We’re on a roll…

Yesterday was an exciting day, not only did we receive our first 250 copies of the BrainBox manual but my Ebook version of Sticking Plasters for Children’s Souls became available for purchase on Amazon. If you do purchase a copy don’t forget to leave your comments please.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sticking-Plasters-Childrens-Souls-Emotional-ebook/dp/B00IRFE9SY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393914881&sr=8-1&keywords=Sticking+plasters+for+children%27s+souls

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We also added a paypal button to our BrainBox website so can start putting your orders in
http://thebrainbox.org.uk
The rest of the bits and pieces to complete the packs arrive on Thursday so we can start packing up and posting out on Friday. This has been a long time coming and many years hard work but knowing the difference it can make it has been worth every moment.
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Now we have a new website to design, more booklets to finish off and I shall then get on with producing my ‘Get Control of Anger’ four week program.

So much to do but it is all very enjoyable and takes the focus off my current health issues.

Have a good day

Deborah x

A bit of exciting news..

…that certainly cheered me up. Yesterday I had a call saying that I had been short listed for, Role Model of the Year, in the local newspaper Comet Community Awards. Isn’t that just great news. Now own up who nominated me? Well a big Thank You anyway, I do so love awards and Colin and I will be sent two tickets to attend the ceremony at the Icknield Centre in Letchworth. Please let me know if you fancy coming along as more tickets can be purchased and it would be good to have some support there.

I failed again yesterday to work on the invitations but maybe my head will be in a better space today. I blame the drugs as the slow release morphine that I take twice a day certainly make me drowsy, no wonder it recommends not to drive whilst you are on them. If any of you are free anytime today and want to give me some help with the invitations I would be very grateful for your time and company.

As I have to accept living with this cancer I am starting to reassess what I should do with my life. I do so love my job but wonder if I can realistically ever return to a full time post. I do however need the money, so I need to visualise making the same amount of money but working less hours. Yesterday evening it was good to chat things over with my sister and Barbs and we mulled over our individual skill sets and what we had to offer the work place. The conclusion was that as individuals and together we have so much to offer. I know how well the brain box works at making a difference to both adults and children it would be a shame not to pursue this further even if its not a great money spinner. There is also my book to finish. My good friend Angela is making a regular income with the book she wrote and Colin published on Amazon. Self publishing can be quite tricky and time consuming so Colin is contemplating how to set himself up a small business doing just that, so please let us know if any of you have written a book you feel needs publishing. Please also let me know if you are looking for a business or life coach as I know just the ideal person to do that too. We are also skilled in training and we all have NLP training among other qualifications. Please get your thinking caps on and if you do have any ideas that I or the three of us could consider ( keep them clean!) leave a comment or send me a private email to deborah.bone@mac.com

I need to get my own thinking brain and positive outlook back into gear, but as I have been advised by many wise fellow myeloma sufferers, it is Ok to have some down days and a good cry now and again. It is not easy living with a disease that at the moment there is no cure for. So please forgive me if I cry on your shoulder every now and again and thank you so much for sticking with me and making writing this blog so worth while.

The sun is shining I hope it stays this way for you all, so you get to enjoy a warm bank holiday weekend.

I really do appreciate how lucky I am to be surrounded by such caring family and friends and to live in such a beautiful house with the most enviable of views. I am not going to let a little bit of cancer get in the way of that. And I should be getting letters dropping through the post soon congratulating me on my wins. Now if that doesn’t get me going nothing will.

Deborah x

Back down to earth with a bump.

It is important to visualise, to dream and to be positive but at times you also need to be realistic. This is the lesson I learnt yesterday, not that I didn’t already know it but I had allowed my fantasies to perhaps go a step to far. Yesterday my consultant brought me back down to earth.

I was excited about my visit to see the consultant. I had imagined him hugging me and shaking Colin’s hand,congratulating us for beating all the odds. I had visualised him telling me that now that I had no para proteins in my body I was free of cancer. That is what I, my friends and family all wanted to hear. This is what we had been saying to one another. You don’t have cancer now. The doctor told me differently. The bits I heard before my eyes glazed over with tears and my emotional brain took over from my thinking one were;

  1. You will always have cancer
  2. You still have cancerous cells in your bone marrow 
  3. The blood tests show some areas of high risk
  4. The pain in your legs may take months to get better and in the worse scenario may never go away
  5. You should go and make good use of your local hospice and get to know the people there.

The reality of the conversation as translated later by Colin was; Yes I will always have cancer and that although my blood tests show no para proteins, this actually means that there are no active cancerous cells (just dormant ones) which indicates that I am in a period of remission. The doctor was delighted as to how well I had responded to the trial. He did say there were some indicators in my blood that showed I was in a high risk group but there were also some positive indicators too. The doctor couldn’t give me a timetable as to how long it would be before I needed the stem cell transplant but he did say it definitely wouldn’t be ten years (I am of course going to prove him wrong on this point!). The neuropathic pain in my legs may take several months to subside and in some cases it doesn’t go away all together.

