April Month of Positivity – Final week

So my last post went a bit off topic and didn’t feature any of week 4 at all! But sometimes that happens and you just have to go with the flow.

So Week 4 of being positive! I was on leave from work all this week and wanted to do something about my perceived inability to go anywhere on my own. I had been putting it down to anxiety or defeatism and I think looking back on the week I most likely had simply forgotten how to do it. I’ve spent so long focusing on being sociable, building friendships I’d stopped doing things solo.

22nd – The joys of a coffee catch up with a friend you haven’t seen in months, Can’t get more positive than that! Oh and I found £5 on my waterstone’s card so got to buy a new book for nothing! Free things are always a positive 🙂

23rd – I took myself off for a cultural day in Leeds city centre taking in the Henry Moore Insitute and sculpture gallery (bit boring!) the Art Gallery (much more fun followed by a cup of tea at the beautiful Tiles Hall gallery named for…it’s tiles! I was on my own, I had my book (crying over Darcy’s death in public in the book Mad About the Boy not so positive but quite funny). The positivity continued when I found out I was on 6 different twitter lists. I must be more interesting than I think 🙂

24th – Day out to Nottingham. Just a beautiful sunny day pottering around a new city. I saw the castle, England’s oldest pub, the Arboretum and flower garden and the gallery of justice (I love old court room museums). Probably the furthest I’ve been on my own in a few years. No fear, no anxiety I was actually quite excited and ended the day feeling more like my old self than I have in years.

25th – Chill out day recovering from all the walking. TV books and finishing some coursework

26th – Another day out, this time to Hepworth gallery in Wakefield to see famous sculpture and a photography exhibition followed by finding 4 Roald Dahl books for £1 in a chariry shop. I want to build a small collection of classic children’s stories and these fit onto my shelf quite nicely

27th – A very quiet day preparing to go back to work. Trying to be good, I packed my bags and even made my lunch for once. These are positives that don’t happen enough!

28th – Back to work, not as many emails as I’d dreaded.

So there you go, 28 days of positivity and re-learning to love the world again. Hope you enjoyed this little ramble through the month and have a go yourself.

A day of so many mixed emotions

So this is week 4 of being positive and the final week with a blog attached to it. It’s been an interesting ride and no matter how horrid there’s always something good to find in a day. Today for example has been a difficult day where my feelings have been all over the place. There had been a fatal stabbing in one of our schools yesterday and while sad and shocking these things always feel remote as they are news stories. I arrived at work to find the victim was a friend of my manager and a colleagues wife worked with her too. Two people on my team affected, devastated. What do you say to them? How do you comfort someone over such a mindless act? But it brings the event close to home and makes things so much more real. We all cried today, there were lots of hugs, our team came together and bonded.

But then today is the last day of university for my son and that’s the good news. I’ve written about him before, he was diagnosed on the autistic spectrum as a small child and told he may not be able to do many things. Today was the final proof that if you want something you can achieve it: even if it involves tears, tantrums and hard work. His group have a photo exhibition of their work coming up. I’ll post a link, anyone in the Yorkshire area please feel free to share and go along to see some fantastic work. (even if I am biased!)

I also went to my first job club (as an adviser) at a local homeless shelter. St George’s Crypt in Leeds, a fantastic support network for many of our homeless. Shelter, the opportunity to change your life around, no judgments just support. And just as important as a roof over your head, some food. My session was to take place during the lunchtime event, struggling people coming in for a warm meal or just a cup of tea. My event took a little break for 20 minutes during this time for Opera North to come in and entertain. How cool is that? I forget her name but a young girl coming down and playing a viola recital. Just because life has taken a rough turn doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate some culture and they (and me!) did appreciate it. I was people watching during the event and I could see people react to tunes they may know ending with everyone joining in with The Beatle’s track When I’m 64. The whole thing was so heartwarming and I’m glad I witnessed it. And I get to claim it as being at work!!

Seriously though these places do such good work and I hope to be able to support them more in the future. I met some wonderful people today, some service users, some people who had been through the homeless system and come out on the positive side with their own homes and now jobs who come back to offer support and an understanding that no one else would understand. Then there’s the regular volunteers and staff.

For details of the photo exhibition please follow @danWhite1993 the details are on a photo link.

Or look for Dan White photography on Facebook.

April Month of Positivity – week 3

I’m actually writing this the day after week 3 has ended which is a positive in itself after leaving it a week for the last post. Another quiet week as I wound down my commitments at work ready for a week off. Week 4 is full of events and things to do in my time off so I’m once again happy to have some downtime. 

