Taking Control of My Mental Health

I have had delicate mental health for a while. I have taken lots of self help steps to try to make myself better with some success but somehow I always relapse.

This year I have suffered with sinusitis and chronic tiredness which has made me depressed.  I don’t know what comes first, the illness or the depression or that they both feed on each other in some horrific symbiotic relationship. At points all I could do was lie on the sofa and drink wine. I was spiralling downwards.

I decided I was sick of all this and took charge of myself. First the sinusitis had to go. The doctor had given me a steroid nasal spray which did nothing. She said it would take twelve months to work. So basically it didn’t work.  I read up online and came across someone saying dairy caused their sinusitis. This felt right to me. I gave up dairy, bread and eggs two weeks ago. The results were quite something. My sinusitis got better almost immediately. Two weeks later I would say it is almost gone completely though not quite. The eczema on my finger has also cleared up. I think I have been allergic to milk and not realised it. I also felt that my digestion was better and I didn’t feel bloated. I had more energy.

I started hypnotherapy. I have had two sesssions and have received an audio file that I am to play at night. I did not feel instantly better as some people report but I am perservering. It is like a guided meditation focusing on positive thoughts. I have been eating healthily, avoiding alcohol and doing yoga, meditation, jogging and walking. I do feel somewhat better. The hypnotherapy is deadly expensive so I am holding off for a while for the next session.

I scoured the local mental health services and self referred for a well being course. I have four sessions of CBT therapy for depression. It doesn’t start until October. It’s in a group so I am not sure   if it will be effective but I am giving it a try.

I have also decided to take control of my life in other ways. I have signed up for an MSc in Psychology at the Open University and I have signed up  to learn hypnotherapy. So that’s two part time courses. I am paying for them with a student loan from the government. I still neeed some kind of job to pay my way. This is proving tricky. I need to get on it though. I am winding down my business as it makes virtually no money.

I am not cured yet by any means but I feel that I am more in control of events. I have got better before and then slid back down. I must not let that happen again. I know a lot of it is negative thoughts. It’s like there’s a tape in my head that puts me down. My awareness of it is the first step to getting rid of it. I am hoping the outside agencies will help me.

I am toying with asking for antidepressants though I have always resisted this. I am still not sure. I also think about having private therapy though the cost is horrendous.

I have realised that I will never be able to go back to what passes for a normal life. I can’t just have a quiet drink without it turning into an enormous session. I can’t just eat what I like because certain foods just don’t agree with me and I get fat and sluggish. Every day I will have to take time for self care. I am treating myself as a project like an elderly, delicate maiden aunt who needs lots doing for her. I am being gentle with myself. I am turning off the critical voice. Every day it will be an effort but I am going to do it. I have made the first steps.

And I will finish my novel.



Memories of Italy

For my 50th birthday my husband took me to Italy for a treat. We went to Umbria which is billed a a quieter version of Tuscany and so it was.

It was beautiful and I learned how to smile again. Our hotel was on the top of a hill and it had been an old castle. The views were the most wonderful thing. You could see for miles: olive groves, woodlands, farmland right down in the valley and mountains in the distance. It was a perfect landscape – a little bit of everything. The hotel grounds were full of birds singing away until the evening. Every day was sunshine but one when it rained.  I loved it.

We went on lots of outings in the hire car to smart mediaeval towns full of flowers. We ate some amazing lunches. Italian gelato is exquisite, absolutely nothing like British ice cream. I must learn how to make it. We don’t eat meat but the rich farmland meant there were lots of vegetable dishes to choose from.

There was something special about the area. Pilgrims come from all over the world to the shrines of St Francis. Many saints had made their homes here in the past, living in caves in the hills. I could see why. There was a spiritual quality to the place, particularly on the high ground which I hadn’t felt since the West Highlands. You can feel close to God here.

I felt far from the cares of my life. I could feel the weight of my depression leaving me and even my constant sinusitis got better. I ate too much and drank too much and delighted in everything. On the last evening I sat on the terrace and tried to imprint the view on my brain so that I could remember it back in dreary old England.

Of course you cannot be on holiday forever though I wish you could. I need to incorporate at least some aspects of the trip into my life. I have concocted an ambition to have a little albergo in the hills  of Umbria and have people to stay. It would be wonderful. It can be my goal.

Already back in England I can feel the weight returning so I must fight to remember how life can be. I must think of Italy when the shadows come. One day I will get there.

