Regular Self-Care As a Route to Health

This is from the TMS Wiki Structured Education Programme. It struck a chord as I can neglect myself in terms of diet and rest if under stress.

Regular Self Care

The ability to care for oneself is an essential skill that that needs to be learned and practiced to prevent or relieve TMS/PPD symptoms. Most people learn this as children when they are given adequate opportunities to play. A four-year-old with paper and fingerpaints does not care how many pictures per hour they produce, or about the quality of their work or who will see it. They care only that they are having fun. If it stops being fun they move on to another activity they enjoy. This is how children, and adults, learn how to meet their need for enjoyment. Adults may not need as many hours spent in this way as a child, but the need is always there.

For some children, the opportunity for carefree self-indulgence is limited or non-existent. If children are abused or given excessive responsibilities, if among the adults in the home there is violence, drug abuse, a high need for support or erratic behavior the child may focus on the needs of others (adults or siblings) in the home. This may leave insufficient time for acquiring self-care skills. In addition, low self-esteem from a less than nurturing home may leave children feeling unworthy of taking time for themselves.

Adults lacking this ability care for everyone but themselves. If they have spare time, their thoughts turn to using it constructively for the benefit of others. On the list of those whom they support, their own name is missing. For some, the only break they get occurs when TMS/PPD symptoms become too severe for them to function.

Fortunately, self-care skill can be acquired at any age. Here are some steps that have helped others:

  1. Recognize the issues that may have deprived you of self-care skills as a child. It may help to imagine your own children (or a child you care about) growing up in the same environment you did. If those children would be missing out then so did you. This provides a solid justification for learning the skills you missed.
  2. Take 4-5 hours every week, if possible, for activity with no purpose but its own joy. Ask members of your household to support you in this effort. Trial and error are usually needed to find enjoyable activities (going to a gym to work out usually isn’t enough fun, for example). Don’t worry if you feel like a failure at this for months because that is part of the learning process. It is not easy to change a life pattern that has been successful for you up to now.
  3. Don’t worry if you feel guilty about not doing something “constructive” with this weekly self-care because that is usually how people feel at first.
  4. If there are people who created difficulties in the past who are still creating problems for you, consider ending or strictly limiting contact with them during the time you are developing self-care skills.

Once you acquire this skill you will have it for life. In the future, whenever your stress level begins to reach levels capable of causing symptoms, you will have the ability to leave the rest of your world and focus on you. This is a powerful technique that, by itself, has relieved severe and long-lasting symptoms in many people.


My Big Posh Church, Lent, Day 18.


As I was very tired from my night out I decided to go to our town’s poshest church rather than make the trip to my own church this evening.

Very beautiful surroundings and wonderful choir, good sermon, but strange to be there.

This posh church’s ethos is extremely liberal – which is my 1970’s upbringing background. It’s all gay vicars and seminars on transgender issues. But the hierarchical nature of the service, the Us and Them aspect (congregation v clergy), the formality, is now alien to me, yet this is what I grew up with.

At my usual church services anyone can pray out loud, singing is done by all of us and we sing a LOT! Sermons, a.k.a. the message, are chatty, funny, moving. But gay vicars are a big no-no. It’s a fundamental church, in effect, though with kindly pastoral care rather than punishing.

Sometimes trying new things can be a disappointment. But it does stretch you and also makes you appreciate what you have already.

Day 6, Lent Continues


As I am away from home I had to go to a new pet shop as opposed to the little, independent shop I usually go to. Encountered some ghastly people outside the shop who were rude and quite scary to me. Reminded me why my friends and I chose to get out of this place as soon as we could – to universities and different lives. Mmm. Was a reality check.

Mum and I had a different type of curry this evening. A mild, creamy affair instead of our usual Rogan Josh-type curry.  Hold the front page: we decided we preferred the latter. I know, the excitement continues!

As I have not been very well today my experimentation with new things has been modest. Let’s hope and pray for better things to come!

Coincidences or Divine Intervention?


Feeling awed! Mum and I were standing on her front doorstep in the town of my birth, waving off my very old friends, Bristol-based P and J, who I see just 1-2 times a year, when who should drive down our fairly out-of-the-way street but my friends/former neighbours, E and S, from the town where I now live (about 50 miles away.) E and S had NO IDEA my mum lives on this street and that this is the family homestead. Sheer coincidence.

Then… At the very same time my old hairdresser drove passed them in the same make and model and silver coloured car as E and S own, waving, AND at the same time mum’s neighbour, Brian, came out to tell me that I had a flat tyre – I had not noticed. There was a nail in it. He pumped the tyre up for me and I rushed off to Kwik Fit and got it replaced. Brian probably saved my life ‘cos I’ll be driving on the motorway tomorrow.
Coincidences or not?!

