Small Victories / Tiny Steps

25th March 2017

After getting myself sorted in the morning, seeing the weather was good I decided that if there was one thing that I was going to do today, it was that I would get outside for a coffee and to get some fresh air. I sat out the back, enjoying the warm sunshine and listening to the sounds of birds. It’s surprising how much these small things make a huge difference after hiding myself away and trying to avoid things in hospital or in my room.

After having my cup of coffee, as I sat outside in the back I started to feel a little more comfortable with things and decided that I would push myself a little and take a 10 minute walk to the Pound shop down the road. As usual I got my coping gear on; sunglasses and headphones; and with my phone and my rucksack on I set off into the big wide world.

Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was because I had my headphones but whatever it was I didn’t feel as stressed out this time. Unfortunately this only lasted as far as the threshold to the shop as my insecurities soon raised their head again around other people with paranoia and self doubt soon started to cloud my mind. I got what I needed from the shop as quickly as possible and was soon back outside and able to start to calm back down.

Try to not beat yourself up if fear and anxieties rear their heads around strangers you don’t know. You’ve been through a lot and the road ahead is long. Finishing this journey back is what is important, not the speed at which you do it. Praise yourself for what you have achieved and remember that in time these demons will be faced and defeated, it’s not everything at once though.

 Walking back I found myself deep in thought and it seemed to me that I had three choices.

1/ Go back indoors and watch things in my room – alone. This I knew would ultimately not lead to much in the way of happiness as I would simply bring myself down and no matter how appealing hiding myself away seemed, I knew it wasn’t what was best for me.

2/ Sit outside drinking tea or coffee until I ultimately became bored and retreated to my room to watch the internet as I wasn’t confident, ready or able to be around the other people at the shelter. Again, this is the same outcome as option 1, not really much help to me getting back on my feet again.

3/ Just keep on walking and explore a bit as I vaguely know the area due to Rachel being from the Camborne-Redruth area and having seen places in passing I recognised were quiet and away from the crowds (not that Pool high street is ever busy but in my state it still felt packed with people).

Seeing as it was sunny and warm, and neither of the first two options appealed, armed with some good tunes playing and a determination not to be forced to retreat within myself I head off to explore the unknown.

I spent the next hour or so trying to get to some mine stacks I’d seen when we passed by on the A30 before, and I was sure I could work out roughly where they had to be. Now a smart person with some common sense would have Googled them to find the path that led to them, however seeming as I am neither smart nor sensible at the best of times I thought it would be a more fun and challenge to myself to wing it and see where I ended up. I had no definite plan, just a desire to stay out and not end up cooped up in my room so it didn’t really matter to me whether I found them or not.

I could see the tops of the mine stacks after about an hour and saw the entrance to a field that seemed to take me directly towards them. It made perfect sense to me to cut through the field as there HAD to be a gate or something to get into the next field and to my destination. Once I reached the bottom corner of the field to be met with an impassable, bramble covered Cornish hedge (they’re bloody big, solid and made from granite boulders if you’ve never come across one before) where my gate in my mind should have been I realised that this wasn’t actually such a good idea, or as easy as I’d pictured it.

Obviously, the way through has to be in the opposite corner doesn’t it? It’s worth a look isn’t it? Well, after trudging uphill for 5 minutes it wasn’t worth a look as this whole trip into a totally enclosed field (except from the way I’d come in) really wasn’t going to get me anywhere but back out whence I came. On the way back out my ankle and hip gave way on me (this often happens as years of playing sports have their way of knackering us up). Just what I needed as I ended up in a crumpled, painful heap on the floor. I got myself back up, still in some pain but recognising that sitting for ages in a field with nobody else around wasn’t going to get me back home. As I hobbled back across the field, feeling kind of relieved that nobody had witnessed me making an absolute twat of myself, my mind started to wander about how the how field and the fall was a kind of metaphor for my life at the moment; going down blind alleys into dead ends, falling down and having to drag myself back up.

Knowing where you need to get to is only half the battle as you also need help finding the correct path and not ending up quite literally dumped on your backside. Again, take your time, plan to do what you can and don’t try to run before you can walk. You will get there with the right tools and help. Take it.

Back on the road, I walked off feeling battered and bruised and felt that it was best to just walk back at this point. I wasn’t going to get hung up about not making my destination despite knowing how tantalisingly close it was to me. With a sore ankle and bruised ego after my fall I turned around and headed back to my temporary home.

Upon getting back I said my first hello’s to some of the people also staying there who were sat outside. Only then did I actually feel good enough to go into my room to watch some things on the internet without getting myself down.

Tiny steps really do matter at this point. Try to get our for a small walk, even if it’s only for ten minutes as it will make you feel better.

26th March 2017

Waking to yet another sunny day helps the mood and although not as warm as yesterday I started my day by going out the back to have a coffee outside. After drinking it I went back indoors and quickly found myself not wanting to be caged in my room today. So, after making another coffee I grabbed my phone, headphones and my bass guitar and sat myself outside to mess around on my bass for half an hour.

I jammed along to The Wildhearts – Anthem and Caprice along with a few other songs and just messing about myself.

In the afternoon I had my first visit by the Outreach team. I can’t remember his name but he drove me out to Portreath Beach were we sat in the car and had a chat about things. Seeing the sea always helps to calm me down.

During the talk to the guy from Outreach we discussed my overdose. This was the first time I heard something that I would hear several more times over the coming days and weeks, in that what I took was an absolutely massive OD. It was one of the biggest that the Outreach worker had come across in his last 20 years he’d been working for them!

Outreach will talk to you about what happened, “Are you still feeling suicidal or wanting to hurt yourself?” and things like, “How are you feeling today?”

The events that led up to the overdose were discussed and I found myself getting upset at bringing up these painful memories. Again PTSD was mentioned and that going on an emotional coping course would be good for me. We spoke for about an hour before I was dropped off back at the shelter armed with yet more leaflets to look at. Even now I’ve still not read all the leaflets (I’m writing this 3 weeks later). Obviously for some these leaflets do help but with my dyslexia and how they are written I still don’t feel able to process the information. I will read them with Rachel when my life slows down a little but at the moment I’m just not in the right place to be getting anxious about reading a leaflet that is meant to help me.

I said hello to a few of the other people outside who were also staying there and once again I went back to my room emotionally exhausted.

The day ended with a Skype chat to Rachel, chatting about what had happened.

By this point some acclimatising to your new surroundings is happening. You’ll have had your first chats with the people managing the shelter and with members of the Outreach team. They’re all here to help you so try your hardest not to isolate yourself and let them help you. Speak to others, don’t lock yourself away.

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