Sunday, December 30, 2007

Back from retreat....

...Actually I've been back for three days now. I had an absolutely brilliant time on was an amazing combination of stimulating and calming. We meditated several times a day and there were silent periods too; there were talks on Buddhism, some of them quite personal and therefore fascinating, communication exercises, group meetings, ritual, work periods and yoga. There was so much on offer that I didn't want to miss out on that there wasn't much time for going for long walks in the beautiful surrounding countryside. The food was nearly all vegan and fantastic, even by my exacting standards. There were 96 people on the retreat so potentially different dinner companions every evening.

I had such a great time that it wasn't easy coming home. I'm still struggling a little with touching down in my own life again. I didn't want to blog or go on the internet, or do any of the usual things I do. I felt unsettled by the glimpse into another kind of life that the retreat gave me. Seeing more of Richard since I've been home hasn't been easy either. Plus I haven't done yoga or meditated since I've been back...and today I got the nearest to compulsive overeating that I have since joining OA and becoming abstinent!

I had some very valuable insights about myself while on the retreat, mainly concerning the way I do or don't relate to others. I couldn't help but be faced with my own inadequacies in this irritability, intolerance and tendency to quick judgments, even if all of them are only thought and not said. I also had a very vivid dream, in the midst of all the calm and meditative focus, of being repeatedly violently beaten up by a malevolent but gender-unspecific figure. When I thought about this, a little rattled by it naturally, I knew immediately that this was a part of 'Inner Bully'. Yes, I repeatedly do a violence to myself in my thoughts, no question! That's why I knew I needed to get more tuition on how to do the 'metta bhavana' practice, the meditation that aims to develop 'kindly awareness', 'metta'. I was able to get this on retreat.

However the main thing I got from retreat was, loud and clear, the message, Zoe, stop isolating! You need to be part of a spiritual community, you are a social being and if you don't use that capacity it will not develop. Even in a matter of a few days I saw myself develop into a far more social and sociable person. And I loved it! I did have to go through a sort of pain barrier first, mind.

So I did not just come back thinking 'good, I learned some more about meditation'. I came back knowing that my feet would be tracing a path to the Buddhist Centre on a much more regular basis, and that I would be booking another retreat as soon as I identify a suitable one! I probably won't be bothering much with holidays in the future either. I'll go on retreat instead!

Take care all...Zoe.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Stop press...

Gotta just tell you, Richard and I have made it up, which I am so happy about. He spent the rest of yesterday and today with me, and I am now packed and ready for the retreat. The boiler's playing up and my central heating is up the spout but I feel so warm inside I don't really care. The relief to mind, body and spirit is enormous. Happy holidays all...Love, Zoe.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Christmas dear readers...

Ooh, get me, the spirit of seasonal goodwill is alive and well! I haven't even had a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past! Had a great day. Went to work...actually starting to enjoy that, in a humdrum way, now that I am feeling more competent and confident in what I'm doing. I was scared stiff of answering the phone there at first, but I answered it loads of times today and it might be just what I need to get me over my little phone phobia. I had to make calls too, and really it's like anything else. Practice makes perfect.

After work went and bought Jasper the digital camera he asked for. Then I went for some dinner at the Hare Krishna veggie restaurant in Oxford Street, then to my Dual Recovery Anonymous meeting, which was fantastic. After the meeting a couple of my friends from there and I went for a drink in Selfridge's cafe on the top floor.

I'm meeting Richard tomorrow lunchtime in a cafe. I have a good feeling about it. On Saturday I will be off on my retreat, so it's the last chance I've got to see him. Admittedly my emotions have been so all over the shop of late that I hardly know if I can trust them. Somehow you know though, I trust my emotions more deeply than just about anything else I have.

Full of love and kindly Buddhist awareness for the whole universe, a slightly blissed-out Zoe.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Better again...

...and seem to be stabilising. Got a decent night's sleep and woke up somehow in a better space. It occurred to me to ask Richard to meet me for a drink so I texted and emailed him. Then I did my yoga and meditation, then after breakfast, went to the gym. Then my yoga class! Phew! That was usual. My yoga teacher is a real gem. There were only three of us there today...all the hard-core yogis.

Then I had to come back to be here for the gas man. My central heating system has been playing up, he reckons it needs a new pump. Hope he's right...have had no end of trouble with it. I made some spicy chickpeas with brown basmati rice.

Suddenly I don't quite know what to do with myself. For the first time in quite a while I'm at a loose end. Learn Direct is closing early today or I would go there. Maybe I'll try and do some of it at home, although my connection or my 'puter doesn't seem to be quite up to the job.

