Month: January 2021

Forget the kids, what about us?… Controlling COVID-19 – Or not….

We humans like to think we have control over our lives…  Which we don’t.

Simplistically put, our brains are hard wired to try and find patterns in things. Hence why we usually see ‘faces’ in the clouds, the Moon, knots in bits of wood and Jesus in pieces of toast and marmite…

At first, the mental cost of the Lockdowns was sold to us as limited to school-goers and the vulnerable (i.e. those seen to be more susceptible to loneliness).

What is, and always was, inescapable – but it was not really publicly highlighted as such – is that devastating toll that the pandemic will take on all members of the community.  The more obvious ones – Parents,  teachers, frontline health staff, the bereaved etc are recognized.  It seems are like others – students, people who were able to keep working, people who lost their livelihoods, people who lost opportunities  etc are coming to the fore.

Mankind has always tried to ‘explain’ the apparent randomness of events – pagan rituals, religious structures etc. (I’m not going to get into a philosophical argument of religion vs. fatalism etc).  Suffice to say not being able to explain and rationalise the fundamentals of a situation as the consequence of our own actions and decisions is deeply unnerving.  There are some fundamentals, that although assisted by mankind’s actions them, are natural phenomena and cannot be easily controlled.  The best we can hope for is some kind of the uneasy truce.  My guess is that in the way that the mental health of generations of people were harmed by WW I/II, there will be a reckoning.

What a jolly post!

Anyway, if you are slightly concerned please just email at [email protected] or arrange a free assessment at www.accessibleonlinecounselling.co.uk

 

Kids and COVID-19….AND you! Good enough and that’s great

I heard about this letter on the radio from a primary school head teacher, trying congratulate ‘her’ parents for doing their best on the very difficult circumstances.  As long as your kids are safe, loved and cared for – that’s the key issue.

Please share and forward in any way you can,  just so she knows it’s resonating.

In counselling, another holy grail is the acceptance of the concept of ‘YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH’.  In this especially applies to you all as I bet you pride yourselves in being high flying workaholics!

https://www.facebook.com/138387672924388/photos/a.198304726932682/3666191333477320/?type

Diary of a wimpy disabled kid.

I’ve thought long and hard about shedding light on the murky/mysterious world of everyday tasks for disabled people (ie me!).  My reluctance is twofold 1.  My main coping mechanism is humour, which can be a bit distasteful to some – nearest and dearest included and 2.  I am a disabled counsellor NOT JUST a counsellor for the disabled, I thought writing this sort of post would define me as someone using their back story to push a personal agenda.  Then I thought “NAH! – stop reading if you don’t like it, you’re a grown up!  Also, sod it – it seems soo obvious yet not enough people saying it”.  Anyway, if you like look of this keep reading.

06.30 – alarm goes off, knackered – needed loo 4 times last night.  A tricky manoeuvre that requires putting the light on each occasion to ensure accuracy and hygiene.  I have tried guesswork and hoping for the best.  Not a good outcome…

06.30 – 07.15 – Various stretches and exercises to try and get blood moving.  Mostly a waste of bloody time!…

07.15 – 07.45 – pushed duvet to bottom of the bed (otherwise it just gets in the way) – not enough room for the two of us. Whilst pushing duvet down bed with stiff and inflexible legs, I randomly kick wall, side of bed and wheelchair, just to prove to myself, in case a miracle happened overnight, that I still have no actual control over my legs…

Sit up and manoeuvre self with right arm (left arm is rubbish) to sit on edge off bed.  Feel very drunk and unsteady but with no prospect of a one-night stand. Use litter picker to pick up clean underwear and socks.  Reach down carefully to pick up discarded trousers from previous night.  Lie back down on bed in order to remove old socks and replace with new, take off the PJ bottoms and pull-on clean underwear and trousers.  This takes a lot of huffing and puffing, effing and jeffing, straining and pleading (in vain-ing) and just for good measure, the other day, whilst trying to pull my sock over my foot, I lost my grip and thumped myself squarely in the bollocks. My already peachy day glowed ever brighter as my eyes welled up and a sensation I have not experienced since I was 13 washed over me.  At that point I would have gladly been paralysed from the neck down!

On the fourth attempt I manage to zip up my flies, but give up all my trouser button as I can’t be arsed to try and do it up again and I’m not exactly going to be standing up much!

07.45 – 08.10 – I pivot transfer from the edge of the bed (drunk again) to my wheelchair.  This takes five minutes of trying to get my feet into the right position to risk this manoeuvre and not end up on my face on the floor.  Once in the chair, I can remove my thermal top (elasticated and too big – for ease of putting on/taking off), use face wipes for a face / body wash, attempt to roll on deodorant (ha ha), then pull on a clean T shirt, no buttons or zips, whilst not tipping the chair over, nor tipping myself out of the chair.   Then it’s just a quick dash (ha ha again) as I put on my fleece top – again no pesky buttons or zips and add the final stylistic touch, a woolly cardigan.  This does pose some interesting existential questions as it has both a zip and it needs to be passed behind your back two allow you to pull on your other arm.  As above with the underwear and trousers this requires a lot of huffing and puffing etc etc.  I then spend 5 minutes trying to manoeuvre myself in a manual wheelchair out of the bedroom and to the stair lift. The manual wheel chair is controlled from the right-hand side – which is a bit like trying to work out how to reverse a car and trailer through a narrow gate, first thing in the morning after some intensive exercise!

