Archive for #freedom

POP A PILL OR GROW A POTATO?

Posted in emotional health, mental health, recovery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2014 by Karen unrue

food_pills_finlay

Ever see those sci fi movies where no one eats food anymore –

they all pop pills instead?

Its sort of happened already

dont you think?

I mean

WHEN DID YOU LAST GROW A POTATO?

We all eat crisps and french fries

but I have never planted a potato

or dug one out of the soil.

Are you kidding?

Why would I?

sounds far too much like hard work!

Someone else does that for me!

potato-picker-ngv

As a result –

The source of my nutrition

is as far removed from my everyday experience

as Jupiter!

It may be easier but it sure aint healthier!

 

We do the same when it comes to feeding our souls.

We may lack nutrients

from emotional malnutrition

in our childhoods,

or because of toxic relationships later on.

So what do we do?

Go organic?

Get our hands dirty in the hard work of growing our own?

NO

We go to our local pharmaceutical supermarket –

the doctor –

and try to get our emotional nutrition in a pill.

hirst_pharmaceuticals

PLEASE DON’T MISUNDERSTAND ME –

I am an advocate

of anti-depressants and mood stabilisers –

when they are needed.

I have used them myself

and I still take Prozac today.

 

What I’m talking about here is

stuff like –

silencing

the critical voice in our head

borne out of abusive

or unhealthy

relationships.

And

replacing it

with a

Barry White

type

voice of loving encouragement

and affirmation.

barry white

Breaking habitual negative and anxious thought patterns

and learning

to make

more positive,

confident

habitual thought patterns

that enable you

to live a life without fear.

A life you love living.

Unknown

Yes it’s hard work!

Learning to live free from anxiety

by re-sculpting my plastic brain –

re-shaping my neural pathways,

has been one of the hardest things I have ever done.

And it took time.

But let me tell you –

IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE !

 

So get out your gardening gloves!

Over the next few posts

I’m going to teach you

how to grow a potato!

SIGN POTATOES

PLASTIC FANTASTIC

Posted in our thought lives with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2014 by Karen unrue

drawings_and_paintings-brains-brains01

I thought my brain was a stone,

set hard.

I thought I was stuck with it

just the way it is.

But hey –

guess what?

Its plastic,

malleable,

and I can,

with time

and patience

make it a shape

that serves me better.

I can streamline it,

make it aerodynamic

so it flies

faster,

safer,

to destinations of my choosing.

Jet-plane-in-flight231

I’m not stuck with it

just the way it is.

Ok!

What am I talking about?

Well,

Our thought lives

determine our behaviour.

Right?

It is our

habitual

negative,

thought patterns

that make our lives

anxious

and scary.

self-portrait-or-desperate-man-gustave-courbet

It was always assumed

that

we are hardwired

from birth.

But now,

neuroscience tells us

we are not

and that we can

Sculpt

our neural pathways,

our thought lives,

into shapes

and patterns

that serve us better

that make life

more enjoyable.

Malvina Hoffman 1885-1966 - American sculptor - Tutt'Art@ (24)

“THIS IS JUST THE WAY I AM!”

is not a painful

frustrating,

truth

you have to live with anymore.

you can change who you are

by changing how you think!!

You are not just human beings –

you are human becomings!!

You can become who you want to be.

This is not a glib “power of positive thinking” motivational speech.

This is science

and psychology

and it can change your life –

It changed mine.

In my next post I’ll talk about how how to start this process, and how to keep going until your life is less anxious and negative, better, easier, and happier.

I am talking from personal experience here

and

It can be done!!!!

hope

BITE THE SNAKE

Posted in bite the snake with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2013 by Karen unrue

EXCITING NEWS!!

I have written a book!

BITE_THE_SNAKE

“How to extract the poison from your past and enjoy playing in the present”

Click here to sign up for updates about Bite the Snake

It is my passion in life
to work with people
that life has trampled on.
Whatever big boot
it was that
squashed the self-belief out of them –
damaged childhood,
domestic abuse,
bullying –
I consider it a privilege
when I can help them
understand,
through the work I do,
that they did not deserve
the treatment they received,
and show them how
to regain
their self-worth
and learn to
love themselves again.

loving herself 2

I speak out of my own experience.
After a “big boot”
crushed me underfoot
I had to learn
to live again,
believe again –
that I was worth loving.
Trust again –
that I had value.

