I Really Want To Get To Know You…


15094402_712074348946567_5769121016737513964_nA couple of things have happened recently, in the spirit of learning to connect I was told that someone was interested in me romantically, I sound like a bit of a maiden aunt, but at 52 I’m past the teenage vernacular that a guy “fancies me”(UK term).

Anyway I’ve known this guy for a few months, he’s a DJ well that’s his night job, he does have a grown up day job, I hadn’t had much conversation with him, mainly just pleasantries, so was very surprised to find out he was interested.

Now given my personal demons I’ve eschewed personal relationships preferring to keep a safe emotional distance my logic being if I don’t like myself who would, a bit pathetic, however I’ve been trying to like me, and find those qualities that might make me attractive to someone else.

You see how I’m not getting to the point, (avoidance is a hard habit to break) Ok to get to the point, we’ve had several phone conversations over the last month or so, culminating in a date last week!!!

I woke up that day feeling the anxiety bubbling up to a tidal wave of terror, also how could I get out of this…I didn’t dare eat, in the middle of this he called to say he was looking forward to the date, I just wanted to crawl away and hide.

I managed to pull myself together enough to try to decide on an outfit, and of course after pulling out every item of clothing, it wasn’t good enough or I didn’t have the right accessories to add I’m going through menopause and talk about hot flushes/flashes wearing a towel at one point seemed preferable, and hoping we were sitting by the door so I could benefit from the cold air coming in, either that or ask if they had room in the fridge.

I managed to leave on time knees knocking anxiety at an all time high, he was late, which is one of my biggest pet peeves anxiety now in total overdrive, trying to take in big gulps of calming air which almost induced a panic attack the phone rang, he’s arrived.

A tentative hello and we walked to the restaurant in silence, me seemingly lost the power of speech, we sat down he looked over and smiled and confessed he was really nervous, this seemed to calm me down, and we ordered and started talking.

We talked about anything and everything, though a couple of glasses of wine helped me to unwind, however he was easy to talk to, we have a lot in common, we were the last to leave and made our way slowly back to his car, we both agreed we had a lovely time, and we would like to meet again.

The next day we chatted a little about the night before, I did feel all warm and fuzzy then he said “he really wanted to get to know me” well that was like a punch to the stomach, he wasn’t to know, however the intrusive thoughts came crowding in:

  • What does he want to know
  • what should I tell him
  • what do I say
  • why would he want to get to know me
  • if he does get to know me, would he like that person
  • I don’t like that person
  • would he notice behind the facade, there is nothing there
  • was I going to have to put my mask on to appear normal.

I obsessed over these questions and more for about 2 days, finally I was able to get a grip on my runaway thoughts, this is where mindfulness helped to calm me, just remembering to be in the present, try not to predict future outcomes, let myself connect and enjoy, the more I practise the easier it will become and will form part of my new behaviours to better mental health.

He’s coming around for dinner tomorrow, wish me luck!

Cay x

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Replacing Emptiness…


stock-photo-42839892The last four years have been hellish to say the least, though I am on the other side, still broken, possibly but here I suppose that could be called strength!

This year I started a new journey the 6th of January to be exact when I made the last ditched effort to get help, not only for homelessness, also in dealing with my mental health.

I’m no longer homeless and it feel good to be sitting here writing this post at home, a scenario I thought was lost to me for ever, the transition has been difficult, trying to adjust to not being invisible and living on the edges of society in fear of completely slipping through the cracks.

Dealing with mental health as many of you know is a double-edged sword, with myself I felt trapped by depression and anxiety often to the point where I didn’t know what was real or who I was, the world tilted on its axis many years ago and I’ve been running uphill ever since.

Working with a high intensity therapist has given me some new perspectives on my life, the main one being that my life wasn’t as authentic as I thought, somehow I created a whole persona in my quest to avoid what my life should be and not what it actually was.

Imagine spending the better part of your life doing just about anything, from being a people pleaser, to working the most ridiculous hours to fill up time, believing that I was being productive, to being everybody’s emotional sponge, never once thinking about how soaking up other people’s problems could have an adverse effect on me.

