How I Cleared My Depression with 12 steps – step 3

I used the steps from Alcoholics Anonymous to clear my depression. You can too.

Step 3 – I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand Him.

This is about surrender. It was really hard for me. I thought I had to be strong; I had to defeat my own demons on my own. I had tried to do this and I hadn’t succeeded. I just seemed to be digging myself in deeper. I used to be pretty independent and self-reliant. It seemed like the only way. Then after my career disaster I became financially dependent on my husband. This still didn’t help me. I had got rid of one problem that depressed me (my work) but now I had other problems – poverty, lack of self-worth, lack of meaning and purpose…I still hadn’t made the shift. I was still looking for the wrong things to make me happy and medicating myself daily with red wine.

I had a blockage about surrendering to God. I kind of worried about being a Christian. I had met plenty of Christians I didn’t like – judgemental, obsessed with other people’s sex lives, joyless, cruel. I had met many Christian teachers like this and I did not want to be like them. Christianity has a strange history and a lot of skeletons in its closet. On the Alpha course I started thinking about the true message- the words of Jesus which really are astounding. Jesus is nothing like the sort of Christians I had met in the past. My favourite passage is the Sermon on the Mount, particularly ‘Consider the lilies…’ Go and check it out if you haven’t read it. It is about surrendering to God and letting go. It really is the hardest thing but the most worthwhile thing. God clothes even the wild flowers of the field with beauty. They don’t work for it, they don’t strive yet God looks after them. He will look after you too because you mean more to Him. Notice there is no Protestant work ethic here. Where did that come from because it didn’t come out of the mouth of Jesus? Surrendering to God causes a change in your consciousness. It doesn’t mean you won’t do things wrong (sin) and mess things up. You will but it’s ok.

The plan I had for my life didn’t work. It was a rubbish plan. I was working in the education system that I didn’t believe in. In the end it drove me to break down. Then I thought I would write books but that didn’t work out either. My plans were all wrong. I accepted help from God and at this point I realised change was possible. I am still not where I want to be. I have held back from total commitment. I am not a nun or a holy person on a mountain. I haven’t made it in to Mother Theresa territory – yet. I ask God for help every day. When I feel despair I pray. I remember that I am Divine – I am made in the image of God. That helps me. I still have some bad habits. I still drink wine but nothing like as much as I used to. I am trying to phase it out completely but I keep failing. I have a daily spiritual practice involving reading the Bible, praying, meditation and yoga. I am working on myself bit by bit. I am an ongoing project. If I mess up I ask for forgiveness and start again. I can observe my emotions and detach from them. I am training as a therapist so I can be of service to others.

Accept help from God as you understand Him. It does not have to be the Christian God. It could be Ganesha or Buddha or nature or Allah. It’s up to you.

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How I Cleared My Depression with 12 steps – step 2

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I used the 12 steps from Alcoholics Anonymous to overcome depression.

Step 2

I came to believe that a power greater than me could restore me to sanity.

This was a big shift for me. All my life I feel like I have been surrounded by atheists: my family, my friends. They know it all. They don’t need God. But I did. After years of vague belief I finally submitted. I became a Christian on the Alpha Course. This helped me a lot. Therapists often say you have to fix yourself; that it has to come from within. That’s good advice for many people but I had been trying to fix myself for years. There was something about surrendering myself to a loving God that worked for me.

I have suffered in the past from depression, low self-esteem and a sense of worthlessness. This just leads to nihilism: there seems no point in doing anything in a meaningless universe. Christianity gave me a way out of this trap.When the Bible is explained to you as an unfolding story it all starts to make sense. There is order in the universe, there is purpose and intention. Most of all there is love. Love is the thing I have been lacking. God loves me just as I am with all my flaws and faults. I don’t have to be perfect. I am good enough just the way I am. This is a revelation to me. We are all sinners. God knows this but he forgives us and accepts us through the blood of Jesus.

