Friday, 28 September 2018

Still Alive! Share your pain.



So I haven’t written a post for a good while now but I am still alive!
I am suffering here, I have a chronic illness, a very difficult home situation and a sick elderly mother who I am very worried about and feel particularly low and alone today.
I believe strongly that we should share our pain but often it feels like we have no one to share that pain with.
I am continuing to practice self-compassion, and am part of a beautiful and loving online community that is keeping me from going under, from getting lost inside but I still feel a strong call to create a platform here where we can connect and share our pain and suffering with others who see us, hear us and care about us.
In that light I will try and summon the energy to write a post about the vision I have for such a space in the next few days - a virtual space that can help develop real life, in person connections.
Until then, please do share your pain here, please do connect with others, virtually and in real life, and please do care for yourselves - treat yourself like you would treat a beloved pet, or child or a dear friend.

Here is a link to someone that tries to see and hear everyone she comes into contact with and who is wise and compassionate enough to help all of us, with free online meditations and practice circles and with affordable online and in person mindful self compassion gatherings. Let her guide you if you need guidance. Let her help you guide and comfort yourself through life’s sufferings if that’s what you need. Whatever the case reach out people, reach out. Don’t get lost inside.

https://kristyarbon.com/



Monday, 27 August 2018

Go Hug Yourself


Leaving my dear friend's funeral a couple of weeks ago, (more of that raucous, funny, moving, authentic and perfectly fitting tribute another time) I sat on a train in Paddington station waiting to depart for home and felt an overwhelming sense of connection that I hadn't felt for a very long time. 
Being chronically ill and having to leave my own home since I went on long term sick leave a year and a half ago now has left me feeling incredibly isolated in more ways than one. Sitting on that train I realised that I hadn't experienced that many different types of hugs for a long, long time and I awoke the next morning honestly feeling physically and emotionally lighter in body and mind, as if a great weight had been lifted from my heart. I felt a warmth and openness in my chest that I can recall even now, a couple of weeks later, sitting here tapping away at the keyboard, hoping that this post reaches someone in need and may help alleviate a sense of heaviness or sadness that you may feel at any point in your life and for whatever reason.

Many of our lives now seem to be lacking in physical contact for a number of different reasons. You may be in a relationship, have a buzzing social life and a great group of friends or live in a family or close knit community and still feel very alone. It is not only geographical or physical isolation that leads us to feel like we are disconnected from everyone else. Surveys show that up to 80 percent of us are feeling this sense of aloneness at any one time, and that my friend is disheartening to say the least, but there is something very simple that we can do for ourselves to help us out of these painful feelings.


The day of the funeral was a day of meeting friends, colleagues and acquaintances I had not seen for some time. Since becoming unwell I have slowly retreated from any semblance of a social life spending most of the time with my dear ageing mother and my younger brother who I now live with in a small ruralish village. Now although I love these two remaining members of my tight knit nuclear family very much, they happen to be two of the most un-tactile and undemonstrative people I think I have ever met. Touch has become an anomaly to me over the last 18 months or so and this was made startlingly apparent to me at dear Miss Jones's last hurrah.


In what now feels like another life, I was an actress, and yes I admit a bit (some might say a lot) of a luvvie to boot. Though the hearty hugging and constant kissing of that life was alien to me really, I used my best acting skills and joined in wholeheartedly. I loved it! The feeling of belonging to an 'extended family' of sorts, even if it was just for the duration of whatever production we were all working on for a limited period, was quite new to me but I really did lap it up. I was more than happy to be part of the fond grappling and air kissing of anyone that crossed your path. It made me feel good and I glowed a little inside, but there was always a sense of awkwardness in me, that I don't think I always covered up very well, but you know I didn't realise how much I missed all of that human contact, real or pretend, until I was thrust back into it at the funeral.


I have a small handful of very dear, old friends who of course I hug fondly and affectionately whenever I see them but those occasions sometimes feel few and far between, and as I have neither a partner or any children, physical contact is something I ache for in my loneliness and is glaringly missing from my everyday life.