I also met a new nurse who took me through my next time table events, spoke to me briefly about what to expect and have me a big pack of reading material to bring home. My next appointment is May 21st. On this date I will need to get another ECG done , see the consultant and have a two hour slot with the harvesting department, (I think it has another name but I am not sure what this is yet) to go over the consent forms and sign them. There must be a lot to explain if it is going to take two hours?

So my harvesting timetable is:
May 21st – consent appointment
May 25th – chemo
May 26th – injection with growth hormone (this can be done at home by myself or a willing volunteer)
May 27th – injection with growth hormone
May 28th – injection with growth hormone
May 30th – injection with growth hormone
May 31st – injection with growth hormone
June 1st – injection with growth hormone
June 2nd – injection with growth hormone
June 3rd – go in for Harvesting
June 4th – go in for Harvesting

During this period and apparently for a little while afterwards I am apparently likely to be Neutropenic. This means that I will have a very low white blood cell count therefore more open to infection. I apparently must take this very seriously and there is even a special diet you must follow when you are Neutropenic which is a bit like the diet restrictions for a pregnant woman. No uncooked meats, pâté etc, no raw eggs, soft cheese like goats cheese (my favourite) and no probiotic yoghurts. It doesn’t seem too bad a diet anyway.

I must admit I was quite tearful yesterday so I did pop in to see the lovely ladies in the Macmillan room and they helped to calm me down a bit. Maybe it was because I just felt very tired yesterday, perhaps the time away had caught up with me? I suppose also that I had been feeling a lot better and thinking more about my future and going back to work sometime. I think the hospital visit yesterday has re confirmed that my life has changed and that there will be no going back to it as it was. I think maybe I need to take this positively and see it as a time to look at different opportunities. This would all be fine if I could include winning the lottery in my plans then I wouldn’t need to work.

Today I will rest and perhaps start reading the pack of information given to me yesterday. I would also like to get the party invitations done and dusted if only I can get a clear enough head on.

I hope that it’s a good Wednesday for you all.

Try to do something every day that you enjoy as you never know what is around the corner!

Best Wishes

Deborah x

Home Sweet Home

It is good to be home. Colin came to collect me at 11am but we didin’t get to leave the hospital until 3.15, as we waited all that time for my medication to be ready to take home.

My final diagnosis, according to my discharge summary, was Hepatobilary Sepsis, which is apparently (according to my good friend, Google), a life threatening infection of the liver or biliary area.  Hence the reason for keeping me in hospital and giving me IV anti biotics.

I can’t say I feel a 100% well but I am certainly a lot brighter than I was. Unfortunately I still have some pain in my right side making it difficult to lie on my right or left.  This s probably due to my liver cysts, although they have not caused me much pain in the past. I blame the enormous amount of drugs I have been having pumped into my body. Perhaps it was the steroids that caused one in particular to grow to a whopping 9cm.  I also still have the neuropathic pain although I think it is working its way down to my fingers and toes so I reckon it’s on it’s way out of my body.  Thank goodness for good pain killers.

Anyway enough of my complaining about my aches and pains, honestly it is boring me so it must make for pretty dull reading.

If I feel alert enough today I shall stuff myself with my remaining chocolate whilst working on my book. I had better enjoy the chocolate whilst I can, as one lunch out together, was enough for my husband and sister to cook up some sort of exercise and diet regime between them. Of course I couldn’t possibly start such a thing whilst feeling so poorly!

I also need to start thinking about the Summer Party as I know time will fly by and there is so much to organise. There is a whole committee willing to help out with the planning and organising we just need to get together to discuss the details. It will be so exciting and will keep my occupied, not that I need much to keep me busy.  I cannot understand these people who say they are bored, there is so much to do and enjoy in life my problem is finding the time and energy to fit it all in.

So I think today there will be some succumbing (I don’t want a return trip to hospital) mixed with a little Meday book research and writing. I also have a few TV programmes to catch up on such as , A Day in the life of the NHS. Poor Colin he would much rather watch a repeat of yet another Carry On film.

I should of course be going to church this Sunday morning but I can’t risk bumping into anyone with even the slightest of infections. Colin and I will just make our own  thanks and praises to the universe, God and whoever else we can think of in the privacy of our own home.

Happy Easter Sunday to you all.

Deborah x

Disappointed….

…in my own influential skills. Even my last ditch attempt of an offer of a sherbet lemon wasn’t going to make this doctor budge. I tried everything I could think of at the time, including, how a good nights sleep in my own bed, and looking out on beautiful country side would improve my mental health and therefore have a direct effect on my physical well being. And that I was surrounded by nurse friends who would personally administer my anti biotics orally, but this was one stubborn doctor, who insisted on me receiving the antibiotics by IV for 48 hours.