Being a Christian gives me meaning and purpose. I am still early on in my journey and I haven’t figured everything out yet but I read the Bible every day and pray and I attend the local abbey and sometimes my village church which has intermittent services. When somebody at Alpha prayed over me I felt like some evil thing left my body and something else came in its place. My depression began to lift there and then. I didn’t get rid of it overnight but it was the start of my journey to recovery. A lot of people have trouble with the word God. If you prefer you can use Higher Power or Nature or whatever you like. For me God works best though. I feel better when I think of something external to me helping me: a great spirit. I can’t make it on my own but I can make it with God. And so can you. Surrender to Him and you can heal yourself of all kinds of issues. Just one step at a time each day.

Personal Therapy Philosophy

In this essay, I will outline my own ideas about hypnotherapy which will form the foundation of my private practice. Firstly, I will explain my background, values, and beliefs which will affect my practice. Then, I will describe the integrative approach to therapy I will take incorporating elements from humanistic therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), and psychodynamic approaches which I will combine with transformational hypnotherapy. I will explain my reasons and give evidence for my stance. It will be argued that integrative practice is the approach most likely to help the majority of clients with varying issues. I will then explore the argument taken by the NHS that cognitive-behavioural therapy is all that is necessary for modern psychotherapeutic treatment and find reasons to reject this argument.

Firstly, it is necessary for me to explain my own background as it is important for a therapist to work in a way which is comfortable for them and in line with their belief systems (Corey, 2001). This gives the therapist authenticity. I have a fairly academic background. My first degree was an MA in Philosophy which gave me a life long interest in ideas and the ‘big questions’ about the meaning of life and the nature of reality. I have a second degree which is a BSc in Psychology which was very science based and concerned with evidence. It was not particularly relevant to therapy. I am currently undertaking an MSc in Psychology which is concentrating on research methods and again is not particularly focused on therapy. This educational experience has given me the tendency to look for evidence to support the claims of different modalities but at the same time to be aware of the flawed nature of much evidence in psychology. I have had a long career in teaching which has given me a practical insight into human nature. I ended my career prematurely due to inability to cope with prolonged stress which also led to bouts of depression. This experience gave me an interest in mental health and I have received CBT, counselling and transformational hypnotherapy which have all helped me to manage my mental health. I sought training in hypnotherapy as I wished to help others who were undergoing similar issues to me. I have a particular interest in anxiety and depression. Recently, I became a Christian and before that I was a practising Buddhist. I now blend these two belief systems and think of myself as a Christian Buddhist. I have a daily spiritual practice and spirituality is an important part of my life and gives me meaning. My education, spiritual life, and life experience have informed my values. I believe that the purpose of life is to develop yourself as much as possible, to self-actualise, and then to help others by sharing your skills and knowledge. I am motivated by the values of kindness and compassion and I would like to see a more spiritual, caring society. I see therapy as a way of helping people with their life problems so enabling them to live more fulfilling lives and reach their personal potential. I would not wish to impose my spiritual beliefs on anyone but if it was wished by the client, he or she could find a safe space to explore these issues.

Contemplating my life story has led me to embrace some of the humanistic tradition in psychotherapy, particularly the ideas of Maslow (1993, cited in Joseph, 2010) and Rogers (1959, cited in Joseph 2010). I feel that the transpersonal approach to psychology, emphasising spiritual experience, is the one to which I feel most attracted. Rogers (1980, cited in Joseph, 2010) wrote that he felt he was most effective as a therapist when his inner spirit reached out and touched the inner spirit of another. The relationship transcends itself and becomes part of a larger phenomenon enabling deep growth and healing. Maslow (1968, cited in Joseph 2010) developed the idea of a hierarchy of needs beginning with physiological needs such as food and water and ending with self-actualization where individuals are self-directed, creative, and independent and are willing to try to understand other people’s point of view and are open to new experiences. Such experiences could be what Maslow calls ‘peak experiences’ which transcend ordinary human consciousness and can be spiritual in nature: beyond the person. The transpersonal approach also draws on the work of Jung (1957, cited in Joseph, 2010) who developed the idea of a collective unconscious that exists beyond the boundaries of space and time and reflects a cosmic intelligence. The collective unconscious provides an inner wisdom for healing. Some transpersonal notions have much in common with Buddhism as individuals come to an understanding that there is no real self. Clients can undergo a transformation where their current way of seeing the world is shattered and they realise the unity of all things (Wilber, 1998, cited in Joseph, 2010). Meditation techniques can form part of transpersonal approaches. The therapist is co-operating with the client to allow inner healing to take place. Transpersonal therapists are not much concerned with scientific evidence and it can be argued that their approach is difficult to research effectively. However, there is some research that suggests that humanistic approaches are just as effective as other forms of therapy (Grof, 2007). In spite of my enthusiasm for the transpersonal approach I am aware it will not be appropriate for all clients which is why I intend to practice therapy in an integrative way with the transpersonal approach underlying my broader range of techniques.