That day I stopped counting how many times I felt the arms of another quite instinctively meet mine and I will not forget the kind hand that reached to hold mine during a particularly moving part of the service, nor will I forget the '4 musketeers' hold I found myself reassuringly part of with 3 other weeping female friends of mine when we could not stop our tears from flowing freely. The air kisses felt like real kisses between a variety of lips and cheeks, of lips and lips and of lips on a hand that trembled in grief.Gone were the 'mwah mwahs' of my past working life replaced with such tender and loving connections that really had almost forgotten existed. Why did it take the death of such a beloved and respected lady for us to reach out and soothe each other? I don't have the answer to that question but I have to say that I think she'd be rather glad that it did though.


Why, especially as Brits, do we shy away from expressing ourselves in such a tender and necessary manner?


Why are so many people so ungenerous with the hugs and the holding of each other, that we all require to feel safe, loved and cared for?



Whatever the reasons, we do not have to suffer this lack of contact and it's negative effects even in our solitude. Kristin Neff is professor of Human Development and Culture at The University of Texas and co-founder with Chris Germer and Kristy Arbon of Mindful Self-Compassion, an organisation that has developed an empirically supported 8-week course designed to help people cultivate the skill of self-compassion. Neff discovered through her extensive work on self-compassion that "because thoughts and emotions have the same effect on our bodies whether they're directed to ourselves or to others...research suggests that self-compassion may be a powerful trigger for the release of oxytocin."
As you may know oxytocin is a hormone that is released in our bodies making us feel safe, reducing cortisol and calming cardiovascular stress. In other words it dramatically enhances our sense of well being and your body will release oxytocin, which is also said to have powerful anti-depressant effects, in response to any physical gesture of warmth and care.

The absence of touch, says primatologist Robert Sapolsky, "is seemingly one of the most marked of developmental stressors that we can suffer."

So why not try any of the following on a regular basis:

  • Hug yourself - wrap your own arms tightly or gently, whatever feels right, around yourself and just hold yourself for as long as you need to be held.
  • Gently stroke your own cheek or arm - perhaps even closing your eyes and becoming aware of what it feels like in your body, in your heart.
  • Rock your own body, slowly, either backwards and forwards or from side to side.
  • Hold your own hand in whatever manner comforts you.
  • Place one or both hands lightly or with some pressure on your belly.
  • Place one or both hands over your heart area in the centre of your chest and breath into that area with kindness and care for yourself.
You can do any of the above, or other physical gestures you feel comforted by, when you are feeling stressed, saddened, grieving, angry, lonely or in any type of emotional and physical discomfort. Try to tap into the intention of being kind, loving and tender towards yourself and I promise you this can totally transform the way you feel. If you find it hard to summon feelings of kindness towards yourself which can occur for any number of reasons, try to imagine how you might soothe a baby or a kitten or puppy that was distressed. Try and imagine the warmth and care you may show a close friend or family member that was struggling and turn the same type of attention towards your own heart, your brain really can't differentiate between this care coming from yourself or another.

Maybe you didn't receive the loving attention you needed as a baby or a child or as a young adult, maybe it is absent in your life right now but you can rely on yourself to provide this care and dramatically improve your feelings of well being.

So what do you have to lose? Go hug yourself.

Here are some links to online and in person courses and resources, that I can personally recommend, in the world of self-compassion if you need some guidance:





Friday, 3 August 2018

Loneliness and depression walking hand-in-hand


This is an excellent article on the link between depression and loneliness. If you are suffering please reach out to someone.

Johann Hari’s book made me feel more in control of my own moods than I had been led to believe I was for many years. 1 year off all the unnecessary psychiatric medicataions, plural, I have been taking on and off for the last 15 - 20 years, I feel mentally and emotionally stronger than I have in what seems like aeons.

I AM NOT suggesting that anyone reading this stops taking medication without consulting a health practitioner that you know has your best interests at heart. Coming off any long-term medication involves very careful titration, decreasing your dosage over a period of sometimes many months, in line with your mood and emotional well-being.