Take care all...Love, Zoe.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oh, the pain...

...and no I'm not being melodramatic. I am terribly sad, terribly upset. There are any number of 'triggers'. Christmas for one...The disastrous contact with Jasper on Saturday. The implications of it...that I just can't handle my Mum, and Jasper. Then there's the Richard thing. He managed to finally write me an email. He managed to say almost nothing in is his wont. Talk about non-committal! And I've had a mood swing, after all this time when things have gone so well. I've had a real wobble.

I went to work today. Actually, even though I didn't enjoy it one tiny little bit, it was the best thing I could have done. Staying occupied and keeping myself distracted. And soon there will be the holidays and it'll be impossible to even do that.

I've been crying, I'm crying now. I feel truly desolate and so bereft. Surely I must be an awful person, because the three closest people in my life are going to be nowhere near me this Christmas. I have no words to describe how that feels. (I know what you're thinking, 'well, you're having a good go!')


Monday, December 17, 2007

Better today...

Was able to do my routine things. Am doing two IT classes in one day, like last week. Best of all was that Jasper phoned me in the morning. He was much more chipper, told me what he was going to be up to today, and explained what he would like for Christmas - he thinks - a digital camera.

My social worker came round in the afternoon to help me fill in my Disability Living Allowance form. It's a real headache! She was good, though, she's had plenty of practice with these things. We made some inroads into it, but had to make another time in the New Year to finish it.

It seems to be getting even colder than before. Rather wish I didn't have to go anywhere tonight, but at least the Spreadsheets are keeping me occupied. I'm very lucky to have a really nice IT teacher...she is one of those rare people in that field who is totally in the right job. She really cares about her students. And it must be pretty boring going over these basics time and time again, but she doesn't project boredom. She's an excellent teacher...she knows how to motivate a whole class of people. That's a gift you either have or you don't I think...

Anyway, need to eat now and then get to college. Take care all...Love, Zoe.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Yeah, it's been a rocky two weeks. This is the first major moodswing I've had for a long time... It's Sunday now and I'm picking myself up from quite a nasty crash-landing. Well, I was a bit apprehensive about my Mum coming. The truth is, I'm always apprehensive about her coming. And with the benefit of hindsight I just wasn't in the best shape to deal with her. My sleep has been patchy. On Friday I was still a little hyper. For sure, it was nothing compared to how I used to get.

Anyway on Saturday we went down to Jasper's home town, met him at the station as arranged and went to a stately home...which was also a train and taxi ride away. For the first hour or two it wasn't too bad, though J was pretty sullen and quiet at first. But I was also really tetchy, because my Mum was just being, my Mum. She goes into vague mode. I suppose it's her defence...a lifelong habit and not one she's going to give up now. I feel like everyone is pressuring me, I have to be the one to make everything OK. Anyway, I guess I failed at that, because J started to complain of boredom and generally get difficult after we'd been there for a while. And between the two of them I just couldn't hack it. I ended up walking away from them...twice. The second time, I called us a cab to the station, then I ended up walking while they got the cab. It was about half an hour's walk along a busy road. But I just had to get away from them both. I reached the end of my rope.

Anyway, I didn't even know if I would make it to the station, I had to guess the route. For all I knew I would miss them and have to go home alone. But thank God, they were still there when I arrived, the train was due in another ten minutes. After that we were all a bit subdued. I was stressing so much I was having catastrophising scenarios going through my head, of my Mum having Alzheimer's. It's not impossible...her Mum had it pretty bad. I tried to talk with Jasper privately to explain that I was worried about her...that was maybe ill-considered, but I really was. He more or less told me where to get off, and walked off. Then Jo, his foster mum, arrived to pick him up. I told her what had happened. We swopped presents and cards, I gave J some money which I had promised. We hugged and kissed. Said 'sorry' and 'I love you'.

So thank God it wasn't a total debacle. Nonetheless, it was traumatic, for me. I realised it would probably have to be the last contact I go to with Mum. And God willing that it won't be the last contact full stop. Mum and I realised talking it over today that there's something about the dynamic of her, me and him that has always set J off. He's much easier with just one of us. Before we always had Richard with us. That might have helped.

Today we kind of had to go to Comet to get a portable heater, because my heating is playing up again and it's freezing. Mum ended up buying me a new vacuum cleaner as well...which I have to admit, I did need. It was a real struggle getting through the rest of her stay. She had been going to stay till tomorrow, but we agreed it would be best if she went today.