Yogi Cameron Diet – Week 7 Review

So I am already on week seven of the Yogi Cameron diet. The diet rules remain the same this week as for other weeks. The spiritual emphasis is on refraining from sex. Yogi Cameron suggests it takes away your energy from more important things like developing your spiritual practice. I think this idea will be very hard for most Western people where we are taught that a healthy sex life is good for us. I think when I was younger I would have scoffed but now I am older I can see some wisdom in it. My interest in all matters sexual has certainly waned in recent years. Yogi Cameron even abandoned a relationship to concentrate on Yogidom. You have to admire the dedication that I think most people could not emulate.

I have felt better than last week though I think I am still a little under the weather and get tired easily. I have discovered the joys of stewed fruit for breakfast. This is recommended as part of an ayurvedic diet as it is easy on the digestion. Just add water to fruit and simmer for a while. Add a little sugar though nowhere near as much as they tell you to in traditional cook books. The result is divine. It works for lots of kinds of fruits like cooking apples, pears. I have even tried strawberries and nectarines.

I have been sticking to the vegetable curries and rice for lunch. I have been doing much better this week on the no alcohol rule though I did have two glasses of wine on Thursday when I went out for a Thai meal. It was easy to stick to ayurvedic principles in Thai food. I had a vegetable curry with rice. I should have resisted the wine but I didn’t.

I still haven’t lost any weight. Sigh. To do this I think I am going to have to make some  significant changes to the diet.

I have kept up yoga and meditation. I am now meditating for twenty minutes. I am more successful in going deep on some days rather than others. I feel calm and I am not so bothered by negative events as I used to be. I am learning to manage stress and to bounce back from setbacks. I think I still need more help in this area. I really need to believe in myself as a trainee yogi and convince myself I can do it.


Yogi Cameron Diet – Week 5 Review

I had a health check this week as I am a new patient at the surgery. I am in perfect health according to the nurse. This is good news. She said I am not overweight but for myself I would like to lose about a stone. Frustratingly, I still haven’t lost any weight. I can’t blame Yogi Cameron though. I can only blame myself as I keep cheating.

The diet is the same as the other weeks. The spiritual emphasis is on not stealing. This doesn’t just mean actual stealing but other types like stealing a parking space. I must admit I don’t do this type of behaviour really so I can feel success in this area.

I have been feeling out of balance this week and as a result I have been eating far too much and I have drunk too much alcohol. I am feeling really annoyed with myself for my lack of willpower. I have been eating all healthy whole foods but just too much of them. I find myself ravenously hungry in the evening and that’s when I cheat by having a piece of bread.

I have had lots of thoughts from the past that make me feel bad. I think this is part of the healing process to get it all out of your head. It’s hard though. I have kept up my yoga, meditation and praying. I have slept well. I have had a reasonable amount of energy but not as much as I would like.

I need to get my head into the space where I follow the diet properly and then I can really evaluate it.

Notes from the Old Chapel – Summer’s Bounty

I have been living at the Old Chapel for a month now. I have settled in really well and I am almost developing a routine.

The weather has been typically British with sunshine and showers. I have been caught in a downpour more than once. My fitness regime is going well with me up to 50 minutes jogging now which I manage on a circuit around the lanes. I have extended my yoga routing to include sun salutations and five Tibetan yoga moves for longevity. I have been meditating and praying every day.  Sundays I have a rest from exercise. It has all given me a sense of growing well being though I still have a way to go.

I have kept more or less to the Yogi Cameron diet with some cheating. I have eaten no processed food and been purely vegetarian.  I have had no caffeine. Bread and wine have been my downfall. Next week I need to find all of my will power and give up the wine. Mornings can be tricky as I have only been having a piece of fruit for breakfast. This leads to massive hunger pangs. I might have to look for something more substantial. I have managed a weekly organic vegetables delivery from Arthur’s Organics which is all locally produced food. I am really pleased about this as I think organic food is definitely healthier and better for the planet. Weight loss is slow but I have lost a kilo this week.

I have also been dog walking every day, twice a day and discovered a new walk. Didi is enjoying lounging in the garden. Sadly he chased the cat this morning so Monty is now sleeping in the utility room recovering from trauma. I wish I knew a dog whisperer.