What I am suggesting is that you read as much as you can about pharmaceutical solutions to mental health issues, and also research alternative and/or supplementary methods such as mindfulness, self-care, being in nature, exercising, eating fresh food that is in season, in fact if you can grow your own even better for both your physical and your emotional health (as well as your finances). Helping others is a good way to start to feel more comfortable with yourself, and being with people that make you feel good enough, whether that be friends you already have or new friends that you make, people with common interests that you can bond with and feel safe with, makes a huge difference to how you feel on a day-to-day basis.

I’m not saying that any of us will live happily ever after, life will always have it’s ups and downs, but it is up to us how we respond to those ups and downs. Are we going to be slayed or strengthened by what life throws at us?

It is your mind and your decision how you care for that mind. It’s the only one you have, and I believe we are more in control of what we think and feel, and how we act, than we are currently led to believe. I’m certainly not saying it is an easy path to travel, but from personal experience, have realised that I do have a choice and a way out of feeling lonely and depressed.

Depression and loneliness very often walk hand in hand. Social connection can ease an aching or a breaking heart. The gentle touch of another’s hand on your arm may be enough to help you start to see the beauty in this world. Have a look at this article and decide your path for yourself.

For the article “The Root Cause of Depression and How to Heal It” CLICK HERE

Saturday, 28 July 2018

I'm scared of dying alone, are you?


I didn’t realise that I was frightened of dying alone. In my darkest hours when I have felt that life is no longer worth living I have fantasised about necking a little white shot of Pentobarbital and slipping away alone in nature or in my bed. Of course that fantasy is somewhat quashed by the laws around Euthanasia here in the UK and the cost (on average you’re looking at around £10k) of being supported by an organisation like Dignitas in Switzerland.

Anyway, I digress as I am not currently experiencing those thoughts, I am working hard on practicing mindfulness and self-compassion, and you know what, I think that is changing dramatically the value I actually place on life, and on my own life in particular.

On Wednesday, as you may have read in my previous post, a dear friend of mine died. She was told only 3 weeks ago that she had terminal cancer, in her lungs, bones and brain and that she had approximately 2 months to live. So she spent the last 3 weeks celebrating her life in her beloved garden, drinking wine, and being cared for day and night by her dearest friends along with a fantastic team of NHS and charity palliative carers. She even hosted a party in that same garden just a week after she had the shocking diagnosis and prognosis. She spent the day enjoying her friends and courageously held court and allowed those that loved and admired her very much to say their goodbyes. I visited her just last week and we sat in nature, admiring the flowers and the work on said garden that one of her close companions in life had done for her. I asked her if there was some excitement about the adventure that dying may be (let's face it none of us know how or when it will be for us) and she said “Yes.” She told me that she hadn't realised how much she meant to people and I said I thought that was probably exactly why she did mean so much to people. She spent her last day at her lovely home drinking and reminiscing with her close friends and what I call her 'adopted' family. She suffered some pain for a couple of hours that was managed by the district nurse who was supporting those that were caring for her in her last weeks, and then breathed a final quiet, peaceful, breath and left life.

My fantasies about dying alone, about controlling when and how I die seem ridiculous to me now. I will remember my friend as a stoic and brave woman who faced death as she faced life, honestly and full-on. I am inspired by the love that was shown to her to continue to develop my own support system as I do not want to live or die alone. I want to feel the hand of someone I love and their final kiss on my cheek. I want to hear the laughing of friends in my final hours and most of all I want my nearest and dearest to know how much I love them as I know they love me.

I am scared of dying alone, and it's taken many years for me to drop the brash “I'm not scared of dying” act and to face up to the preciousness of life and love and friends, whether that be one friend or many. My father too was in the bosom of this family when he died 3 years ago and although his death was a struggle for him physically it was also full of love, I could feel its' presence in the room as his body became still and lifeless.

Life is for living, it's for laughing and loving too and for letting people know how much they mean to you and opening to receiving love back from people. Reach out for help if you feel you need it, for whatever reason, tell your family that you love them if you can, and remember that death could come to any of us at any time. Imagine if you will, how you would feel if these were your last few minutes on earth. Would you have any regrets? Do you want to die alone?

Friday, 27 July 2018

The Lost Art of Solitude



An excellent article about being with ourselves and embracing rather than avoiding boredom.
Click here

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Healing loneliness from the inside out


Click here for Grounded Mind meditation on loneliness


So I woke to the news of the death of a very dear friend. It was not a shock as I had known for a few weeks that she was going to die and I am grateful to have spent a few precious hours with her last week.