I am drawn to the integrative approach as much of the research into the effectiveness of psychotherapy has emphasised the importance of common factors between therapies. Ablon and Jones (2010) have shown that in practice skilled, experienced therapists integrate techniques belonging to several approaches, adapting to the individual needs of their patients. A positive relationship between the therapist and patient is of paramount importance in the success of the treatment. This is known as the therapeutic alliance (Grencavage and Norcross, 1990). It has also been suggested that successful treatment may depend on various non-specific therapeutic factors: the confidence of the therapist in the treatment, the patient’s perception of the therapist as skilled and confident, a patient’s expectation that the treatment will be successful, characteristics of the patient such as commitment to therapy, being able to formulate problems and a willingness to challenge themselves (Wampold, 2015), (Cuijpers, 2013), (Ablon and Marci, 2004). The genuine interest of the counsellor in improving another person’s quality of life is vital (Schneider and Langle, 2012). It is likely that it is these mechanisms of change that predict the success of psychotherapeutic treatment, rather than the type of therapy that is utilised. As a result of these findings, I intend to work on creating a strong therapeutic alliance where I collaborate with the client to find solutions to their issues. I also intend to incorporate Rogers’ core conditions from person centred therapy: congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard (Rogers, 1959, cited in Joseph, 2010). Congruence means the therapist is being his or her real self which is also close to his or her idealised self and he or she is integrated into the relationship with the client. Empathy means the therapist understands the client’s feelings. Unconditional positive regard means that the therapist will accept and support the client whatever he or she does or says. There is a real warmth and respect in the relationship.

Some clients’ issues may not be suitable for humanistic therapy so I will also make use of cognitive-behavioural techniques (CBT). The therapy focuses on the present rather than the past, and on changing negative patterns of thinking and behaviour (Joseph, 2010). Theoretically, CBT is rooted in behaviourism. Behaviourists believed that only observable, measurable, outward behaviour was worthy of scientific inquiry (Skinner, 1974, cited in Joseph, 2010). This theory was further developed by Beck (1976, cited in House and Loewenthal, 2008), who added a cognitive element. My reason for choosing CBT is that it has an impressive evidence base in research which suggests it is as good as or superior to other psychotherapies (Barth, Munder, Gerger, Nuesch, Trelle, Znoj and Cuiijpers, 2013), (Cuijpers, van Straten, Andersson, and van Oppen, 2008), (King, 2007), (Elkin, Shea, Watkins, Imber, Sotsky, Collins and Parloff, 1989). The approach is appropriate for clients who want fast solutions to their presenting issues and don’t wish for greater self-knowledge, spiritual development or to revisit the past.

The third approach I will integrate into my psychotherapy practice is psychodynamic therapy. There is great emphasis placed on the relationship between the patient and the therapist (Joseph, 2010). This has the advantage of giving primacy to the interactions between the two, which can be analysed in the course of the dialogue, thus finding solutions. However, this emphasis has raised criticisms. Unethical practitioners have abused the therapeutic relationship with its inherent power imbalance and there have been cases of sexual abuse of patients and other humiliating experiences (Masson, 1992). There is a focus on defence mechanisms and transference of issues from the past onto the counsellor. The emphasis is on the unconscious mind and early childhood experiences. At its best, the patient and therapist form an equal partnership, where the patient makes a breakthrough by working through issues from the past, bringing the unconscious causes of behaviour into conscious awareness and thus relieving current symptoms and empowering the patient (Joseph, 2010). This emphasis on the past has been criticised, as some therapists have been accused of unwittingly planting false memories in patients, particularly of sexual abuse, which can seriously harm people (Masson, 1992). Psychodynamic therapy is grounded in the work of Freud, (1901, cited in Joseph 2010) which gives it a firm theoretical basis and long history (Milton 2008, cited in House and Loewenthal, 2008). Freud developed psychoanalysis from a small series of case studies of his patients in Vienna. He believed that human behaviour has its origins in the unconscious mind, which is full of irrational, conflicting needs. In recent times, Freud’s ideas have been heavily criticised as they are based on studies of a limited number of people and they lack empirical evidence (Eysenck and Wilson, 1973, cited in Joseph, 2010). The cultural values of Edwardian Austria may not apply across the world. In spite of these criticisms, psychodynamic therapy has a strong evidence base, particularly for depression (Shedler, 2010). I choose to integrate elements of this approach in my practice as it will be suitable for clients who wish to revisit the past due to traumatic experiences. Modern psychodynamic therapy can be delivered in relatively short time frames such as 10-16 sessions. I am drawn to this approach more than CBT as I have found revisiting the past has been helpful to me in my own personal therapy so I believe it will help others.

