Over the last couple of months there have been several beneficial outcomes resulting from this latest breakdown of mine.
One is the acquisition of knowledge about psychological issues, related causes and subsequent impacts. This has led to a deeper understanding of the labels I have been given and in turn shone a light on a path for me to take – Dialectical Behaviour Therapy.
Another is that I have finally gained the support of two very good mental healthcare professionals. Not only are they very attentive to what is said but they are also proactive, and very much driven to find the right solutions and not just what is most expedient.
Yet I have had plenty of time outside of feeling suicidal, desperate, anxious, guilty, angry and generally miserable where I have been rational and quite keen to help myself.
So, I have been learning German using an iPhone app. I spend around 20 minutes a day working through lessons of repetition in listening to, spelling in, and reading German. I’m really enjoying it, my memory is getting excercise and one day I may even know enough to participate in a full German conversation.
I’ve also been writing this blog, which I admit takes more time than planned, and due to circumstances I usually find that I only get the chance to write at either end of the day. I have considered abandoning this endeavour but instead resigned myself to writing only as frequently as I can – so sometimes not a post a day as originally intended.
Regardless of the number of readers, I do find it very helpful to express my thoughts in a more precise and substantial way. Whereas verbal explanation can be a little disjointed, unclear and incomplete, the blog posts sometimes serve as a reference point in memory that aids subsequent conversation. These posts can even help provide me with clarity or resolution that had previously evaded me.
I have spent a lot of time in the garden – planting and tending flowers, managing the lawn, weeding and generally striving to make everything look nice. I am at my most calm and relaxed when I’m surrounded by and working with the beauty that nature provides. From the variations in the form of each flower to the insects that support them I always marvel at the complexity and simplicity of it all. Alas there is only so much that can be done, so now that everything is in place I simply do what I can as the need arises.
I have also been looking at Buddhism. The more I have read the more I have become drawn to it’s obvious truth. I know that I wish to become Buddhist but I also know that I need to read more in order to make the correct decisions about the type of Buddhism I will learn and practice.
I haven’t read anything on the subject for nearly a week now, but I have started making changes. For a start I have given up meat, and this hasn’t been as awful as I would once have feared. I even had to abandon a half finished packet of wine gums due to the gelatin. Giving up alcohol isn’t an issue as I rarely drink, but smoking is tricky. I gave up, cold turkey, at the turn of the new year but only lasted 4 months to the point I went to the cuckoos nest. I am committed to giving up again, although I suspect it’s wise to wait until my current psychological impairment is reduced somewhat.
What’s immediately important though is that I set aside more time for my study of Buddhism – and above all non-essential activities.
The one thing I have yet to start is a short story. This became a goal whilst I was looking at possible alternatives to my current profession, having established that the industry I work in is not necessarily ideal for me (regardless of the 20 years already given).
My current salary allows me to pay my child maintenance and still live a comfortable life, yet it has been very difficult to find an alternative profession that would be interesting, that would not require lengthy retraining and that could provide an income remotely close to what is needed. I looked at the possibility of self employment too and ruled out many things due to risk and overheads.
Even though it’s a process I should go through again, two things were clearly identified: Photography and Writing. So I have decided that by writing a short story I could seek critical appraisal to determine if I have the skill to write a full book. If it’s not well received and my creative writing skill is beyond hope then I will at the least be able to set that idea aside for good. Or at least for the next few years.
The problem is that writing is a time consuming process and I already have trouble finding the time to write blog posts. I have wanted to start a story for over a week now but don’t seem to find the spare time that is needed. Which is a little perplexing for someone who is off work at the moment.
I am using the German language app for the sake of excercising my mind, but since it only requires a little daily effort it has a negligible impact. The blog and garden both take up a considerable amount of time, but I couldn’t imagine abandoning either. Learning about Buddhism needs more attention and for me is not optional, especially as it provides the basis for a lot of the DBT therapy.
So creative writing may not be a possibility right now. Either that or I lock myself away for a few hours each day!
I’ve told my children about my intention to become Buddhist. My oldest child was interested to hear about the intended timeline of my transition. My second oldest, having expressed an interest in Buddhism long before me, offered to lend me one of her books. My third oldest was keen to hear about the beliefs of Buddhism and how they apply to everyday life. She showed an interest herself, so I suggested that she reads about it and understands it before committing to it in any way. My youngest child showed no interest at all, distracted by an intent to make the funniest, or possibly scariest, face as she could on our video call.
Overall this is the most productive breakdown I’ve had, and also the one with the most responsibility at either end.
I don’t know whether any of this is really going to help, but it’s better than sitting around watching the dust settle.
And through these constructive activities I feel at the very least respectful of the need to get better and meet my responsibilities.