I must admit I did sleep very well after my last dose of anti biotics at 11.15 pm.

It is pretty boring here though, as this room has no TV and because I came in un-expectantly I had no books or magazines with me. So I was very grateful for my visitors, that I had put off until late afternoon as I was convinced I would be going home.

Pollyanna arrived at 4pm with an Easter egg, chocolates, cakes and magazines. It was lovely to hear all about her leaving do and the lovely compliments she received especially from the chief exec and others, for the contract work she had done for the NHS Trust I work for.

I am missing work and know this is an important year for us as all, as services like mine in Hertfordshire, are up for re-commissioning. Still I know I have an excellent team who will be doing all they can in my absence to ensure the Step 2 contract carries on and remains with Hertfordshire Community Trust.

Colin and Kate arrived at the hospital with more chocolate (they know me so well) and best of all my glasses. Therefore there are no more excuses for poor grammar or spelling. However I am sure many of you have seen the paragraph below which clearly demonstrates why I don’t really need to worry.

“I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt!

I have been really well looked after at the hospital here and couldn’t ask for more. The nurses are all excellent and will do anything they can to make your stay in hospital more comfortable. They certainly meet the 6C’s for nursing. It’s is very reassuring as this is where I will come when I eventually need a stem cell transplant, although I am hoping this won’t be for many years to come. It was also lovely to see Emma who was one of the brilliant nurses looking after me on floor 2 of my Parallel Universe.

I did make a bit of a boo boo yesterday as a new nurse asked me the name of the nurse who was caring for me for the evening. Now I couldn’t remember her name but I did describe her is being a foreign nurse, very pretty with long dark hair and dark olive skin. It must be Stef she said but apparently she was from Bristol? When my nurse did come to see me later I asked her if her name was Stef but she gave me another mans name. I said no that can’t be right because the other nurse told me that name belonged to one of the male nurses. I am a man he said! Well I just had to apologise and explain that I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but he was certainly a very pretty looking man.

I am looking forward to getting home today as I am confident this will definitely happen as long as my temperature has stayed down.

There is no place like home.

Thank you to you all for your best wishes and continuous support through this blog and Facebook it really does make a difference.

Enjoy your weekend.

Deborah x

Making the shift

This coming week is filled with excitement and anxiety.

It is interesting to note that both anxiety and excitement elicit the same physiological responses within the body.

Just think about a time you felt excited what do you notice?

Your heart beating quicker, your breathing speeding up, a butterfly sensation in your stomach? The same emotions that you may have experienced when you felt anxious?

It’s a very fine line between anxiety and excitement.

When I’m excited, I’m wild about the possibilities. I’m stepping into the unknown. I’m going full-speed ahead. I’m not stopping to care or worry or think about things going wrong.
I don’t have time for that! I have places to go, things to do, universes to conquer.

The difference to me between the two, is that when I’m in anxiety mode, I’m focused on
 “What if things go wrong?” I’m taking a step back from life, from success, from enjoying the experiences of living.

So making the subtle shift between anxiety and excitement is pretty important especially if I want to get the most out of life.

Anxiety is also the most common of psychiatric complaints and results in the most referrals to the Step2 service. Young people worrying about exams, parents worrying about their children’s futures, anxieties about finances, relationships and a variety of other phobias and fears.

So lets explore a few real life examples of excitement vs anxiety.

I am excited and anxious about the Village Secret event on Friday.

The excitement is building pictures and ideas in my head, it is getting my creative juices flowing. I am thinking about how to display the clothes and shoes, getting hold of accessories, shopping for Prosecco and nibbles, whether to wear my wig or not.

The anxiety emotion is focusing on the negative.

Will people turn up, will they enjoy the evening, do I have enough stock and will I manage at least to recuperate the excessive amount of money I spent on it?

Now, as the idea of the whole event was about a bunch of girls getting together to have a bit of fun. It would be a shame to allow a thinking style to spoil that happening. So lets do a bit of shifting.

To begin with, I know friends from the village will turn up as they have already said they would and I have no evidence of them letting me down before so that thought can be dismissed for a start.

And will we have fun? Well that is a given, a couple of glasses of Prosecco and a good old catch up has always worked in the past.

Can you notice the shift happening?

The next anxious thought – Do I have enough clothes and shoes, have I got the right sizes , will I recuperate my costs and be able to some raise money for charity?

Well, it is the first one I have ever done, so I have to give myself a little leeway here. I can’t be expected to know everyone tastes and sizes but I have sorted out some style sheets so I will be able to collect this information ready for the next one (if we all think its a good idea to put on another Village Secret evening). I am confident We will have fun trying different things on and I am sure some people will find some things they like. I have also had fun shopping online in the early hours of the morning, in my steroid fuelled moments.

One of the NLP suppositions is there are is “No such thing as failure, only feedback” so I know I will certainly learn from the experience , even if it is not to allow myself loose with my credit card ( or Paypal) whilst on steroids!