I wish I had had a book
like this to read
when I was
trying
to figure it all out.
I am so happy
that I have been able
to write this
and help others on their way.

smiling hand

THE SURPRISE PARTY

Posted in THE SURPRISE OF RECOVERY with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2013 by Karen unrue
painting by Fahad Hassain

painting by Fahad Hossain

Have you ever had a birthday
when no one remembered ?
A birthday when no one rang
to wish you “Happy Birthday”,
no one at work brought in a card,
and only acquaintances,
and your boss said anything at all?

It sucks right !?
It makes you feel
alone,
unloved,
unhappy,
it can even make you wonder
what life is all about.
Make you
doubt yourself,
doubt your self-worth,
doubt the people you thought were friends,
doubt your judgement.
At its worst
it can even make you feel
depressed,
despairing.

BUT THEN

You arrive home,
the windows are dark,
the house is silent.
You put your key in the front door –
and the moment you walk in
the house lights up like a firework!
A crowd of people
are cheering
and shouting out
“SURPRISE!!!”
as they
jump up and down,
throw streamers
and set off party poppers,
and then they –
run at you,
hug you,
kiss you
with big smiles on their faces.

surprise party 1

Suddenly the sadness is gone.
You know you are
loved,
valued,
cared about.
Loneliness leaves,
self doubt is dispelled,
despair dissipates.
The present,
and the future, look
BRIGHT.

HEALING
is often like this too!

It can seem far away,
even impossible.
We can be filled
with the feeling
that we will never recover.
Pain,
depression,
despair,
self-doubt,
self-loathing,
loneliness,
seem to be our only companions.

depression

I have been there.
I know that feeling.
I wanted to –
give up,
let go,
stop fighting for survival.
stop hoping for a better day to come.
I even contemplated
suicide
at times.

BUT THEN – out of the blue –

RECOVERY SURPRISED ME!!!

Hope lit up the room
and threw party poppers.
Joy ran at me and held me
in a welcoming embrace.
The present
was not so scary,
and the future not so dark.

drawing by holymoocow

drawing by holymoocow

Here’s the thing!!
If I had given in
to the feelings of despair –
NOT kept hoping
for a better day,
If I had given up
and checked out –
even just the day before –

I WOULD HAVE MISSED THE PARTY!

I met a young woman,
in the clinic in Cape Town,
who is 29 years old.
She became a heroin addict
at a very young age
during a time of trauma and abandonment.
She is beautiful,
both inside and out.
When I met her
it was her 21st time in a rehab clinic!!!
SHE REFUSES TO GIVE UP!!
She believes that one day
she will get clean
and stay clean.
And do you know what?
I believe she will too!
I believe she will one day soon
attend her own
SURPRISE PARTY!

drug-rehab-center

The damage
done to me by my loving
but unwitting parents
during my childhood.
The damage
done to me
by an abusive husband
over 10 years
during my twenties.
It has taken until
the age of 54
for me to be really free of it.

THAT’S A LONG TIME!

That’s 24 years!

But if I had given up,
checked out,
at the times I was tempted to
during those years
I would have missed
THE SURPRISE PARTY
of recovery
that eventually came.

So I urge anyone reading this –
If you are tempted
to give in
or
give up.
DON’T !
Keep on keeping on.
Look for people to –
support you,
walk with you,
give you hope,
pick you up when you fall down –
but
KEEP GOING!

Your SURPRISE PARTY
Could be just around the corner!!!

hope

Please know that you can chat to me about any aspect of recovery you like – if I don’t know the answer I will find out for you
DON’T WALK ALONE!

————————————————————————————–

TALKING OF WALKING – IT WOULD BE WONDERFUL IF YOU COULD CHECK OUT THE DONATE PAGE BELOW AND SPONSOR ME IN A WALK I AM DOING FOR THE MENTAL HEALTH CHARITY I WORK FOR – THANKS

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MAN ON THE MOON

Posted in MAN ON THE MOON with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2013 by Karen unrue

the moon

5.30 this morning.
I go downstairs to the car park
of my apartment building,
(we have no balcony!)
for a cigarette.
I look up
and I see the moon
in all her glory.
I am awe-struck –
as if its the first time I’ve seen it.
I think to myself
that not all that long ago
the moon was a mystery.
Scientists
had not invented a telescope
big enough
to see it properly.
NO ONE
had stood on the moon
and taken pictures
of what we,
the earth,
look like from there.
We had no idea
of what we looked like
in the grand scale of things.
We had no way
of putting ourselves
into perspective
on a universal scale.
NOW WE CAN!!!
earh from the moon
This is important to me
because
I have just returned
from a private clinic
in Cape Town,
South Africa,
where I underwent
a medical detox
for a benzodiazapene,
(tranquilizor)
that my doctor
prescribed
when I experienced
a period of anxiety
3 years ago.
She did NOT make it clear
it was addictive.
The anxiety passed.
The addiction did not!
Turns out that
The National Health Service,
here in Britain,
will give out this shit
like candy
but does not provide an exit strategy.
For the last 3 years
I have been trying to come off it –
without success –
because the side effects are
HORRENDOUS!!
My life was being torn apart.