It's been a real roller coaster this last two weeks. I work so hard at being well. But no one ever said that that is all it takes. Part of me feels like I've got to be perfect, got to come up with the goods. When I can't, I feel a failure. It's all pretty irrational...

Have been writing Christmas cards. Take care all, and thanks for reading...Love, Zoe.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Moody peeps rool!

I'm being silly...but it's because I'm happy. Two nice things happened. Richard emailed me to thank me for my letter, and my boy's foster mum called to fix contact arrangements tomorrow. We had a chat and apparently J has settled down a lot at the school...he's started to really enjoy it and make friends in the last few weeks! God, is that good news? I hardly dared think about it or hope, but I was trying to magnetise good stuff for him by means of the Law of Attraction (I know, I'm mental, but what do you expect?) and I've been putting him in my prayers as well. He broke up for the holidays today, and went out on the town with a big group of boys AND girls. Way to go, Jasper!

My Mum is due to arrive any moment now. She's staying the weekend and we're going to contact together tomorrow.

Apart from that I had another splendid there's a nice old-fashioned word! Did some Learn Direct, then had my induction at MIND with the very nice admin lady there. Then had to shop for food etc, then to the cafe to see my two friends. Again I got on well with them and enjoyed the meeting. I guess it is me who has changed...My friend has bought a tree and all, because she's hosting a family gathering on Boxing Day, so she's invited us round to hers next week to see it all.

Take care my dears! Love, peace and happiness...Zoe.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What a difference a day makes...

Yeah actually I had a great day! Higher Power came up trumps! Went to yoga class which I REALLY enjoyed, was just in the mood. A friend remarked on how I'd lost weight which was lovely. And my teacher is really pleased with me and my new fitness levels! We do this spinal twist where you have to catch hold of your own hand behind your back and I never could do it (too fat!) , now I can! Way to go, Zo. Bet you she will get me doing the head stand next! I can't chicken out of it forever!

Then I had to go up to Learn Direct for my test in 'Basic concepts of IT'. It was a lot easier than the last one and I got 89%! (Pass mark is 75%). The next section seems to be covering a lot of familiar ground...duh, how do you turn a computer on!...but actually, that's no bad thing, as I've had to take in a lot of new information lately. And my brain probably doesn't have terabytes of capacity...gigabytes, maybe.

Then I was so fired up and in the mood that I wanted to go straight down to the gym. Note that it is now six o'clock and I've had nothing since my bowl of millet porridge with seeds and berries in the morning. Yet to be honest I am OK, not over-hungry. Didn't feel like cooking (bit too hyper) so went to my fave veggie Indian and had brown rice with spinach and mushrooms. It was such a beautiful, frosty day.

Did I tell you that I'm going on a Buddhist retreat for Christmas? Just five days from 22nd Dec. Christmas ain't too much of my thing. But even old Scrooge here isn't totally immune to the blandishments of the Season of Goodwill. I just feel sorry for the turkeys...I don't intend buying any presents (stuff it!) except for my son, which is kind of obligatory and will only send cards to people I really really like!

I'm a happy bunny again...not too happy, that's what is best of all...Take care all, love Zoe.

Still very emotional.

I had a good night's sleep, some sweet dreams. Then I woke up! What can I say. My OA meeting yesterday did help. The worst thing I can do at times like this is withdraw. Yeah, I read 'Women who love too much', but it seems that (surprise, surprise) reading it isn't enough to banish all symptoms of 'love addiction'. They are all there, in force. Obsession, self-deception, masochism (well, what else can you call it?)

Still I managed to have a lovely hot bath with oils, do my yoga and attempt to meditate. My prayers were a lot more intense than usual. I've been calling on my Higher Power for 'strength to let go'. It's a beautiful, sunny day, very cold and frosty. I went out to water my plants and the frost on the lawn is so pretty in the sunlight.

I'm struggling with my emotions. I will refrain from cynical remarks about 'so what else is new', because actually, let's get this in proportion. This is the first moodswing worthy of the name I've had in ages...I mean with the high and the low, the works. Actually, as I said to an OA friend yesterday it's reassuring in a funny way to actually have one, because it means that whole 'bipolar' thing was real and not just a product of my fevered imaginings. And I have to fill in my Disability least I've had an 'episode' however minor.

The stuff I put out there! This blog is a weird combination of private and public. Let's hope the kind folks at the Department of Pensions aren't reading it...second thoughts, I think I can safely assume they're not! Take care all...Love, Zoe.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oops...had a moodswing!

