Asking for Help: Only you can benefit, and your friends and everyone who cares about you….

Milan Buddha Ghosh

Asking for help is something I find very difficult, and I know it is really necessary for my well-being.

Because of 17 years of domestic violence, racism at school, and mentalism, the bigotry against the ‘partly’ or so-called mad-folk, who can be just as individual as others. We are all valuable individuals who need help at times.
By definition we suffer as human beings, and we can learn to be happier, much happier.

We all know that it can not only be terribly difficult to help ourselves by asking for help. But also even terrifying, at times. You see, when you’ve been beaten for years called ‘Paki’ etc. go home trust is a hard thing to allow. It is hard to pick up the phone, even when you choose the mostly trustworthy people and friends, or kind strangers.

However the good news is it gets better, by fits and starts and uneven journeying, over the years. And many people do say how much I’ve changed. They usually say you changed so much.” If I prompt them further with questions they say
”you’re much happier, lighter even more playful than you were before, fitter” etc.
So the good news is that just like exercising a muscle, wholesome practices reduces the fears anxieties resistances to asking for help.

A problem shared is a problem halved; and I’m sure many of us could for our own benefit, no ones else’s, practice sharing our problems in hard times. Likewise we can mutually coach each other in sharing problems and processing them, with love understanding and inspiration.

Sharing our burdens – that’s why we ask for help isn’t it?
And somewhere deep down inside we know we are OK, that others are OK, although we may well have to steer clear of bitches, b**tards, robbers, rapists, thieves and a host of other foolish people who become as bad as their practising harm, or evil even. You see human character or personality is not set in stone what the mind dwells on it becomes, another solar rule of karma is how we behave what we do becomes us.
We create our own lives with our actions, thoughts and good or bad thoughts about others.
If we understand this, then
There really is no permanent depression, despair or anxiety hearing voices, eating disorders or any other forms of distress, because primarily, karma means ”with our thoughts we make the world, our suffering or happiness. Karma means ‘choice fir the good’
So, if you have been told you are of a certain mental health diagnoses for life, or incorrigible or incurable – well, it is total NONSENSE.

Terry Simpson is a great activist in many health positive circles.
He said to me years ago when I was low ”Create a massive support network.
Last January when I was low, but my lows have got further and farther apart, he said ”Don’t let anxiety run away with you, its an unrealistic fear Milan”(I’m paraphrasing him). He said also ”Be like a peasant ” my paraphrase when it all goes upsides down and you’re down pick yourself up dust yourself down and start all over again.
And I know many friends coach each other out of the blues and horrible anxieties, even out of hearing voices, or befriending them, and paranoid and aggressive alienated bits of ourselves that are voices.

I can vividly remember about 12 years ago, when I realised it was better to ring 1 friend a day rather than not. Or I would be down and have horrible anxiety for the rest of my life. it was a moment of presence-truth. Whatever mood I was in high, low, neutral, numb, dissatisfied or satisfied. Tony Lawson was one of the friends I rang, and Terry. I soon realised and felt like a fool for the depressed past, because no one refused help. People thought of me as a really nice man, more or less unanimously. They even expressed admiration for my humour my vulnerability and hearts openness, speaking my mind and body e.g. warming up floors spontaneity. I was SHOCKED in a nice way. It made me feel lighter, a bit more unburdened more playful and joyful serious-er too at times, but in a contemplative way which allowed deeper insights. My mental knots were untangling. My life transformed. Later on I became a Buddhist.

So, yes we sometimes ask for help without words we just turn up at art groups (see my blogs re Buddhism, Chat N Create and Inkwell interview with ark ruse and the recently posted poem call A Pint of Inkwell. You don’t have to talk, but just do something good which you enjoy, if catharsis or therapeutic talking is not your style.

Others sources of help
leeedswelbeingblog
mental health websites min.org. http://www.leedsmind.org.uk
Please post your self help groups, fave counsellors, business cards only or NHS giving their consented info, please share about anything that has helped you ask for help, on leedswellbeingblog – your voice on keeping well in Leeds.
That’s what leedwellbeingweb is for – USE US!

