IT'S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE
Dawn is approaching.... and I am beginning to experience tiny moments of pure bliss on occasion.
It is no secret to anyone that when someone is admitted into the acute psychiatric ward, they are seriously suicidal.
They won’t even take you in if you are not really "on the edge” and they definitely won’t admit you for 12 days unless they are clearly convinced that this is "serious business".
Although it has been six months, I still cannot comprehend that I was that close to the edge.
However, when I really concentrate on the matter, I still feel the aftermath of my journey along the slack rope of life: The constantly heavy sense of burden pressing against my chest and in my throat. Although reduced drastically I am still struggling to catch the ever evasive sleep, allowing me to get the 7-8 hours of rest that I so badly need.
But then again…
Was it really me who wished for death?
To leap out in front of a huge, heavy lorry so it could be over and done with quickly and death would be certain. Those were the plans in my tormented self.
Was that really me only 6-7 months ago….?
I can no longer comprehend this.
I am so glad I did not go through with it. That would have been horrible. It certainly would have been devastating for my family, leaving them with nothing but unanswered questions and all sorts of emotions. Perhaps even feelings of guilt.
After all, they are not to blame for all this. No one is. I now realize this.
Not even myself.
I am now aware of that too.
But it is my own responsibility….
So, why am I still here?
Why and how am I still standing upright?
I will tell you: Because of my network!
The sole reason for me still breathing is due to all my friends and acquaintances around me.
I am so extremely lucky to have those people in my life!
Their support and help is extraordinary. It is priceless.
Not only have I received moral support, visits and phone calls. I have also been given healing sessions, massages, facials, books, lunches and dinners.
And all this for no particular reason.
The mere thought of all my gifts make a flood of “happy tears” run down my cheeks.…
Thinking of it all I am currently experiencing the warm, cuddly feeling of true gratitude running through my entire body. An utter gratitude for having such loving and caring people around me.
From the bottom of my heart I thank you for all the talks and for lending me your ears. Thank you for being there and thank you for caring.
I am so lucky.
However, there have also been things which have been difficult. In my personal grief I could not find any room for my mom which completely destroyed me as well as my mom. I was fully aware of her feelings but her sadness only added to my sadness and I was overwhelmed with feelings of guilt particularly because I knew that she really wanted to be supportive to me.
She fought the best she could.
She really wanted to be there.
I know that if she had had the powers to do so, she would have made all my problems disappear and I would have been able to just stand up, smile and even breathe again.
I know she would have and I would have loved to be able to accept.
Only I could not.
I fought as hard as I could against myself and my thoughts.
Oh, how I wanted to let go and forgive everything and everyone so badly. Only I just didn’t know how to or what it was supposed to feel like.
It was easy enough to tell myself that I wanted to forgive everyone who ever hurt me but how on earth was I supposed to know if I succeeded when I didn’t even know how it would feel?
I struggled against this and to a certain extent I still do so.
In the last two months since my last blog post I have grown wiser.
In fact I would venture as far as to say that I found a solution.
I now think I know how to do it. Forgive that is.
I would like to share this with you but I will get back to it in a little while.
First of all I would like to say that I feel much better than I have done in a long time. As mentioned, quite a bit has happened these past two months since I have “been away” from the blog. I will tell you all about it.
And this one… Photographer: Private photograph.
And also this one… Photographer: Private photograph.
But let us just start at the beginning:
As I told you in my previous post, I fell down a giant black hole when I came home from Smukfest. (It’s a Danish music festival)
I couldn’t manage my life at all.
Well, I wasn’t entirely back to not wanting to live but I just wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy in my core being.
I searched the outside world for the reasons for my inner misery: Work, money, housing, friends and family.
I particularly focused on the parts I felt were lacking in my life.
I had to change something. I had to let go. Let go of all my worries concerning work, financial problems and even my future because worrying ate me up alive.
The limiting, fearful, scared thoughts ate me up from the inside.
Slowly but surely.
But how on earth was I supposed to do this!?
It is not as if it is possible merely to remove my worries, is it?
I can´t just turn off my thoughts and keep the anxiety from sneaking up on me on a daily basis.
Yes… You really can!
I choose my own thoughts.
