All about disordered thinking…

I mentioned the other day about how I have a tendency to catastrophise in almost any situation. This is just one of lots of different types of disordered thinking, that can help your anxiety or depression to grow. Our brains and bodies react in the same fight or flight way to a perceived threat (thinking that something bad will happen) as they do to a real threat (angry bear chasing you). Disordered thinking means the threat is created in the mind because of the way you’re thinking and then reinforced by the physical feelings of panic or anxiety. Learning to recognise when your thinking is faulty can play a huge part in breaking the cycle and being well.

My personal favourite, catastrophising means a small and probably insignificant event can be blown up in the mind to become an inevitable and massive disaster. You notice a tap is dripping, give your brain an hour to work on it and you’ll be worried about the cost of replacing the carpets when the plumbing gives up entirely and the house unavoidably floods.

“Fortune telling” Is when you are certain you know what is going to happen. And since you’re an anxious or depressed person it’s never good! Think of all the disasters you knew with absolute certainty were about to happen, if you can remember. Did any of them happen? Most of us have bad things happen at some point but did you predict them? Any of the imaginary conversations you planned take place? Thought not! I try to remind myself of this when I start this type of thinking.

We can also have a go at mind reading! When you are so sure you know what that another person is thinking. Your friend ignored you in the street because she’d be embarrassed to be seen with you while you’re wearing those leggings. Or in the real world it’s because she’s not wearing her glasses and didn’t see you or she’s distracted and didn’t see you or thought you were ignoring her! Or a hundred other reasons of her own that you won’t guess because you are not actually Derren Brown. Oh and the leggings look fine by the way; you should know because you checked your bum was fully covered by your cardigan dozens of times before you left the house.

You do have good things happen but you still can’t focus on the positive stuff. The psychologists call this filtering. You might decide the good things happened for bad reasons, for an example if your boss compliments you and you decide they’re just being nice because they’re going to dump extra work on you (with no evidence to suggest this is the case). Or you have a day where you make a card which looks good, cook a really nice dinner from a new recipe, have a good time with a friend and get all the shopping done. All you concentrate on is that you broke a glass when you washed up! All or nothing thinking; if it’s not perfect it’s a disaster! That nice dinner you cooked could have done with a bit more chilli so in your head it wasn’t nice, it was a failure.

This can be because of self imposed “rules” that we give ourselves. We have an idea of how things should be. We compare ourselves to other people, or Instagram pictures of perfect lives. We “know” how things should be done and feel guilty and lacking when we can’t live up to our own standard. I feel that I should spend more time with the dogs so when I went out the other day, to Aldi, Sainsbury’s and the chicken food shop. I felt guilty for not being at home. These were essential trips that definitely weren’t done for larks but I still felt bad.

Personalisation is where it’s all about me, me, me because it’s all my fault. Wanda the hen is being picked on, she’s missing feathers at the base of her tail. It’s my fault I’ve not stopped it, I should be watching them more, I should let them out of the house earlier so she can put some space between her and the bully. I should be able to stop this.

We can also overgeneralise. Being depressed or anxious this is nearly always on the negative side. You feel ill and go to see a GP who turns out to be unhelpful. You come home and decide “it’s always a waste of time going to the doctor”. Or you make one mistake and think “I always screw things up”. When we think like this we can end up labelling ourselves (and other people) . I made that mistake so, “I’m stupid”, you look in the mirror, you’ve a spot and you look a bit tired, “I’m hideous”. Oddly enough this does nothing to make you feel better!

Emotional reasoning is when you let this thinking change your behaviour. You’ve decided that you’re hideous, so you hide indoors and avoid people or dress and act to not be noticed (could be why your mate didn’t spot you in the street that time!). You’ve now got a spot and dark circles and are dressed in grey baggy clothes that do nothing for your looks and you feel even more ugly. This is called a self fulfilling prophecy, It’s not likely to be good for you! Your feelings thoughts and behaviour are so closely linked that if you can change one you can change all the others. If you stop yourself automatically believing the negative things you’re thinking and behave accordingly you can change how you feel. Which has got to be worth a try.