I had been feeling tearful and forsaken earlier in the day but these coincidences made me feel like there was some sort of pattern work going on!




Moving House and Worrying


No wonder they say moving house (buying and selling) is one of the most stressful life events.

his has got to be one of the worst hings I’ve ever been through – and I’ve suffered a lot in other ways in life; I’m not being overdramatic.

I wish my faith was much stronger, that I could trust in God that everything will work out for the best. But my faith is not strong enough.

Now I can’t sleep for worrying. I’ve tried CBT thought records tonight but it hasn’t stopped the thoughts from racing.

A lot of my problems would be solved with money. It may not make you happy but it certainly smooths the way.


Unchained Melody as House Sale in Jeopardy

Faith House, Tufton Street, Westminster

Faith House, Tufton Street, Westminster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The chain for my house sale and flat purchase is in a state of semi-collapse. Solicitor’s secretary has tried to calm me down! Situation: My buyers’ buyers withdrew their offer. (My buyer can’t purchase my house until he’s sold his.)

Fortunately, he already has another 4 viewings at least on his house this week (complicated, huh?) and the chain could be reinstated.

I feel permanently thwarted in my efforts to move on from the marital home. First my dad died, then I had major health probs, then surgery, which took months to recover from, then all the work involved to get the house ‘sale ready’. All this while coping with an as yet incurable chronic illness.

I genuinely feel like some malevolent force is keeping me prisoner in this house. It’s pathetic. And if any soul tells me “it’s all in God’s plan” and that “he has wonderful things in store for me” I shall either commit hari kari or scream. Loudly.

I am tempted to think that faith is a load of bunkum. But then I meet people for whom faith is a real, solid entity. Are they just deluded? I don’t know. My faith is shaky.

Peter Andre and My BFF

English: Peter Andre on 5 February 2010.

English: Peter Andre on 5 February 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Antipodean crooner and reality star Peter Andre, currently wowing viewers of Strictly Come Dancing, is a deadringer for my male BFF. They even share accents.

BFF leads a dangerous life in many ways – through his work and hobbies. All legal and above board, of course, but they are activities that most other men and women would never contemplate doing. Needless to say, he is often in my prayers.

What a contrast to my MPF (male platonic friend) who won’t go anywhere without a companion. Not even to a concert. And he’s in his 50s too. What a waste. He should be in my prayers too because not to have the confidence to do such simple everyday things is an affliction, isn’t it?

The Passive Mother and My Prayers for Patience

Portrait of Miss Georgina Pope, head nurse of ...

Portrait of Miss Georgina Pope, head nurse of First Canadian Contingent during the Boer war. Possibly in her nurse’s uniform from Bellevue Hospital, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why does my mother not ask people questions or ask how they are? Is it selfishness or a lack of confidence? I think it is the latter. I hope it’s that!

I think it infantilises me because its left up to me to do the ‘filling in’, all the communication work – like the child I was returning home from school and babbling on about my day. I still have to do that. I also feel that i have to persuade her on the worth of my words. Weird.

When she came to stay here for 4 weeks she didn’t ask my (many!) friends one question. Not one question. She did ask my ex-husband a question but only after I prompted her.
When my platonic male friend (PMF) came to stay with us overnight she didn’t ask him anything. She talked to him at length but about herself. She has always been like this, it’s not just because she’s elderly, although it becomes more apparent when someone is elderly.

Maybe it is something to do with the job she had. She was a nurse, beginning in the 1950s. I think it might be something to do with working with consultants. I think these men made women, i.e., the nurses, feel stupid if they asked anything. They were like gods. Consultants spoke and nurses listened and carried out tasks.

My whole life I have never known her to ask a shop assistant for help. Rather than do that she will just walk out of the place without buying the thing that she needs.

I am praying for more patience and understanding!

To Sleep Perchance to Dream.

The Radio 3 logo, introduced in 2000 along wit...

The Radio 3 logo, introduced in 2000 but replaced in 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am just listening to ‘Sleep’, which is the all-night world premiere performance of Max Richter‘s eight-hour epic piece on BBC Radio 3. Beautiful but eerie. As a chronic insomniac this intrigues me.

I don’t find praying very conducive to sleep as it makes me think about the things and people I am praying for too much! It’s actually too stimulating.

Sleep is such a precious thing, one I have trouble with, due to my chronic illness. I am doing a sleep course though.

