autism / mental health
I’m sat on the promenade resting after a bike ride. It’s early morning. There’s almost no-one around. A stranger appears and walks right past me. He is so close I could trip him if I moved my leg. On a normal day I would think “Huh. Bit weird.” It’s 2020 so I think “OMG LOOK AT ALL THE SPACE YOU ABSOLUTE FOOL OF A TOOK!” I try my best to say that with my eyes because I don’t want to appear rude while I catch a deadly virus. He carries on walking like it’s all fine. He could have gone around me leaving enough space for a bus for my sake. “Arg!” I scream with my inside voice. I breathe and try not to let it get to me.
5 minutes later another man does the same thing.
I point and scream at him… with my eyes. It’s all in the eyes.
I think of being somewhere else.
I try to let it go.
It’s not working.
Record scratch “How did I get here?”
The morning was ruined before this event because my bike seat was set to S&M mode instead of relaxed bike ride mode. Fine for some but not for me. It’s hard to be practice mindfulness when something is causing consistent pain which is why I had stopped for a bit. I refused to let it ruin the morning. I rested and remembered my bike had a toolkit. “Could I fix the seat?” I thought. It was in that moment of rest that the first man walked past. When the second man did… rage!
I turned around and tried to take a photo to calm me down. I thought the act of concentrating on something different would wake me up from this rage. “FaceID isn’t working! Gotta type in stupid password. Open camera. Adjust exposure. Nooo! Not mode change. Arg! That’s just a bad photo. Fine. Whatever. Even if it was good I don’t know what I’m doing with Instagram at the moment so why even take it?”
I cycled off. “Oh hey I fixed it.” The seat was back to normal. My wife texts and I have to go collect the shopping. We load up the bike and I drop it nearly spilling yoghurt everywhere. RAGE I pack it back up and cycle off. On the way home I try and talk to my wife about the morning but it’s too windy which adds to the RAGE. I give up and cycle home.
“Mindfulness also allows us to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that we experience,” says Professor Williams, “and to see how we can become entangled in that stream in ways that are not helpful.
“This lets us stand back from our thoughts and start to see their patterns. Gradually, we can train ourselves to notice when our thoughts are taking over and realise that thoughts are simply ‘mental events’ that do not have to control us.
“Most of us have issues that we find hard to let go and mindfulness can help us deal with them more productively. We can ask: ‘Is trying to solve this by brooding about it helpful, or am I just getting caught up in my thoughts?’ /via NHS
The biggest change I can make for myself right now is learning mindfulness. I tried to not let the bike seat get to me but it did. Understandably because it was causing constant pain and I didn’t think I could fix it. But I did so yay. The two guys who walked close by me while they are stupid people who should have paid more attention to their surroundings I should accept that it was an accident (twice?!) and I can’t carry that anger all day.
The other day I ended up getting caught in my thoughts in an attempt to unravel what I’m doing with my life. It lead to those thoughts strangling me because I believed I could think my way free. I know these patterns, these thoughts and these moods. I know they affect me and in turn affect others and my work. I am not useful as a person if I am generating anger and dwelling in it. Even if those reasons seem perfectly valid at the time (stupid men and their stupid proximity issues).
Free yourself from the past and future
You can practise mindfulness anywhere, but it can be especially helpful to take a mindful approach if you realise that, for several minutes, you have been “trapped” in reliving past problems or “pre-living” future worries.
That has been my week. It has been the cause of my anxieties and the cause of my depression.
I need to read, learn and practice being mindful.
- NHS Mindfulness
- How to take the perfect breath: why learning to breathe properly could change your life
- Headspace app
- Mindfulness via Mind charity
- Be Mindful by NHS – Free intro / £30 lifetime access
- Self-help guides by MerseyCare
This weeks photos are from a trip to Iceland back in 2015. At the time I wasn’t that happy with them. I was too demanding on my self to make “great” that they could never live up to that. 5 years on and as I try and let go of burdens I find I enjoy these photos more and more. I hope you enjoy them.
If you do I’ve updated my print store to include them. Each week I’ll add the photos from the newsletter to the print store for purchase.
You can get prints of the photos in this weeks newsletter on my print store.
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