15th – For the first time in months my work emails are all up to date, I’ve sorted out all the stats and records I need to keep and am completely organised. I come home to find an email from Open University asking if I want to take part in a pilot where I can sit my exam via computer rather hand written. It still takes place in an examination suite but less chance of hand cramping. It also means I have to finally sort out my laptop and get a new battery as I will have to download and test out the programme the exam uses. I’m just waiting to find out if my request to take part is accepted. 

16th – It’s Wednesday so it must be bookclub. I love our book club. It’s on the radio which when we started in early 2013 I would never have thought I’d be comfortable with but chatting with my friend about our choices and it’s easy to forget you’re being recorded. It’s also a massive confidence booster when you get good feedback from the shows. 

17th – An ordinary day at work followed by an ordinary evening with not much happening at home. But throughout the day the sun was shining and at one point of the day I found myself sat on the top deck of the bus at the front bathed in sunlight listening to my favourite songs on my ipod. One of those beautiful in the moment events 

18th- Friday so no work, I made notes for one of the sections of my course I’ll be using for my exam and also putting myself in front with the coursework contents. Then I finished the boxset of The Walking Dead I’ve been re-watching. Quiet, uneventful and enjoyably non stressful

19th – I loved this day for one reason. I decided to go to the small town nearby that is full of charity shops. I like to do this now and again to stock up on books. I have a list of authors who I’d love to read all of their works and it’s a good way of getting all these books but giving a little something back by buying through the charity shops. Saves me a fortune too. (I use all shops available to me for books – charity shops, high street shops, small vendors and Amazon). Today though I found a new charity shop open and went in for a look. I managed to pick up an old copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare (who I love) circa 1914 for only £3. There was no price on the book and the cashier asked if that was an ok price?? I was willing to pay up to £10 so yeah I could accept that 🙂 

20th – Easter Sunday. Slightly disappointing start to the day as I wanted to go shopping and all the shops were shut. Slightly weird to me that such a big city would be closed when I went to Stratford the same time last year and everything was open. I know Stratford is a major tourist town but Leeds wants to be the capital of the north and where everyone goes so it needs to start acting like the major city it wants to be. But this is about positives so despite the riding around trying to find some open shops I at least got to do it with my mum. The day improved when I found out that my newly created website had over 490 viewers in it’s first week. So far I have only added some book and travel reviews to the site but eventually I want to be brave enough to add some fictional work. Then as if that wasn’t fun enough I booked our tickets to see King Lear live and my tickets for a day out to Nottingham next week. 

21st – Recovering from Easter egg overeating and sitting in the garden reading a book in the sunshine. 

This coming week I am off work and have a plan of things I want to do and as it’s World Book Night I will be looking at lots of extra books. I want to tackle an anxiety issues I think I’ve had for a few years without fully realising it. I have been getting stressed whenever I have to go places along. I’m ok with work as I’ve gotten over my fear of getting lost going to new places. I’m ok travelling on my own going to the shops and other everyday places and I can go long distances when I know there is someone else at the end to meet me but I fall foul of just going to places on my own. I worked so hard to build friendships and do things with new people I’ve forgotten how to do these by myself and now I get scared at the idea of it. No palpitations and stresses, it’s like a defeatism. If I have to go somewhere alone I just give up and don’t go. So positivity week 4 and I’m going to go places and go alone. I have Nottingham booked and I’m gonna go look at some local museums and galleries and see what happens. I’m scared but at the same time looking forward to it. It’ll be another tick off the list of things to do to become fully better and feel whole again

April Month of Positivity – week 2

Another week, another attempt to find something positive in every day. I’m a bit behind with this as we are actually closer to the end of week 3 but have actually just been enjoying some quiet times and relaxing. So…

8th: – A meeting with St George’s Crypt to put together some joint working. They run a homeless shelter and food kitchen and we are going to attempt something together from the end of the month. I’m also still buzzing from the positive feedback of the first positivity week blog. The twitter link was re-tweeted several times and I got some interesting new followers from it. 

9th: – My work annual review! I started a new job in January and it’s gone really well. It’s a new team and a new initiative so there’s still lots of work to be done but it’s going well so far. I’m also starting to build some trust with my customers. The majority of them have been homeless at some point and a lot are in supported housing with key workers so trust is something that does not come easy to them. I’m slowly but surely working on that. And then to top off a great day my son (who wants to move into part DJ work) had someone donate practically everything he would need to set up in business to the charity shop he volunteers at and I was able to buy it all or him for £20!! An absolute steal 

10th: – More trust built with customers. This makes my job so rewarding. I also managed a small but satisfying target of clearing finally my work To Do list. 