torn clothing

In the end
I had no choice
but to go private.
I am blessed
that I received a compensation
pay-out at this time,
for something,
that enabled me to afford it.
There are MANY others
who are not so fortunate.

I am home now,
back in London,
CLEAN!

BUT

the on-going side effects
of withdrawal
from a benzodiazapene
are also
HORRENDOUS!!
no one prepared me for this!!
Yesterday
I spent hours
at the emergency room
of a local hospital
having chest x-rays,
and EGC’s
because I thought
I was having
a heart attack.
I passed out for 2 hours
while writing an email to my boss.
Even when sitting still
it feels like a steam train is running through me!!

steam train

Of course
all my tests came back healthy.
This was a relief
BUT
what the F***K
was wrong with me?
I went on a website
http://www.benzobuddies.com
and all was revealed.
It turns out that
that being on a benzo
causes such trauma
to the brain
and central nervous system,
that once a person
has come off of it –
they have to work really really
hard to heal.
Neurotransmitters
are struggling to reconnect –
the brain and the body
are desperately trying to
put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

humpty dumpty

So I looked at the moon
this morning
and thought to myself –
THANK GOD
there has been a man on my moon!
THANK GOD
there are people out there
who have seen the view from up there
and can give me perspective.
THANK GOD
there are those
who have experienced this
and can support
and encourage me.

It can take up to a year
for these side effects
to abate.
But I am not alone!!!!
There are other astronauts with me!

I will be ok!!!

man on the moon

To all of you who have supported me and prayed for me during this time – thank you so much
To anybody who is going through this themselves – don’t give up – stay strong – go to http://www.benzobuddies.com
Contact me if you like – I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

GOD BLESS

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OUR INNER CRITIC IS A LIAR

Posted in unhelpful negative thinking with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2013 by Karen unrue
The West End. London theatre land.

The West End. London theatre land.

An actress
has just
performed
her heart out.
Opening night
in a west end show.
She was
great, and
received
a standing ovation
from
the filled auditorium.

ovation460

The morning papers
come out.
The whole cast
has stayed up
all night
to read what
the critics
have to say.
They nervously
open the papers
to the
relevant page.

newspapers

As she reads
she sees
that
nine out of ten
critics
state she was
wonderful ,
“Miss Sinclair
brought the role to life
and made it her own.”
One critic
is disparaging
“miss Sinclair
lacked the lustre
the role required.”

SHE IS DEVASTATED.

Woman-grief-painting-640x480

No matter
how much the others
point out
that nine out of ten
good reviews
is terrific
and tell her to
pay no heed
to the idiot
who said
negative things,
all she can think about
is
the negative,
the critical
the disappointed
voice.

negative words sheet

WHY DO WE DO THAT? ALL OF US DO IT!

There is something in each of us, for some reason, that more readily believes the negative thoughts that come at us and fill our heads than the positive ones that get spoken as well.
It’s because we tend to already have distorted perspectives about ourselves and we cherry pick the thoughts that most easily fit in with them.
The negative thoughts are easier for us to believe!!!

BUT MOST NEGATIVE THOUGHTS ARE LIARS.

Even though we are convinced that they are valid most of the negative thoughts that make us feel bad are:-

DISTORTED AND UNREALISTIC

IMG_3445

They are the blah, blah, blah that fill our heads automatically from what we have been conditioned to believe about ourselves.

For those of you who have begun to write down some of your negative self-talk as you have become aware of it– here are some of the distorted thinking patterns they will fit into. See if you recognise any of these in your negative thoughts.

CATASTROPHISING

This is when we take something and blow it all out of proportion.
We make it bigger in our minds that it should be and then usually use the
thought to hammer ourselves with.

