Archive for May 24, 2017

This is a WHOLE other challenge (Pretty awesome though)

So, in recent months I have conquered a Cheese-grater, climber my arse off and began to face many of my demons.  But none of these, or even all the climbing competitions I took part in last year compared to this mornings events.

Having told you all about my change of volunteer role in Scouting I did what anyone would do; in preparation for an upcoming weekend.

I bought a tent!

I had previously gone to a large outdoors shop with a friend and had a good look at all they had on show, I fell in love with a canvas Tippee.  However at just under £800 it wasn’t going to be for me at the moment.  I was able to walk among various sizes and layouts.  But as with everything, budget was my biggest factor.

I had a check list:

  1.  To have a separate bedroom area.
  2.  To be able to stand up in (although a little crouched was ok)
  3.  Have windows.
  4.  Have a black out bedroom area.

And with all this, and the wise words of a good friend who had bought many a tent.  I bought one I felt fit the bill.

I bought a Vango Beta 450 XL in blue.

It arrived yesterday, sat in its box and making me itch with excitement.  The rational in me thought I should wait until I had a friend over to help me, however the ‘kid in a candy store’ won out.

And I set about putting it up!

After all, it had an assembly guide of 15 minutes.  How difficult could it REALLY be?


For a start, it took AN HOUR.

Oh and it was a tad bigger than my garden.

Also, with my garden being totally laid in patio, I wasn’t able to fully ‘pitch’ it.  Although with a helping hand of my garden furniture and a few plant pots, I got pretty close!

I had watchful eyes in both Vicky and Fizz who seemed quite amused at times by my antics.  They both had a thorough explore of it; both in its flat form and in its ‘pitched’ form.

I photographed my progress just for you.

Image shows ground sheet laid out on garden patio

In the beginning there was just a ground sheet and a flat tent.

Image of the outer tent laid out flat on the patio ready to assemble

And the instruction…..

3 poles, colour coded for ease with 1 pole longer than the other 2.

3 poles …. Check

colohr coded ….. check; if you count 2 being totally black and 1 having a grey section amongst the black colour?

1 longer than the other 2 …. Ummmm. Nope! 1 shorter (grey section) than the other 2 (totally black)

Maybe I should have stopped at that point.  But given it was all out of the bag, no harm in carrying on.

So following the colour coding; or rather tiny little black or gray tabs of material on the end of the pole sleeve that I hoped was what the instructions were referring too, I carried on.

It wasn’t a easy as it should have been, not having the space to walk around the outside of the tent, it involves climbing over my garden wall (pictured about, it’s about 3f)

I also had to negotiate the poles with the shed and fence as fully extended they where pretty long (even the short one!)

And then came my garden furniture. With the help of a garden chair, a bench and some plant pots I was able to semi-secure the tent in place.

Image shows front quarter angle of erect tent with flower pots holding it in place with the side door open

Image shows side view of tent with door panel open, against the low garden wall and with Guide Dog Fizz looking inside

It was perfect!

The guide ropes and zip toggles are all light blue, there are tension bands on the inside and it has a ‘lip’ to save the weather getting in, should it be wet.

And the added bonus is that I only have to duck my head ever so slightly to move around.

It was hot, it was tricky; but oh wow it was fun!  And I did it all by myself. I was bursting with pride, I sent the photos to a friend with the simple of caption

Look what I just did, not bad considering, am knackered now.

Woth the guide time of 15 minutes, with the advisory that first pitch may take slightly longer, I was happy when I discovered it took me and hour.  Some people may not feel that is something to be proud of, but for someone who has never pitched a tenth before, who has considerably limited vision and who has no help either with reading the instructions or pointing out where the pole sleeves were…… I am totally amazed and proud with my achievement.

…… Now to take it down!

In comparison that took 30 minutes, it was a simple reverse of the pitch.  I folded and rolled my tent, then the ground sheet and even managed to get it all back in the bag!  It wasn’t quite as pretty as when I took it out, but with a quick sitting on to help remove the air.  It was done and ready to put away for camping later next month.

Image shows tent bag with tent inside sat out in the garden on patio.