It has been hard to garden because of all the rain. I have found the compost heap which seems mostly to be grass cuttings not doing a lot at the moment. I have added the kitchen scraps to it and will have to figure out how to get it going. I have tried to get an allotment in the nearest town but there is a waiting list for all of them. I am thinking of starting with some raised beds somewhere in the garden. I am not sure where to put them as the garden is full of shrubs.

On the writing front I have really been getting to grips with my novel and have written some every day. I am getting into the rhythm again and this feels good. My first novel is now available as a kindle book with new front cover and a re-edit. I am quite pleased with it but determined to make the second one better.

I have applied for various random local jobs with some trepidation but I would like to have some money again to pay for all the things I would like to do. I’ll see how it goes.

My confidence is growing slightly and I have been feeling optimistic. I have still been looking at the media but much less than I used to. I think it is more healthy not to have a constant stream of information but to ration it. I still need to develop more of a routine where I am more productive and treat my writing as a job.

There are still boxes to unpack but they are now confined to the spare room. The house is more orderly.

On Saturday night as it was the end of the month we went to the local town for a curry. There were lots of vegetarian options so I could keep to ayurvedic principles. It was very good classic Indian.

Today is glorious sunhine and I am at peace.

Shalom my friend.



Week 3 – Yogi Cameron Diet

I am now in Week 3 of the Yogi Cameron diet.

The focus this week is on truthfulness. It is not only about telling the truth but finding your authentic self. This is something I have been working on for a while.  I still haven’t found my true purpose. I don’t know what I am meant to be doing. I am going to continue to search. I need to try different things until I find a fit. When you are doing something that is right for you things should flow. They should feel easy rather than a chore. This is a challenge. I find lots of things a chore. The search continues.

I am gaining clarity as I move through the programme about many aspects of my life. I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I behave, how I react to things. I know there is a lot wrong in my life that I need to put right. I do feel that I am making progress though in small steps. The new home has made me feel much better about my life. The connection with nature is really important. As I sit here I can see a blue tit pecking at the bird feeder. This makes me feel really good.

The diet is the same as the previous weeks. No meat, no fish, no processed food, no frozen food, no microwaved food, no caffeine, no alcohol. I have been eating fresh fruit and vegetables with some butter. A small amount of dairy is allowed.

Five minutes in the morning should be spent in thinking about how to act truthfully.

In addition to this I have added in my yoga practice, jogging and meditation. Unfortunately I have cheated on the alcohol and already had a couple of glasses of wine this week. This is a real problem for me and something I need to work on. Giving up all the other things was easy and I don’t miss them at all. Wine is some kind of comfort blanket for me. I need to work harder on getting rid of this addiction.

On the topic of truthfulness like most people I have told lies in the past. I have a tendency to embroider the truth. Why do I do this? I think one of the reasons is a need to impress or please people. This tendency has lessened in me as I have worked on self-development. The only person I need to please is myself. I have definitely made progress here. Sometimes I think I have been too honest and it has got me into trouble. Often people don’t want to hear the truth. I am not sure what to do about this but I can see spiritually honesty is the way to go.

I had a darker mood yesterday which explains the reversion to wine drinking. Some dark experiences from the past came to haunt my dreams. Today that feeling seems to have gone. I am feeling more at peace. It is raining again today but that is good so the focus can turn to indoor activities.

The best thing about this week is I have started to write again. I worked on my novel yesterday and I felt positive about what I have written so far. Maybe writing is my  purpose though I am still not sure about that.


Yogi Cameron Diet

Today I woke to the good news that I have lost some more weight. The scale now reads 57.7 kg. I am very pleased about this. There was rain overnight and it was still raining in the morning. The weather is not helping me sustain a happy mood.  I had to spend the day packing for the imminent house move. The exchange was meant to happen today but didn’t. Yet another delay. I have been waiting to move house for five months. I had an energy dip in the afternoon. Thankfully, all my caffeine withdrawal pains have gone. This diet appears to be working.

Food and exercise:

On waking: lemon water

Dog walk: half an hour

Hot marmite

Breakfast: strawberrries


30 mins yoga

Lunch: white rice with daal.

Mint tea

Dog walk: half an hour

Dinner: rice cakes and peanut butter

Another benefit of this diet is that it is very cheap.

My non-violence topic of the day was not gossiping behind people’s backs.  I really wish every body would stop doing this. I had a hard time controlling my frustration about the house move. I need to work on my patience. I spent time turning my can’ts into cans. I can write. I can get a good job.