But sadness filled my body and my heart as I sat in my garden enjoying the cool of the morning before the heat of the day set in.

I reached for my phone and while searching for a meditation to guide me in being with my loss I found a practice on loneliness and something in me told me that actually my feelings of loneliness overrode even my grief. So I gave this a go and want very much to share it with you.

I will spend more time, of course, honouring my dear friend but for now I’ll leave you with this simple approach to feeling and accepting loneliness as the first steps towards understanding and healing.


David Gandelman the founder of Grounded Mind has over 10 years of teaching experience and has “cultivated a program where he connects energy awareness, ancient wisdom traditions, and humour, to create a safe atmosphere for learning meditation.”

Monday, 16 July 2018

Ageing without children





I just found out about this organisation AWOC - Ageing Without Children. AWOC.ORG

They have an excellent website and a Facebook group too which I have just asked to join. I will let you know more as I interact with the groups members. A much needed organisation in my book.

Here is what they say about the organisation:

AWOC is a UK based organisation aimed at people over the age of 50 without children. This includes people who are without children in later life by choice, circumstance, infertility, bereavement, estrangement, distance or any other reason. We have members from all over the world so please join in. You are more than welcome to join if you're under 50 but a lot of talk will be around issues associated with ageing. The numbers of people ageing without children is increasing and by 2030 there will be 2 million people over 65 without children.

Worth looking into if you are over 50 and childless,for whatever reason.

I’ll see you there.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Why Life Gets Better After Midlife




Just a quick post to let you know about a book I am currently reading.
“The Happiness Curve” by Jonathan Rauch
This has really cheered me up over the last few days. I am always flitting from book to book, website to website, idea to idea, constantly grasping for something that will make me feel better deep inside, you know, in that place where the real, wise, compassionate and happy ‘me’ resides. Anyway for once I am reading a whole book from cover to cover and it sure doesn’t disappoint.

The premise is that after the misery that can be felt in our 40’s, which the author proves by ‘drawing on cutting edge research’, there is a natural upturn when we reach our 50’s. We feel more at home in our own skins and our core values and beliefs become better defined allowing for a greater sense of well-being, hope for our future and ultimately happiness.

The book is easy to read and comprehend ‘featuring practical ways to endure the dip and avoid its perils and traps.....it helps you find a path through the trees.....demonstrates how we can - and why we must - do more to help each other through the woods’.

‘MIDLIFE IS A JOURNEY WE MUSTN’T WALK ALONE’

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1472960947/ref=cm_sw_r_oth_api_i_1BYrBb1D2TKMR_nodl

Friday, 29 June 2018

Loneliness after 50 - and I should know!

Silence arrests flight, so that in its refuge,
the need to flee the chaos of noise diminishes.
We let the world creep closer, we drop to our knees,
as if to let the heart, like a small animal,
get its legs on the ground.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Alone on Skye – Solitude vs Loneliness (To be continued)





These last few days on the utterly beautiful Isle of Skye have really made me start to understand the difference between loneliness and solitude.

Loneliness – a feeling that I am often unable to shake whether I am lying in my bed on my own or in a room full of family or friends. A sense of doom and unworthiness that can wash over me, if I let it, at any time of the day and in any situation. A compulsion to think the worst, that it will never end, that I will become old, and that I’ll die alone. That I must be ultimately unloveable and unworthy of company let alone love. A leaning towards over thinking, to tightening my breathing, to feel the potential threat of any experience. To feel dread, darkness and depression.

Solitude – a chosen situation, where the silence became utterly golden, filled, ironically, with birdsong and the lapping of the Sound of Sleat against the pebble shore not 10 yards from the front door of Cruard Cottage. A lone walk out across the causeway once the tide had gone out, to get closer to a seal that was basking, daily, on a small circle of rocks, in the morning sunlight. Feeling utterly at one with nature, held by the power of the natural sounds and smells, and by the feel of the earth beneath my feet. To feel the softness of the air on my face, to breath fully in and out of my whole body, to really hear the detail in the sounds of nature and to feel totally supported by the earth just as it is right now.