Now to see how long it takes to pitch in a field !!

I don’t have baggage… I have a full matching set of cases

I may have written about this before, many years ago a friend referred to my past and my baggage as a complete matching luggage set.

Recently I have been undertaking counselling for my anxiety and depression,  which in turn has lead me to get this lovely (not) large set of cases out of the dark parts of my mind.

And I have not been enjoying dusting them off or opening them up.

However, the past can have its uses.

It can on the surface have perfect vision.

It can also offer comfort.

However, one thing to remember is that the past is somewhere you once lived.  Not somewhere you can revisit to alter.

It is behind you with no re-entry allowed.

It is interesting to think that it can hold the keys to unlocking the future though!

Yes, this post is full of metaphors, but what can you expect at 2.30am after an evening of reflection with friends?

It was not an evening fuelled with alcohol, although maybe too much ginger ale Fizz?

Anyway, I digress…….

As part of my current therapy sessions I am looking at and deconstructing my own core beliefs, my rules, my ‘coping mechanisms’ and eventually this will lead to breaking habits of a lifetime and learning to change, learning to give myself some slack and to (probably most importantly) be able to spot when I am falling into old habits; being able to break them.

After all ‘rules are made to be broken’ (last metaphor I promise!)

Anyone who has undertaken the NHS’s iTalk therapy will have an understanding of what I am talking about.

It is based on CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.  A therapy that I did learn of during my own counselling courses, but not one that I followed in great detail…. for the NHS is is a good therapy, it is one that can be provided on either a face to face basis (which I have) or over the phone, saving many ‘man hours’ overheads along with additional anxieties for some who are in receipt of the telephone consultations.

CBT is largely known as a talking therapy, it has many different ‘formulations’ so can be tailored to an individual needs much easier and quicker than some other therapies.

Diagram showing the 3 points of CBT. Thoughts, emotions and behaviours. The diagram explains how any one of the three can start an anxiety, but how no matter which of the three, between emotion, thoughts and behaviour they can easy feed from each other and create a downward spiral.

It is a fascinating therapy and one that I am only just learning.  However it is one that I can already see as a great working theory that has so much to teach me.

So, watch this space……. I may find a way to expand on this soon.

I have a question for you

it is time for me to ask for you to help me.

If I were to write a book, giving in sight into my life and how I have got myself in and out of many a situation.

Would you read it?

I am talking raw emotion, sarcasm and plenty of giggles.

What would you find interesting to read about?

Can you please be so kind as to comment below and help me with some research xx

Many Thanks xx


10 days ago I climbed a Cheese-Grater !!

Ten days ago I CLIMBED A CHEESE-GRATER:  All 225m plus a little extra for good measure.

It seems so much longer than 10 days.  Part of this is because my hands are shredded like they were after The Gherkin Climb, which although it was a much shorter climb that this one, it was at a time when I firstly hadn’t been climbing very long and secondly I wasn’t as physically fit as I am now.

I won’t lie, it was hard.

It was emotionally exhausting.

It was uncomfortable.

And almost a hard slap in the face to how differently I could see and hear inside the climbing centre.  So much so that at one point mid-climb that found me 2/3rds of the way up a wall I strategically removed and dropped my hearing aids into the awaiting hands of my climbing partner.

During the climb we had the additional media of not one but two GoPro (like) pieces of recording equipment.  We took lots of footage, we shared ‘live’ videos on Facebook during the challenge.  We do however have a fair amount of editing to do before we can share the ‘helmet’ footage or even the footage I didn’t realise was recorded.

This editing is only to remove some of the ‘colourful language’ used, we also have to mindful of copyright on music that was being broadcasted in the background!

It is coming together though, there is some fantastic footage of both myself and Simon my climbing partner accessing and defending the wall.  Simon even talked through descriptively on his final climb!

The support, emotionally, encouragingly and financially have been higher than I ever expected.

At the time of writing this post, HelpTeeHear had raised £900 online and a further £100 off-line.  That is One-Fifth of the total hoped for.

So for now, I say thank you; THANK YOU; thank you.