Five Frugal Achievements This Week 27/4/18

Here in the Crazy house the week after payday is always an expensive one! By the time money is allocated to savings, budgeting and mortgage overpayment there doesn’t seem to be much left in the account! I did my big monthly shop on Monday and had to buy pet food as well, I’ve just petrol and cat food pouches left to buy and that’s the main spending spent. To improve my finances I’ve tried (as always) to be as frugal as possible and here are my five frugal things…

  1. I’ve agreed to do some work! I’ve a lot of overtime booked for this month because one of my colleagues is on his holidays. I also agreed to do a night shift at short notice instead of working the next day. It’s great to be able to earn extra money when the chance arises but it does mean that for a lot of this month I’ll have only one and a half days off between groups of three or four shifts! I’m going to have to be extra careful with getting enough sleep and rest so that my mental health doesn’t suffer. I’ve booked a week off for when it’s all over!
  2. So that I don’t have to spend my few days off thinking about dinners and shopping, I bought the ingredients for a lot of one-pot type dinners that we can have on the days when I’m working. Chilli con carne, savoury mince, and two different curries are tucked away in the freezer ready. The rest of the month’s menu has been planned to be pretty simple too. Hopefully this will keep me away from the shops and stop me needing to buy too many ingredients, those extra shopping trips are when I’m tempted to buy loads of stuff we don’t really need. My resistance to sugary junk food is really low when I’m tired!
  3. I planned to make myself my favourite cauliflower cheese one evening last week when Himself was working late. There are two foods he hates more than any others; cauliflower and cheese sauce. So I was going to cook and eat them while he was out. But that was the night I was called into work, the cauliflower went uneaten and I took an extra sandwich to work for my dinner. I was disappointed! I made sure to use up the cauliflower this week and made the cauliflower cheese for my middle of the night snack at work. It made a nice change from sandwiches. Himself is not going hungry either. I made eight sausagemeat and belly pork pasties on Tuesday and we ate two for dinner and the rest are being eaten for lunches.
  4. I do most of my food shopping in Aldi. For the few things Aldi don’t sell, and the dry cat food that we need I go to Sainsbury’s. I always make sure I get my Nectar points and I try to use the vouchers they send us. This month I spent just over £40 which was enough to use a voucher. They gave me another voucher in return! This one is for 12p off per litre of petrol, which is worth having, all I have to do is remember to use it!
  5. I started a new ISA this month. Interest rates are so rubbish that I wanted another way to save for the future. I went through Top Cashback and I’ll be getting over £100 cashback for opening the ISA once it has cleared. I’ve got an awful lot to learn about investing, but I strongly suspect it’s not a great idea to choose this type of financial product based on cashback! But I was opening the account anyway when the Top Cashback reminder popped up at the top of my screen. It takes just a few extra clicks to go through a cashback site and could be worth quite a lot of money.
Bo in the sun before it disappeared…

I’m a bit sad that the sunshine has gone today but at least it’s dry at the moment, I’m going to go talk to the hens before the rain comes back…

This week I’m joining in with Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.

Little things I love

 

Not yet another post about the animals. Although, y’know any excuse! No, today’s post is about little, cheap household tools that I find indispensable. Other people do posts about clothes, jewellery, make-up and accessories. I don’t live in that world.

 

I ordered a new plastic thingumy last week, it arrived yesterday and I was super chuffed with it! It’s a animal hair remover for the carpet. I know… how glamorous am I? I spent a couple of minutes scraping enough hair off the bottom couple of stairs to weave my own creature (which is what Himself thought it was when a draught caught it and it moved) then called Himself over to show off my new toy! I’m so happy with it because the hoover (which is a good one) keeps getting tied up with the amount of hair in this house and stops sucking properly. We did a major clean last week and the hoover was so disgusting that Himself cleaned it by running the roller part under the tap (OMG)! I thought we’d be buying a new part for £60 but it did start working again… eventually! The carpet cleaner was £2.49 and will hopefully stop things getting so bad!