Yogi Cameron diet – Energy

Well today was probably the best I have felt on this diet. I had quite a restless night due to the usual aching legs but by the morning the pain had gone. I did a lot of exercise and felt well. I was optimistic and happy. The sun was mostly shining and I think this does have a great effect on me. I kept to my diet. I have also begun taking Femergy tablets which contain maca, ginseng and ginkgo biloba. I am not sure if it’s the diet, the lack of caffeine or the tablets but my energy levels have improved.  I also managed to write a synopsis of my book. Feeling good!

Food and exercise:

On waking: lemon water

Breakfast: skyr yoghurt with flax seeds and chia seeds with a teaspoon of honey.

One hour dog walk.

Half hour yoga session. Meditation.

Half hour HIT cardio session – it was tough.

Lunch: crushed potatoes and haricot beans with butter. Banana. Hot marmite.

Two hour dog walk.

Dinner: two rice cakes and peanut butter.

My Day as a Yogi – Writing Exercise

I wake early at six. My legs are heavy. They have been aching overnight. It’s the caffeine withdrawal. Less than yesterday though. It is leaving my system. I am detoxing. I am drug free. I feel sleepy. I return to sleep. I sleep in until eight. Neil tells me it’s time to feed the dog. He is going to work.  I go down to the kitchen. Didi runs ahead of me excitedly. He is looking for signs of the cat. Why can’t he get on with the cat? I have made no progress here. He has a chase instinct. I let him in the garden and he bursts out. He is energy. I feel the grubbiness of the kitchen. However much I clean it it always looks grubby. I chop up the dog food. Meat. I don’t eat meat. Didi eats meat. How strange I buy it for him. He has to have it. Samsarra. I put it on the floor in his steel bowl. It is gone in seconds.

I pour myself boiling water. I take a lemon from the fridge – half a lemon – already cut. I cut another slice and pop it in the cup. Lemon water. Health. My body is a temple. I go back up stairs, up the dark staircase to the second floor. I crawl back into my bed. I sit up and drink my lemon water. Didi curls next to me. I love the comfort of him. He is warm against me. I can hear birdsong. It is raining. Refreshing rain. Too much rain this year. I can hear it hitting the window. My skin feels soft and clear. My diet is helping me. I read the news on my phone – the Guardian app. I flick down the articles. I only read a few of them. So boring. So predictable. Journalists with their worn opinions. The news is all about the referendum. Lots of news is doomy. They are always trying to scare us. They. The machine. We must be kept in fear. I look at Twitter. It is the same as the Guardian. I keep thinking of the film I watched last night:  The Aryan Couple. So sad what happened to the Jews. But the ending was happy. For them at least. They escaped because they were rich. Money rules in this world.

I toss away my phone and concentrate on drinking my lemon water. I am proud I have given up caffeine for a week. I must keep it up. I will wake naturally and tire naturally. It will be better. I will find my natural rhythm.

I shower. I love the shower in the en suite. The water is forceful. It is a good feeling. I am awake. I rub coconut oil all over me. My body is a temple. Didi stands near and eats the fallen gobbets of oil. He likes coconut oil.

I dress in my dog walking clothes, my old green cords. I dry my hair quickly turning my head upside down. I tie it into a pony tail. I am annoyed about the roots. The roots didn’t take. The henna only covered the rest. My roots are too dark.

I go downstairs. I take my barbour from the peg. I wear my leather hat because of the rain. I put Didi into his harness and I clip on the lead. He shies away from the harness. He doesn’t like it but he lets me put it on. We venture out. It is raining.

We walk around the park. It is all shades of green. I love the green. There are wildflowers in the uncut grass. The may weed is beautiful: big daisies. Didi forges ahead, sniffing, rootling, rushing on. He is busy. He is always alert. We pass people. Only the old people say hello. Most of them don’t. Is it me? I think they are just like this. People don’t speak in the south. They are not in a city though. It’s a small town. they could speak. They don’t.

We go back. We are wet. I have muesli for breakfast. I have almond milk with it. I am not sure if almond milk is allowed on this diet. Is it a processed food? Probably. I feel better than yesterday. I am getting used to it. Every day is better.

I load the dishwasher. Always so many dishes. Where do they come from? It takes three and a half hours to do its eco cycle. It would be quicker to do it yourself. It rattles and bangs. I don’t understand what it does.

I drink hot water.