Self Help Empathic Conclusions – or, you are worth helping, suicidal, in horrible anxiety, sad, or happy or whatever state of mind
So, yes it is hard really hard, even terrifying to ask for help and support, but no one can force us to ask.
Nor should they. We don’t need pressure. We need good listening by friends and to use them more, and v,v.
Asking for help started by assuming from friends, but asking for help is about any source of support encouragement and nurturing, not just friends, although good friends do save live and symbolically whatever our mood we are uplifted by a good friends listening.

Use any source of help. Here’s part of my creative massive support system. Why massive dya tink?

Allotment gardening, home gardening enables wholesome healthy contemplation, solving problems, taking in the air nature is my friend and I ask it for help, the birds, bees trees, foxes, insect. I’m an organic gardener. No man-made polluting chemicals, leaving polluting residues and killing wildlife. Doing art poetry: writing performance and blogs. dancing
When someone is dumping stuff I draw up a boundary and say ”You are better than your shadow voices dumping aggressive depression irritability on me. You are strong and happy if you use your friends expect less, and do more of the things that make you happy without harming others. If you want an ear, i’m all ears, but abuse is not part of my territory. Friendship is”

You can be more content and less conflicted and unhappy, and it needs you to self help by asking for help. Does that sound grim; it aint! I have never regretted asking for help. OK, sometimes people rejected me or were cruel, but most of all I realise vis the experience of asking friends for support, getting more person-centred counselling, going to art writing groups and that there was little to fear. I learnt even more out of the halving of problems to choose carefully in future to reduce the chances of those false friends and bad places that caused me distress I am so happy and calmer more often and less hypo-mania. I don’t regret it

one final thought, yes ask for help, and create options for creative loving and living,
BUT please don’t expect people to listen above what is realistic: empathy whether natural of untrained friends or helpers, is not mind reading. Empathy is not mind-reading – a title of a future blog of mine
peace, friendship and love.
Please share your own experiences of asking for help, as we know isolation at least doubles distress; please share the good things you learnt from exercising the courage to get help.
Thank you.

Luncheon at the Boating Party by August Renoir

My personal impressions of Renoir’s masterpiece… Milan Buddha Ghosh

Contemplating art, literature and cultural forms and norms, brings me intellectual insight, joy, pleasure, gratitude, wisdom, is meditation, is connection to self, friends, the world of art reflecting life, and life itself… contemplating, digesting arts meanings is all these things and more

Again, salvaged from a bin-yard. This painting is now rather faded because of age, it is pink grey and blues they appear to be other on a boat parked at the rivers brushy, bushy edge or at a riverside café. There are 6 gentlemen and 6 gentle-ladies, looking v mellow and summery. One around the table loaded with elegant wine bottles, fulsome, dark red grapes, and wineglasses, and interestingly, the women are all looking upwards and aside, with subtle joy. Only one woman is looking at a gentleman; they all appear to be middle-class of the Victorian era. One man wears a top hat. And

To me, it is about a day off work, not off life!

It is about rest and relaxation and people enjoying each others intimacy of friendship and conversation. There is definitely an erotic fondness between various men and women in the picture, the lovely search for love and the hope for it, despite its cost. Ah! Wistfully I say to me and you. In the right side of the picture one woman eyes are wine-mellowed and fond as she looks up to the face of a confident fond-eyed man, the fond eyes of love. It is a very romantic painting. And we know Renoir loved women, perhaps a little too much, like Salvador Dali he sexploited ‘his’ women the women he portrayed; sadly they treated them too much as sex object’arts – even whilst from Woman’s Hours inn radio 4, women discussing this, conceded to each other these sexobjects’art colluded in that exploitation, out of love, lust and admiration (human beings are complex massivley like reality). The heat is all around them on the French Riviera. It is classic August Renoir. I have had to smudge layers of dust off this ole fave pic, which I became to familiar with by contempt. But I discovered it recreating presence of moment and meaning, as I’m sure Renoir intended. I moved from concept – or story of life – back to experience, or presence. And this what art does it renews us, and recreates us, whether when contemplating alone, or with friends or strangers. It inspires our intellect and … heart. Arts ‘gets’ us where it counts; it reduces isolation in our suffering, like the yearning I, and many others, have to experience love with a soul-mate including, intellectual and erotic love, true companionship ion life. But since the art reflecting life – in this case Renoir’s Luncheon at the Boating Party, is not merely in our introspection neurotically intellectual mind, we experience, space, freedom, maybe enlightenment. The Buddha said no one could become enlightened without art/aesthetics or forgiveness for that matter, and art sometimes had double themes on forgiveness and the art of the erotic, including being badly hurt by ‘lovers’.

