9/4/14 Resilience

On my recent visit to the undergrad psych nurses at Hertfordshire Uni, I had promised the day’s organiser, Dr Audrey, that I’d talk authoritatively about resilience and my angle on the usefulness or otherwise of the interweb for people with your mental malady.

To cut a short story long, I didn’t – instead I told tails of derring do with a few bits and pieces thrown in.

So – to remedy that particular shortcoming…

Weirdly, when presented with the word ‘resilience’ I immediately think ‘recovery’

If one looks to the interweb for guidance you will find this definition springing out at you…

‘Psychological resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity. Stress and adversity can come in the shape of family or relationship problems, health problems, or workplace and financial stressors, among others.’

Being an argumentative sort, I don’t like it as a word or as a definition. For me it oozes strength and, therefore, weakness; it implies that we’re all on an even playing field. It’s the folk who lack resilience who succumb to the madness.

While I’m at it, I don’t like the label ‘borderline personality disorder’ either. What’s it on the borderline of? What does personality disorder even mean…?

That’s enough of that particular tangent…

Don’t even get me started on ‘recovery’!!

Chris! Focus!

For me, resilience is multifaceted. It’s about using the tools (wank word) that the psychological community has bestowed me with.

I use mindfulness – where I focus on the moment – not stressing about my past, not worrying about what’s waiting for me in the future, just enjoying the experience if being. It’s easy to describe, but it takes a lifetime to become a mindfulness ninja.

I have forgiven those that have done me wrong in the past. This is a very active thing – some days I manage it better than others – but when I do it well I physically feel that weight coming off my shoulders.

I’m still working on forgiving myself – some days I do, some days I don’t – it’s a work in process.

I use just a pinch of cognitive behavioural therapy to steer me away from my particularly unsavoury thoughts – preventing them from becoming unsavoury actions.

I accept that I have a pain in the arse mental malady that will stop me in my tracks from time to time.

When it comes to visit, I no longer go into battle against it. I accept it. Usually with the support of the lovely Ella, I physically find myself somewhere safe. Once there, I repeat the mantra,

‘This will pass. It always has, and it always will.’

Even if I’m going through mental Hell and I don’t believe it – that simple phrase helps me on my way.

By accepting it – I can readily accept help.

When I started the ramble, I think I’d conned myself into thinking I was cured. I think I was about 3 weeks in, just outside Stonehaven,when I was smacked between the eyes by this crazy condition.

Looking back, it was obvious that I was beginning to learn. I’d been accepting people’s help on a daily basis – food, water, shelter, hospitality, company; now it was somehow easier for me to ask for help for the mental stuff too.

As best I could, I described what was going in in my head in a blog…and then I was overwhelmed by the kind words that flowed in my direction from you lovely Facebook folk. People I’d never heard from before got in touch with warm words of support, of kindness and compassion. Enough to get me up and going again…amazing.

On numerous occasions I’ve been encouraged to write some ground rules for the folk who are part of the journey on Facebook. I’ve steered away from that – people know this is a supportive group, they know how to be, they know how to care for each other.

I won’t pretend there haven’t been any punch ups – but they have been few and far between and some people have left the group under a cloud – which is sad, the group is always less for their parting.

The only people I’ve ever removed are folk who’ve decided that the walk a mile page is an ideal shop front for them to sell shoes.

Which brings me back to idea of resilience where it meets the internet.

Resilience isn’t an individual thing. Sure we can fend off some of the nasties using a few psychological tricks, but we are social beasties.

My mental health, your mental health, everyone’s mental health is everyone’s problem. For me, the support I get from the people on the internet is part of that resilience jigsaw. A piece that slots in comfortably with the folk I meet on the road – the same people who are trusting and trustworthy, who are compassionate and hospitable, which in turn slots in seamlessly with the folk who love me – who I love and support – all these pieces compliment each other.

Oh, and I take some pills – more when I’m particularly mental.

Acceptance.

Strength?

I’m not so sure.

Walk a mile

Chris

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