Finally, the fourth approach which will be an important part of my practice is transformative hypnotherapy. I was very impressed on the course with the work of Boyne (2018) as he could produce real change in a short period of time by revisiting traumatic events in the past and giving new more helpful ways of regarding them and new ways of living after the release of emotion from dealing with the past. I have had personal transformative therapy recently from Peer (2018) who has developed her own version and I found it very helpful to me. I would like to incorporate this into my own practice as well as using techniques from Milton Erickson (Rosen, 1982) such as hypnotic language and the use of stories and metaphor. I also wish to use the technique of guided imagery which has its roots in the work of Jung (1957, cited in Joseph, 2010) as I have seen the powerful, transforming effect of this method and I find Jung to have spiritual values which are similar to my own. There is a growing body of research which finds hypnotherapy is useful for a great many issues, even physical medical issues such as IBS especially when it is combined with psychotherapy (Kraft and Kraft, 2007).

There is a school of thought that only one therapeutic modality should be used, particularly by beginning practitioners, as the therapist needs a firm grounding in one technique and cannot hope to be expert in all therapies (Corey, 2001). Following this line, the NHS has decided that CBT is now virtually the only therapy it offers due to its strong evidence base and its value for money and speed (NICE, 2018). While I have some sympathy for this view I do not believe that CBT is appropriate for every person and every issue. It is far too reductive in reducing complex human states to merely thoughts and behaviour while ignoring emotions, the social context, the past and the unconscious mind. One argument against CBT is that it is telling people how to think and reprogramming them in line with the expectations of society. ‘Faulty’ individuals are to be made to fit in with the current culture rather than attempting to change the culture. Thus, CBT is not counselling, but just a series of tools to ‘fix’ symptoms. As a result, this treatment does not address the underlying issues of the client (Woolfolk and Richardson, 2008, cited in House and Loewenthal, 2008). As a consequence, CBT therapy becomes a political act, aligning with governmental needs for a healthy workforce. CBT is offering a kind of sticking plaster to control the emotional and behavioural impact of a lack of meaning and spirituality, rather than addressing such existential concerns. Furthermore, it is possibly unethical, as it is imposing solutions, rather than being patient-led. There is a power imbalance between the counsellor and patient (Brazier 2008, cited in House and Loewenthal, 2008).

Effective, integrative therapy has been summed up by Paul (1967, cited in Corey, 2001) as: ‘What treatment by whom, is the most effective for this individual with that specific problem, and under which set of circumstances?’However, there is a problem theoretically that the approaches are incompatible. For example, the humanistic approach believes people are basically good while the psychodynamic approach points to darker, irrational drives suggesting people have evil within them. My own belief is that people are neither good or bad but a mixture of both so I don’t fully subscribe to either theory though I lean to the humanistic. I am taking a pragmatic approach and using what works from each therapeutic modality in order to maximise my ability to help clients.

In this essay I have revealed that I intend to take an integrative approach to therapy using techniques from humanistic traditions, CBT, psychodynamic therapy and transformative hypnotherapy. This approach is underpinned by my belief in the value of transpersonal therapy as an overarching concept which will guide my practice. This is in line with my beliefs and values and enables me to help a great many people in the most effective way for them. I have supported my philosophy with research evidence.