Spring Festival, New Year ritual

Springtime is a time we might expect increased wellbeing, for the lighter nights can make us feel freer physically, this has implications for our emotional health too.

Looking for the first snowdrops is my want each January, early February, it stirs me from Winters inertia.

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This photograph is of my first sighting this year, and was taken in St. Peter’s churchyard, Bramley. Other people observe the rite of Spring in more elaborate ways.

The festival of Imbolc on 2nd February is one such ritual. Imbolc may have passed by most of us unnoticed, perhaps only with a vague acknowledgement that it’s a Pagan festival. Imbolc  is when Pagans mark their calendar at the return of Spring, and is thought traditionally to have been determined by the commencement of the lambing season which varies by as much as several weeks each year. Nature signalled the return of Spring, not humans, but here we are in the modern day trying to control and measure time. Hearthfires, divination, omens and such like are a part of this celebration.

Now that Imbolc has gone and so too our solar New Year it might seem odd to be still thinking about New Year rituals, but I am today because, 19th February marked the start of Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival as it’s otherwise known in China. For those who observe the lunar calendar it’s the New or dark moon which signals the start of similar festivals. This year is the Year of the Sheep (green or wooden!) or Goats. Leeds Libraries website, Leeds Reads supplied me with some clarification about why the Festival can be named either sheep or goat.

“The Chinese word yáng refers both to goats and sheep and different countries have different interpretations. In Vietnam and Cambodia it’s goat, in Japan – sheep, in Korea and Mongolia, sheep or ram”.

 

Confusion still abounds though http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-31511109

Needless to say the symbolism of sheep or goats here differs to that of the Christian tradition, in biblical parable they are used to illustrate the supposed difference in character of meek or stubborn humans,..….no guesses which were most favoured! The sheep and goats in Chinese lore refer to the Five Elements Theory, or Wu Xing and the sheep is not regarded favorably astrologically speaking.

Today I’ll be thinking especially of the young Chinese exchange student who spent our solar New Year with me, she’s now returned to Inner Mongolia to celebrate the moon New Year, or Spring Festival with her family. Meeting her as a study buddy was an enriching cultural exchange which rose above the common  barriers of age and cultural difference. We enjoyed together at Leeds City Varieties. that well established UK New Year tradition, pantomime, she for the first time and me after 20 years. Special effects nowadays are so realistic, we were both spellbound. What bits of the Dick Whittington story I could remember, I’d told her and she soon got the gist of the boos and hisses. It was lovely to see all age groups there interacting with the performers corny innuendo, slandering of politicians and dancing in the aisle at the end…..oh yes I did! ….. highly recommended as therapy.

These New Year memories are all that remain of  my meagre end of year ‘rituals’, along with this scraggy poinsettia, wpid-2015-01-28-23.29.58.jpg.jpegand some reflections as to why we measure time. We may set out at New Year, with the relentlessly cheery greeting, ‘Happy New Year!’ The greeting is a convention, and whereas conventions do occasionally serve a purpose, some people recognise that the ticking of the clock at midnight on December 31st, which appears to mark one year from another, bears little connection to our happiness. Losa Marl one of Inkwell’s Studio Artists, suggests that wishing people a …..Better ….New Year might be more appropriate. In a conversation about the week between Xmas and New Year, a week which always feels like ‘a month of Sundays’ someone else expressed confusion as to what day it was, Losa again commented,

“days are just social constructions utilized first by agrarian, then capitalist societies to regulate and define the time allocated for slavish work or religious activity”

For those of us who think it’s the status quo that’s crazy, Losa’s wise and succinct assessment of measuring time was grounding. We might consider ourselves lucky if we are not too slavishly beholden to social conventions about measuring time, or much else.

It is often said that older people ‘get set in their ways’, and I’d agree that repeating some routines can be comforting. One of mine is to at the stroke of midnight on the 31st December, and rather smugly, while others cavort and cackle outside with fireworks, get in the bath, (filled with water, very rarely cavorting, but always without firecrackers) amusing myself with the thought, “I’ve not had a bath since last year”.

