Part of my DBT programme  is learning how to be mindful and a lot of people don’t understand what mindfulness is. Mindfulness is about living in the moment, being aware of the present and allowing your mind to be full yet focusing only on what is happening in the current moment.

Mindfulness is something which I have struggled with since being introduced to it while I was in hospital. Part of my treatment plan while in hospital involved taking part in a mindfulness group. I engaged with the programme  and struggled to focus on the present moment while I had some good days I never really got the hang of it. After being discharged from hospital I never continued with practicing mindfulness which is one of the reasons I'm not all that fond of it but I have been engaging with the DBT programme and the mindfulness and it is beginning to pay off because  the more I practice the easier it gets.

Living mindfully is not something which happens out of the blue, you don’t wake up one morning and and be able to live mindfully without any practice or repetition. Mindfulness takes time,  dedication and patience and it can be done in many different ways. For me athletics something which I do mindfully. While at athletics, be it coaching or training myself I am 100% in the moment, I don’t think about what I'm going to do when I go home, I don’t thinking about what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow. Once I walk into the track nothing but athletics matters and it is then when I am living in the moment. Not every time I go to athletics I am 100% in the moment. There are some days that I have to work hard to keep my attention on what I am doing but with constant practice it gets easier.

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

A few months back I was told my name would be going on a waiting list to begin a therapy which would hopefully help to treat my borderline personality disorder, safe in the knowledge that in a few months time I would begin this new therapy I went about my normal day to day somewhat boring life. In august I got the call saying my name had come up and I was asked to meet a therapist to discuss taking a place on the programme. Almost without hesitation I agreed to take a place on the therapy which is made up of three parts, Individual weekly sessions, weekly group sessions aimed at learning new ways of coping and homework which is practicing the skills we learn in group. For the past three weeks I have been attending my weekly group sessions which last 2 hours and 15 minutes and for the past 4-6 weeks I have been attending individual therapy sessions.

So far I have struggled to begin to open up to the new therapist but last week I feel as if I had a breakthrough as I finally opened up about some stuff that was really bothering me, it wasn’t anything major but for me it was making me feel low and I could feel myself starting yet another downward spiral as a result of it but that changed because somehow I managed to open up. While individual therapy may be going good the group sessions are a lot harder, trying to learn new skills to take the place of self-harming is hard and something which I still feel I am a bit reluctant to try but if I don’t try I'm never going to get better am I?

Throughout the past three group sessions we have been learning the skill of mindfulness, something which I have done before while I was in hospital and have avoided ever since then. But Ive been engaging with the programme , doing my homework and mindfulness has been getting easier to do and whats even more surprising is that I am beginning to do it more freely, without resistance. I'm still not its biggest fan but I guess when you practice every day you begin to like the thing you are practicing and as it gets easier I feel I will being to like it more.

To be honest this post was not due to be about how I getting on in therapy but more about the therapy itself, somewhere I got lost in what I was writing, something which seems to be happening more and more lately but anyway back to the topics, DBT.

DBT was developed by Marsha Linehan and is a comprehensive cognitive behavioral treatment which was originally developed to treat Borderline Personality Disorder. Similar to CBT, DBT is more intensive lasting for a number of months with two weekly sessions and a number of weekly homework assignments involved also.  Here is a brief history of the origins of DBT taken from behaviouraltech.org

“In the late 1970s, Marsha M. Linehan (1993) attempted to apply standard Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to the problems of adult women with histories of chronic suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, urges to self-harm, and self-mutilation. Trained as a behaviorist, she was interested in treating discrete behaviors; however, through consultation with colleagues, she concluded that she was treating women who met criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). In the late 1970s, CBT had gained prominence as an effective psychotherapy for a range of serious problems. Linehan was keenly interested in investigating whether or not it would prove helpful for individuals whose suicidality was in response to extremely painful problems. As she and her research team applied standard CBT, they encountered numerous problems with its use. "

Photo of the day. :)

Looking at this photo makes me feel old, have I changed over the past 16 years?

Does it get easier?

Over the past couple of weeks I have been thinking a lot about my mum and specifically about her death and each and every time I think about her I begin to get tearful and find myself asking the same question over and over again, when will it get easier?

When my mum died and indeed before my mum died people told me it gets easier, things will be ok and that as time goes by it gets easier to deal with her death, but does it? Does it ever get easier? I still think about my mum everyday, I remember her death so vividly, I can still feel the atmosphere from the hospice room, I can still feel my back against the wall and I can still her the nurses soft voice almost whisper "she's gone". The pain doesn't go away, the hole in my heart has never been filled and the constant reminder that I am never going to see my mum, hug my mum or even talk to my mum again never goes away. Each time I think of my mum, despite the positivists I am plagued with all the negatives, the cancer, the hospitals, the hospice and her death and I find myself again asking does it get easier?