References

Ablon, J. and Jones, E. (2010) ‘How expert clinicians’ prototypes of an ideal treatment correlate with outcome in psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioural therapy’ Psychotherapy Research vol. 8, no.1, pp. 71-83 (Online). Available at doi: 10.1080/10503309812331332207 (Accessed on 5th April, 2018)

Ablon, J. and Marci, C. (2004) ‘Psychotherapy process: the missing link: comment on Westen, Novotny, and Thompson-Brenner’ Psychological Bulletin vol. 130, no. 4, pp. 664-668 (Online). Available at doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.130.4.664 (Accessed on 5th April, 2018)

Barth, J., Munder, T., Gerger, H., Nuesch, E., Trelle, S., Znoj, H. and Cuijpers, P. (2013) ‘Comparative efficacy of seven psychotherapeutic interventions for depressed patients: a network of meta-analysis’ PLoS Medicine, vol. 10, no. 5, pp. 1-17 (Online). Available at https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001454 (Accessed on 5th April, 2018)

Boyne, G. (2018) Gil-Boyne.com (Online) Available at http://gil-boyne.com (Accessed on 13th June, 2018)

Corey, G. (2001) Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Stamford, Wadsworth

Cuijpers, P., van Straten, A., Andersson, G. and van Oppen, P. (2008) ‘Psychotherapy for depression in adults: a meta-analysis of comparative outcome studies’ Journal of Consultant Clinical Psychology vol. 76, no. 6, pp. 909-22 (Online). Available at doi: 10.1037/a0013075 (Accessed on 1st April, 2018)

Cuijpers, P. (2013) ‘Effective therapies or effective mechanisms in treatment guidelines for depression?’ in Depression and Anxiety vol. 30, no. 11, pp. 1055-1057 (Online). Available at doi: 10.1002/da.22205 (Accessed on 5th April, 2018)

Elkin, I., Shea, M., Watkins, J., Imber, S., Sotsky, S., Collins, J. and Parloff, M. (1989) ‘National Institute of Mental Health Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Program General Effectiveness of Treatments’ Arch Gen Psychiatry vol. 46, no. 11, pp. 971–982 (Online). Available at doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.1989.01810110013002 (Accessed on 5th April, 2018)

Grencavage, L., and Norcross, J., (1990) ‘Where Are the Commonalities Among the Therapeutic Common Factors?’ in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice vol. 21, no. 5, pp. 372-378 (Online). Available at doi: 10.1037/0735-7028.21.5.372 (Accessed on 5th April, 2018)

Grof, S. (2007) ‘Theoretical and Empirical Foundations of Transpersonal Psychology’ (Online) Available at http://www.stanislavgrof.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/FoundationsTP.pdf (Accessed on 13th June, 2018)

House, R. and Loewenthal, D. (eds.) (2008) Against and For CBT: Towards a Constructive Dialogue, Monmouth, PCCS Books.

Joseph, S. (2010) Theories of Counselling and Psychotherapy, Hampshire, Palgrave Macmillan.

King, R. (2007) ‘Evidence-based practice: Where is the evidence? The case of cognitive behaviour therapy and depression’ Australian Psychologist vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 83-88 (Online). Available at doi: 10.1080/00050069808257386 (Accessed on 5th April, 2018)

Kraft, T. and Kraft, D. (2007) ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptomatic Treatment Versus Integrative Psychotherapy’ in Contemp. Hypnosis vol. 24 no. 4 pp. 161-177 (Online) Available at DOI: 10.1002/ch.339 (Accessed on 13th June, 2018)

Masson, J. (1992) Against Therapy, London, Flamingo

NICE (2018) Depression in Adults, London, (Online). Available at https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg90/chapter/Appendix-Assessing-depression-and-its-severity (Accessed on 4th April, 2018)

O’Neal, P., Jackson, A. and McDermott, F. (2014) ‘A review of the efficacy and effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy and short-term psychodynamic therapy in the treatment of major depression’ Australian Social Work vol. 67, no. 2, pp. 197-213 (Online). Available at doi: 10.1080/0312407X.2013.778307 (Accessed on 4th April, 2018)

Peer, M. (2018) Marisa Peer (Online) Available at https://www.marisapeer.com (Accessed on 13th June, 2018)

Rosen, S. (1982) My Voice Will Go With You, London, Norton and Co.