Along with most people I know though I appear to have a very short memory,  annually forgetting just how difficult January and February are. We wonder why we don’t function well; or why our resilience is lowered, often berating ourselves for some perceived lack of coping skills. Winters shortage of daylight; penetrating cold weather; the coughs, colds and stomach bugs which accompany it, is simply tough. The expectation we have of self and others, and they of us, that we function 9-5, Monday – Friday, Winter and Summer alike, is crazy! For many years I conformed to punishingly relentless school or work schedules, almost unthinkingly, and without complaint, but not now! I bleat …..often!

The New Year before last is a blur but  memories of last Spring and Summer remain clear, for it was one of my best. The returning Spring light brought such a profound relief from oppressive darkness, in a way I don’t recall happening previously. A midsummer trip down memory lane also lightened my step, bringing release from an otherwise intense period, and leading me to pastures new. A view of my offspring’s fearless gaze reminded me of my own pluckiness in former days, this spurred me on, and remains a positive force for my wellbeing, Friendships were established or renewed, but some were lost in death, or relocation far and wide, though absent part of them remains with me.

I was born under the sign of the ram (not an inn), and I don’t know if in this Year of the Sheep, Goat or Ram that is a good or bad omen, but I wish you a BETTER moon New Year and Spring Festival. Perhaps we’ll share a few homespun rituals this coming solar New Year 2015?

Chinese New Year/Aries

Sue Margaret and Goat by Emoji

 

Does self-tracking increase the healthicization of everyday life?

Leeds Wellbeing Web:

Self-tracking health devices “strength…or Achilles heal?”

Originally posted on This Is Not a Sociology Blog:

Self-tracking has been talked up a lot over the last few years as a potential component of e-health or m-health. It has been proposed as a tool of public health and particularly health promotion because of the ways in which it can blend in with the daily life of users. For instance, self-tracking can easily generate data on behaviour change to researchers without bothering users too much, provide automated “nudges” to users (“you’re near the park why not go for a run?”) and potentially form a feedback system to users who will respond to the “gamification” of their daily activities (by trying to beat their previous week’s step count perhaps).

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The ability of self-tracking devices to blend into everyday life and make exercise easier and more fun has been one of the big drivers for optimism in their potential. While I can see that this could be…

View original 493 more words

Stress Management courses – a consideration

“Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It is most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems” (1). NHS UK

In an age where society focuses on psychology, CBT also gave us the foundations for the modern-day Stress  Management courses. “Stress” here means depression and anxiety.

For those who feel they would benefit from the above course, it is highly effective in many ways. Firstly because it centers on a room of people, nameless people who may or may not be experiencing anxiety or depression in the same way as you. The idea is to identify those manifestations of your own “stress”, out of a real eclectic bag of symptoms. The ultimate aim being that using given methods, proven to alleviate various symptoms of stress, you will develop the tools necessary to help yourself through your personal stress.

There are many ways we might find to “overcome” (for want of a better word) stress. These might range from self-help books, courses, or a walk. This article outlines the main points of stress-release advice, given in a Stress Management course run by the NHS.

Stress leaves many traces all over our bodies, for instance it can be manifested via tight stomach knots. The connection between the body and stress relates to our innate “fight or flight” response to perceived dangers. Numerous relaxation methods can alleviate the effect of stress on our bodies. One method is to place your hands your on torso with the middle fingers of both hands slightly touching, and concentrate on your breathing so you can feel your hands moving up and down. Stress can mean we breathe irregularly; using the top of our chests. The aim of the above exercise is to lessen stress by refocusing our breathing so we breathe “normally”. Another stress-relief method is to “scrunch” various parts of your body (for instance your feet) for a few seconds, before un-clenching. This exercise has the effect of a deeper relaxation.

In many contexts there is a natural process of “cause and effect”. When it comes to stress it is the act of thinking which causes the effect of physical reactions. The thinking which can follow a negative idea can worsen your stress. On a related point the NHS Stress Management course gives you questions to ask yourself which aim to stop you having a negative thought spiral; questions designed to allow you to ultimately step back so you can see the initial negative thought positively. An example given to illustrate this is of a nervous speaker who sees someone yawn: the speaker assumes they are “not doing well”, when the yawner might simply be tired. It is also possible to lessen the effect of your negative thoughts by confronting something which makes you stressed, and in some cases you may discover that thing is not as bad as you think. An example the NHS course gives is when you think about an event, and the thought of going makes you anxious. Upon reflection, after going, you might find the event wasn’t so stressful after all.

