Archive for the ‘counselling’ Category

I’m trying to look on the bright side today. The weather is not on my side. Grey, cold and wet.

But, I’m sober. I’ve walked past The Spread, soaking wet and weighed down with shopping, and didn’t feel the pull.

My health is getting stronger.

I mediate every day and have been to tai chi twice. I practise tai chi to some extent every day and I’m already feeling the benefits: my posture is better, I’m starting to get some of that energy I’ve been missing. The posture thing is interesting and a real change. I noticed it the other day, I look up more and started seeing things I’ve never seen while walking familiar paths.

My counselling homework this fortnight is all about focus. I’ve been given a wheel of life to look at. You can see something similar here. The task is to look at where I’m putting my energy. This feels like a good, positive and practical thing.

I have lots of long-term aims. (Don’t laugh). I’d like to be a popular and successful writer. I’d like to write songs and have an outlet for them. I’d like to be fit and strong. I’d like to wake up early every day and get on with exciting things. I’d like to be financially independent and even comfortable.

And, I undercut all these things and make no steps towards achieving them because I put up barriers. The chief barrier is – how can I do this when I’m a 41-year-old loser without proper employment who scrounges off his family and partner to survive. (You’ll remember I tend towards the negative when it comes to judging myself).

And, that stops me. The massive and inchoate ‘problem’ defeats me.

So, I need to start prioritising.

That’s the plan. Let’s see how we do.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.



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At the relapse prevention course last week this idea came up. We stop growing emotionally when we become addicts. That makes me a teenager (it makes own of my fellow course attendees eight, but theirs isn’t my story to tell).

I can see some truth in that. I was scared of growing up and drinking helped to keep me a child. All I had to worry about was when I would next be able to get drunk, free myself from the anxiety and the fear. There was no need to engage with the problems of despised ‘real life’ with all its responsibilities and obligations. Now they are here.

And, in watching a YouTube video the other day (you can see it here, it’s rather long but quite interesting) I recognised myself. The speaker – a psychologist – remarked on how a loud noise might affect someone who suffered with anxiety, someone who sees the world as full of danger. It’s a noise that a settled, calm soul might not even register. I would register it. I’m constantly scanning for threats. In some senses I see this as a strength. A writer is supposed to observe, and my antennae are twitching 24/7.

Narcissism? The Wikipedia page for ‘addictive personality’ used to redirect to ‘narcissistic personality disorder’. So could I, who spends so much time loathing myself be a narcissist? Well, this is all about me. Even the loathing is all about me.

But the good news.

When I wrote my thoughts on counselling I didn’t give it much thought. It was honest and considered but fairly automatic writing. To Counsellor Mike though things jumped out that I had given little thought to. Describing myself as ‘evil’ was one – I have a cape and a lair and everything – which to me means little but to him seemed important.

We talked about it a little. Like talking about killing myself it’s something that comes to me very naturally and which doesn’t concern me greatly. But having it questioned made me look a little more closely. I have a deep core belief that not thinking of others first is selfish and that selfishness is a Bad Thing. My lack of connection with my emotions means I often think I’m cold and calculating, that my natural reaction is to do what enables me to drink.

Mike doesn’t believe I’m a psychopath. This is a Good Thing.

More later.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

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I love this song. I’m slightly – make that hugely – obsessed by The Beatles.

Anyway. Tiredness is the chief problem in my life at the moment. I’ve got no spark, no get up and go (yes, it’s got up and gone).

This is frustrating.

I’m also a little stuck. I’m not quite taking the steps I need to take to become a bright, shiny new self-sufficient person. This is frustrating too.

But, it’s relatively early days. My meditation is helping me to become more focused, which is wonderful. I’m actually learning to do one thing at a time.

And today I’ve made a list to help further that progress. It goes a little like this.

  1. Tea (actually, two cigarettes)
  2. Meditate and Qi exercise (yep, I did that. The Qi exercise is a short simple deep breathing thing.)
  3. Breakfast and shower (this is where the tea appeared, along with a load of washing up, and another ciggie. I didn’t have a shower.)
  4. Take recycling bag up to the office. Check emails for work and then blog (which is where I am now)

I have a problem with lists. I tend to make them and consider the making of them to be the do-all-and-end-all: I’ve written it down and that’s enough. This is what I’m trying to change. And, although my focus is improving I’m still too easily distracted. Logging on to the computer can mean firing up a whole host of browser tabs that just have to be checked and before I know it I’m following a 400 post comment threat on Israel and Gaza.

So, I’m hoping to pack in the rest of my list today. Here’s how it goes from here on in.