Lets look at another example.

I am anxious (and Colin is even more so) about Colin’s angiogram and possible stent implant on Wednesday.

We are anxious because we don’t know what is going to happen. Will it be painful, could it go wrong, what will they find?

First of all we could normalise this anxiety. It wouldn’t be normal not to feel a little anxious.

We have carried out some research and talked to other people who have experienced this before.

We know that this procedure has been done thousands of times with positive results.

We can feel excited about the difference it may make to Colin’s life and the more energy he may have in the future.

Here’s how to change your focus and get shifting:

1) normalise your anxiety, is it in proportion to the event ahead?

2) could you use the anxious thought as a driver to get you moving?

3) think of the physiological experiences you are experiencing as the same feeling of excitement.

4) focus on the positive outcomes rather than the what if

5) if you do have the ‘what if’ thoughts look for evidence for these . How justified are these thoughts?

I hope you find this helpful.

Now back to Which therapy?

Neuro . Linguistic Programming

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the basis for Neuro-Linguistic Psychotherapy (NLPt). It was developed by Richard Bandler and John Grinder and was largely studied at the University of California, during the 1960’s and 1970’s. It is now used internationally by millions of people throughout the world in such diverse fields as management, sales, marketing, public relations, education and therapy.

Psychologists had been studying performance and communication for years but what was different about the NLP approach was that it emphasised the study of what worked well in order to discover what were the essential ingredients – rather than studying what was not working and then looking for solutions for this.

Additionally NLP was available to everyone – being a behaviourally based process it did not require years of university study and the two core NLP programmes of practitioner and master practitioner could be completed quite quickly. However, longer in depth training programmes are currently being developed and made available through universities.

The main reason for its popularity and for the enthusiasm with which NLP spread, and was assimilated into so many disciplines, is the simple fact that it is remarkably effective. Significant personal and professional changes that might have taken months or years to achieve through traditional methods could be made in just a few hours.

The core belief of this approach is that people do not react to their environment as it is, but rather they build their perception from their experiences as they relate to the world around them. Each person develops his or her own map of his or her world, and by doing such, no one ever possesses a map that fully represents the true environment. Because each person experiences different life events, and subsequently different reactions to those events, no two people will ever be guided on the same journey.

This technique allows a person to view the steps that have led them to where they are and to examine the negative and positive influences, behaviors, and choices that brought them there. NLP also examines areas of success and uses these as a springboard for developing other successful emotions and determines the most efficient way to use these experiences and emotions in every day situations. This technique of “modeling” allows for rapid transformation.

Finding a good training or therapist is very important and I would recommend going along to a taster group or an initial first appointment and trust your own instincts. A good NLP practitioner will have excellent rapport building skills and should quickly be able to tap into your map of the world if you don’t experience this happening in the first appointment then find another that you feel happy with and notice this happening.

What you may have noticed between all the therapeutic approaches that have been discussed through the last few blog posts, is the similarities between them all. In their own way they all aim to guide the client towards a path of better understanding of themselves and a shift in their thinking patterns.

The trick is to find the approach that best suits you at the time you are seeking the help.

Have a great start to the week and if you are having any negative thoughts get shifting!

X

They didn’t…

..give me chemo. After a four hour wait I got to see the doctor, in between his clinic patients, for literally 5 mins. That’s all it took for him to decide not to give me the chemo. Honestly. money, time and energy could have been saved if he just asked me those questions over the phone, but never mind, I am a patient, patient.

A grading system is used when looking at side effects of the drugs I am being administered, and the doctors are particularly concerned about peripheral neuropathy. This is damage to the nervous system causing loss of sensation or pain and if you are not careful can be irreversible, so I am grateful for the doctors being so cautious.

It is graded in severity and a decision is then made whether to give the drug or at least reduce the dose.

Grade 1 Asymptomatic; loss of deep tendon reflexes or parathesia (including tingling) but not interfering with function No action

Grade 2 or Grade 1 with pain Sensory alteration or parathesia (including tingling) interfering with function but not with activities of daily living (ADL). Reduce bortezomib (Velcade, one of my chemo drugs) to 1.0 mg/m2 (25% dose reduction)

Grade 3 or Grade 2 with pain Sensory alteration or parathesia interfering with ADL Withhold bortezomib until toxicity resolves then restart at 0.7 mg/m2 (50% dose reduction)

Grade 4 Permanent sensory loss interfering with function (disabling) Discontinue bortezomib

As I was grade 2 with pain the drug has been withheld and I expect I will receive a reduced dose in cycle 4 of my chemo regime.

So I am chemo free and it feels good, I can even taste some foods!