Taking my volunteering to the next level

Having supported my childrens’ Scout Group for a few years on the Exec committee I recently stood up to change roles.  I stepped off of the Exec to take up a role as an Assistant Cub Scout Leader in the pack that I have I been helping out at regularly on their evening.

The whole group has made me feel so welcome and supported.  They have never seen my ‘disabily’ as an issue, all they have ever asked of me is to show them my ‘abilities’ ….. The children are so acception, they have the most wonderful questions.  And they all adore Fizz (which is always a bonus)

I have to attend and interview with The District Commisiioner, undertake a meeting to discuss my disabilities and the impact that may have on my role.  I have to undertake training, but all of that just fills me with excitement.

I as a child never attended anything like this, no Brownies or Girl Guides for me. And as my sight changed, I never saw camping as something I would do.  Having joined in a weekend camp last September, I realised just how managable camping would be.  Although not in the small 2 man pop up tent I borrowed.

I still need some luxuries if I am to do it all again…..  Simple things, like being able to stand up, and having shared a tent with Fizz, a separate bedroom area is a must.

Oooohhhhhh I can feel a shopping trip coming one!

Would you flip a coin on it?

This is a much more personal and private post.  One that I have thought of writing for some time, yet not found the courage to put it into words.  This is true, raw emotion.  Please comment if you wish.

Sight loss, hearing loss, illness, disability; all of these can affect your mental health and mood.

I have battled with depression for many many years.  It isn’t (for me) something that is fixed by medication.  In addition to being a trained counsellor myself, i have undertaken many various forms of therapy; from CBT to mindfulness and many in between.  Depression isn’t easily or quickly fixed.  It often takes many ‘trial and error’ theories, after all as a human, I am in my own way unique.

My sight is degenerative, and in recent months I discovered that my hearing is also digenerative. This by its nature means that I have not as yet come to terms with it.  With the world around me ever changing (because of how I can see and hear it). I find many of the new challenges upsetting and difficult to deal with.

In very recent months I have found this particularly hard.

I found myself thinking and analysing everything much more.  This found me in a very low, downward spiral.  A spiral that I could find no way out of.

This was compounded from my current therapy sessions I have been undertaking with iTalk.  By looking at many of my demons up close and personally, I found it all too much.

I found myself alone, not able to approach my friends.  Not able to ask for help.  I found myself bursting into tears at ANYTHING. I couldn’t eat without being ill, I couldn’t drink coffee without being sick.  I couldn’t see a way to carry on.

A question Doctors and counsellors ask,

Do you feel like hurting yourself or that you would be better off dead?

I could answer this, my answer was always “No.” not because I was lying to them, but because it wasn’t the right question.  Had they asked:

Do you think everyone would be better without you?

They would have got a completely different answer.

I felt that I was just someone who was in everyone’s way, someone they pitied, someone they ‘put up with’ but not as someone who would be missed if I was no longer here.

I never sat down and thought of it as dying, committing suicide or harming myself.  I thought of it instead as improving others lives.  By not being here they could all get on with living, my children wouldn’t have to worry about me, they wouldn’t have to ‘miss out’ on doing fun things, because I am not able to drive, or run around with a ball.  They would also no longer have to cope with going between me and their dads.  Especially Lawrence, who seems to be particularly sensitive and worried about saying something that may upset me.

That they would be much happier not having to help a disabled mum.

I thought my best friend would be happier too.  Instead of having me bother him with texts and emails, he could live his life, enjoy his children and make a future for himself without me being like a noose around his neck.  Someone he felt obligated to ‘put up with’, someone who had made the mistake of being nice too at a difficult time and getting stuck with.

Without me, he could be happy.  Me not being here would be one less stress for him in his already stressful life.  And I felt similarly about other friendships.  I don’t have any family, they have already told me how they don’t want me.   So I thought I would be making the best decision, I thought I had decided that it was best for everyone if I just  wasn’t here anymore.

I shut myself off, I lied to friends who asked “how are you?’

I kept putting things off, I didn’t walk the dogs, I didn’t do the housework, I didn’t write in my bullet journal.

