braindribbles

Posts Tagged ‘cbt

rainbow daylight front

 

The blurb you need to read first

First of all, apologies. I have literally run out of original photos since the monster montage of the previous post, so other than the top picture, you’re going to get text only on this occasion. Second, this’ll be more serious than before…but not that much more serious. Third of all, it is very, very long. I nearly broke it into two posts, but it didn’t seem like the right thing to do. Make yourself a cuppa before settling in.

Basically, three things have been happening concurrently that have had a major positive impact on me this last year or so. One is doing the hair thing. Another is the major increase in paid work as a musician. And the third thing is regular visits to Joy, who is a CBT therapist with many other qualifications to boot.

I have to admit, whilst I think I get which way round things went, and which things had an impact on the success of what, I’m still not 100% sure. I don’t really know if I can say that any one thing had more impact than the others. Have a read and see what you think. It’s still a little fresh and under-edited, but hopefully you’ll make good sense of it.

 

Back Story

In the spring/summer of 2014, while I was unwittingly rather high on the anxiety/depression scale, I also had an opportunity on the music front. The first in many years. The chance to sing professionally. I’d sung at a professional standard before, but never been paid for the privilege. So when I was asked to sing at a wedding ceremony, I jumped at the chance. I didn’t know if that was going to be it for several more years, or if it was the start of things to come. But somewhere deep inside my subconscious I knew that that was what I wanted to do more than anything else. It set me on a path. So there was that going on.

Soon after that, I got to a point where things were just awful. And guilt-ridden…I had a good life, didn’t I? So why wasn’t I enjoying it? Why wasn’t I coping? I eventually realised that it wasn’t going to get better by itself and got in touch with Joy. That set me on a road to recovery and fixing my thought patterns so that they weren’t constantly berating me for not being good enough.

After a couple of months I had a fragile kind of happy going on. It wasn’t easy, as family life had to continue, and I had to keep earning. But then more music was happening. It turned out it wasn’t a one-off. I could actually sing and make some money out of it. And that boosted my happy factor big time. Nothing better for your self-esteem than being paid to do the one thing you love more than anything else in the world.

And then I was ready. I had arrived at a point where I realised I was properly OK again. And it was at around the same time that my thoughts kept turning to hair colour.

Now, if you know me well, I’ve not been one to particularly want to tread the beaten path. I’ve always done my own thing, and if I get really into an idea, no matter how strange or crazy, I will still just go ahead and do it. Hence the marathon. And that’s kind of what happened with the hair thing at this point. I couldn’t let the idea go. So I figured I’d better scratch the itch, satisfy my curiosity and deal with the consequences. (You can read about that here.)

loved my new hair at the time. It was a huge deal. In hindsight it was a little nuts, but I’m so glad I did. I look back at those early photos now and I have to admit I’ve eyed them up with suspicion, as the colour then was very simple and I wasn’t that keen on the rest of my appearance….but what I do love is how it changed me on the inside.

 

Reflecting back

Yes. Flattering or not, having hair that bright meant that I would no longer be able to shrink away and hide. It still felt like me, but it felt like the bold, brave, confident version of me. Which was always part of me; it’s just that I sometimes had to dig down and find it. Now it was there and out on display all the time.

Fake it till you make it

There’s a brilliant TED lecture somewhere. I’ll link it as it’s hugely significant for me. Here you go.

I found myself in a very similar position. It took a few weeks to get used to having the bold me on display all the time, and it did feel pretty weird for a while, but as described in the video, it just became normal. And once it had, it was transformative in everything that I did. It felt like the me that had been fighting to get out, but simply hadn’t had an outlet. Changing my hair forced the issue. I was this person, and most importantly I loved being this person. It was the me that came out occasionally with the kids when other grownups weren’t looking, or when I was really relaxed and happy. Only now it was…just me.