Sounds like woo-hoo to you?
Well it really isn’t at all.
Stay with me on this one a little while longer and I will explain myself.
I choose my own thoughts.
You choose your own thoughts.
YOU choose your own thoughts!
Whenever you tell yourself that you are “too fat”, ”too ugly”, ”too stupid” etc. you have already made the choice to think the thought. You could also choose to think: “Wow, I look pretty”, ”Oh I´m just so skinny and fine” or ”I am so intelligent and gifted”.
But you don’t, do you?
I will tell you why I didn’t choose the positive thoughts:
BECAUSE IT FELT WRONG!
I believed that I was lying to myself if I was to call myself pretty or slim.
Who on earth taught me this?? Who decides whether I am pretty or not!? Whether I am slender enough!? (Besides my doctor off course) Or smart for that sakes…?
Hmmmm… dum di dum… Let´s see….
…It appears that the answer to that is those 7-year-old kids, my so called classmates, who called me ugly in school and ignored me.
But I guess the bar has also been set high by those colourful, lying magazines containing photoshopped models as well as equally colourful and lying commercials on television.
I’m a professional photographer, so I know how much photoshopping and reality manipulation is going on!
That’s just bloody fantastic!
So I still believe those lies at age 42…?
Well it is also 42 years of programming that needs to be altered by a flicker of an eye to make me believe that I am pretty again.
Pretty… (Just trying on the term).
My lips won´t hardly even utter the word “beautiful”. So I down-graded to “pretty”.
This is how far I have come…
And to answer the obvious question: NO I will not undergo surgery, try out the cabbage soup diet or go to law school to become content.
I need to tell myself that I love ME, that I am BEAUTIFUL, that I feel INTELLIGENT. (Feel free to enter your own issue of insecurity).
And I must BELIEVE it!!!
The only way to achieve this is by standing in front of the mirror and telling yourself these things.
These are only some of the negative feelings this simple exercise provokes in me.
Try looking at the words once more…
For the life of me I cannot comprehend that I used to feel like this whenever I was forced to say that I loved myself or that I was beautiful.
How on earth can I ever expect anyone else to love me or find me beautiful?
Even if somebody were to see my beauty I am not capable of appreciating it.
Rejoice from it.
Not even believe it.
This simple mirror exercise is merely a tiny step towards changing my entire outlook which is exactly what the doctor ordered. Changing the way I see myself is necessary if I am ever going to succeed in learning how to ”overwrite” and ”annul” timid, limiting and fearful thoughts.
This applies to you as well.
You must learn to love you.
You MUST learn to love YOU.
Love for yourself is the very first step you have to take to get on the road to recovery.
Love for yourself is the key. Not more money, more material items, more travels to luxurious places, a fancy apartment, a bigger car or influence for that matter.
No, love for yourself.
And just to clarify: This love is not to go buy a new purse or a pair of fancy shoes.
To love yourself is to be able to stand in front of the mirror, looking at yourself and say: “I love you” and not feeling awkward and believing what you say!
(Loving yourself is also to care for yourself not working yourself to death, constantly putting everybody ahead of yourself or other completely silly things, which we will discuss at another time).
Never stop telling yourself how beautiful you really are or which parts you find particularly extraordinary, and keep telling your body that you sincerely adore every centimetre of it, every cellulite-bump and every little quirkiness.
Say it with love and believe it!
I am fully aware that you probably do not believe it and that you will find it awkward and completely wrong.
Do not lose sight of the fact that you are in the process of changing numerous years of programming. Your body and mind won’t like it. As a species we are creatures of habit. And here you go trying to change the ”nice” habit which you have grown so accustomed to, and which your body knows and feels quite ”comfortable” about.
(Our emotions are the language of our body just as our way of thinking is the language of our mind. Therefore, whenever you attempt to change an ingrown habit you will experience how your emotions and thoughts will “communicate” with you. This could be by finding reasons for delaying the task again and again resulting in an unsuccessful attempt to improve.)
It will feel wrong whenever you attempt to change a bad habit by telling yourself these unfamiliar sentences. Your emotions and thoughts will attempt to convince you that this entire project is ”incredibly silly” and that “you need to end this weird project since it is simply unnatural and that we´d better do what we normally do because it is much more comfortable”. (“We” being your body and mind).