I have thought about that question a lot, almost everyday I think about when it might get easier to deal with my mums death, her illness and indeed the fact that she actually is gone, not just for a day, a week, a month, a year but she's gone forever. When I think about the question, does it get easier? I realize that it does, each day I think of my mum and each time of think of my mum I get this feeling, a feeling that grows and develops the more and more I think of my mum. It’s a feeling I struggle to describe but this feeling is proof that things get easier. I still think of my mums death, I still thinking of her and her illness and I still struggle to come to terms with the fact my mum is gone even after 9 year but the feeling deep inside me which grows each and every time I think of her allows me to realize it gets easier. 

This feeling makes me feel comfortable, hopeful, grateful for the years I had with her and most of this feeling makes me feel happy, happy that she's not suffering, happy that I can remember her and happy that I know she is somewhere keeping me safe. So while I continue to question at times whether things get easier, I realize they do because as the years go by, as your heart aches you begin to realize that no matter what, no matter what you believe in the person you have lost is still around you, they are still there and they are what’s keeping you going each and everyday making each day that bit easier than the last.

The capital city of Massachusetts

Home to the Boston red sox’s, the JFK museum, Liberty bell, Fenway Park and so much more. Boston is my dream, where I want to be, where I’m happy, content with life, and where I feel I belong. Three years ago my dream to go to Boston finally came true and while I only spent three days there it was long enough for me to fall in love with the city.
Boston Public library

I know you might be thinking, why is she writing a post about this now? Well for many years I have said I am going to move to Boston but people never thought I meant it, to be honest I’m not really sure if I thought I meant it, it was just something I always said but after starting my second year of college I decided I needed to look at what it is I want to do with my life. I know I want to be a community/youth worker something which is already becoming a reality but I also know that I want to move to Boston, something which has now began to become a reality.

Last Friday I decided I’m going to move to Boston by 2020, have an apartment and a job over there and begin a new life. You might be thinking I’m way ahead of myself when I tell you I have been looking up apartments and jobs but like I said to one of my brothers there is no harm in early planning. I’m a planner, that’s what I do, I plan things no matter how early it might be, sure I’ve even got another 11 blog posts written up.

When I say my dream is finally becoming a reality I mean I have finally taken the steps necessary to ensure it happens. I have begun saving money, I’ve made a savings plan, I’ve made a study plan because after all if I don’t have a qualification I’m not going to get a job over there and last but not least I’ve begun to look into getting a visa. Educating myself on all things necessary in order to live and work in the US is half the task and understanding it is as equally important.

I’ve thought long and hard about this and I know now this is what I want. How do I know? I know because it feels right, thinking about moving makes me feel like me, relaxed and ready. I know this is what I want and now all I have to do is make it happen.

Body Image (Repost)

We are all different and we all have different backgrounds, cultures, religions and like having a different culture or religion we all have different body shapes and sizes. During your teenage years and in fact into your adult years many woman and men begin to focus on how they look and begin to get obsessed at times with how they look worrying whether or not they fit into the stereotypes created by society. Body image and mental health are two things which are linked and often if your not doing well physically you may be suffering mentally and if your not doing well mentally you may be suffering physically so it is important to take time to ensure that you are happy with your self physically to ensure positive mental health.

At different stages in our life our body image may change, at times when we are happy and content with life we may have a positive and healthy body image whereas during times when we are not so happy and content with life we may have a negative and unhealthy body image, while this may occur for some people it is important to remember that everybody is different and it is diversity which makes the world.

When thinking about your body image I believe it is important to focus on the fact that if you are healthy then you don’t have much to worry about, after all they do say your health is your wealth. Its important not to focus too much in a negative way the things that make you different, so what if your tall, or fat or short or thin as long as you are healthy and comfortable in your own skin that is all that matters.

Here is a video my sister-in-law made about her recent weight gain and how she is dealing with it to ensure she remains positive.

Photo of the day. :)

Lets just say we never did what most teenagers would do!!

Haters gonna hate!