11th: – A quiet day where nothing really happened worth writing about but at the same time nothing bad happened. It was a Friday so no work, I got my course work up to date and watched some TV. Not exciting but pleasant. 

12th: – This day didn’t go so well as I found out that the issues in my bathroom couldn’t be fixed and I will need a new one. However the support I’ve had from my father trying to fix things has been much appreciated. I also managed to get another study chapter read putting me in front for the first time of the whole module

13th: – A rare day of relaxation where I had nothing to do except read. This hasn’t happened in so long I’ve forgotten how much I used to enjoy it. 

14th: – Work was stressful but from a positive point of view I managed to help a few people move forward and get the benefit help they needed and deserved. 

So all in all a quiet week in which there may have been more things to talk about had I not left it so long to type up. But I think the most important thing to note is that by continuing to try and find something positive in everyday the negative thoughts stay away. You don’t always have to live life at full tilt, sometimes it’s nice to just take a step back, relax, watch some TV and read a hood book. Not something I can do every week but it’s good to recharge your energy levels sometimes. 

April Month of Positivity – week 1

A few months ago an old school friend had the idea of counteracting the negativity on his social media timelines by trying to have one positive post each day and try and get others involved. I decided that this month I’m going to try and do the same. I’ve so far completed the first week and one of the things I’ve noticed is that it’s sometimes difficult to pinpoint the positive moments. You expect some major event each day and that simply isn’t realistic. What you eventually realise is that sometimes the positive moment is just the realisation that you have got through the day without any negative thoughts. Anyway these are the results of week 1:

1st – A work day – the usual issues of working in the community, travelling halfway across the city for customers to not turn up. However turning that on it’s head I’m not tied to a desk. I spend the day at an employment event meeting new people. I get home and my dad’s birthday present has finally arrived and my son has cooked my tea. 

2nd – Another day another part of the city. The relationships with the Providers I work with are growing – they’re adding biscuits to the tea they offer me 🙂 This is the first time in months where I haven’t had to worry about course work and I can make the most of catching up with TV shows I’ve been recording.

3rd – The whole day is positive – travelling to Bradford for a training course, bonding with new colleagues and despite the training being about drugs and alcohol awareness we have fun. Plus the staff lay on pizza for everyone at lunchtime. After work is the monthly meet up of my former work friends and a trip to Yo Sushi. Not a good day for the diet but a brilliant day for relationships

4th- One of the best decisions I ever made was to look at my work-life balance and stop working Fridays. Despite money being tight I love the lie in, the ability to get the little jobs done, being able to relax with studying rather than cram everything in after work. Today after the hairdressers for some pampering I go see a friend in hospital and meet another bunch of new people 

5th & 6th- the weekend. I wrote a blog (the one before this one) about the weekend after blowing away the cobwebs of the past few months with some rigorous spring cleaning. So therapeutic. I also knitted two scarves. That sounds more productive than it is as scarf wool builds really fast and can be done over a few hours watching TV

7th – a Monday and back at work. This is one of those quiet days where life just moves along at it’s own speed and nothing much happens. However my team are so rarely in the same place at one time sometimes it’s nice when we can get together (even if only in one’s and two’s) and share stories. Sometimes then you can see that your frustrations are shared and you’re not alone. That’s what I’m taking from that day. 

So nothing ground breaking but even on the most stressful days there’s always something small you can take from it rather than dwelling on all the negatives. And then you find that you start doing it without thought and that’s the most positive thing you can do. 

Spring cleaning your habits – spotting the changes in behaviour of those with depression

I’ve spent the day doing a spring clean – the bookcases, washing windows, mopping floors, scrubbing the bath tiles, everything. It’s been sweaty, hard work and really invigorating. It’s something that needed doing as apart from a quick wipe round and my son hoovering once a week I’ve not been doing it.

In the book Counselling for Toads, a mental health take on depression, Toad’s friends first spot the signs of his depression when they visit and see the normally proud animal living in squalor. Now I wouldn’t go that far in describing my own house but it’s fair to say that people who are struggling with mental health issues don’t pay much attention to the every day things such as cleaning the house. When you’re in the grip of the blackness you tend not to care that the sink is full and there are dust on the shelves. I know I don’t.

Cleaning today is my way of knowing I’m coming out of my own fog. It’s been five months of stress starting with doubling up on courses alongside work and ending with two deaths in the family in one month and sent me back in some of the bad habits I had when in the grip of full depression. It’s these five months that have actually led me to see that I’ll never be fully ‘cured’ and will always have to live with this but also led me to see that I have about 90% good days to the 10% bad something that was once the other way around. Having a good scrub about the house was a good way of clearing the cobwebs and bad vibes and being able to feel like I’m alive again.