Strangely enough for some people it seems easier to just suffer in silence than to be happy and balanced, including myself.
I am more familiar with suffering and being a victim, than not…
I feel safer referring to myself as being unattractive than calling myself beautiful.
It is kind of mad when you think about it, right?
You must simply: “Fake it till you feel it!”
No matter how ridiculous it makes you feel you MUST continue.
If at all possible several times á day will have an even greater effect.
Changing an unhealthy habit is difficult and it will require your determination and persistence.
Do you want this change?
Do you want it enough?
For your own sake?
I promise you that it will be worth it…
Please, just erase the part I said about it being difficult earlier. Remove it from your memory altogether. Try instead to replace the word “difficult” with the word “challenging”.
The moment you tell yourself that this is a “difficult” task it surely will be.
The risk of you returning to the old, familiar way of thinking is unbelievable high and this pattern is neither beneficial to yourself nor your loved ones.
However, it is also quite challenging not to say that it is a difficult task. It is a vicious circle. Trust me, I knoooow!
But please try not to say stuff like that!
Stay clear of sentences such as “I cannot” or “I will never get to…”
They will not do you any good.
They limit and block your way.
It won´t help you and will lead you nowhere.
Once again, this is something I have experienced myself.
So far so good.
Everything I have just written about loving yourself is linked to the ”solution” I mentioned concerning the art of forgiveness. (Not only in forgiving others, but also yourself).
I will explain myself very soon so please, bear with me just a little while longer.
Before this I didn´t really love myself at all and I had taken on the role of the victim in which I dwelled in feeling sorry for myself. In my adulthood I have found it difficult to function in normal relationships and to cope with certain social situations. This was the result of the abandonment and bullying I experienced as a child.
I have consulted therapists on numerous occasions not only in my youth but also as an adult. Everything has been turned, twisted and trampled around like you won´t believe but nothing has seemed to help.
If yes, please, continue reading this blog!
You´ll see there is still hope of recovery.
Well, we had better return to my point on finding your inner bliss.
Rule number 1 was: To love yourself. PERIOD!
My second point still isn´t a bigger car, more money or an expensive purse. It is something entirely different because more material items would just make everything worse.…
I would have never thought of myself as the type of person who would ever get into this kind of activity, just to talk about it is so far out there for me.
I can fully relate to the people I am losing saying this, because I used to be one of them myself. Some people simply find it to “woo-hoo” while others just lean back in their seat, crossing their arms saying ”I cannot!” or ”I have tried but failed!”
However, I wish to encourage you to stay around a little while longer…
To be totally honest (and now I will utter the forbidden sentence) I cannot do it either!
Meditate that is.
But, if I keep saying that “I cannot” then I will never learn…
Although I find it extremely difficult I have decided to accept it as a challenge instead of merely giving up.
I will now erase the word ”difficult” from my thoughts and my speech and instead I will from now on use the term ”challenging”.
In other words, from now on I will be considering hard challenges as “assignments”.
Meditation being one of them. It is merely an assignment and I will complete it in my own pace.
Please believe me when I tell you that my thoughts constantly wanders whenever I try to ”meditate”. As soon as I become fully aware of this I simply have to get back on track again. Without judging myself or feeling annoyed with myself.
Simply just return to the “task”.
And to clarify this meditation-thing for you; You do not need to put yourself in awkward sitting positions that will make your legs fall asleep or utter strange humming noises and be all saved and liberated from all thoughts.
Let go of that image right now.
It is just you sitting in a comfortable, relaxed position simply trying to let go of every thought. Merely to give your mind a little rest.
(Picture a snow globe. You know the kind you shake to make all the snow twirl. When you put it down the snow will fall down quietly and slowly and settle at the bottom. This is how I would like you to perceive your thoughts. They constantly twirl around but during meditation you will –in due time- become capable of letting your thoughts go and your mind will begin to settle down calmly).
And remember, this is not rocket science, you do this every night when you go to sleep. Only difference is that when you meditate you don’t fall asleep, you stay conscious.
If you can manage getting to that state of calmness in your mind, but without falling a sleep, magic will happen.