A good night’s sleep is of course a must. It’s advised that to achieve this you shouldn’t: eat a large meal, sleep in a room with a window open, talk to someone before you sleep who may make you feel worse, sleep in a light or noisy room, or drink tea before bed. If you’ve tried cutting out the above and still can’t get a decent kip, the NHS Stress Management course tells you how to retrain your body clock so you do get a successful sleep. This starts with going to bed when you feel tired, and ends with waking up at the same time each day to an alarm. Another point to mention is that there is no “right” amount of time to spend sleeping each night. In addition the NHS course facilitators tell you about mobile apps that measure sleep-hours, and suggest you keep a log of sleeping patterns.

For those who find body-relaxing, thought-changing, and sleeping exercises are insufficient at helping to reduce their stress, there is the option of medications. Indeed a course slide proclaims that around 40% of the UK currently uses anti-depressants. Though as the NHS course facilitators reiterate, these work best as a short-term solution.

Many experience anxiety and depression during their life. Stress Management courses have their place in some people’s stress-relief, though it might be ineffective for others. I hope this article has explained the kind of information you are likely to get during a Stress Management course, for those considering going on one. I also hope the above exercises and ideas can help ease stress manifestations, for those readers who are experiencing them.

By Amanda Lynsdale

Sources: 1. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cognitive-behavioural-therapy/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Sun Rises

Hello.  I wrote the original version of this to go to some music.  I don’t think the recording will still be around and I can’t remember how the music went.  Never mind!  Here is the poem.

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Sun rises over the earth

Life sprouts forth

Sun showers gifts to all.

Clouds give way

Blue skies of

Clarity.

Ripened fruit

Shiny globes of joy

Winking in golden haze.

 

By Daniel Tavet

Quercus at the Howard Assembly Rooms, Feb 7th

Quercus

The Howard Rooms are a great place to hear live music. The hall is big enough for a sizeable crowd, but small enough to feel like you’re in a friendly pub, and the wood everywhere, including the amazing wooden ceiling, gives the place a warmth, even in a cool February. Quercus (meaning ‘oak’) are singer June Tabor, Iain Ballamy (playing saxophone) and Huw Warren (piano), and on Saturday they played a repertoire that ranged from traditional folk to experimental jazz, from extraordinarily gentle to wildly exuberant. June Tabor’s voice has a huge range of emotion and colour, and it worked well with the saxophone as a second voice – the human tones and the sax’s metallic hoarseness weaving together, backed by some really versatile piano playing that could be hauntingly delicate or sometimes cacophonous as it created the effect of a whole band behind the voice and solo instrument.

Some of the highlights for me were a Robbie Burns love song (you can hear the studio version of this at http://player.ecmrecords.com/quercus ), a moving lament for first world war fallen from Coope, Boyes and Simpson, and a great, sad, slow version of Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright – a song that was so popular and well played in folk clubs of the 70s that it seemed to became a cliché and almost disappeared for many years. This version brought out the ache behind the deceptively simple chords and made you remember why it became so popular in the first place.

I first became aware of June Tabor through the album Silly Sisters that she recorded with Steeleye Span singer Maddy Prior in 1976, and then through albums like Anthology (1999), which has much the same jazz/folk span as Quercus. I’ve always loved the uniqueness of her voice and her defiance of being held within any one tradition. On Saturday I did impromptu interviews with members of the audience to test their reaction to the music:

“She still has a wonderful singing voice and a really easy comfortable rapport with the audience.” (Franz, harpist)

 

“I particularly like the pianist.” (Jean, jazz aficionado)

 

“Put it this way, I shan’t be asking for my money back”, (Pete, art critic)

 

“I just loved them. They’re so good at drawing you in, and although that can be quite intense they’ve got an openness you can really relax into. There’s something sea-shorey about the sound. She’s the rock at the centre that frees the other two ” (Gail, crime writer)

 

There’s  a lot going at the Howard Rooms over the next couple of months, from classical film like Metropolis (2nd April) to more musical feasts like the Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell (17th Feb) and the saxophone playing son of John Coltrane, Ravi Coltraine (11th March), as well as Opera North’s ‘Little Voices’ Saturday morning programme for under 4’s and a lot of other stuff worth checking out at http://www.operanorth.co.uk/whats-on

 

Terry