“I forgot to invite Emily to my daughters birthday party – OH NO – now her mother will think I’m horrible and won’t speak to me in the playground when I pick the kids up. OH God I bet she’ll even turn the other mums against me. I will have to get someone else to pick up the kids – I cant show my there face again. How could I have done that I’M SO STUPID, SO THOUGHTLESS, SO USELESS.”

painting by Guillame Le Tual

painting by Guillame Le Tual

MIND READING.

This is when we assume we know what others are thinking.

“I can’t go to my husband’s work “DO” because I know that all the other wives look down on me. I know they don’t think I’m good enough for Mike.”

crystal ball

NEGATIVE FILTERING

This is when no matter how well something might be going WE will filter out the positive things and see only the negative.

“was’nt that a great evening. The food was delicious and the music was great.”
we say,
“yes darling but why did it have to be outside? It gets so cold in the evenings this time of year, and did you notice that neither Rose nor Mary spoke more than two words to me the whole evening.”

confectioners-sugar-being-sprinkled-with-a-sifter

BLACK AND WHITE THINKING

This is when we take everything to the extreme. It tends to make us hard on ourselves and come to some harsh assumptions.

“I am ALWAYS the one who ends up washing coffee cups after church. NO ONE EVER helps out. I am FOREVER taken for granted. I am NEVER appreciated.”

BIAS AGAINST YOURSELF

This is when we fail to see the good in ourselves, even when others do, and we focus instead on the negative.

“Thanks for coming shopping with me and helping me choose an outfit for the wedding. You have a really good eye for colours and what things go together well.”
We say,
“Don’t be silly, no I don’t, I just know what you like”

These are just a few of the negative thinking patterns that hinder our enjoyment of life.

Now that we are becoming more aware of what they are we will look at how we can challenge them and exchange them for more rational and positive thinking.

dont listen to negative words

Do you recognise any of them in your own thinking?
How have they prevented you from enjoying life more?

THE VITAL INGREDIENT

Posted in Hope with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2013 by Karen unrue
painting by Rebecca Finch

painting by Rebecca Finch

Recently I was told a about a piece of research* that was undertaken to try and understand why some people with mental health issues “recover” and some do not. A large research group was studied over several years. All the participants received in equal measure whatever therapies their conditions required, including medication. To the researchers surprise their findings showed that the ingredient missing in those who did not “recover”, but which was present in those who did, was – HOPE!.
In my own journey of “recovery”, (I put this word in parentheses because there are various definitions of recovery in mental health) as well as in my work with clients over the years I certainly have seen HOPE as a vital ingredient in “recovery”.

painting by Carol Engles

painting by Carol Engles

What I want to stress though is that hope is not a whimsical thing that some people are born able to pluck out of the ether and some are not. Hope can be conveyed, passed on, taught, learned, absorbed etc.etc. I have worked with people who when they first came to me were despairing, hope-less, and who I had the privilege of watching, over the months, gradually blossom and find the spark of joy re-ignited in their lives.
That’s NOT me blowing my own trumpet.
What I’m saying is that hope is knowledge,
and knowledge is power.

A scholar who wishes to become proficient in a subject will surround himself with books, podcasts, videos, and attend lectures and seminars. He will spend lots of time with those also interested in his topic of study, and more importantly, he will spend time with and listen to those people who have, over many years, become wise in the subject. Then, if he is serious about becoming wise in the subject himself, he will pay attention to what they have to say and WORK HARD at practicing the advice they offer.

painting-of-man-reading-by-candlelight

I believe hope works the same way.
Surround yourself with books
that are hopeful,
people that are
hopeful.
Watch videos
that are hopeful
(“Ted talks” is full of them – google it.)
See a hope-filled counsellor,
key worker.
And work at it –
work HARD at it.
Practice what you hear.
We live in a society that expects instant gratification, a quick fix –
NO!
The old adage still prevails.
If something is worth having
it is worth working for.

To paraphrase a terrible movie cliche –

BUILD HOPE AND IT WILL COME.

building

Here’s a poem I wrote about it:-

HOPE

I thought you’d be a butterfly
and try to fly away.
A thing of fragile beauty
I had to beg to stay.
Something
I had to cling to,
tie a leash to,
slip some cash through
your front door
in an envelope
marked
“there’s more where this comes from – don’t leave.”

Instead you were an elephant,
that was a surprise!
And I could always find you
if i looked through seeing eyes.
But some days –
fear tried to blind me,
it wasn’t always easy,
boy! I had to really
look hard
through binoculars
until
my vision cleared. Then I’d see you, and I’d be relieved!