 

The second thing is another plastic wotsit, this one I’ve had for a while. I bought it for bread making, it scrapes up dough and cuts it. It’s useful for so much more! When you chop veggies into small pieces you use the scraper to pick them up and get them in the pan, rather than using a knife and cutting yourself, or picking up the chopping board. I use it to help remove burnt-on stuff on pans, or bits, like pastry, that are stuck to the counter, because it’s plastic it doesn’t damage surfaces but it gets them clean of “bits” with minimal effort.

 

The next thing is bag clips, I think ours came from Aldi, and cost not-a-lot. We use them everywhere, bags of bread, open packs of nuts or spices that we bought in bulk. They make a good seal and help keep stuff fresh. It would be nice if we could put all opened packs into cute, air-tight, matching storage jars but we just don’t have the space so these are excellent for us.

 

Probably the cheapest of the lot is my “recipe hanger”. It’s a bulldog clip. There’s no room on my counter for cookbooks or recipe sheets so we print recipes from the internet and hang them from the clip. It keeps them off the counter but doesn’t manage to keep them clean! You can tell our favourite dinners by which recipes have the most food on them!!!

Its little things like these that can often make the most difference. Most of these things I bought for just a few pounds from Amazon. They are also available from Ebay or your local supermarket or poundshop, if you wanted to purchase them. And I strongly recommend you do!

The joys of mindfulness

People with depression can tend to be trapped in the past and those with anxiety are fearful of the future. Those of us who have both are pretty much living our lives anytime except right now. There are lots of good treatments out there for us. Antidepressants are often maligned by people who don’t need or understand them which can scare people away from seeking help. But medication can be a really important part of treatment. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is another good one, I find it most useful for recognising faulty thinking, I’m most susceptible to catastrophising – where something happens and in my head I turn it into a massive crisis. An example of this is when I make a mistake at work and in my head I go through someone spotting the mistake, me getting into trouble, losing my job and being homeless with dogs and chickens sleeping on the street! When in reality I correct the mistake and not a single person notices. My catastrophic thinking goes round in circles, and it’s impossible to escape from the thoughts and the feelings of panic, the fast beating heart, the nausea and bellyache.

There is a treatment for this too, it’s MINDFULNESS. I’ve found it so helpful that I’m ridiculously evangelical about it, I know how those Jehovah’s Witnesses feel when they come knocking and no one wants to know! Loads of people I know who have been depressed have been given a copy of Ruby Wax’s book with a “you might find this helpful”. No idea if any of them read it!

For those of you that recognise the inability to live in the present or a mind that returns again and again to unhelpful thoughts I want to tell you a bit about mindfulness from my perspective. It’s simply about being aware of what is going on in the present moment, being aware of physical feelings and being aware of thoughts as just thoughts, not reality.

For me it starts with meditation, which is about focusing on things other than what’s going on in your brain. The meditation I do most often, a Headspace guided meditation, focuses on the senses, what you can feel and hear and how individual parts of the body feel during a “body scan” before switching focus to the breathing. I don’t know about everyone but it’s pretty much impossible for me to empty my mind. Luckily that’s not what meditation is about. The focus should be on the breaths, how the body feels when inhaling and exhaling, how deep, how fast or slow and on counting the breaths if that’s what you choose to do. When your mind wanders you’re meant to acknowledge “that’s a thought” when you (finally) notice, let it go and return focus to your breathing. I often find I’m thinking about the meditation itself, “is this going ok?” or “should I have done fifteen minutes instead of ten?” This thinking is just the same – just thoughts. Feeling emotions when you’re meditating is dealt with the same way. By acknowledging the emotion “that’s anxiety” or “that’s irritation” (Bo loves to help me meditate), letting it go and focusing on your breathing again. Naming the emotion this way rather than saying “I’m angry” is supposed to stop the emotion becoming part of you and harder to let go than if it’s something that is simply there but separate from you.