If you’re worried you’re friend may be depressed try looking at their behaviours and see if you can spot any changes. An obvious one is drinking more but have they changed their cleaning habits or maybe personal hygiene? Have they stopped going out or going out more. Quite often people don;t always realise themselves just how much their habits can define them. For me, it’s not cleaning and not getting out of bed. I’m a functioning depressive so I’ll get up and go to work, I’ll keep appointments with friends and then as soon as it’s done I’ll rush back to the safety of my bed.  I’ll watch TV or read or even study from there but I barely see the rest of the house. These are my give-aways

But today has been a good day. I ache everywhere from using muscles that haven’t been stretched in months. I feel like I’ve had a work out. I’ve a shiny clean house and I’ve even this weekend knitted one scarf and started on another – from the lounge and not the bedroom. I’m up and facing the world and I feel like I can finally start 2014

The Power of Music – National Autism Day

As today is National Autism Day I thought I’d tell you about my son and music starting with a little story. 

A couple of years ago we went to see Cirque Du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour concert. We both love Cirque and had been looking forward to it. Unlike like many other of their shows this one was more concert based with dancers rather than an acrobatic performance and we weren’t sure if we’d like it to start with. But as the show went on, listening to the fantastic live performances of the musicians and dancers we began to enjoy it. It’s a rollercoaster of a show, non stop songs from early days of Jackson 5 to more modern songs. And just when you get used to the spectacle they turn everything completely on it’s head. Gone are the dancers, the musicians, most of the lights and you are left with a picture of the classic MJ picture as a small child while a track plays ‘Ben’. That’s it -simplicity and it’s best. I turned to look at Dan – my stoic, typical northern autistic son who never shows much emotion, certainly not at that point (he’s become more open as I open up about my depression) and he was sat there crying his eyes out and smiling. It was a beautiful sight until he noticed me staring and wiped his eyes. 

But he was still smiling…

there’s a brief pause and the party starts again with ‘Don’t stop til you get enough’ and everything is back for the final 15 minutes and the crowd goes into full dancing mood. The first time I’ve ever witnessed a dancing ovation lol. And Dan, who doesn’t do dancing, just shrugged, stood up and had a little boogie shuffle. That evening left me with some treasured memories that can never be taken away and proof that good music can cut across so many barriers.

Daniel has what is called a Receptive Language Disorder and is on the Autistic Spectrum. What started off as something severe has evolved through sheer stubbornness and a desire not to be beaten by any kind of illness. I would say he’s low on the spectrum these days but it wasn’t always like that. The’s always loved music. Even as a small child I could sooth him with songs. Our house was a rock and metal house and the louder the music the more settled he would become. Over time he developed a love for all music and digital technology. As I say he’s a determined kid and just about to graduate with a Photography & Digital Media degree. 

When it came to deciding what to do after school he decided he wanted to do a BTEC in Radio Media production. I didn’t even know such things existed but it turned out he’s done the research, found the course and despite the fact he knew no one who was going to the college he wanted to take that leap of faith and go for it. That led him to learning skills both in front and behind the microphone and set him off on the path he’s on now. For a kid with a  communication issue he can really talk when sat in that radio booth. It’s a little bit like acting, he can become a different person (or find the the courage to show the real person he is) and it’s lovely to hear him, listen to his humour and enjoy the tunes. He volunteers on 2 different stations and much of his photography is music based as well, taking photo’s of local and small upcoming bands around Leeds. I’ve heard stories of him flying round the stage alongside the rock star wannabe lead singers, doing somersaults while taking photo’s! This is the lad who can’t look you in the eye when he talks and is incredibly shy with a self esteem issue! 

His next step is how to make money from it all and he’s looking at a number of ways of self employment and I will continue as always to find ways to support him. And I think that’s all we can do as parents. All children and especially those on the spectrum have a talent, it’s just working out what that is, nurturing it, encouraging it and then letting them fly. The rewards far outweigh any struggle we go through. 

I’ve added some links so you can see & hear the work he can do:

The Invasion radio show – http://www.ramair.co.uk (Saturday mornings)

The Invasion radio show – http://www.slcr.org.uk

https://plus.google.com/photos/103369713998021364644/albums?banner=pwa (photograph page just copy and paste link into your browser)

some of those photo’s can also be found on Facebook – Dan White Photography