My current view is of a tiny island totally cut off by the sea now that the tide is in. I dream of living somewhere like this, on my own but with a few friends in a local community, maybe with good, older friends visiting now and again to share in the majesty of an island just like this. Becoming pretty much self-sufficient, growing fruit and vegetables in the fertile land that is the Sleat Peninsula, collecting eggs from chickens that I’d like to keep, every morning.


To be continued...

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Can I help you? Can you help me?



Can I help you?

Maybe you too are lonely or dissatisfied with your lot, and the lot of the world as you know it.

What can I do online to help you?
What is it that you most need from an online forum like this?

Social connection is scientifically proven to increase our lifespans and make us healthier, physically and emotionally. We are in fact hardwired to need good relationships in our lives in order that we can avoid the feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety that can develop if we feel socially isolated. It is the quality of our personal relationships that matter, not the number or them, and today we live in increasingly polarised social groups, perhaps never meeting other people that we feel we can be ourselves with, open up to, rely on and care for as we hope to be cared for in return.

I am hoping that this website will offer the opportunity to make true connections with people, whether that be virtually or in person. We can share the problems we have as well as the skills, talents and creativity that is in all of us. I would like for us to start up a number of groups that allow us to share common interests, whether that be a live recipe sharing, a fishing group or a group that practices some kind of mindfulness techniques that can ease our pain and suffering, allowing us to accept ourselves as we are and feel worthy of making firm friendships that nurture and soothe us.

Let me know if you have any ideas, suggestions or would like to be involved in anyway. you can comment here or send me a private email at jodagless1966@gmail.com

Join me and let’s start to make a difference in our increasingly isolating virtual world.

Can you help me?

Are you interested in helping me get this project of the ground?
I want to build a website where people can connect and potentially meet face to face if they choose to. A place where we can share common interests either by messaging or some kind of online groups where we can see each other as in Skype or Zoom meet-ups.
I am OK with designing the aesthetic side of such a website, but wouldn't know where to start in terms of technicalities, online security and safety. Are you technically inclined and interested in helping me make a difference in these ever isolating times we find ourselves living in?


Friday, 18 May 2018

See how Joe manages after only 1 week without any human contact



Sadly this is becoming an all too familiar situation for young and old alike. Working longer hours, the break down of nuclear and extended families, lack of job security, fragmented communities, physical illness and disability, divorce, old age, mental illness, and the list goes on. All or any of these can contribute to the feeling that we no longer have meaningful relationships or contact with relatives or indeed new friends. Whatever the reasons, it is clear to me from Joe’s expression part way through this short film, that loneliness hurts, the pain is unmistakeable.

There is a distinct difference in my experience between loneliness and solitude. For me, one is enforced and the other a conscious choice. I’d like to think that being alone is, as psychiatrist Anthony Storr believes “a sign of maturity” and in terms of creativity and personal development I tend to agree. Storr cites solitary geniuses like Goya, Beethoven, Henry James, Wittgenstein, Beatrix Potter and Kipling as examples of those who’s work may well have depended on a certain lack of social connectedness, for some of us however this state can have serious effects on our mental and physical health without the resulting production of great works of art, philosophy or scientific breakthroughs.

For us ‘mere mortals’ loneliness can be, as the broadcaster Joan Bakewell so clearly puts it “an inner, gnawing pain born of circumstance and inertia, verging on despair. There is a higher risk the older you get, and no one talks about it.”

Loneliness is certainly not a personal failing. I believe attitudes can change and isolation can be put to good use, but I also believe that for those of us that crave real connection in an increasingly virtual world, there is much we can do, and much to talk about. Taking control of our own lives and interactions seems obvious, but is it that easy to do?

Let’s start to explore the options here over the next few weeks. Remember you really are not alone, as current statistics show there are a huge number of us in this position, but it can often seem impossible to reach out, to make connections and meaningful ones at that. I am hoping that the development of the website notaloneuk.com will address how we as I individuals can alter or make more of the isolated circumstances we find ourselves in. I have a vision for an online space that encourages real connections, a chatting, mapping, learning, and creating meeting place. I am not yet sure what is technically possible, or safe, with all the data controls we will be restricted by, so if anyone reading this has any insight as to what could be possible on the internet or as an app, please do leave a comment or email me at jodagless1966@gmail.com

In the meantime, don’t forget books and nature and music and humour and creativity and, above all, compassion for yourself and others.