I suppose there is a double edged sword to all this because although life without chemo is much more bearable I do realise it is doing some good and killing off those cancer cells. So I shall visualise the few little rats left behind hibernating, and them not getting rampant during this drug free rest period. Then on March 25th whilst they are still snoring away they will be zapped with the next dose of infertility gas making the males impotent and the females unable to reproduce. Sorry little rats but no more sexy times for you, I don’t want cancer babies chewing on MY bone marrow.

Hmm… rats in my bone marrow, I think I could have perhaps come up with a better metaphor than that!

Thinking about metaphors etc lets get back to which therapy?

Human Givens Psychotherapy

The theory of Human Givens is founded on the belief that every human has certain resources, such as creativity, imagination, memory, problem solving abilities and different thinking styles. Additionally, each person has specific core needs. these include physical needs such as warmth, shelter, food and water and emotional/psychological needs such as love , autonomy , attention, meaning and purpose, belonging, security, status. Remember the LAMBSS?

This theory suggests that it is only at times that these needs and resources are lacking that people fall victim to symptoms of addictions and other disorders such as depression.

The goal of this method of therapy is to identify and clear any obstacles that are preventing the realisation of these needs.

The human givens approach to psychotherapy was founded in 1998 by 2 British psychotherapists, Ivan Tyrrell and Joe Griffin, who decided that a larger “organizing idea” or foundation for psychotherapy was needed, based on these human needs or givens. These needs and resources, which are built into our biology, constitute the “human givens.”

Human Givens therapists focus on helping clients identify unmet emotional needs and empowering them to meet these needs by activating their own resources in new ways. The human givens approach, is increasing its evidence base and has proved effective for conditions such as depression, anxiety, addictions, trauma, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic attacks.

It does not require the client to re-tell their story in minute detail, is more interested in the hear and now and is brief in its approach.

See below a case study taken from the Human Givens website. I have chosen this one as it is very similar to the work I have done and my own experiences.

SARAH, a single mother of two boys under five, shuffled dispiritedly into my [Ivan Tyrrell’s] consulting room. She was completely lacking in confidence and her voice was almost a hoarse whisper as a result of what she termed her nervous breakdown. She lived on a council estate in a flat too small for herself and her two children (one of whom had behaviour difficulties), and had had to let her children go to live with her parents because she couldn’t cope with them in her present circumstances.

A year previously, her ex-partner, the father of her sons, had thrown a brick through the window of her flat, broken in and assaulted her. A new relationship had just recently gone wrong because the man, himself depressed, was too possessive and overprotective of her. She was in despair, missing her children desperately, and, knowing she needed help, had accepted the chance of free sessions of therapy to be used for training purposes.

She told me she was unable to sleep properly and felt utterly exhausted. Since her parents had taken over responsibility for her sons, she rarely left her poky flat, had let herself get overweight and spent her time depressed about her life and the loss of her boys, or worried about her debts. In answer to my questions about her life, she told me she hated being on benefits and that, when she was 17, she had loved her work as a care assistant in an old people’s home. I also found out that she had used to enjoy going swimming and had joined a gym before her ‘breakdown’ but had rarely gone there.

When I asked her what, realistically, she would like to have happen in her life, she said she would like to move, and mentioned for the first time that she was now ‘priority’ on the council’s waiting list to be allocated a house and garden. She was actually expecting to hear about a move within a week or so. She also wished for a job, although she saw many obstacles to this.

As we talked, I countered her negative comments about herself, inviting her to see herself as caring, loving, independent, someone with initiative and so on, and explained how endless worrying turns one inwards. What would help her most, I suggested, was to direct her attention outwards, so that she could find solutions to her problems instead of just worrying about them, and regain her interest in things outside of herself. These ideas were new to her.

I suggested she close her eyes and relax while, one by one, we went through the things she had said she needed to sort out in her life and she imagined herself dealing with them. For instance, I asked her to imagine herself enjoying going swimming regularly again, and going to the gym; to imagine herself looking at local papers for possible jobs, perhaps in the care field, or finding out about courses she might want to take; and to imagine herself in a new house with her boys back living with her and feeling positive about the future. I conveyed my impression of her as a strong, ‘can-do’ person, who could do much to change her situation within the next few weeks before I saw her again.

I also asked her to start noticing the good things, however small, that happened over that period and make more good things happen. “All you can work with is now and the future. You can’t do anything about the past,” I said. “I think the changes will be fantastic.” “Okay,” said Sarah. “That sounds good.”

When she came back to see me a few weeks later Sarah was looking bright and alive. “I feel really well,” she said. “You gave me a lot to think about, a lot of positive things.” She told me she was swimming regularly and had already started losing weight. Although she hadn’t gone back to the gym, she was using an exercise bike at home in the mornings.

She now had her children back staying with her three or four nights a week and planned to have them home full time very shortly, as she had now been offered a three bedroom house. She was doing a parenting course, which she found really useful in helping her handle her sons’ behaviour, and had been in touch with an agency which helped single parents back into work. She was also “getting on top of” her bills and announced she had felt low only one day in the last month. “I actually feel in control of my life again,” she said. “I felt like it was being taken over by, I don’t know, I just felt like it was being taken over.”