Then I transfer again, blah, blah, blah.  It frequently it takes me longer to get out of bed, get dressed and downstairs than it did to commute to work in Central London from Basingstoke. Repeat ad infinitum.  I have just realized, another reason why I don’t talk about it, is that it is really dull!

Welcome to my world.

Disability knocks…

For me, the hugely important bit of this article is the line “But for…[those] with a disability, the tiny motions required for fastening a button or putting on a pair of pants can be part of a gruelling, multi-step process that takes hours—if it can happen at all.”
Often it is only when personally affected by the disability issues (and by that I mean anything that affects your functionality), that an appreciation of the – mostly blindingly obvious – physical limitations of everyday life for someone affected by functionality issues is created.
This inspired me to write another post about getting up out of bed and getting dressed!

Flamin’ Nora…and other tales of online disinhibition

One of the holy grails of counselling is the establishment of a ‘therapeutic relationship’.

Simplistically, this is the difficult process of creating the bond of trust between the counsellor and the client(s). Therefore, the client(s) feels comfortable, heard and not judged. The sessions can then go forward in a productive way for the client(s). Until the client(s) reach this point they are unlikely to feel listened to, comfortable and understood. It also follows they are unlikely to risk sharing their true emotions, opinions or own analysis of their behaviour.

Therefore, it was a little confusing to then learn about the phenomena of online disinhibition. The idea is that, due to the unique way in which an online environments impact upon your behaviour, can result in some oversharing of personal information BEFORE a therapeutic relationship has developed. This in turn lead to a kind of embarrassed ‘morning after’ realisation of drunken night before where you have this sudden recall of something you said or did.
Observed common alterations/changes individuals make to their internal/external identity in order to project the desired new or exaggerated characteristic when in a new online environment usually include little appreciation of the consequence of their actions, increased/exaggerated confidence and inflexibility in taking a viewpoint, showing little or no empathy or understanding of another’s position, deliberate offensiveness (‘flaming’) or deliberate misunderstanding due to the semantics of a post. It is also much more difficult to pick up body language, changes in voice tone or facial expressions via Zoom or text.

…And that is why we have emojis – saying ‘you’re an idiot’ can mean an entirely different thing to ‘you’re an idiot  

It follows that counselling online has a different set of behavioural pointers and triggers, and must to a greater extent than’ face-to-face’ counselling relies on honesty and transparency of understanding, or misunderstanding as the case may be!

Good grief and great expectations…

Surprisingly, sometimes the biggest obstacle to an individual’s ability to manage change is the individuals own expectation(s), usually of themselves.

Previously when I mentioned grief it was in what you might call in the ‘traditional’ sense of the death or loss of somebody close to you or that meant a lot to you.  However, it important to recognise some emotional elements of our common reactions in the process of grieving are also common to changes to our ambitions, dreams, expectations and future.  Therefore, these reactions can be as important. I frequently talk about the ‘grief curve’, there are basically five stages to this, with any number of intermediate emotional stages in-between.  Shock, anger, understanding, acceptance and moving on.  Now think about traumatic event or personal change, for something that you were personally invested in – be it a potentially great job / promotion, potential new house or flat, a potential new relationship, potentially trying for a baby, the potential post COVID-19 world, your children growing into their potential whilst you slow down, a potential election result etc.  This could have presented you with a different future, an ‘ If only….’ moment.

Rationally you know it’s not the end of the world, plenty more fish in the sea and other fantastically facile/banal platitudes, however, emotionally you feel rubbish…  why?  Essentially, you’re grieving to a greater or lesser extent.  It becomes more difficult to manage when your expectations (usually your own!) increase the pressure on yourself and are greatly unrealistic/slightly unrealistic.

For instance, one of the most difficult times that I had adjusting to life in a wheelchair, a significant change in my expected future, was managing my mental image of myself winning the Dad’s race at my child’s primary school sports day.  This might be more understandable were I ever to have been any good at running or won anything in any sporting arena at any time pre-condition or post-condition and certainly pre-wheelchair.

The point I am trying to illustrate is that the expectation is less based in the rational and more in the emotional – sometimes it is more akin to a sense of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).  What my image illustrated was the loss of the opportunity to take part.  This was a loss, which I felt emotionally.

So be kinder to yourself and you should give yourself time and space to grieve for what you might feel is a trivial issue but that if you look closer (maybe with www.accessibleonlinecounselling.co.uk) could be having an emotional impact.