Decorated-animals-by-Bioworkz3-600x778

——————————————-

and most of all

DON’T GIVE UP!

hope

*I’m sorry but I do not have the details about this piece of research.

SILENCING LORD HAW HAW

Posted in Silencing Lord Haw Haw with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2013 by Karen unrue

joyce 0001

Lord Haw Haw, real name, William Joyce, was a British citizen who, during world war 2 defected to Germany and worked for the Nazi’s against the British people by broadcasting on Hamburg radio’s nightly broadcasts of “Germany Calling”.
He used an exaggerated English aristocratic accent to broadcast lies and half- truths designed to unnerve the British people, as well as to try and confuse them and lower their morale.

All of us, to a greater or lesser extent, have our own Lord Haw Haw.

We hear the voices of those who should have been allies in our lives but who, instead, spoke words daily that unnerved us and lowered our self-belief.

We no longer hear them as loudly as on the day they were said, or hear the voices that originally spoke the words.
Most of the time we are hardly aware of them.
It’s a dull muttering like a radio left on in the background.
Its known in the trade as “self-talk”, or “inner dialogue” and everyone experiences it.

radio

Some have been luckier than others and have had far more encouraging and nurturing words spoken to them than unnerving, undermining ones. So they’re self-talk is more positive than negative.
But those of us who have heard Lord Haw Haw daily will have a negative broadcast playing in our heads that effects our thinking and behaviour.
That’s because our “inner dialogue” is closely linked to the “BOTTOM LINE” that I talk about in an earlier post. Our “inner dialogue” reflects the fundamental beliefs we hold about ourselves. It’s the chatter in our heads resulting from the opinions that others have stated about us and that we have believed to be true.
There are times when the volume increases on our inner dialogue – its when we attempt to move out of our comfort zone – that safe little circle we have chalked around ourselves, the limits in which we choose to live based on our self-belief or lack of it.

chalk circle

For instance –
A woman on her way to an interview for a job she really wants will hear:-

“Oh God, there will be others there far more qualified than I am.”
“What am I doing? I’m not good enough for this job”
“They will see through me straight away”
“I should just stay a secretary, that’s what I’m good at.”

Sound familiar?

or

you receive an invitation to your 15 year school reunion – your self-talk will be loud then:-

“I can’t go, everyone will have done so much more with their lives than me.”
“I’ve put on weight, people will judge me.”
“no one will want to talk to me”
“I will feel awkward – it will be awful.”

person in despair

There are a million other examples I could give –
But you get the point.

So how do we silence Lord Haw Haw?
How do we turn the radio off?
Or change the station we are listening to?

The first thing to do is to keep a notebook and pen handy and jot down your self-talk when you become aware of it. Over time this will give you insight into the kind of distorted perspectives you have carried from your early years into adulthood.
Also keep note of the kind of behaviours that your self-talk tries to talk you out of doing.

Unknown

For instance:-

Going to parties/activities that you are invited to.
Doing higher education classes or going for promotion.
Approaching a girl/boy you like and asking them out for coffee.
Trying something different in your life – an activity or interest.

By gaining this insight it will help clarify what kind of thinking clouds your judgement of yourself and of the world, and prevents you from living an authentic, free life.
The kind of life you really want to live.

life of freedom

In my next post I will show you a list of several kinds of distorted perspectives and you will be able to see which of these fits your self-talk.
I will then show you practical techniques you can use, not only to identify your distorted thinking patterns in certain life scenarios, but to gain a more rational perspective in the areas where your self-talk clouds your vision. These will enable you to begin to minimise your negative self-talk.

In other words it will help you to begin –

SILENCING LORD HAW HAW

After all, lets not forget that he was hanged for treason in 1946.

THAT MOMENT WHEN THE LIGHT GOES ON

Posted in Inspired with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2013 by Karen unrue

425675_10150683329393899_1706279054_n

This is not something I usually do –
post a video.
And please believe me
when i say
that
it is not just a
lazy man’s blog post.
I watched this
and
was blown away
by the insight
and
simplicity
of this piece of research,
and this woman’s journey.
IT TURNED A LIGHT ON FOR ME.
It has been said (by someone who’s name I should probably know!)
that
true freedom
comes
when we learn
how to be
unselfconsciousness.

PLEASE WATCH WHAT BRENE BROWN HAS TO SAY ON THE SUBJECT
IT’S WORTH IT!

Oh, and I’d love to hear what you think, so please comment.

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