Shifting her focus on to solving her problems had stopped her negative introspections, normalising her sleep patterns as a result. Her voice was also back to normal. When I commented that she seemed to have everything pretty much under control and probably didn’t need any further help from me, Sarah herself said, in amazement, “One session I think that’s probably all it took, really; it gave me a push in the right direction. Whereas if I’d gone to [a different kind of] counselling, I might still be back where I was.”

She told me she had had a couple of sessions with the counsellor at a college she had attended some years before. “The woman I had just sat there. She didn’t comment on anything, she just expected me to pour out all about my past history. Basically, you are stuck in that little world still, revolved round the past, which isn’t really a good idea because — you can’t change it! [That kind of] counselling doesn’t give you anything whatsoever to think about or to dwell on, whereas this therapy does. You’ve got a lot of positive things to think about that you can get on with in your life.”

© Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell 2006

You will notice the use of visualisation. It would appear that the client went into a hypnotic, trance like state as various ideas were suggested to her.

I have used this way of working for many years now and have personally experienced excellent results. Young people are particularly open to this way of thinking and I believe it empowers people to participate in their therapeutic journey.

I love problem solving rather than ruminating over the whys and wherefore’s.

See below a simple exercise I often use:

Look around the room you are sitting in and notice all the red things in the room. Then close your eyes and make a mental list of all those things. Before you open your eyes list all the blue things you noticed in the room.

Because your mind wasn’t focusing on the blue things I don’t suppose you noticed many if any.

Now imagine if the red things were your problems if you focus on them you will see them in abundance but will you notice the blue things, the solutions?

Try focusing on the blue things and you will will soon start to notice more solutions than problems.

Have a good day.

Deborah x

PS. Thank you for all your comments and emails its good to know you are still out there, so I will carry on writing until I run out of things to say or you tell me to please shut up!

Will they or won’t they..

…give me chemo today? I must admit not having received it on Monday I really noticed the difference as I was soon back to my excitable old self. I do appreciate I need it so it can get on with doing its job but it was good to get a glimpse of what it might be like when I am in remission.  I have a little way to go yet though and 1-3 more cycles of chemo to endure.  If only I could say I”m OK now lets not bother with the rest. Never mind perhaps they will just give me a reduced dose today  so the side effects will be kept to a minimum. I do hope so as we are going to see the CC Smugglers playing at the Letchworth Arts Centre on Saturday night. I think there are some tickets left if anyone else fancies coming along for a preview of the band who are playing at my charity birthday party in July.

So back to which therapy?
Two for the price of one today!
Starting with ….good old fashioned counselling?
Counselling is sometimes used as an umbrella term for a range of different therapeutic approaches.  The word ‘counselling’ or ‘counsellor’ covers a broad spectrum, from someone who is highly trained to someone who uses counselling skills (listening, reflecting back what you say, or clarifying) as part of another role, such as nursing.
I am using the term here to mean a style of talking therapy delivered by a trained professional.
Counselling provides a regular time and space for people to talk about their troubles and explore difficult feelings in an environment that is dependable, free from intrusion and confidential. A counsellor should respect your viewpoint while helping you to deal with specific problems, cope with crises, improve your relationships, or develop better ways of living. Time is given for a trusting relationship to be developed.
Despite the name, counsellors don’t usually offer advice. Instead, they help you to gain a better insight into your feelings.  They do this by listening to what you have to say , and reflecting and clarifying with you what you have meant by these words. They may notice and point out any incongruent inconsistencies. For example if you are talking about a happy situation but your body language is showing a different story.
Sessions usually take place once a week. Making this regular commitment may give you a better chance of finding out why you are having difficulties.  Some people stay in this type of counselling for many years.
In general, a counsellor will listen to you without butting-in or imposing their own values and beliefs on you. They will give you the space to explore your thoughts, feelings, or behaviour, whatever they are. People can find it helpful just to have their concerns taken seriously.
For me personally, although I think there may be a place for this type of more longer term counselling, I am not sure it works as well as some of the other therapies that offer shorter term solutions. Maybe I want a quick fix? I have spoken regularly throughout this blog about the importance of time and for some people, having more time to reflect on their situation and explore for themselves a way forward is perhaps helpful?
And of course, there is no such thing as one-size-treats all approach to therapy. Every person and their life experiences make them unique. This means that the approach taken to help you through what you may be struggling with should also be unique and should be customised to meet your needs.
Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.
Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, apply theoretical and clinical knowledge developed over the last hundred years. It grew out of the work of the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, who began developing his therapeutic techniques in the late 1800s.
In psychoanalytic psychotherapy, the therapist is not directive and will not usually give advice.
The process involves the therapist following and paying attention to whatever the client presents and offering their understanding of this, including possible unconscious influences. The aim is to enable the client to think in new ways about their life and thereby to find their own solutions to problems.
The therapeutic relationship is the foundation for this method and requires commitment and responsibility from both the psychotherapist and client.  The aim is to work together to make sense of the clients’ emotional life and ways of functioning.
The work makes links between present and past as well as emphasising the clients’ here-and-now experience. Exploration of the conscious and unconscious aspects of the therapeutic relationship (also known as transference and countertransference) makes this work different from other therapies or from talking to a friend.
Through non-judgemental understanding and interpretative work within the therapeutic relationship, clients  can recognise underlying meanings of dreams, conflicts and fantasies and the way in which thoughts and feelings are expressed and resisted. This understanding enables new choices to be made, and the fulfilment of individuals’ unique potential.
Psychoanalysts and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists complete theoretical and experiential post-graduate training following a professional qualification. They are required to undergo their own psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic psychotherapy as part of their training, which enables them to understand distress and symptoms, and be mindful of the possibilities of their own personal biases.
As you can perhaps see, there is a wealth of experience,  theory and evidence behind this type of therapy and I have a great deal of respect for the training, and hard work that the therapist has undertaken in order to best support their client.
So the choice is getting greater, tomorrow I will explorer one of my favourites, Human Givens Psychotherapy and of course NLP.
Have a good Wednesday, not long till the weekend now, but don’t wait until then go out and enjoy today.