I worked hard played even harder, never nurtured myself I forgot about me, and all those strategies I used to cope began to not serve me very well, to tell the truth they turned on me, breaking me down bit by bit until I had to contend with the grief of my mother dying, which finally broke that particular dam.

So it continued for the next 10 years, the harder I tried the worse it got, if there was contest for who could be themselves up the most I was the number 1 contender, and you know what? it was easy to do, as everything in the whole wide world my fault, how mad is that!!!

So back to therapy I have to say it did open my mind up to the fact that I can live my life another way without constant recrimination, not carry the past on my back, not running so hard that every time I turned a corner I hit a wall, learning not to letting obsessive intrusive thoughts govern my actions which led me to believe I wasn’t trying hard enough, the list is endless.

I sit here with 6 months of intensive CBT therapy under my belt and for the first time in years I feel calmer and a little more in control of myself, even though CBT has finished and I did have a little separation anxiety, it hasn’t been too bad, actually all of my official support has ended, though my key worker for the mental health side is going to meet with me for the last time in the new year.

Now I’m left with the tools they have given me to practise, and create new habits for coping, and trying to stabilise my behaviours that can lead me back to that dark place, even though I still feel empty and have trouble connecting with my emotions.

Now I have to fill that jar with new activities or as my key worker say filling up my life with good things, basically take care of me, to give me a new foundation, I’ve no idea how it’s going to go, though I do know if I don’t get to grips in being kind to myself and allowing myself to really connect as opposed to being a watcher of events in my life the slippery slope will once again beckon.

Here I go introducing myself to me,and hoping the new year brings me peace continued strength and of course hope.

Happy New Year to my followers let us all look to the future and fill ourselves up with good things. xxx111534528242038009_57eoaqdk_cCay x

Posted in Anxiety, Blogs, Depression, Homelessness, Mental Health | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Getting Connected…


f102a4e992e66265429b5be10d9dbf37As I told you in my last post I’m no longer homeless(still pinching myself) anyway to continue.

It was a bit touch and go whether or not I’d get this place, I didn’t have a bank account and very little to prove who I was!

Finding a bank that would allow me an account was difficult, luckily I’d had some important post a friend allowed me to use their address, and being that I’d lost everything I didn’t even have a birth certificate or passport etc, I then had to go to my GP and get them to write stating that I was a patient at their surgery at the cost of £25.

With that in place I was able to secure my studio flat, next on the list was I didn’t have anything and I mean apart from the clothes on my back and several bags, no bed, furniture, kitchen stuff, sheets towels, chairs, plates etc.

A duvet was donated, and some towels, so basically I rolled up in that as a makeshift bed for a week, until I could buy a blow up mattress, which helped, though difficult to get up in a hurry.

My case worker came to visit and listed what I needed just to get me started, well everything lol, when you housed after being homeless your given funds to buy what you need plus an order is put in for basic furniture, I had to wait just over a week for it to be approved, and what they were going to give me.

I got a card with £170.00 which was to be used for house hold items, kitchen utensils, towels, bedding, curtains, crockery, things for the bathroom, we have to keep the receipts as they do check from time to time.

I found it difficult to make the choices and had several anxiety attacks, it appeared I’d forgotten how to make a home, the shops being so crowed and the array of merchandise, was confusing I didn’t even know what kind of colour scheme I wanted, I’d set my mind to never having to set up home again and now it just seemed scary as opposed to it being a happy time.

In between all of this therapy continued S(therapist) having asked f I was happy that I was now housed, my answer was NO I just found it overwhelming, I explained I’d finally made all the purchases and they were just sitting there in their packaging, I felt that this good fortune was all some terrible mistake and I would have to give it all up.

I’d taken to staying out as late as possible, avoiding in what I so desperately wanted for so long, S said to take my time and try to be positive, shaking my head no I didn’t think I would feel settled anytime soon.