Schneider, A. and Langle, K. (2012) ‘The Renewal of Humanism in Psychotherapy: Summary and Conclusion’ Psychotherapy Vol. 49, No. 4, pp. 480–481 (Online). Available at doi: 10.1037/a0028026 (Accessed on 5th April, 2018)

Shedler, J. (2010) ‘The efficacy of psychodynamic psychotherapy’ American Psychologist vol. 65, no.22, pp. 98-109 (Online). Available at
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0018378 (Accessed on 5th April, 2018)

Wampold, B. (2015) ‘How important are the common factors in psychotherapy? An update’ in World Psychiatry vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 270–277 (Online). Available at http://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20238 (Accessed on 5th April, 2018)

New Year’s Resolutions

I know we are all tired of resolutions and I have failed to keep many in the past but I still need goals so here are mine.

 

1 Read the Bible every day

2 Pray every day in English and in tongues.

3 Meditate every day

4 Find out all I can about different mental health therapies  by reading and having therapy. Choose one that works for me

5 Diligently work on my hypnotherapy training and become qualified in it.

6 Diligently work on my MSc Psychology and complete the first module.

7 Do not drink alcohol

8 Do not eat meat

9 Attend the Alive Church every week and decide if it is the right Church for me.

10 Find paid employment.

11 Do voluntary work.

12 Find out all I can about Christianity by reading and talking to other Christians.

13 Rework my second book and self publish it.

14 Start and complete a third novel.

15 Increase my social circle.

Yogi Cameron Diet Day 10

Weight: 64.1 kg No weight loss. I am becoming exasperated. I think I am eating healthily and low calorie but it’s not enough. I shall have to be ever more draconian.

Breakfast: fried egg, two slices of sourdough bread

Lunch: nut roast, roast potatoes, broccoli

Dinnner: two boiled eggs

Wine

So it’s Sunday today so I don’t do exercise. Total rest day. I did do dog walking for an hour but that’s it. I have eaten too much. Next week my plan is to cut the wine out completely. Then I will be free of stimulants. I woke up in the night again with the same headaches and leg aches. My legs were still aching in the morning. Ibuprofen is my new best friend. This caffeine withdrawal is going on for longer than I hoped. I still feel tired and have no energy. There isn’t much improvement so far. I must be patient. As far as the Yogi Cameron ethos goes I have not eaten meat or fish and I haven’t had processed food or caffeine. This is an achievement. I have been eating my main meal at lunch time instead of evening. This is all in keeping with his principles. The next big push is the alcohol. I know I have been self medicating to bear the pain of the caffeine withdrawal. I have had crazy nightmares. I really hope to feel better soon. I was lazy and watche politics and a French film. It was beautiful sunshine today so the walk was lovely. I hope I am stronger soon. There are so many things I want to do. I feel like an elderly person who needs to be pushed around in a bath chair and covered in a plaid rug. Please God can I have my energy back.

Yogi Cameron The One Plan Day 3

Weight: 64.5 kg. No weight loss

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, green tea

Lunch: ratatouille, rice, green tea, red wine

Dinner: dates

Snack: corn bread. Extra virgin olive oil

Meditation: 15 minutes.

Mindfulness: I can statements. Love and compassion to all beings.

Exercise: dog walking 30 mins

Social interaction: talking with husband until he left at 3 for a conference

I had a day of rest today as it is Sunday. I didn’t feel very good. Felt very tired. Mood medium. I was annoyed at myself for eating corn bread. I am not supposed to be eating any bread at all. The only thing I am proud of is avoiding coffee. I am still eating too much though I have reduced my portions. I will concentrate on avoiding caffeine as I can’t give up too many things at once. I spent the morning lounging and watching political programmes on TV. Then I watched a film. I feel myself slipping into old habits so I must try harder. I am more aware of my thoughts and trying to catch them before they turn negative. I felt myself sliding into hopelessness again that I do not have a proper purpose. Try not to have wine tomorrow. Keep trying. I was pleased I didn’t have processed food. I didn’t eat late. I think eggs are not really allowed on the ayurvedic diet but  think they are healthy.