Oh dear. I feel really awful now. Though as 'episodes' go it isn't much! I have managed to get some decent sleep. But today I cried off work...felt guilty about it but I thought I should take it easy, get some me time. Went to an OA meeting, and have another one tonight. Obsessing badly about Richard. But I don't regret writing that letter. Even though I was a bit hyper when I wrote it, there wasn't anything in there that wasn't real and from the heart. I felt it was something I had to do. Even when I was writing it though, I knew I was putting myself in a vulnerable position. Today and yesterday that vulnerability started to kick in. Good thing I've got OA.

Yesterday I went to TWO three-hour IT classes...because I had fallen behind the others in Spreadsheets and needed to catch up. That was because of Women Like Us. Nearly six hours of Spreadsheets in one day! Bloody hell!

Jasper did call me in the end on Sunday but he wasn't in a good way as he had managed to lose £40 of his birthday money at the cinema! So I just said well leave it and we'll catch up next weekend when I see you. Told him not to worry too much about the money. He does need to learn to be responsible. Apart from that he had a good weekend...spent most of it with his friend Albie. He's already uploaded some tracks onto his new Ipod. We're going to go to Audley End for our's a stately home.

So yeah, I had a bad day, but better a bad day than getting sectioned in the bin! (Locked up in the asylum for non-Brits...) Bad days are normal, anyway. Take care all! Love, Zoe.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Strange weekend...

When I got back from an afternoon's training on 'V-Base' in Old Street I felt pretty spaced out. Then the fatigue kicked in. I was very hyper, listening to a lot of music (bad sign!), couldn't get to sleep for ages, then finally slept for a few hours. Next day felt totally done in and have spent most of the weekend in bed, trying to catch up on some rest. I feel a little bit menopausal...and very horny. Strange combination. Thank God there wasn't much I really had to MATCH post. Gave everything a gym, no OA, no yoga or meditation.

On Friday I was moved to write Richard a letter, for the first time, so I went with it. I couldn't be more surprised by what I wrote. I sent it off before I could change my mind!

On Wednesday I have my next test for the ECDL. On Friday I've got an induction at MIND. Jasper did call yesterday but I missed the call. Maybe he'll call this evening. It's been weirdly silent in the house. I'm making beetroot and coconut soup again. Thought I'd better check in anyway...Love, Zoe.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A happy bunny...

What's with me? Am I hypo, daft or just plain crazy? I cannot get that man outa my head! For three days now this has been going on and it isn't getting better, it's getting worse or should that be better? Is it just plain ol' frustration or is it just the old manic hypersexuality kicking in?

Will post more later...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Blog Entry Number Fifty...

Thought I should mark that occasion. It was so heartening to get some comments on my last entry, and realise that I had actually been linked to somewhere ( Psychiatric Survivor) without my knowledge. The 'silence' was starting to get me down. I guess the blogosphere is a mighty competitive place. To get readers takes a bit of effort...or some kind friends.

Well, as it is Blog Fifty, I will just say, yes, it is nice to have readers, and I would welcome more, as I do feel I have something useful to say about recovery. A lot of my entries can seem a bit mundane, but a few years ago I think I would have been intrigued and inspired to find that someone who has been as ill as I have, and as thoroughly 'psychiatrised', could go on to make a full recovery. Not only am I now psych drug-free, I am functioning at a higher level than most normies for God's sake!

That is what I want to we say in the Twelve-Step Fellowships, my 'experience, strength and hope'. Some handy tips maybe. So I won't give up on this blog, and I will go on tapping away in my 'nun's cell', holding on to the faith that someone, somewhere will benefit, even if not right now, at some stage. In any case, as you say Gianna, it's always good to write in any case. To be read is the icing on the cake! (Sugar-free, naturally!)

I had a reasonable day today. Have started to try and put into practice Lynn Grabhorn's notions of using the power of positive feelings to magnetise good stuff into your life. This means, conversely, not allowing oneself to get carried away by the negative stuff...fulminating, bitching, stewing, going into victim mode and so on. If you really believe that to do so effectively gives carte blanche to a load of shite to come into your life, it certainly does concentrate the mind! I'm not saying I'm totally convinced's too early to say, but I am certainly giving it a good go!

This evening on the way home I tried to go to the gym, got changed, locked up my stuff and went up only to find it had just closed! On weekends it closes at five, which I hadn't known. So I had a chance to work on my feelings of disappointment and frustration on the way home. I did get over them...I'm OK now. It helped having the nice surprise of having my blog linked to! And the company of a very sleek and purry pussy cat.

Take care all! And if you have been, thanks for reading! Love, Zoe.