You are not alone.


Saturday, 12 May 2018

Is making friends easier than eating chocolate?

This is so beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. I haven’t written here for a while but am feeling reignited by this film from Be More Us about trying to do something about the lonely situation many of us are, or may be, finding ourselves in at some point in our lives, for whatever reasons.

I will be explaining soon, a little bit more about some of the ideas I have for a space online where together we can start to tackle this loneliness epidemic. I am certainly no web genius, so although there are many seeds of ideas in my mind right now, I’m not yet sure what is actually possible, virtually, if you catch my drift, so am hoping to start conversations here about how to develop a website that brings people together. A space that is safe yet open, confidential but public, practical yet fulfils all the dreams I have about connection in life.

If you have any ideas, technical, artistic or otherwise then do leave a comment or feel free to email me via this blog. Let’s make this happen. You are not alone.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

No words needed

Excerpt - Absolutely Clear by Hafiz

 
Potential


Accepting uncertainty 

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Pain & procrastination

Full of sleep and pain meds, plus copious cups of coffee, I search for words and the motivation to sit down and write something. And here I am, wanting not to appear self-indulgent, and confused about my motivation for putting fingers to keys this morning.

And then I remember that I am certainly not the only person suffering uncertainty this morning, suffering full stop this morning. I am not alone in this. And you dear reader are my motivation. It is with all of us in my mind that I feel the need to find a way to connect to you.

What I didn't want to do was to harp on about how I have spent the last three days lying in bed, sleeping on and off, not sleeping on and off, wiling away hours on Facebook, checking the likes on my latest Instagram post, listening to hours and hours of my newest audio-book, and feeling so sorry for myself that even I have got bored of myself. Bored of my self-pitying ways, of procrastinating, of wallowing and catastrophising, of illness and loneliness, of doing utterly nothing for hours on end.

So, with that out of the way, and still searching for words, I sit at my desk, fingers poised and ready, brain not so ready, attempting to connect. Trying to encourage you to also put fingers to keys, to let me know your pain, whether physical or emotional. To help me find a way that together we can make a small dent in the epidemic of isolation. I plan to write more cohesive posts here about the statistics and research on this growing problem, but for today it is enough to just sit for an hour and try to communicate in some small way, how this feels from my perspective and what it is I want to do about it, with your help.

I had this idea that a difference could be made, that I could co-create an online space that would encourage people to actually meet each other, to do things together that involved a nearness of physical proximity, touch, laughter, mutual grief or celebration, in fact all and everything that we need to feel satisfied as humans in an ever alienating and fragmenting digital world. Ironic, I guess, that I feel this can be achieved through initial virtual connections, but I see now, from personal experience, how important online connection is for those of us who are isolated for whatever reason. Whether we connect because of our similarities or differences doesn't really matter to me, it is connecting itself that is important. It is the coming together that matters.

So through my medicated haze I would like to encourage you to help me with this. To share with me any ideas you may have about how this website could be built. Do you have technical skills that you could share with me? Do you desire to make a difference too, and I'm not talking about changing the world here, just re-navigating our own paths slightly so that they may cross in a way that is fulfilling and satisfying, and makes us feel less alone.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Rainy days & holidays.

Finally out of bed after a couple of days of increased pain. I learnt yesterday, via Facebook, which I am trying to avoid, but which is often my only connection to the outside world, that an old school friend has died. I didn’t know her that well in the years since we left high school, but had been in touch with her recently as she and I shared a diagnosis. I realise that we shared not much more than a diagnosis and having attended, and hated, the same school in our teenage years, and yet I find myself thinking about her this morning, thinking about her family, her sons and her friends, and contemplating my own life and mortality.

