over what I have bought and often return items I feel were a mistake. Charity shop purchases ensure mistakes are not too expensive.

Tip 6. I drink camomile tea and take natural calming remedies such as Kalms.

Tip 7. I pace myself with my activity and take time out to sit and watch television programmes. Decorating is one of my activities when I am in an over active state so I set myself easily achieved targets so that I do not keep going on regardless. I take time out to sit and eat meals, check on my Facebook newsfeed and my emails. My return emails are always much longer in these phases.

Tip 8. I have friends and family who monitor what I am up to. One friend knows to phone my partner if my emails are excessively long and fail to make sense. My daughters asking ‘what have you been up to lately?’ is their way of finding out if I am doing more than usual.

Tip 9. Since discovering Mindfulness, I can switch over to a calmer state of mind. Also by practising this daily, I do not store up unhappy, negative thoughts which might spur me to write inappropriate emails or make bad decisions when I am high and over confident.

Tip 10. I do not drive when I am in a highly excited state. Bus and train travel is relaxing as we have to just ‘go with the flow’. There is nothing we can do to speed up the journey and there is the opportunity to read or write on my laptop, both relaxing activities.

In April I was taken off my anti depressants because I was in a manic episode. I am managing well without them and the moods are more stable. More about this in a later post.

Let’s face it we all like the highs and it is, after all, the chance to get a lot done after months of inactivity and lack of interest in daily tasks or pleasurable activities. All those jobs that we neglect when we are depressed can now be completed. It is good to remember in the down phase that it passes and eventually everything will balance out.

We just need to avoid hasty, impulsive activity until the mood drops back to a more normal level.

 I say ‘normal’ but what is normal anyway?

 

READING STRATEGIES

The arrival of a new grandchild has held up my writing progress over the last week in the nicest of ways. While the distance between us all is considerable, the two-hour train journey between Bournemouth and Brighton enables me to focus on my laptop screen.

Last month’s Writing Magazine also made the journey but, unfortunately, I did not dip into it. Imagine my horror then, on my return, to see the next edition sitting in a pile of post. I will have to start speed reading if I am to catch up. Tony Buzan’s book on Speed Reading is something I recommend to dyslexic students. Of course reading a book about ‘how to read’ is not easy but a tutor can dispense key points from this book and encourage practice such as moving a pen along the line ahead of the eyes as a means to ‘keep going’. Speeding up then happens quite naturally.

Skimming and scanning for essential points is another skill that benefits dyslexic students. Again running a pencil or other pointer down the page to locate key words is an effective method. Scanning reading material ahead of a more serious study read is something that dyslexic students have often not been encouraged to try. Dyslexic students frequently say they think ‘other students’ read word for word from beginning to end and that they take everything in without any re-reading. This is not true. Even non-dyslexics need to revisit parts of their reading material after the first read. Even they will find that scanning for keywords as a precursor to the actual read enables them to take in the material more quickly on the second read.

Dylexic students and pupils need to practise the following if they are to get the best out of their books and study materials.

1                 Look at the Contents page. Find the relevant chapter.

2                 Have a reason for reading – a question to answer. Reading for an assignment is an excellent reason. All other parts can be read later.

3                 Look at the summary at the end of the chapter before reading to give your brain a ‘schema’ on to which the information gleaned on the second reading will attach itself.

4                 Remember learning is about making new connections in the brain. The activity in 3 will pave the way.

5                 Look at the first sentence in each paragraph and highlight it. This is the topic sentence and, again, gives you a preview of what you are about to read in the paragraph.

6                 Use the margins to scribble notes. Do not be afraid to ‘mess up’ your handouts and textbooks. Not on library books of course!

 

Now back to Writing Magazine. The front cover tells me about the articles. The fast track to improve your writing definitely appeals as I am short of time on my nearly-completed novel. 10 projects to inspire you this month covers an introduction to NaNoWriMo and if you are a writer and don’t know what this is then google it and get involved. There is an article by Melvyn Bragg about completing your novel – a definite must for me at this point in time.

But what interests me most is an article on How to Fight Writers’ Bottom. Sitting for long periods is an occupational hazard. I intersperse my writing spurts with a quick walk to the shops or along the sea front. Strolling will not lift the pounds. One needs to put in some effort. The fresh air and some human interaction means that I return refreshed to attack whatever part of my WIP (Work in Progress) I am working on.

I have taken Writing Magazine for about eighteen months and it certainly makes my day when it lands on my doormat. It reminds me of why I get up in the morning, puts me in touch with ideas and success stories of other writers and provides numerous tips and valuable information.

Now I just need to find the time to read it!

 

In later posts I will deal with how parents can help their children with reading and writing about study skills that dyslexic students in Higher Education need to develop early on in their course.