Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Habit of Trust 

I don’t doubt my ability to walk nowadays. I don’t need to. I’ve been doing it again consistently for quite a few years now.

There was no other way to gain my own self-trust when it came to walking. No form of cheating my way around it. If there has been, then I definitely would have done. But nothing worked except doing it.

Doing it again and again. Badly at first. Very badly. Doing it badly and in the full knowledge that I would fail at it. That I would fall, again and again. That it would hurt. Hurt when I fell. Hurt from the practise. 

It really was the only way, though. Just to keep going. Until I fell a little less. Until the pain was not as frequent. Until my mind trusted my body to be able to do it consistently enough to keep me safe.

Once my mind felt safe, my world became a bigger place. I could leave the house and go places, without it constantly panicking and wanting to leave. See there’s a discord between a panicked mind, and a body that cannot deliver the panicked mind to safety, at the speed it requires.

When I was in public and I couldn’t stand being there anymore, I wouldn’t be able to do much about it at first. Any attempt to flee would just result on me going over, face first usually. Once you’ve face-planted a tile floor, it’s definitely something you try to avoid as much as possible in the future, trust me.

My brain needed to feel safe, but my body couldn’t give it a quick fix. Trust is quite slow to form. I never really appreciated that until my mind chronically mistrusted my body. It’s a combination that results in a very empty life.

My body couldn’t cheat it’s way into my mind’s good books again. It did it the hard way. Daily graft. For years. For far longer than it actually took me to learn how to walk again.

Turns out a body that works is no match for a mind that refuses to believe in it.

I grew up near what was known as Europe’s biggest shopping centre at the time. What was vast then would obviously be quite modest now. But it’s quite big still. Definitely too large for someone whose mind would not believe their own legs could get round it after learning how to walk again.

So I just avoided. For years. I would venture a few hundred yards into the door and then just leave again. Even when I was fine. Even now, with everything else that I could do. I refused to try. Because I hadn’t ever gone back and done that small piece of work that my brain needed from me to let me know it was ok.

This week I did it. Finally. Because putting this sort of sh*t off is ridiculous. And because I’ve not had to relearn anything like this is a few years now, it was really strange.

It took me back to a time when everything was impossible. When every little physical action had to be relearned. It’s hard to put into words what it’s like to rebuild yourself completely. But repetition features very heavily. I’d forgotten that. Until this week, when my brain refused to move until my body remembered.

Habits are so important. Repetition is so important. Unhelpful habits can destroy even the most determined individuals, if they aren’t addressed. But deliberate repetition of a new action, no matter how scary or hard, can totally rebuild trust. Totally rebuild a life. Like I totally rebuilt mine.

If your mind is telling you that something is physically impossible, it’s only because it doesn’t know any better right now. But I promise you, the repetition of a new habit will win the mind over eventually. 

So, as ever, just keep going. 


Happy New Despair

There’s a special kind of despair a person whose body doesn’t work experiences with each New Year.

Because even the most appalling mathematicians amongst us (and I’m certainly one of them), cannot escape the significance of a brand new year starting, when nothing has changed for us physically.

I hated every New Year. Hated them. It brought with it a type of despair I’m scared to explore by visiting it even just retrospectively. It feels like you are the only person in the world left. Like help is never coming.

Like you cannot be saved.

I think if I’d learned just to ignore the New Year. To not react to it. To just keep plodding along (not quite putting one foot in front of the other yet, but whatever the non-moving equivalent of that is), then I could have saved myself a lot of heartache.

There are so many ways to get well. I know it sounds easy to say that from where I stand these days. It’s true though. Countless ways. 

If I’d made any New Year’s Resolutions back then, I realise now that a really helpful one would have been to approach each new treatment as if it was the first one I had ever tried. Not drag the emotional baggage of all the ones that didn’t work around with me. To just drop them. To never look back at what hasn’t cured me.

To always be forward facing.

If I’d had a second New Years Resolution, it would most likely have been to be more honest with myself: had a treatment not worked? Or had I just not worked hard enough to make it work?
And then, with that in mind, I would have resolved to fully drop any treatment that wasn’t working, instead of sticking with it because it fit my current believe and ideals.

I can’t go back and change how long it took me to get my life back. All I can do is take the lessons I learned from it and use them to make right now a beautiful place to be.
A place where I never feel fear or despair again. And I can do that now. I do it everyday.

So if you are in a place where everything is dark. Where you can’t believe in your own ability to ever be well again. Just keep going. There are plenty of us who have felt how you feel now. And we got out.

And where we find ourselves now was completely worth the journey, I promise.