It's not easy writing a blog and it certainly is not easy writing a blog about your mental health issues, exposing yourself for the world to see, leaving yourself open for ridicule, criticism and general negative comments. I struggle at times writing my blog, I struggle to bite the bullet and post some of the more sensitive posts I write, and I struggle to sit down, to concentrate and to put myself out there and open for people to abuse me but somewhere deep inside I put all that to the back of my mind and I go for it, I feel the fear and do it anyway. You might be thinking if I know I am going to be subjecting myself to abuse why do I continue to do it? Well I write because I love it and I put my ramblings online for the world to see for one reason and one reason only, to ensure people become aware that it is ok to feel shit, it is ok to suffer from mental health issue, that it is ok to ask for help and most importantly that no matter how bad things get there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

I've got some pretty hurtful things said to me over the four years of writing my blog, things that nobody should ever have to read or hear, things that knock you down and make it hard for you to get back up again, but I've done just that, I've got back up and I have continued to write and write about the things I feel passionate about. The best thing about blogger is that you can moderate your comments, you can choose which comments others can read, for me its kind of like letting me choose which comments I let get to me, which comments I let break me down and which comments I let make me stronger and more committed to writing about the things I am passionate about. It is sometimes the most hurtful comments, which allow me to go deep inside myself and write about the hardest times in my life, the hatred fuels me at times. 

But then at times some comments really go beyond belief and you wondering what is going on in a persons mind when they tell you to take your own life and some go even further and tell you how they wish you would do it! Its these comments that hurt, it’s the comments so full of rage and hatred that took time and effort to think of, its these comments that know you down and hold you down for a few days that take their toll. I know some of the people who leave those comments on my blog are reading this post and I’m sure many of them are getting some kind of satisfaction knowing that they know me down and sometimes they prevent me from getting back up in a hurry but to be honest sometimes it takes getting knocked down and not being able to get up for you to realize you need to look after yourself, sometimes it takes getting a know to take time for yourself, focus on the positives in your life and get back up stronger than ever before. I know there are many people who are going to keep sending me hurtful comments, day after day and I’m just going to do what I do every day, I’m just going to click the delete button because while there are comments that truly do get me down they make way for reflection and allow me to build myself back up better and stronger than before and for every one person who sends a hurtful comment there is another person sending a positive comment and better yet there is a person asking for help, realizing its ok not to be ok and ensuring they do not fall into some of the dark cycles I myself have fallen into.

So when I expose myself to hatred, when I put my personal life out there for the world to see I do it not only because I am passionate about writing but I do it because I know that sharing my story can help one person build up the courage to ask for help and if one person asks for help and support through a tough time then I know it will have all been worth it!

Photo of the day. :)

Poland 2011 was truly a trip of a lifetime :)

College time

College, a big scary intimidating, confusing yet fun and exciting place. This time last year I was preparing to go into first year in NUI Maynnoth ( I think it might be called Maynooth University now) and I was terrified. I was scared, I had no idea what to expect but I was excited, looking forward to beginning a new chapter in my life. When I woke up for my first day of college I was terrified, where was I to go? Who was going to show me around the college? What would I do if I got lost? What if I signed up or registered for the wrong course? I had a million different questions going through my mind as I am sure many of you who are going into first year have but the best bit of advice I can give you is to sleep!! Nope I'm not going to say relax, I'm noting go tell you to take deep breaths, I'm going to tell you to have a good night sleep before your first day of orientation because you will need your energy!! You will be pointed this way and that way, you will be bombarded with information, greeted by so many different people giving you so many different talks by the college president, the college counsellors, doctors etc etc and by the end of the day you will want your bed!! 

The first week of college is pretty hectic, you have so much going on for you. You will be given a tour of the college but by the time you get back to your starting point you will have forgotten when most of the significant areas in the college are! You will be meeting new people, trying to figure out who you might like to develop a friendship with, you will be given so much advice you won't know what to d with it all. You will be told about all these amazing events happening dying the nights and let me tell you there will be plenty of alcohol consumption, I know, I watched as people consumed more alcohol that I ever though was possible. You will be given your timetable, trying to figure out how you will get from here to there and home for lunch and back in time or what you are going to do for the 2-3 hour breaks you have between lectures. You will be going home confused and exhausted but trust me as soon as your lecture begin you get into the swing of things and if you happen to be doing Community and Youth Work in NUI Maynooth you will be learning lots of new games, finding out rings about yourself you never knew before and you will be pushed out of your comfort zone in a positive way.

Don't worry about paying you're fees, don't panic about hearing about your grant, don't freak out about trying to get books, notebook just relax. When you walk into college on the first day you are all as nervous as each other, you are all as concerned about getting your grant as each other and what I didn't realise was that the college goes to great lengths to ensure you understand everything that needs to happen, how to ensure things are done correctly so just relax. 

I'm not really sure to be honest where this post is going because somewhere along the way I managed to confuse myself.... Sorry if you are as confused as me!! If your staring college this September, don't freak out, relax, take your time and enjoy it as much as possible. The most important thing to know is it's ok to ask for help!
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