  1. Work on paperwork filing (my life is a chaos of piles of unsorted but allegedly important sheets of paper.)
  2. Bank statements (chief amongst the often amorphous fears I face is my tax return. I need to get my hands on lots of missing (binned) bank statements to sort that out.)
  3. Lunch. Fifteen minutes Tai Chi practice
  4. Work.
  5. Antabuse and counselling.
  6. Make dinner for Mag.

Let’s see how we go then. I’m at the office in FIA all day tomorrow so can’t blog but I hope to be back on Friday.

If you’d like to leave a message it’s always appreciated.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.



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I’ve been getting counselling for a looooong time now. As I went for my detox I changed counsellors in an attempt to make it something more, not positive, but concrete for me. I used to toddle along every fortnight, enjoy sharing my innermost doodahs, feel much better for it, then go home and NOTHING WOULD CHANGE. That wasn’t the fault of the counsellor, it was the fault of me. But I want counselling to be more than that. That was the focus with which I started meeting Mike. He’s been very good in following that and given me home work, which is what I’m doing now.

This time I’m to look at my counselling review form and write what it inspires.

So, the form is a series of questions. Hell, let’s just do it.

What first brought you into counselling?

I had a drink problem and I was offered it. I suppose I know there are things ‘wrong’ with me and my personality that need addressing. I had hoped it would be an answer and free me from the things that made me drink.

What main areas have been focused on in counselling?

Many. My relationship with my parents and my childhood. But more recently, how to change and make that change stick.

What changes do you think you have made since counselling began?

I’m now abstinent. I’ve also started to make some more changes, taking up meditation and tai chi and I’m more committed to change. Previously, I hadn’t been making changes, just wallowing around in what caused my problems and essentially looking for an excuse for my depression and alcoholism.

What further changes would you like to make?

I’d like to take control of my life. I’d like to lose the ‘blocks’ that stop me communicating and stop me changing and keep me in fear and stasis.

What would need to happen to take this forward?

That’s a tough question. I think I need to learn to leave a lot of things in my past behind and start to look forward. I need to believe in myself (I have a terrible view of myself, I often refer to myself as evil, and I mean it.)

Do you feel you would like counselling to continue?



If yes what will the focus be?


How would you know you no longer need to come?

That’s another tough question. I think I will have lifted some of those blocks and not be living in fear.

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I’m neither particularly down now up at the moment.

In fact, since I stopped drinking my mood has been all over the shop, like a toddler allowed to drive the IKEA trolley.

This is helping. I’ve not written enough lately – neither for fun, nor for pleasure, nor for profit.

I have my excuses. I always have my excuses. Some are better than others. Once, in an even Thinner City faraway, a wise young alcohol worker told me: “Once you stop drinking the reasons why you drank will still be there.”

He was right then and – if he’s still saying it to his clients – he’s still right.

So, the life I want to lead – productive, healthy, honest, independent, hell maybe even succesful in some small way – is now one step closer. That step is the sober step. The others do not necessarily fall after it automatically.

I’m writing more today because Mag is away. I’ve had previous blogs and one of the reasons I stopped them was because Mag read it and got upset – not only about what I wrote about her (and, as I noted with my post on the Spread, I’m not overly keen on anonymously splattering other people’s lives around the web), but with what I revealed about myself.

But this is good for me.

One of the downers that has stopped me experiencing the euphoria I associate with stopping drinking is that I’m still quite ill. Since I suffered pneumonia back in the spring my chest hasn’t been right and last week when I went to the doctor to report I was still short of breath a hurried conflab led to me being sent for a TB test.

That has now been taken and I am almost certainly – as I almost certainly knew – not suffering from TB. But it’s an excuse I can use to not make the other changes – too numerous to list here and now – that I need to make in my life. I’m seeing a specialist at the Thin City TB Clinic next week and hopefully that will put an end to things in that department.

But it hasn’t made me any busier workwise. It hasn’t made me address the large pile of papers hiding under this very desk. It hasn’t made me take steps towards financial independence. It hasn’t made me attend the tai chi classes I’ve enquired about.

It hasn’t even helped with my depression or anxiety. In fact, I’ve suffered some really quite dispiriting lows in the last week or so. It could be mourning for my lost love. It could be the reality of my life.

Because of my illness I haven’t been to counselling for a while. And on my ever-growing to do list is my homework. I’m to look at a situation where I started to think in an anxious way and record either how I observed those thoughts or didn’t give in to them.

To be honest, all I’ve managed in the last week or so (and Mag was away last week) is to attend my appointments, do the work I’m already committed to and… and… that’s that.

Drop us a line if you feel like it.



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