Talking to N(key worker on the mental health side) I’d explained that I wasn’t happy and the very real fear that this was temporary and would be taken away from me if I made plans to settle in, she got it straight away, and said that I wasn’t connected to anything, because 4 years ago I’d lost everything, I had no memories attached to anything, it was alien.

She was right I had nothing from my past, I’m talking about my record collection which took years to gather, books, DVD’s, photos, letters items that belonged to my mother and gifts she’d given me over the years, all the things that had meaning to me, I would have to start this new journey from scratch.

I thought about this for a long time, and decided to embrace a fresh start, firstly with the belongings that I’d accumulated over the last four years which was stored away, one night I went through it and literally threw everything away from my homeless bags, including the bags, I just kept a few books, even the clothes I was wearing I stripped of and threw them away.

I have to admit I felt much lighter, and started to unpack, finding places for my new memories, the furniture arrived about a week later bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers, sofa, coffee table, gradually over the last few months I’ve added throws,pillows, found colour schemes for the rooms, and it’s starting to feel like home I spend much more time here, my anxieties have diminished somewhat and therapy continues.

I’m still taking baby steps and learning not to beat myself up, mostly facing events in my life and doing something about it, and here’s the biggie asking for and accepting help, because I am rebuilding I’m starting to find peace, to be truthful I’m not as afraid as I used to be.

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Coming Home…


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Many of you who have read my blog know that I’ve been homeless for the last 4yrs, and the struggles I’ve had getting help, because I didn’t fit a particular criteria, coupled with the profound shame, I felt was like  self triggering bullets which caused my mental state to be always on the verge of collapse.

Homelessness in the UK is still on the rise, as affordable housing is almost non-existent, our government seem hell-bent on making the poor of society pay for what they cannot afford such as the basic necessity of having a roof over your head.

Every day I see homeless people on the streets and new faces being added everyday, many of those seem to be very young and are the group that are most vulnerable, to the various predators who prey on them.

Off my soap box, this year my own struggle with being invisible continued, even though I had help from a friend when discharged from hospital back in January and the local councils inability to help me, I was back sleeping in the shop where I used to volunteer.

This in itself was not conducive to mental stability, as usual I didn’t want anyone to know, therefore I had to leave at 6am every morning go to Macdonald’s to have coffee which usually last about 4hrs, before going off to the days endless appointments.

My case worker is fabulous, she called each day,and made the rounds with me, often speaking up for me, we also filled in countless forms, as well as searching for agencies that could help me or at least refer me to someone who could.

Well finally I got lucky, we found a group in the next county that gives assistance to people like me, we filled in the application online, within 2 days they called and we made an appointment.

For me it really was the last resort, I had all kinds of nightmare scenarios running through my head, including suicide if no help was forth coming.

Heart in mouth I sat down and again explained my story in all its glory, leaving out nothing(what did I have to lose!!!) finally mouth dry I finished.

The first thing said was “I’m sorry this happened to you” my heart sinking waiting for the inevitable polite phrases which basically say they can’t help, this time it was different, they could help and would do so, I was immediately placed on their books.

The scary thing was that they explained is that I should have received help long before this and because of most people’s ignorance and budget cuts to housing etc I was brushed off because I accepted what they said, also not adding me to the homeless figures as they did with many it was a way of fudging the real numbers(disgusting I think).

The offer was this, I was to find a place within my budget, check that the landlord accepted benefit payments and they would pay the first months rent deposit and any fees required.

I was a bit non plussed and explained that I didn’t have the means to pay back what would be at least £1000, my bubble started to burst, when they laughed and explained that I didn’t have to pay it back as they would get the deposit back when my tenancy ended I literally stopped breathing for about 30 seconds as it all sank in.

I started to ask around and as luck would have there was a studio flat becoming available, right in town, the guy manages the apartments put a word in for me, took a couple of weeks and it was okayed.

The agency duly paid first months and the deposit and as of the 27TH JULY 2016 I WAS NO LONGER HOMELESS.

I’m going to stop here and tell you the rest in a few days time.

 

Huge hugs and thanks for those here who supported me on this journey xxx

 

Posted in Anxiety, Blogs, Depression, Homelessness | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments