2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Tag: recovery

Sitting still is tricky!

We are about one week on from my emergency surgery to fix two orange sized cysts on my ovaries. So far everything seems to be going in the right direction. The surgical sites are healing nicely and I am now on the lowest pain killers possible. Except for feeling tired a lot of the time I would say that I am doing very well.

Sitting still!

My main issue is this sitting still thing. I have never been very good at it and I am being less good at it now. Before last week I was doing an active job, making sure that at least six out of the seven week days I was in the gym and I was walking most places I could. I would happily go from one thing to another, to another and to another. I would plan lots into my day so everything was completed. Now I can do a few hours of activity before a sit down and then I can repeat.

It’s a good time of year!

That it is and I don’t mean that there are more colours around, trees looking fancy, mince pies everywhere you turn, music blaring from speakers and generally everyone seems to be in a better mood. I mean that there has been a lot for me to do. Friends and family have been coming over to the house to either take me down to the supermarket, taking me out for a drive, taking me for coffee and so on. I mean I have had small tasks to do most days.

The good thing!

The good thing about it is I am moving around. I have a theory that the more I move, the better I get and the quicker the recovery period so I can go back to Zumba and boxing. You may not think it is a big element to recovery but believe me it is. Little movement like walking from one room to the other, walking up the stairs, standing to seated and seated to standing, crouching down to pick something up (I can’t quite bend in the middle yet) and much more. All of this moves muscles, helps the cardiovascular system and more importantly the brain and my mental health. Yes, I would love to say that I am booked on to a Zumba and circuit class this evening but I have to wait. I have to wait until my core has healed.

Food

I thought I would add a quick note in here about food. I mean it would be great to kick back and eat all those sugary foods to make us “feel better”. But I am not. Having come so far in my weight loss journey it would be a great shame to start going backwards. I am aware that I may gain a little from in-activity but I am doing what I can to counter-act that. I have allowed myself the odd Christmas biscuit but I am also mindful that I don’t want to go over board with it either. I am sticking to the good foods. The proteins that will help my muscles recover. The fruit and vegetables (vitamins) so my whole body can recover and the water to flush out all the bad toxins.

Exercise

As mentioned above I am moving as much as I can. I am also going for walks. Nothing too big at the minute but I can now happily manage anything from a half hour to an hour. I have been to the gym once since last week. I did a half hour cycle and a half hour walk on the treadmill. I vary my days to walking outside to gym days and make sure when I feel tired that I remember it is my body telling me it has had enough for that day. I will increase these times (and resistances) as I come through the rest of December and hopefully post festive season will be back at the gym to start building my strength back up, Zumba and boxing.

Conclusion

Be kind to yourself. Let the body heal. Try not to rush into anything and be aware that if something doesn’t feel right or a twinge is a bit too much then stop. There is no harm in taking a break (I am trying, I really am!).

-Helen

The road to recovery part 2

Helen’s journey

As we said on Saturday it is time for Helen to give her road to recovery.

My journey

As I have said in a previous blog I suffer from something called Functional Movement Disorder and Dissociation Behaviour. There is a lot of information in that blog about signs and symptoms. Today I want to take you through what it is like to have counselling.

What is a counsellor?

Counsellors are the people who will help you navigate the traumas of life and the curve balls which are thrown at us.  As we have said both Rosie and I have had counselling over the years, and we have different lengths of time in using it as well.  Rosie has had both private and NHS based practice whereas mine was private. My counselling was every week for around two years before I discharged myself.  Counselling has given me the information I needed, my trusty pack of cards and I have been helped through some tricky life turns.  My counselling ended several years ago. In the future if I need it I would go back.

I was scared!

An experience of work place bullying and a loss of identity lead me to counselling. Turning up up to a clinic I hovered outside for a few minutes waiting for my feet (and confidence) to walk me through that door.  My feet eventually took me in, and I went over to the reception desk where I said something along the lines of “I have seen on your website you have counselling facilities, I have no idea what kind I need but I think I need to speak to someone”.  The reception asked if she thought it was a general talking therapy of something called cognitive behavioural therapy.  I said it was probably more a talking therapy as I no idea what the other one was.  I said talking would be a good place to start and if I needed the other one then I was sure that would become apparent.  The receptionist recommended a particular person and an appointment was set up for the following week. 

The counselling room

The following week I turned up in that waiting room and waited for my allocated time.  My counsellor appeared and I was taken upstairs to a room at the back of the building.  The room was red with a big floor to ceiling window and a net curtain.  Through the window I could watch the planes going into London Heathrow too.  Also, in the room there were two armchairs along with a desk and a desk chair.  I decided to sit in one of the armchairs as it looked comfortable.  Next to the armchair was a smaller table with a box of tissues on it.  

A room of safety

This was to become the room of safety, whatever was said in this room was not going to be judged.  I could say whatever I wanted and all that was going to happen was listening from my counsellor and talking by me.  One particular session I sat in my outdoor jacket and winter hat, I can’t remember the ins and outs of why but the counsellor didn’t even bat an eyelid. I was safe so we continued. As I have said it was a safe room at the time, I needed it.  

What did my counsellor do?

My counsellor listened to whatever was troubling me on that day, helped me navigate my troubles back into a reasonable thought and sometimes offered a solution to the problem.  They made me do the work, they didn’t turn around and say this is what you should do, and this is what I think is right. I liked that approach and it worked for me.  

Over the two years

As I have said I was there for about two years and we navigated a lot of different topics from work to family to travelling to love to relationships to Rosie (I had met Rosie a year in) to what other people think to exercise to LGBT issues to what makes me feel good and so on.  I am not going to go into the ins and outs of what was said as that is a very private matter.

My family

Do not let anyone push you into telling you what has been discussed within a counselling meeting.  If you are happy to tell them then do so but do not feel obligated and pressured to do so.  Also, remember that you may not want to tell someone (counsellor, friend or family member) on a Tuesday but may be willing to tell them three weeks the following Tuesday.  The time needs to be right for you.  I am a thinker so I will get to the subject but there may be a gap before I do so.  Many of my friends have referred to me as a closed book or a cryptic clue person.  They are probably the one thinking back now going “oh yes” and now have a good laugh about it. 

Today

Today I have my wife to listen to my rants, issues, personal feelings and so on. I also have my family and friends who I turn to. I learnt through counselling that asking for help is ok. No one is going to judge me for doing that. Depending on the situation I willing tell you the ins and outs of something. However, if I don’t feel like it I will say so and that is fine too.

It needs to be right!

Counselling may be recommended to you to help you. Here is my advice: don’t be ashamed or afraid to take it. Obviously different counsellors have different ways and methods of counselling and that is up to them.  The situation needs to be right for you, no one else.  Just you!

Questions

As we have said both Rosie and I have been through counselling. If you have any questions just send us an email or Facebook chat. We are more than happy to help you out.

-Helen

The road to recovery

Facebook poll

A couple of weeks ago we asked on Facebook what blog you would like to see. The options were mental health conditions, signs and symptoms or how can I help myself on the road to recovery. It was a close call between the two options but with 57% it is the road to recovery. Rosita will take you through her recovery and Helen will take you through hers in Wednesday’s blog.

A road walked

This is a road I walk every day, some days more than others. It has become a way of life, making sustainable and healthy changes. I have come a long way from completely losing the plot having drunk Helen’s glass of juice. You know you’re in a bit of a mess when something so trivial tips you over the edge. It certainly put things into perspective for us. The next day we went to the doctor who signed me off for 2 weeks. 5 months later I resigned from work, having not been back to work. I spent the first few weeks/months crying and not doing a lot. Pretty much everything stressed me out. Most of this time is a bit of a blur. We made a few changes which helped enormously and that is why I am in such a good place today. 

Not going to work

It soon became obvious that my job was the main reason for me no longer functioning. I probably knew that before but could not see a way out of the situation. I loved the job itself, and the good days were fab. But working in the public sector, for a service with over 50,000 officers and staff, became difficult. There were a lot of changes made by people having to justify their existence at work, none for the best in my opinion. There never is a need to reinvent the wheel. I love helping people, and I’m damn good at it too. It got to a point where I could no longer do that. This is all very clear to me now, but it has taken a while to realise that, with a lot of conversations with the professionals and Helen. In the end, the job I loved broke me. Simple as that. 

Leaving London

We had been talking about leaving London and took action. This resulted in us finding a lovely flat in Scotland which also has a little garden. Having outdoor space means the world to me. I can make coffee and sit outside in the sun. You might think this is nothing, but to me it is what keeps me sane. It involves coffee, me-time, fresh air and hopefully sun too. All of this is pretty essential. 

Medication

Being prescribed medication was a massive thing. I only started with the pills after a couple of months, when I realised that I was not getting any better. They have made a huge difference, and I was able to get more from the counselling as well as my brain started to calm down. Constantly crying is hard and tiring.

Counselling 

Counselling gave me a lot of advice and tips, which was essential to my recovery. I have high standards for myself, our home, nutrition and exercise, to name a few. It became apparent that I could not keep this up. So the counsellor suggested to ask myself this: “if I don’t do this particular thing now, is anyone gonna die?”. The answer is simple. This helped me to lower my standards, giving me more time for me. This was when I was really struggling to do anything.