I’m still not quite there myself, but I get many benefits from trying though!
Whenever your thoughts wander away, and they will, they do for me too, you just return back on track as soon as you realize. If you find it difficult merely focus on your breathing. Rest assure that your mind will wander again and again but then just get back and focus on your breathing every time.
Now you might ask: What on earth does all this have to do with forgiveness then?
I will tell you: In reality forgiveness equals ”letting go”.
To forgive is to let go.
By meditating you can learn how to let go.
Let go of the past and simply live your life as it unfolds in the present.
It is possible to achieve inner peace and balance which will then again create the possibility to let go of your past ghosts that still haunts you. This inner peace will then provide you with the strength to not get worked up by everyday problems such as idiotic people on the roads or at work. Believe it or not it is also possible to find the inner peace not to worry about financial challenges or problems in your love life or many other stress factors which may torment your mind…
Other people who are wiser than me in this matter say that this inner peace and balance is achievable and I would like to give myself that present.
The bottom line is that true happiness is within reach regardless of circumstances not always in your own control such as accessibility to money, love, motherhood, career, luxurious holidays across the world, a huge car, an extravagant watch or other expensive brands of clothes, furniture, you name it.
Apparently my entire happiness was dependent on me becoming a mom and on the relationship with my boyfriend…. I don´t see any other reason for me to end up not wanting to be around anymore when I lost my unborn baby and my boyfriend left me.
Looking objectively at the matter I now understand that it is quite a burden to put on the shoulders of your fellow man. Being so dependent of them.
Well I had better return to the meditational part: If I practice for 10-15 minutes on a daily basis I will better myself significantly. So I have been told.
Of course you won´t succeed without trying!
The best time to do this is supposed to be in the mornings before you start your daily routine. (That was the advice I was given by the trainer in the class I attend on meditation – Please see further down this blog for links and further information).
Well you know that my cell phone currently functions as my alarm clock so what is the first thing I do when turning off my alarm clock every morning?…..
I check my mail, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and all kinds of other crap!
And I doubt that I am the only one doing this…
Am I right?
YOUR CELL PHONE MUST BE REMOVED FROM YOUR BEDROOM!
However, at this very moment I use the excuse that I don´t own a real alarm clock other than my phone which is why I have decided to go buy one today.
From this day on my phone will not enter my bedroom. If it happens to be next to me when I wake up in the morning I simply cannot control myself. I have to check aaaallll the stuff I ”missed” during the night.
Whenever this is done I will try to implement that 10-15 min. of meditation every morning, I promise.…
Up until now I have postponed it. (Procrastination is a sure sign of “resistance”, you know the one I was talking about earlier, when your body and mind tries to convince you to just go about and do what you usually do, and not make any “silly” changes)
I have attended those meditational workshops for some months by now and right from the beginning I have had plans to implement the ”phone out of the bedroom”-thing as well as meditation for 10-15 min every morning…
But why on earth haven´t I simply bought that bloody alarm clock and merely done something about my plans??
I will tell you: Because it is a long way from mind to action!
The challenge for me in this is not to read, learn or understand various theories but simply to implement the new habits in my everyday life and live by them.
Why, you ask?
Because it is something new, something foreign and it just feels wrong and weird.
It is exactly the same thing as standing in front of your mirror telling yourself “Damn, you look great and how I do love you”.
It’s not that I have been thinking “I don´t want to buy the alarm clock”, I just didn’t. Just because. No reason. Just didn’t.
It’s new. It’s weird. I don’t have time. Will do it Monday…
My mind and feelings have come up with a whole bunch of reasons for me not to buy this alarm clock or excuses for me to check out the internet instead of setting a timer and just try and do 10 minutes of mediation… I don’t really need an alarm clocks for that… All I need is to just do it. I’m quite sure the internet, the emails and feeding the cats can wait for ten minutes!
Never the less, it has continuously been postponed until tomorrow. Next Monday. The weekend. Next week. Next month etc.
Can you believe it?....
I cannot understand that it is so difficult. I mean, it isn´t as if it is painful or will make me sick or even kill me. On the contrary!
Therefor: Please, believe me when I say that I fully understand when you say that ”it is hard” or ”that you cannot do this”.