Yogi Cameron The One Plan Day 2

Weight: 64.5 kg. I have lost no weight. Aaargh. Hey it’s only one day.

Dog walking: 30 mins

Meditation: 15 mins. Concentrating on the breath and observing thoughts.

Mindfulness: I can statements. I can write.

Yoga: 30 mins

Jogging: 20 mins

Breakfast: strawberries, banana, green tea

Lunch: aloo gobi curry, nectarine, green tea

Dinner: ratatouille and beans. Baked potato. Red wine.

Snack: almond milk hot chocolate.

Mood: up and down but ok

Social interaction: some at village dog show, husband in the evening

Pretty pleased at the amount of exercise I achieved today. Felt good in the morning. Energy dipped in the afternoon as did mood. Got some writing on the novel achieved though not very much.

The big news was giving up coffee. I had green tea instead. Big achievement. I did not get a headache. Felt naughty about the red wine but it is Saturday night.

I reread some of the One Plan. I love the idea he talks about as emerging as a masterpiece. Yes I would like that.

Feel I kept to eating healthy foods. I am still probably eating too much but I had no processed food. It is time consuming to cook everything from scratch but I really enjoy it. In a better world I would have a house full of children to cook for. I always make too much of everything. Sigh.

I had some negative thoughts impinging but I managed to come back to the present moment. The rainy weather does not help. I enjoyed watching my garden birds on the bird feeder.

A good day. Onwards.

 

Yogi Cameron The One Plan Reboot Day 1

I have started the One Plan before but I gave up after a few weeks. I can’t now remember why. I am going to give it another go. The One Plan is a book by Yogi Cameron who is a holistic therapist. It promises to change your life in a year with a week by week plan. I have been feeling so ill, tired and hopeless recently that I really need something. I have decided to persevere this time and not give up like I usually do.

The One Plan applies the principles of yoga and ayurveda to the realm of the body, mind and spirit.

Week One is about remembering not to eat late at night and to practise non-violence on yourself and others. This means verbal as well as physical.

I am going to blog about my progress through the days. I hope it is helpful to people. I am going to keep broadly to the plan but also mix in other ideas from Buddhism and health sites. I will be broadly vegan with a few animal products from time to time. I allergic to milk and gluten intolerant.

Day 1

Wake 8 am

Weight: 64.5 kg. Heaviest I have been for a long time.

Exercise: dog walking

Meditation: 15 minutes Concentrating on the breath. Observing my thoughts.

Yoga: 30 minutes.

Mindfulness: mantra of I can statements. I can write. I can write my novel. Visualise myself as a famous novelist.

Breakfast: smoothie consisting of almond milk, peanut butter, strawberries, banana, flax seeds, chia seeds, cocoa powder, avocado, cod liver oil. All whizzed up in the blender. Coffee.

Hypnosis tape.

Lunch: 1 pm salad. Yogi Cameron does not approve of salads but it is what I have in my organic veg box so it’s what I’m eating. Lettuce, cucumber, brazil nuts, tomato, avocado, French dressing with garlic and mustard. Green tea.

Dinner: 4 pm three quinoa rice cakes with marmite and peanut butter

One glass of red wine.

Social interaction: virtually none. Greeting neighbours while dog walking. Husband is at the gym until late. Not in yet.

I am pleased with myself today. I am easing in. I had a sense of well being. I had a slight headache in the afternoon. I am still drinking coffee which I will have to stop but I only had one. I didn’t eat any processed food and I didn’t eat late. I did lots of reading and I wrote this blog. I looked at some social media which I am trying to cut down. I have realised a lot of my problems stem from negative self thoughts. I need to do more tomorrow. I kept grabbing at the thoughts to make them go away. I have just recovered from a cold so feel slightly woozy though the nostrils are a lot less blocked than usual. I also have negative self thoughts against other people. This is something I need to work very hard on to eradicate. I need to meditate on forgiveness. I had one glass of wine which will need to come down.

A good day.

 

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.

Namaste.

