Episode 15. Out Of Darkness Cometh Light.

This is the motto of my home town Wolverhampton. It's been a positive guide during many dark times of my life. It's even reflected in the old gold and black coloured strip of my beloved football team Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Recently I had a few struggles with my mental health. I forgot about self-care and self-love which launched me into darker thinking. The Inner Idiot resurfaced with a whole host of limiting self-beliefs. Some of what he highlighted was useful information. Where he told me I can't do things or will never be any good at life, I reframed as skills gaps. With appropriate training I can easily fill those gaps.

My Inner Idiot likes to keep me in a place of worry and lack. I then suffer emotional cascade which affects my judgement and memory. During these periods I forget how to maintain self-care activities.

Anxiety-driven thinkers like me, tend to catastrophise. We build up a whole big narrative from one tiny fleeting thought. What starts at breakfast as a small and uncomfortable niggle, by lunchtime, is a full-on disaster. I have to stop and breathe. This buys me enough time to find calm. Mindfulness and meditation are powerful tools I use to slow my thinking down. 

The way I do this is to observe my thoughts without judging them. Often, some of these thoughts, are simply based on beliefs I've internalised from an age younger than six. How many six-year olds do you know, with great wisdom about the way the world really is? How many six-year olds have a fully formed personality and rigorous, healthy coping mechanisms? Logically examining my beliefs that fuel unhelpful thoughts, helps me to see situations much clearer. With more realistic explanations about life, I can then replace unhelpful beliefs with better ones.

It's been very important within my recovery from my diagnosed mental illness, to build upon the good work I've done previously. Like placing a new line of bricks upon a well-built foundation.

Over my lifetime, I have had to challenge many of my self-limiting beliefs in order to find and maintain my sanity. This positive work has to be done during episodes of calm and wellness. When I enter a period of illness, I can use the life raft I have provided for myself, to move through the rapids and turbulent waters of difficulty and illness. It is not possible for me to build positivity when I'm already ill. 

So that said, I finally remembered I needed to go back to my routines I'd allowed to lapse. I write a gratitude journal to shut Inner Idiot up. He likes me to believe it's all shit and becoming more bleak. Practising gratitude releases me from his misery by reminding me to appreciate the hundreds of great aspects to my life. Each time a new, or old recycled episode of illness strikes, mindful practices become easier each time I employ them.

If you would like to try doing this work yourself, I cannot recommend highly enough reading a book called 'The Buddha's Way Of Happiness' by Thomas Bien. The author provides a great many resources, based on Buddha's teachings, to help with re-framing difficult feelings and thoughts. There are also many helpful mindfulness exercises to practice. Buddha after all, who began life as a highly entitled prince, turned his back on that lifestyle to become an ordinary but clever bloke. He gave us great advice about removing suffering from our lives. This information has survived for 2500 years, so it must be useful.

To practice mindfulness and to understand that 'there is no way to happiness - happiness is the way,' does not require you to believe in God. To learn ways to be happy now, are the same as if you believe in God or not.

I hope this blog helps you if you too are having a hard time. My recent, difficult episode is now happily ended. I truly believe my home town motto 'out of darkness cometh light,' is a wonderful, helpful belief to have. It gets dark everyday, then it gets light again. Nothing lasts forever. Everything is impermanent. Our feelings, whether they be painful or not, don't last forever. Take comfort in that.

Contact me below if you would like to comment on this blog or even if you just need somebody to talk to.

©Gillian Cullis 18 November 2018


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