I go upstairs to the living room. I drink my water. I am calm. I do meditation. I don’t go deep today. Didi tries to distract me, licking my hand. I have a rest. I read some internet articles. I do yoga. Today I choose Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube. It is a gentle day. I feel good. I can do it. I am in the moment. Didi bites a hole in my yoga mat. He doesn’t like me doing yoga. He want to play with his cuddly snow leopard. I break my practice to play with him. He is content to chew it now.

My new resolution is to do more exercise. I choose a thirty minute HIT routine with Fitness Blender. It is hot and sweaty but I can do it. It must be good for me. I am tired now. I rest and look at my phone. I look at Twitter and WordPress. I read some more articles.

It is time for lunch. On this diet lunch is the big meal of the day. I have potato and spring green curry. These are the only vegetables I have left from my organic box. I don’t have rice as I am not losing weight. I pour the spices. They are beautiful – all shades of brown and orange. I pour water over and wait. I listen to the radio. Someone is moaning their baggage got lost in South Africa. I turn it off again. I enjoy the curry and I have it with mango chutney. I don’t think mango chutney will be allowed on this diet. It is out of a jar. I have it anyway. I feel full. It is good.

I go back upstairs. I read. I feel sleepy. Didi is looking for trouble out of the window. He is looking for things to bark at. Next door woman blames him for barking. I have heard her bad mouthing him in the garden. It is her chihuaha that starts barking first. She has an Essex accent. It is ugly. He is restless so I take him for another walk. It has stopped raining. There is a sliver of sunlight. The sky is grey. We walk to a different park. There are dead things on the path. Nobody is out. It feels good. Didi is busy, darting for squirrels. He lunges at a man passing. He takes a dislike to some people. I thought I had trained him out of this but I haven’t. I must be a better trainer. I can’t let him off the lead. He is too naughty. Unpredictable.

We come back and I have marmite in water. It’s a good substitute for coffee. It tastes rich and beery. It tastes alive. I tidy the kitchen. I load the dish washer again. I put washing on. Two machines are whirring and banging now.

I have my last meal at four: rice cakes with peanut butter. It is good.

I finally sit down to write. I am writing this. The house is quiet. I am flowing. I need to do this earlier. I need to write every day. I need to write my book again. I need to have faith. I need routine.

I am enjoying my diet: the One. I know it is more than just eating. I need to get a lot of sludge out of my head. Then I can write. I need to figure out what to do with my life. I must find my place in the world. Maybe it is to write. Maybe it isn’t. I don’t know yet. My mind is clearing. Mind and body are working in harmony. I am more productive today than usual.

The book says to think about not yelling at people today. I haven’t yelled at anyone. I have in the past. I ask forgiveness.

It is  a good day.

I have tried to be a Yogi for a week. I am a Yogi. Yogi in training.

The Yogi Cameron Diet – Week One Review

I have been on the Yogi Cameron diet for nearly a week now. I am determined to stick with it as  a complete lifestyle change. I want to live according ayurvedic principles in order to gain good health and higher spiritual awareness.

It hasn’t been easy. I have had headaches and leg muscle pains. I think this is mostly due to the caffeine withdrawal.

The diet emphasises fruit, vegetables and grains. There is no alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine allowed. I have stuck to it pretty faithfully. I am working on the principle it is going to get worse before it gets better.

I mostly had fruit in the morning, a vegetable curry and rice for lunch and a light dinner such as fruit or more rice. So far I have only lost a pound over the week. My weight fluctuated but this morning I am still 58.8 kg. I am disappointed that I have not lost more but I am determined not to give up like I have so many times in the past.

Today was Sunday so I had a treat and went to my favourite curry house, Orissa. I had pineapple curry and rice with dahl and saag paneer. It was very gorgeous. As it was such a big blow out I have not had any dinner.

I have been thinking about how to lose more weight next week and have decided to cut  my portion sizes down and introduce more exercise as well as yoga.

My mood was very good today and my energy level was medium. This is the best I have felt all week.

Food and exercise:

On waking at six: hot water

Dog walk for an hour.

Breakfast: banana

Lunch: Pineapple curry and rice, dahl, saag paneer. Two fruit juice non-alcoholic cocktails.

Dog walk for an hour.

Dinner: none

Meditation and yoga.

I drank hot and cold water throughout the day.

Spiritually, I was thinking about non-violence and meditating on the question: Do I call people names?