But I have learned that that type of sentences won´t do me any good…
It is that simple.
So I will now accept this ”challenge” and I will begin by training the art of meditation.
As often as possible.
This is the way to go if you would like to find inner peace and truly master the art of changing the way you think.
I sincerely hope that you will join me.
In this process I have done something quite unlike me. Read books. Me, who almost never open a book!!!
Reading just never interested me that much.
But this journey downhill has been so painful and intense, mentally as well as physically that I was ready to try anything to recover and I found that one of the most helpful activities has been to read books on personal improvement and how to change your mindset.
I started out working on my childhood traumas because I felt that they were the “main cause” of it all.
I was recommended reading the books by Peter Levine “Waking the Tiger: Healing trauma” and “Healing trauma: A pioneering program for restoring the wisdom of your body”.
If you are dealing with childhood traumas, whether it is abandonment, violence, sexual abuse, you name it, these books are highly recommendable.
It may also be other kinds of traumas such as accidents, stay in hospital and death, just to mention a few.
Waking the Tiger: Healing trauma by Peter Levine
Healing trauma: A pioneering program for restoring the wisdom of your body” by Peter Levine.
“Waking the Tiger” is somewhat of an eye-opener, whereas the book “Healing trauma” includes lots of exercises for you to do – and you really ought to do them.
It´s all about being able to – or daring – to feel your body again and to redeem the unsolved traumas which was originally developed into a trauma due to lack of physical redemption of unsolved traumatic experiences.
The books are quite refreshing in the way that the author stays clear of the usual approach that psychologists often follow and which deals with the traumatic experiences by picking them apart one by one in an orderly fashion letting you process them as you go.
It truly was refreshing to me.
In fact Peter Levine directly states that it might have the opposite effect having to relive the traumatic experience by continuously having to tell about it again and again.
”Waking the Tiger” manages rather well to explain how people with traumas are controlled by their unsolved traumas. This often results in them being overly cautious, prisoners of themselves who repeatedly follow the same dangerous, bad and inexpedient patterns putting themselves at risk or taking on the role of the victim again and again.
Furthermore the book describes a wide range of symptoms which occur to the traumatized individual such as fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, fear of personal anger or the anger of other people, headaches, chest pain, neurosis, shortness of breath, difficulties swallowing, always being cold, lacking feelings of contentment and being easily overwhelmed, feeling lost, confusion, desperation and helplessness, struggling with melancholy or uncontrollable rages just to mention some.
While all this might be happening to you, your friends and family might start thinking that ”you should just get on with your life”.
However, this is where Peter Levine shows how important it is to remember that a traumatic reaction is real regardless of how the situation which created it might appear to outsiders.
I will just repeat this for emphasis:
“A traumatic reaction is real regardless of how the situation which created it might appear to outsiders!”
Another quote also describes the situation of the traumatized quite well:
“Words cannot fully describe the torment experienced by a traumatized person. The experience carries a strength which is impossible to describe. Many traumatized people feel that they exist in a personal inferno which no one understands at all.”
When I started out on this ”project personal development” or ”project help yourself” if you will, I made a promise to myself to go all the way with this, now was the time! I couldn´t live with shattered relationships because of my inner difficulties anymore.
I refused to merely read a couple of books and then simply fall back into my regular habits. This time I would really understand the message and implement it in my daily routine.
Make it a habit!
Not just “read and understand” but also “apply”!
That’s the deal.
To implement the new habits into my daily routine.
In the beginning I wanted to accomplish everything; To read every single self-help book on the market, change myself completely, forgive everything and everybody, let go of all my worries and just be all happy and content.
However, this isn´t how the world works of course. Baby steps must be taken. Besides, there is no reason to change myself completely because I am ok as such. There are ”merely” some minor adjustments that needs to be made and in particular some of my unhealthy patterns of thought which must be reprogrammed.
In order for me to be able to change the way I process my thoughts and start to focus on the positive aspects I had to deal with some other challenges as well, like getting enough sleep, getting exercise, eating healthy and be sure to get some “social medicine”!
This is all described so nicely in the book “Rewire Your Brain” by John B. Arden.