I did however call Samaritans.

I apologised for wasting their time, I spend just under 3 hours on the phone to a woman who said her name was Beth, she asked me about my family, my home, my children.  We talked for a long time and I can’t remember most of it.  I remember there were lots of tears, lots of apologies from me (anyone who knows me well will tell you how good I am at saying sorry-when actually I don’t need to)

Speaking with Beth, I found myself feeling I ‘needed’ to go to my counselling appointment in the morning.

For each counselling appointment I am asked to complete an online questionnaire.  And for the first time in about 10 days.  When I arrived at my appointment, my counsellor asked me about my questionnaire answers and scores.

She asked me WHY?

And then she did something I never thought I would ever hear, it is most definitely not something I came across in my counselling training  (although, I haven’t yet completed my degree level)

She asked me to score on a level of 1 to 10 how much I wanted to ‘not be around anymore..

My answer was 6.

She asked me how I thought about doing it?

I didn’t know that bit, although rationally I told her I didn’t want someone who knew me to find me, I told her I wanted it to be a doctor or nurse, or someone else who has been trained to see dead people.

She asked me if my children would understand?

No, they wouldn’t understand.  But after the initial upset, they would grow up with their families and be happy without me.

And then, she said this:

You say that you are over half certain that people would be better off without you here? So lets flip for it.  Heads you end your life and Tails you carry on.  Shall we do that? Leave it to the flip of a coin?

In my head I was thinking ” Are you wanting me to do this?’ But what I said, was even a shock to me,

NO! You don’t decide this on the flip of a coin.  That is just stupid, deciding on something so final and leaving it to chance.

She then abruptly changed the subject and asked me what I found relaxing.  And we spoke no more of it.  We didn’t need to, because even though the conversation had been upsetting, the reality of my thought hit me as if i had walked into a lamppost.

Focussing on relaxation and choosing a list to pick at least one thing off each day, made for a much more enjoyable week.  I also had my charity climb to do.  I still couldn’t keep much of my food in, but I had made sure I drank plenty.  And although scared and feeling I was a failure, the climb was not just an event I HAD TO DO, it was the ultimate metaphor….. THE ONLY WAY I COULD GO AND UP I WENT.

It was exhausting, I struggled and feel that even though I did complete it, that I let my friends down, that I failed and that even though I did my best and gave my all, that actually it wasn’t enough (but that’s for another time)

I returned to my counsellor again after the climb, again completing an online questionnaire before going.  And this time my counsellor commented on the reduction of my scores and improvements.

My counsellor asked me to recap on what had happened in our previous session, she asked me what had changed?

So, I told her, I told her how I initially thought the previous week that she had actually been trying convince me that I should end my life, but that when I had calmed down, when I had thought about it and when I had relayed some of it (I couldn’t face telling her all) to my friend, that I had actually realised what the purpose of the direct questioning had been.

My counsellor confirmed that she too had reflected with her supervisor on our session, and how she had been able to tell that although I was upset that this form of directness was actually making me think.  She was never mocking me, or thinking me stupid.  She was simply facilitating me to think.

She also explained that had I answered differently to the question of flipping a coin, that she would have instantly notified her supervisor.  Putting in place several safe guarding options. This is something she had told me about in our very first session, as she had explained that both her safety and my safety were key.

In addition to seeing my counsellor, I have been on half weekly visits to my GP.  I explained my session to her, to which she was impressed and felt that she would take that back to her fellow doctors.

Suicide and the thought of harming yourself or wanting to ‘stop getting in other peoples way’ is not an easy conversation to have, it was not easy for me to admit these thoughts, this feeling, it is not ‘crying wolf’ It is a serious emotional and mental health issue.  One that you should not ever apologise for having, it is not ‘stupid’ it is not ‘weak’ it is simply that you cant see a way forward.

You don’t need to apologise for hounding your Doctor, for calling the Samaritans, turning up at your local A and E Department if you can’t think of anywhere else to turn or even calling for an ambulance.

There are plenty of people who want to help.

And help you they will.






Taking my time to come down !

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