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Friday, 13 May 2016

Compassionate Resilience


I am open about my mental health issues but have not mentioned that for the past 3 months I have been attending a group counselling course. The name of the course was Compassionate Resilience. When my therapist first recommended it I admit I was dubious, What would I gain from waffling on about my problems to a group of strangers? However, this week was the final week and looking back I can see just how much it has helped. With this in mind, I am going to talk today about how it has affected my Foggy work.

Foggy will no longer be going on summer holiday. The road trip between Brussels and Sicily (#FOGGY2SICILY) has been cancelled. The counselling course has taught me to put my own health and well being first without that inner though of 'I can't do that - that's selfish'. My body is telling me that I need to rest when this campaign finishes in July and so I am finally going to listen to it and shelve future plans. There will always be work to be done to raise ME awareness or funds for research so it's not that there is no
need for further campaigning. However, if I continue to push myself I will be of no use to anyone! So I am being kind to myself.....for a change!

The course info sheet says,
'This course is designed to teach you the skills you need to become more resilient to life's knocks, and to develop skills to become more compassionate to yourself at the times when you need it'.

As I said in my previous blog, I am a people pleaser. I always put other people's needs first, often to the detriment of my own health or needs. So, this is the new me. The course has highlighted that much of my anxiety and stress comes from a lack of compassion towards myself. Almost as if my own needs don't matter. I am going to actively work to change this mindset using the techniques and methods learned during the course.

Martine McCutcheon appeared on British TV this week (watch it here) and spoke about how learning to be kind to herself has helped to improve her M.E symptoms. She has now moved on from being in a wheelchair to trying to re-establish her career. Everything she said resonated with me. Well done Martine for highlighting M.E without focusing on the extreme negatives. She has received criticism on social media for 'making light' of her symptoms/recovery but, now I have a tiny bit of TV experience, I know it is not possible to say exactly what you need to say due to presenter prompts/interruptions or time limitations. She mentioned that being kind to herself has improved her symptoms. She has learned to say no nicely to demands on her time. She said it has made her a lot happier, healthier and able to get on with her (ME restricted) life. She 100% DIDN'T say that being compassionate to herself 'cured' her of M.E, which is what some people on Twitter have said. Being kind to herself has allowed her body to rest and slightly recover without internal negativity hindering her progress.

Now that I am 'being kind' to myself I will no longer beat myself up for making mistakes. In case any of you missed it, since the start of Foggy I have said that the campaign finishes in June. Everything was planned and Foggy was to finish in Canada mid June. However, last week I realised, with a sense of horror, that the 6 month campaign actually finishes mid-July! OOPS. My brain had simply thought January to June was 6 months - JANUARY (1) FEBRUARY (2) MARCH (3) APRIL (4) MAY (5) JUNE (6)  and hadn't questioned it. BUT:
1 month: Jan/Feb
2 months: Feb/March
3 months: March/April
4 months: April/May
5 months: May/June
6 months: June/July

SEE?!  The old me would have beaten myself up over the mistake but the new compassionate me is letting myself off the hook. It was a simple mistake to make and it isn't the end of the world. Stress has a negative affect on ME symptoms and so compassion prevents stress from increasing the severity of symptoms.

In the words of Ellen Degeneres 'Be kind to one another'.....that includes being kind to yourself! I find it very easy and natural to be compassionate to others so don't understand why I find it so hard to be compassionate towards myself. My needs are not inferior to anyone else's, I just need to remember that.


Sally x

P.S. If you would like to Foggy-sit and DO sport between mid-June and the beginning of July please get in touch. Going to the USA would be perfect but I am open to offers from anywhere around the globe. Please do get in touch if you can help.

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