Am I lucky to still be alive suffering the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’? Am I grateful for the close friends I do have, for having been brought up by a passionate father who loved me very much, and a hard-working and selfless mother, who I am now fortunate enough to live with, even though it was the last thing I had expected? Am I grateful to be living in my childhood home, in the midst of a friendly enough Thames-side village, a mere stone’s throw from some of the most beautiful countryside I know? I sit and muse these and other questions of thankfulness and appreciation for what I do have, and resolve to focus on this, for today at least, and not on what I feel I lack.

So today, I will get outside, into the clean air and the fresh rain. I will wrap my pain up against the damp weather and will enjoy the natural surroundings I feel lucky enough to have the opportunity to experience, every day if I so choose to.


Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Community? Spread the word.

It seems to me that communities, certainly here in the UK, are few and far between these days, broken apart by revolutions over the last few hundred years. Now we are in the midst of the most recent of these it would appear that we are all the more connected to each other, but these virtual connections are no substitute for the touch of a hand or the sound of mutual laughter, or even mutual grief.

I have an idea, as I’ve already said, to build a virtual community that morphs into actual communities. Loneliness has already reached epidemic proportions and the mental health crisis is effecting all of us in some way. All of this sadness and disconnectedness is buffered by the belief that we are more widely connected, virtually, online, globally. Yet I sit here, alone, and have barely spoken to an actual living soul for the last 3 days. I feel a failure because of this and it stirs in me beliefs that I am unlovable, undeserving and fundamentally bad. I know I am not alone in thinking this way, and I am attempting not to let my thoughts become so dark, but I know what it feels like to lose control of my self-belief and worthiness, and I am not surprised that the suicide rate is rising, that the anti-depressant/anti-anxiety culture is thriving.

So I am reaching out to you, ironically through an online blog, I am hoping that this will be the start of me doing my small bit towards changing the current situation. That through it I may meet people near and far that are of the same mind. That want to connect and communicate with real people, and help others to do the same. We will build an interactive site, right here, that connects people through a variety of mutual interests, and most importantly encourages local connections and meet-ups that begin with an actual handshake, or a hug from another human being. If you are interested in joining me, if you are lonely, if you feel sad, depressed, suicidal, or just plain old dissatisfied with your lot, and the lot of the world as you know it, if you want to change things and/or help change the lives of others email me, comment below, spread the word.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

What makes you most angry about the world?

Today I am merely posing the above question. I could write a long, long list about what makes me angry, but I rarely show that anger. I guess conditioning has got more of a hold over me than I like to admit. I spend much of my social time, which is much diminished by mental and physical illness over the last few years (more of that later), smiling and saying “I’m OK”, when I am anything but OK. I am angry that we are not encouraged to truly express ourselves, instead we are forced, by parents, teachers, employers, and other authorities to grit our teeth and get on with life. I am angry that this societal norm even exists, and see it as the root of many of my emotional (and physical) problems. I used to be strong-willed and spirited, but the older I get the less able I seem to be to embody these qualities, to say exactly what I mean or am thinking. I bite my tongue and speak the words I believe the world wants to hear, and the world apparently doesn’t want to hear about my many physical ailments, much less about the dark side of my personality that props up the smiling woman I present to that world on a day-to-day basis.

So I am hoping that I am more able to express myself honestly here, and to join with you and others in celebrating our differences and coming together in alliance against the epidemic of increasing loneliness we appear to be in the grip of. So, be honest, what makes you angry? What brings you here? Do you feel lonely much of the time?

You are not alone.

Monday, 26 March 2018

An idea!

My family say I’m full of them. Ideas that is. Well my most recent idea, I’ve been ruminating on for a while now, and this is it. A place where you and I will not feel so alone. A place where you and I can come and find others just like us, those of us that feel alone, or lonely. I’m not talking about solitude, or the choice we sometimes make to spend some time in our own company. I’m talking about loneliness, that we didn’t ask for or expect, that may have just jumped up and hit us in the face or crept up on us slowly over the last few days, weeks, months or years. Whatever, and however, really doesn’t matter that much, the fact is I am alone, I feel lonely most of the time, desperately so at times and ironically I know I’m not alone in feeling lonely. It is a fast developing problem for many of us. It impacts our mental and physical health and wellbeing, and I feel a need to do something about it.
So here goes, what do I have to lose?