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Deborah x
PS. I have noticed a reduction in comments , are you still out there? Perhaps I am just waffling on about subjects that are interesting to me but are not what you want to be reading about. I can talk about other things rather than mental health but I am not sure talking to myself is necessarily a good thing? So do let me know if you are still there.

The Oxford Dictionary definition of courage is…

…the attitude of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult, or painful, instead of withdrawing from it; quality of being fearless or brave.

I must be brave and continue with my treatment remembering the end goal, which ultimately is life, and I do so love life.

I need, must and will have courage because I am not alone. You give me the strength to continue on my journey – Thank you

I have also been given the gift of optimism and resilience, something I really must not take for granted, even when it appears to be trying its hardest to hide itself from view..

Thank you for allowing me to use this blog to be honest.

It has been a pretty tough weekend and I expect I will have a few more of those to come, but I can do it. For a start I have Village Secrets coming up, my scarves to deliver and of course most exciting of all the Summer Party to look forward to.

Thank you to my family and friends who worked around my aches and pains to make Mother’s Day very special and a big Thank you to Pollyanna and Jem for the wondefully thoughtful gifts. ( hot massage oil for aching bones, favourite bath soaks, perfume, ice creams,and all the toppings etc).

Now let’s get back on track, where were we?

Oh yes the minefield of therapies on offer.

So let’s get the ball back rolling with – Mindfulness (mind, body connection)

Mindfulness has grown in attention and interest in the recent years, thanks to a rapidly expanding evidence base demonstrating that it can be helpful for many mental and physical health problems, as well as for improving well-being more generally. But Mindfulness isn’t new, it had been applied for thousands of years by Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians.

Mindfulness is the integration between the mind and body. The true body and mind connection.

Training our brains to become more mindful helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, we’re better able to manage them.

Mindfulness exercises or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) are ways of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga.

MBCT is recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the prevention of relapse in recurrent depression. It combines mindfulness techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and stretching with elements from cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) to help break the negative thought patterns that are characteristic of recurrent depression.

Neuroscientific studies have found differences in the areas of the brain associated with decision-making, attention and awareness in people who regularly practise Mindfulness meditation. People undertaking Mindfulness training have also shown an increase in activation in the left pre-frontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with positive emotions that is generally less active in people who are depressed.
Regular meditation also results in increased brain size in areas linked to emotion regulation, such as the hippocampus, the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and the inferior temporal lobe.

Almost three-quarters of GPs think mindfulness meditation would be helpful for people with mental health problems, and a third already refer patients to MBCT on a regular basis. (Source: ICM survey June 2009 of 250 GPs). With the increase in talking therapies being instigated across the UK this is something that you can raise and discuss with your GP.

Mindfulness can also help you take control of your eating habits by amplifying the volume of your body’s cues so you can hear loud and clear when you are hungry and full.

Eating while multitasking, whether working through lunch or watching TV while eating dinner, often leadsus to eat more. On the other hand, eating “mindfully,” savoring every mouthful, enhances the experience of eating and keeps us aware of how much we take in.

Many social and environmental factors can stand in the way of being able to accurately decode your body’s feedback. Mindfulness helps you break free from routine eating habits by examining the thoughts, feelings and internal pressures that affect how and why you eat (or don’t eat).

Mindfullness does take some practice, and I must admit I certainly need more practic!