It is really amazing in the way that it describes scientifically why sleep, exercise, a healthy diet and maintaining a solid network are so important topics.
I first heard of this book when watching the show ”I would like to be like Ole Henriksen”, damn good documentary by the way. (Ole Henriksen is a Danish entrepreneur and his famous worldwide for his lotions and beauty products, and he seem to always have this jolly, happy attitude)
One of Ole Henriksen’s oldest friends who just happen to also be named Ole, has worked as a photographer in many of Ole Henriksen´s programs. Contrary to Ole Henriksen he is rather depressive in his outlook on life and appears to carry a negative mindset with him. In the documentary he decides to follow in Ole Henriksen´s footsteps and attempt to “simply be all happy faces aaaaall the freaking time!!!”.
We follow Ole and Ole in order to examine whether or not it can be scientifically proved that it is possible to transform a depressive and overall negative attitude into a more positive and happy individual and how.
And it is possible!
Do yourself a favour and read “Rewire Your Brain”. Then you will come to understand many of the mechanisms that makes us who we are and how you can become able to leave this downward spiral.
I repeat: It is a DAMN good book and when I first started to read it I really felt motivated to incorporate all the ideas from it.
But I couldn´t.
I simply wasn´t able to.
As mentioned earlier the book describes how important regular sleep, sensible diet and exercise truly are in order to succeed in the process of changing your outlook on the world.
Only I couldn´t sleep at night and therefor I didn´t possess any energy to exercise or cook myself some nutritious and healthy food.
It also describes sugar as being pure poison but to me sugar was my only consolation.
So what could I do?
Well one ”solution” could be to blame myself for everything I couldn´t achieve because I felt so poorly that I wasn´t even able to sleep at night. This was exactly what I started out doing. You know, it is sort of the way I function. However, it didn´t really seem to do me any good…
Instead I managed to pull myself up trying to focus on the hope that the book created in me.
I became reassured that the change was possible.
Now all that was left to figure out was where to start since my main problem was that I attempted to manage it all at the same time. I wanted to change everything this instant because I longed so much for feeling better now, now, NOW!
I attempted way too much at the same time and it just wasn´t possible.
I felt like sleep deprivation was the root cause of everything, but in the end I decided to start out somewhere else than with my sleeping problems. I focused on the positive assessment that sleep would eventually come to me, so I put my attention towards taking up exercising again.
However I needed to find another source of exercise than CrossFit and weightlifting which used to be my favourite kind of exercise up until everything went wrong. It just wasn´t possible lifting heavy weights and working out so intensely as long as I was barely able to breathe right due to grief and anxiety and not getting enough sleep because of endless worrying and tormenting thoughts.
It occurred to me that I once had bought a discount card valid for something called hot-yoga at Downtown (an online deal site) and that this yoga centre apparently was only a stone´s throw away from my home.
Thus I ended up attending hot-yoga classes.
Who would have known.
What a great decision this was!
Gentle yet hard work due to the warmth. You might say that it was an effective workout in a gentle manner. Just right for me at the time. Not too soft and not too hard and actually rather meditative…
Long story short, I got started and quite automatically the sleep followed and all of a sudden I was capable of working out just as I used to.
I have spent the last months attending lots of rewarding races alongside my fantastic friends. KMD 4-18-4 (400 meter swimming + 18 kilometres of biking and then 4 kilomtres og running), Reborn In Hell in Værløse (Obstacle Course Race), Toughest in Copenhagen (Obstacle Course Race), Nordic Race “The Beach” in Copenhagen(Obstacle Course Race), Nordic Race “The Sprint” in Malmö, Sweden (Obstacle Course Race) just to mention some of my activities. This Sunday it´s time for the last Obstacle Race of the season which is Reborn in Hell in Horsens.
It is simply amazing. I have no words to describe how fantastic it feels to have come so far.
However, I have still to learn the art of meditation.
Untill then the obstacle course racing gives me empowerment, self-worth and loads of mental strength!
Next time I will tell you abot all the other changes I have also been working on in order for me to have come this far, but right now, I have to go shop for an alarm clock!
This place holds lots of short-termed workshops as well as lectures. There are even free events on a regular basis which lets you try it out without any obligations.
Simply click here and you will be sent straight to their website.