There’s more to it

Of course there’s more to it. I still have hang-ups about my body image, guilt about whether I’m parenting my children the right way, and major issues with screen addiction that lead to very little sleep. There’s a whole load of grey. Only now I feel happy and confident most of the time in spite of all those things. Even when I’m really tired. Even when I’ve got too much going on and I feel like I’m on an endless treadmill. Also, I’m dealing with all those things bit by bit. Not least because I still see Joy once a month. Seeing Joy helps get everything into perspective. Is it just my mind playing tricks on me? Is it something I can do something about? Also, she’s fun. She always has me in a good mood even if we’ve dealt with some emotional stuff.

Why colour and why hair?

It’s funny that it manifested in colour, isn’t it? If I’m honest, I’ve always loved colour. It’s just that my mum loves colour too, and the rebellious teenager lurking within me even now still hates the idea of having such a similar trait. So it’s quite convenient that I found a way to express my love of colour in a very different way. The subconscious is pretty sly, isn’t it? And I have to admit, I’ve only realised that tonight. Blogging is good for things like that.

The slight catch

So now I’ve realised all this, doing crazy things to my hair has served me incredibly well this last year. And I feel that if I wanted to I could still keep the happy, confident me and go back to a more conventional appearance.

Only thing is, I’ve kind of developed an obsession. It’s going to be a very long time before I get to a point where I’ve had my fill of all the possible colour combinations out there. If I have a moment of idle thought that isn’t taken up with some aspect of family life, or a piece of music I’m working on, it’s fairly likely I’ll be pondering hair colour. Right now I’m dithering when and how to do Christmas hair this year – it’s proving to be a real dilemma.

And there’s another thing. I suspect after all the colour, I’d find conventional hair terribly boring. Yes, I love it on other people. I love it on my children and my husband. I’ve even tried on wigs once or twice to see how I feel about it. Here’s the thing. I look in the mirror and it feels like I have lost part of my identity. Which is just bizarre, but there you go.

 

How I feel now

Writing this was quite a learning experience for me. I didn’t quite appreciate how differently I would feel about it now compared to a year ago. I felt superb a year ago, but somehow, today I feel miles better still. The confidence thing is innate now. The fun that felt inhibited, well, it’s on display. The sense of adventure in the everyday. That’s normal now.

If I had known I could love my life quite this much a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have understood that it could be possible, let alone believed it. I thought I was muddling through OK, as long as we didn’t have anything hugely difficult to deal with at the time. I didn’t recognise that I could be so much happier.

So I’m very thankful for how those three major changes in 2014 came about. For people who don’t know me well, it probably looks like a mid life crisis. I am 41, after all, and the timing fits. Though of course, for me it feels like the exact opposite of a crisis. Cheesy though it sounds, for me, it feels like God decided it was my time to shine. 🙂

The Hair.

Posted on: 16/12/2014

Um. So I coloured my hair a month or so ago.

I’ve done this before. A spot of purple for a party once.  Another spot of purple I won in a raffle.  Some purple streaks a few months ago.  And oodles of highlights over the last two decades.

My normal appearance, until recently, would be something along the lines of the following three pictures.  Colour varying from mousy brown to blonde highlights.

Me in April this year

Me in April this year

profile pic november 2013

Me in November last year

profile pic march 2011

Me in March 2011

Since mid November, though, it looks like this.

Me on 1st December

Me on 1st December

Me on 3 Dec after a night out

Me on 3 Dec after a night out

Me on 6 Dec having fun with the kids

Me on 6 Dec having fun with the kids

So it’s quite a change.

There’s been a lot of comments, and most of them have been very nice. Those that weren’t were gentle teasing and, if there’s one thing I learned from the experience, it’s that people will almost certainly say something.

A lot of people asked, what made me decide to do it?  In all honesty, I’m not sure.  All I know is that I got to a point where I really, really wanted to. But if I look back over the year I can sort of see how it came about.

2014 has been quite a year.  In the first 6-7 months I ran a marathon (runner 44234 if you want to look up my time!), ran a local branch of a charity, taught some lovely antenatal groups, went on a lovely holiday to France, returned to being a professional musician, saw some good friends and poured a lot of love and attention into my micro business.