Mindfulness helps with letting go of thoughts and emotions in this way when you’re not meditating. It can help to label thoughts as “not helpful” as you let them go. Focusing on something like the feeling in your feet (suggested in the Wax book) or a sound is massively useful if you are becoming overwhelmed with emotion. If you’re feeling brave, examining the physical sensations that come with the emotion can help you understand what that feeling is actually made of and remove some of its power. Instead of thinking “I’m anxious” you think “that’s shallow breathing, and heat, and nausea”. If you try to ignore how you feel the brain can make it more unpleasant. Concentrating on the sensation and examining what is really happening can reduce the fear of the emotion. It’s not an easy thing but it is really powerful.

Mindfulness has given me a life that I can live without being trapped by horrible things that happened in the past or so scared of the future that I forget today… It helps me to remember there is a lot of joy if you are present to notice it.

Some helpful links..

https://www.mind.org.uk

https://www.headspace.com

Sane New World By Ruby Wax

Five Frugal Achievements This Week 20/4/18

Wow, what a lovely week its been. The sunshine makes everything feel special, like being on holiday while I do my chores! Yesterday I took all my summer clothes out of storage, and they smelled of charity shop (admittedly where most of them came from) and needed a wash before I can wear them. I was hanging out the washing and falling over some hens as I went, and was struck by how happy I am. My life definitely isn’t fancy, there was a very real risk of someone pooping on my laundry, there’s no grass in my garden, etc… but I’m so lucky to have my little house, my lovely man, my animals and my life. For someone who gets depression this is a fabulous feeling.

Hens in the sunshine

Also, it’s payday today! I’m working this weekend so I can’t spend it, that’ll help it last a few days longer. I’ve reached the end of the month and spent the last week trying to use up the food we already had, and avoiding the shops. This went fairly well, although we weren’t getting our five a day coz I’d thrown out some squidgy veg. All of our usual apples (pink lady) looked really beaten up when we went shopping so we chose the least unhappy ones but they turned out to be pretty bruised. So my frugal things for this week are…

  1. I used up the knackeredy apples to make a sponge pudding. They don’t really cook down properly like cooking apples, but they softened enough and with the addition of some brown sugar they made a decent filling. Two days puds sorted.
  2. Bo and I both had home haircuts, I wrote about Bo’s in the last post. For my hair I followed a trick on YouTube to cut layers by tying your hair in a ponytail on top of your head. It works really well, I managed to avoid the step effect I got last time I cut the back of my hair! The fringe needs redoing shorter, I’ve reverted to tying it out of the way again, think Sadé without the glamour!
  3. Used some of egg mountain to make ice-cream. I had no cream, so I used full fat coconut milk from two tins with dessicated coconut and chocolate chunks. I was going for a Bounty bar sort of taste. It’s not super creamy and would definitely have been better with a higher fat content but it’s pretty tasty and will definitely all be eaten.
  4. I made biscuits to avoid going to the shops to buy them, I was hoping they’d do for work this weekend but Himself needed a packed lunch yesterday so took quite a few. Apparently there’s sulking if he doesn’t share! I’ve got some today and I’ll see what happens. It only kept me away from Aldi for one day though! I woke up yesterday to a disaster. I’d run out of teabags, I had to go shopping without having had a cup of tea! Nightmare.
  5. When we went out last weekend to the animal rescue center I got a proper lunch (which my friend paid for – “thank you, T”) to avoid having to make food when we got home. We had loads of leek and potato soup and a roll for £2 each! Bargain…

So, I’m back at work today, and I’m working a lot of overtime in the next couple of weeks. I’m going to need to be super organised and cook a lot of our food in advance. I don’t cope well having little free time so I need to be able to relax in the free time I do get rather than worrying about getting things done! I want to look after my mental health and keep my happy mood going! I hope you all enjoy the weekend.

This week I’m joining in with Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.