Selling Online – The Life and Near Death of LittleBuddha.Guru

Last October I set up my online business: LittleBuddha.guru. I wanted to sell bohemian and Buddhist items from Nepal and India. They were fair trade and I was going to gave a proportion of the profits to a Tibetan Buddhist charity. I was really into it. I got a domain from GoDaddy and a website. I soon realised the website didn’t really have the facility to sell lots of things so I later bought an online store from GoDaddy. This looked really professional and I could add lots of products.  I found a wholesaler in Holland that imported spiritual items from Nepal, India and Tibet. They had just what I was looking for. I was particularly taken with the Tibetan Singing Bowls which were hand made in Nepal and really good quality. They are a meditation aid and can be therapeutic. In addition to the website I sold on Ebay and Amazon.

Over the ten months I was running the website I only sold three items from it. I knew I had to advertise. I had the whole social media shebang with Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. I fiddled around with the SEO trying to get my website to show up higher in the google search engines but it was an uphill battle. There were American sites selling singing bowls that always came out ahead of me. I did some Google Express Ads which got lots of people looking but nobody bought anything. They cost me a fortune so I jacked them in after a short time. I did google adwords which is cheaper because it is paid per click but still no buyers, just viewers. I did facebook ads which got people to like my page but only one person bought something. Pinterest and Twitter seemed to bring nobody in whatsoever.

Selling on Amazon was a weird experience. They control the buy box so as an outside seller you haven’t got a hope unless you are the cheapest price. After their huge fees you cannot make a profit like this. I sold a couple of things here but I didn’t like the platform. It was impossible to access any help as it is all done through automated emails. It was impossible to find an answer to your specific issue. I jacked Amazon in pretty quickly. The only way to do it would be to have lots of very cheap stock and sell by Fulfilled by Amazon which is expensive to run.

Ebay was actually my most successful platform. I started off selling things really cheaply that I had lying around the house to get some feedback and then I sold my Tibetan items. I have sold lots of singing bowls and also Tankas, clothing, scarves and ornaments on this site. It is quite easy to manage and they do have real humans on the help line who are usually quite good. The feedback system can cause a few problems as there are some really weird buyers who seem to enjoy being malicious. If it is grossly unfair you can get the feedback removed by ebay. I managed this once but I did have to kick up an almighty fuss. I becam a power seller and top rated pretty quickly. The postage times are a problem because people want everything as fast as Amazon. This is nigh on impossible for the small seller. If you have the things in stock it is still very expensive to send things express and the economy mail is quite slow. Customers want everything fast but they don’t want to pay for postage. Well you can’t have everything. I could just leave some things at the wholesale warehouse and order them for the customer but then the turn around time is so long that people start moaning. Having everything to hand means you have a lot of stock sitting in your house. So it’s expensive if you can’t sell it fast. I cannot sell fast. Ebay do charge commisssion for every time you sell so it’s a fair wack on your price. You can pay for a shop which has lots of whizzy features but this is yet again another monthly cost. Ebay would be great if people were willing to pay what things are worth but it seems they are not and to sell things you are constantly having to lower the price to the point where it is not economic to sell them. There are also a minority of people who try to scam you, claiming they didn’t get the item or that the item is damaged to avoid paying. You soon get fly to all this but it is wearing.

I loved selling my singing bowls and I liked to think that I was helping people with meditation and mindfulness and spreading the good news about Buddhism as well as helping artisans in India and Nepal. I just can’t sell enough to make it worth while. To date I have made  a loss in my business overall. I have shut down my website as I don’t want to pay another year’s fees. I am just going to sell my remaining stock on ebay and then rethink. I thought LittleBuddha.Guru was a great idea but as usual I realise I don’t think like the rest of the world. Maybe there just isn’t enough demand for spiritual items from India, Nepal and Tibet. To make money online you have to find a cheap product that there is a demand for but I really don’t want to sell counterfeit trainers from China so I shall have to think differently. If I were rich I would open a Buddhist shop in a busy part of London but I can’t afford to do that.  I have learned a lot about business though I am not a natural business person. The mess I made of my VAT return had to be seen to be believed. Sometimes I think it is not very Buddhist or spiritual to sell things anyway.

I am currently in a period of mourning for LittleBuddha but I am retraining as a therapist in October so I am hopeful about this. I haven’t quite killed off my business but I will have to put it on the back burner for now. I still need to learn more about the dark art of marketing.

Oh well. Onwards and upwards.