To find a course near your visit you GP of take a look at this link:

http://bemindful.co.uk/learn/find-a-course/

One more thing here is a funny,but quite long (you have been warned) little animation that explains all so it back relax and enjoy.

http://youtu.be/ePw0pZxe3yI

Has anybody experienced mindfulness they would be willing the share?

Tomorrow we will explore Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

Thanks again for sticking in there

Deborah x

Which therapy is best for me?

Oh dear it’s another early start for me as I avoided taking a sleeping tablet last night. I have however still had 5 hours sleep which, for me, is pretty good going and I have at my disposal a day of succumbing if need be, but I do hope not.

I have been thinking about mental health, as I usually do, and the minefield of different types of therapy and therapists out there. How does one choose which is best for them. I of course have my own ideas and preferences but these are based entirely on my own experiences and my personal  map of the world.

This blog post would be far too long if I were to tell you even a little about some of these in one fell swoop so I shall do so over the next few days.

I shall start with sharing my own journey into therapy and why and how I have come to the conclusions I have. Please do remember these are not necessarily the right ones they are just MY beliefs and like I said based on my experience of the world so far. I am forever in training and learning more, so develop new thoughts and ideas as I go along.

Many years ago, person centred counselling was the buzz word and therapy around, and I took up the opportunity to train undertaking a diploma in counselling at my local college. As part of the training you go into therapy yourself.

I will be explaining more about what each therapy contains in a little more detail in the days to come, but generally this type of therapy is one where you sit and talk as much or as little as you want , and the therapist skilfully listens and reflects back, clarifying what they think they have heard. Some people go into this type of counselling for many years.

When working as a specialist nurse for children, mostly teenagers, who had been in care, I
listened to their experiences of counselling, and decided for myself that there must be a better approach to helping this group of young people. Many of them had told their stories over and over again to numerous social workers etc. Some of the young people were now living semi independently alone in their own bedsits. They often reported how unhelpful they found it to go and sit with a therapist where they felt they had to bring up there past yet again and then return to their homes to mull it over. They also reported that they were looking for more practical advice and support rather than someone to feedback what they think they had just heard. I felt fully in agreement with that and was anxious about the effect some of this therapy was having upon them. This is what led to my journey into finding out more about Human Givens (HG) and completing a diploma with the Human Givens Institute to become an HG therapist. During this time I managed (quite a feat I must say) to get hold of some funding to employ two qualified human given therapists to work with this group of vulnerable young people. This produced some excellent results and some very positive anecdotal feedback from the young people themselves. HG therapy is short and quick and does not require the client to go over their story in great deal or in fact at all in some circumstances. You will just have to wait a few blogs to find out more!

As I was coming to the end of my HG training I stumbled across Neuro- linguistic programming (NLP) and as I have previously explained in an earlier post.

https://mymyelomajourney.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/nlp-and-my-personal-journey/#comments

I found this personally life changing. NLP to me, is more of an attitude and a deeper understanding of what is happening in my mind and body as well as the external world around me. For me it is a toolbox of different techniques drawn from, or very similar to, a number of other therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Narrative Therapy , Psychoanalytic Therapy and Human Givens. NLP uses a range of techniques to help the client and the therapist gain a better understanding of their own world and resources, helping the client to move forward in their lives.

The biggest difference between the traditional therapies and the newer therapies like HG and NLP is the scientific evidence to back these newer theories up. However both of these are going through much research and analysis and the evidence is stacking up as to the positive impact they are having, so I hope they will soon be fully accepted and more respected by the scientific and academic community. All I can share is that for me personally and from what I have seen and experienced with my clients the techniques have had good results.

Since setting up a small team of mental health advisors and employing two excellent Clinical Psychologists I have been very lucky enough to listen and learn a little from them and their views and experiences. I have also experienced the support from a Clinical Psychologist on my own recent health journey as I tried to come to terms with my diagnosis. I learnt from them the importance of knowing and understanding something about my narrative. The story of my life to date and why this might be important in understanding the here and now. So I have a much more respectful view of why sometimes this may be appropriate.

At the end of the day , I believe it’s back to that old sage TIME. For me it is all about giving myself and the client time to think and explore together their resources and the best tools I have to share with them in the given time and situation being presented. Therapy is not something you do to some one else it is a journey you go on together with the therapist acting as a guide along the way. I believe you come into therapy to change your future not your past, but having a greater understanding about how your past history may have influenced your thinking today can be the key in helping you move forward.

So we have lots to explore together and over the next few blogs, I will talk in more depth about the different approaches and types of therapy you can access to help you with this.

On a different note, today I hope to bag up all the lovely scarves and hats that have been donated so far, ready to deliver to the Macmillan Centre next week. I shall make sure I get some photo’s to show you.

I also hope to have a visit to the wholesaler’s and start to better organise all the gear I have collected for the Village Secret event. So not much time for succumbing today I just hope my body agrees!

Have a happy day.

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www.tut.com

Deborah x