The marathon, while I was training for it, took over everything.  I had made a commitment and I had to do it.  I felt better than I’d ever done before.  All this exercise was new and exciting, if quite hard work and very time consuming.  The marathon happened in April.  It was harder than childbirth, but I did it somehow and raised over £2000 for the NCT.  It now feels like it happened to someone else.

After the marathon, I tried my best to catch up with everything I’d been neglecting.  But over the years I’d been piling up my obligations and there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to give everything the attention it needed and deserved. I found myself pruning things to the bare minimum, house, job, business, kids, everything but the music in fact, and feeling terribly guilty about it.  And in the meantime I wasn’t really exercising any more.

By July I was feeling massively overwhelmed with all my obligations and, the moment I had dropped the kids off at school (almost always late) and shut the door on the world, I would burst into tears from the stress of it all.  If I didn’t burst into tears, I would eat to mask the issues, or go and take a long nap which avoided it entirely.   None of which was especially healthy.

This is where my antenatal teacher training came in handy.  We learn to be reflective practitioners, so when this had been happening a while and clearly wasn’t just a blip, I did at least recognise that it was a serious problem and realise I had to do something about it.  So I got in touch with a CBT counsellor I know.  Over the summer and early autumn, we worked through a lot of issues.  And I mean a lot.

In July and August I did as little as possible.  I let other people take over some of the things that couldn’t be ignored for a while, and left the rest.  In September I did the same, but became more active, taking Zumba classes, and rehearsing for some gigs coming up the next month.  It was a fragile month. I was still quick to tears, but I was feeling a lot better.  In October my music commitments took over. It was very busy, but I was loving being a musician again, and the fragility was starting to fade.

By November I felt GREAT.  I had literally forgotten what it was like to feel normal.  I hadn’t felt this OK in years.  Not since smallest one was born back in 2010.  And this time not just feeling normal and OK, but feeling actually happy.  I have always felt happy when in good company or doing things I love, but prior to this summer I’ve had various feelings of guilt and obligation hanging over me, preventing me from being particularly happy the rest of the time. Stemming back from my senior school. For the first time, I’m feeling happy and content generally.  I’m feeling like a huge weight has been lifted from me.  I’m back into the housework (though it does give way when I have music or antenatal work on the go), I’m not needing to nap, I’m not feeling stressed all the time. So it’s a new, super-squeaky-shiny happy.  I’ve been liberated from all the baggage that was weighing me down and knocking my confidence in myself.

So maybe it’s not surprising that by November I felt motivated to do something that showed the world I was a present and active participant in life, and not hiding from anything.  I felt a strong urge to do something more noticeable.  Eventually those feelings came out in vibrant, pillarbox red hair.  And I have to say, I love it.

I’m still pretty busy.  The house still looks like a tip most days.  But that’s fine.  Because when I do clean it up, I actually enjoy it. I’m loving spending time with my children when 6 months ago I felt guilty doing so, because I felt I should be catching up on everything else. I’ve had to make some serious cuts to the things I love doing.  I’m no longer volunteering in a senior role. my micro-business is in hibernation, and there’s been a number of smaller things I’ve given up on too.  I’ve finally realised I can’t do it all, and that that’s OK. Everything I have done has brought me closer to people, helped others and also been part of my journey to where I am now.

But I feel good. I feel happy.  I feel connected with my family.  I feel fully engaged with my teaching and my music.  I feel alive.  And (especially with my new hair!) I am feeling present in the world.  Maybe in some way, the hair is a celebration of the return of my mojo.

———-

Since the change my hair has had a separate identity.  I no longer refer to it as ‘my’ hair.

And yes!  It’s my first blog post in many, many months. And it wasn’t even a funny one.

I’ll continue to blog sporadically. No promises on timing.  

Peace and love. And other festive wishes too!