Me-time

I started taking time for me. This involves me doing things I love. To name a few:

  • Listen to music
  • Read a book
  • Taking photos
  • Going for walks
  • Sit and drink coffee
  • Being outside in the sun

These are just a few things that give me a buzz. All of which, apart from drinking coffee, I had stopped doing because I was stressing too much to get chores done. I can now take half a day or a few hours or even a whole day and do nothing. Nothing to me involves me-time. We now have a saying in our house that it’s time for me-time, and this overrides all chores. You should try it. You need to look after yourself. 

Helen

I know not everyone has partner in these circumstances, and I do not know what would have happened had I not had Helen by my side. She’s been, and still is, my rock. Words can’t emphasise enough how I feel. So I will just say this: thank you buddy.

-Rosita

Building a shelf

The fact that I want to build a shelf makes me happy. Please, just hear me out. To me it shows how far I’ve come on my road to recovery, which is what this is all about.

Last year

A lot of things happened last year. Big things. We moved from London to outside of Glasgow, we both changed jobs and in my case, this was a complete change of career. Not sure it is a career as such, but it is a job I thoroughly enjoy, for now. Especially on a day like today when it’s warm, the sun is shining, I’m currently sitting outside in the garden typing this with both a beer and a coffee as well as my spud (Helen for those of you who are wondering). But I digress.
Last year was truly awful in a lot of ways, although a lot of good things came from it. I can see that now. It clearly shows how sometimes you really must go through the bad stuff to appreciate the good.

Medication

Looking back at the beginning of 2018, I was on sick leave and temporarily in Scotland. This was because Helen had gotten a job here, and I was not in a state to be left alone. During the first few months, I was a wreck. I kept crying and was very anxious about everything, constantly making mountains out of nothing. I felt I was not capable of doing anything at all. The one big thing I had to do over this period was to get another job. It had become apparent that the main cause for me getting to this state in the first place was due to work. So, I needed to find another job. Now when you are constantly crying and believe you are good for just about nothing then this becomes very difficult. Things got worse and I decided to go to the doctor and ask for anti-depressant medication. This was something we had talked about before, but I did not want to go down that line, as I felt I was not sick, that such medication is for sick people.

How wrong was I!

I took my first anti-depressant one evening in February last year, and it’s safe to say that this changed things. The next day there were no tears. I can’t really describe the relief I felt from this, that I did not cry so much, that I didn’t have to keep pacing up and down when I felt down because the tears stopped straight away. Now this doesn’t mean that this was it, the solution to everything. It did mean though however that I could start my long road to recovery. So much energy is wasted when you keep crying and the brain stays in its chaotic state and keeps feeding the bad thoughts.

A typical day

Up to this point, my normal day looked like this: Wake up, have breakfast, shower, go for a walk if I felt I could, eat lunch (which was either cooked for me or was something quick and easy from the supermarket which did not involve cooking), sleep in the afternoon, perhaps read something or listen to some music, then dinner which was the same setup at lunch and then off to bed. This is all I felt I could do. I did not have any energy for anything else. Nor did I want to do anything else. For a few months this was my every day, and it was hard for me as well as everyone around me. I kept a diary where I wrote everything down, as I could not retain any information. If it was not written down, it would not happen.

Fast forward

Now, just over a year later, I am doing so much better. I am working full time and managing a few sessions in the gym too every week. Over the last month or so I have been constructing my greenhouse and filling it up with things. Not only green things, but table, chairs and so on. My indoor plant collection has grown and although Helen is very nice about it, I do not want to upset her further by letting the plants take over (around 40 and counting). Therefore, I have decided to make a plant shelf. This involves getting the wood, sawing and filing and drilling and sanding and everything else. I saw one I really liked, as does Helen, so I’m going to make a prototype. It won’t be perfect but in a lot of ways it will still be fantastic. What I love about all of this is that I want to do all these things. I have so much energy now to do all of it, although not enough time in the day. Having spent a ten-hour day of physical work, I come home and continue with everything I need and want to do.

I want to build a shelf

This is in progress now, and I wish there was more time, but that is ok. I have made such great progress: I feel so much better and I know it will all get better still. It is important to give yourself time when you are not feeling well. Having gone through all of it over the last year really puts things into perspective, and I do spend some time reflecting on where I was and how far I’ve come. I’m beginning to feel more back to my old self, I still have ways to go but I’m getting there. My greenhouse is up, my shelf is in progress, we have plans for some time away and as well as everything else we are involved in with 2 Spuds in a Pod.

Life is good

It has its up and downs, but we also would not appreciate the good stuff if we have not been through the bad stuff. I feel I have a lot of experience that I am willing to share, to help break the stigma of mental health. We all suffer, and we need to talk about it more, men more so than women. I am always here and always willing to listen and advice. There is nothing to be ashamed of.  

-Rosita

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