Let All Who Are Sick Come to the Elders of the Church and Be Anointed With Oil…

Pope John Paul II anoints the sick

Pope John Paul II anoints the sick (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

I posted this on my church‘s private. closed Facebook page at the beginning of June. Now we are going to have a special healing service for those in chronic pain or who have chronic illnesses! I wrote:

“Would appreciate prayer. I am in my 25th year of having my Invisible Chronic Illness and it is well beyond a joke. I’ve tried countless treatments yet still I go on. You may see me in church and think I am fine. I’m not. Today I am massively resentful as this illness has decimated my life in every which way possible. .
Please pray for healing; for acceptance; for me to surrender this to God and for progress with fundraising for a new drug that has had a 67% success rate with sufferers of this disease in another EU country in a double blind trial there.
Sorry for the rant but I am sick to death of this.
Thanks for reading.”

The responses were positive. It became clear that many in the church did not know I had this illness and others spoke of their own struggles.


The Daytime Stars


“Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,

and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;

let me find Thy light in my darkness.”

Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett.

Thanks to the On the Way blog for this.

English: Pleiades Star Cluster

English: Pleiades Star Cluster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Chained No More – Release the Fetters!

A broad metal chain.

A broad metal chain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have started a new course at church called Chained No More. It is for the adult children of divorced parents and helps participants to explore and address issues that arise within us ‘children’ (even though we are grownup) resulting from that divorce and other childhood brokenness.

While my own divorce is still throwing up issues I realised that really it is pain and confusion from my childhood that

  1. led me to marry my STBX spouse in the first place and
  2. is impacting greatly on my own ability to recover from the separation and move on effectively.

See for more details.

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Not One, But Many

Coffee shop Kemptown 2013

Coffee shop, Kemptown, 2013 (Photo: IrishAggers)

Thinking about a question from last night’s Life Group: Who who has had a major impact on your Christian life?

I named more than one person and while I stand by my choices there are countless others that I didn’t mention.
The person who comes over to talk to you in the church cafe when you are standing alone; the unknown hand on the shoulder during a service; the unheard prayers for your wellbeing; the ongoing guidance from those who are mature Christians; the prayer someone utters that touches you; the sermon that galvanises you to action; the person who lends you that CD that totally inspires you; the person who is not afraid to wear their heart on their sleeve; the one you go to when you have questions or doubts; the timely texter…
All of these people. I don’t think you can whittle it down to one!

Keeping a Spiritual Diary


I read that keeping a spiritual diary for a month can help with one’s spiritual development. I am giving it a go. Apart from praying, going to Life Group, (which this week was on the Trinity), going to church and the other regulars I am also reading the book Journey into God’s Heart by Jennifer Rees Larcombe. An autobiography, it reads like a novel: very engaging style, full of anecdotes from a full and often highly trying life, and with many insights. I thoroughly recommend it.  The wife of one of the pastors lent it to me. 

Cross & Clouds

Cross & Clouds (Photo credit: John H Wright Photo)

Postings from Peru

Shipibo Ceramics

Shipibo Ceramics (Photo credit: Howard G Charing)


Over the hot Summer we aim to do different things in Life Group. We had a BBQ last month and tonight one of our group talked to us about her missionary work in Peru. Fascinating. Even more so, I think, because the speaker is one of the sweetest people you are ever likely to meet. Talk about not pushing yourself forward! Being an ever-curious character I asked her loads of questions to help draw her out (as did some of the others).


Hearing about the life of a missionary in Peru would be interesting on the radio but when it is someone you know, and they are in the room with you, it totally brings it to life.


The Out of Control Disciple – Leonard Sweet


FutureChurch_Think_Tank_Advance2010_31 (Photo credit: George Fox Evangelical Seminary)

This was read to us at church last night. It’s almost like a rap/hip hop/rapturous prayer/declaration/poem. Fabulous.

A Magna Carta of Trust by an Out-of-Control Disciple from Leonard Sweet’s Soul Cafe (March 1996 Vol. 2, No. 1)

I am part of the Church of the Out-of-Control. I once was a control junkie, but now am an Out-of-Control Disciple. I’ve given up my control to God. I trust and obey the Spirit. I’ve jumped off the fence, I’ve stepped over the line, I’ve pulled out all the stops, I’m holding nothing back. There’s no turning back, looking around, slowing down, backing away, letting up, or shutting up. It’s life Against the Odds, Outside the Box, Over the Wall, the game of life played Without Goal Lines other than “Thy Will Be Done…”

I’m done lapdogging for the topdogs, the wonderdogs, the overdogs, or even the underdogs. I’m done playing According to the Rules, whether it’s Robert’s Rules Of Order or Miss Manner’s Rules of Etiquette or Martha Stewart’s Rules of Living or Louis Farrakhan’s Rules of America’s Least Wanted or Merrill Lynch’s Money-minding/Bottom-lining/Ladder-climbing Rules of America’s Most Wanted.

I am not here to please the dominant culture or to serve any all-show/no-go bureaucracies. I live to please my Lord and Savior. My spiritual taste-buds have graduated from fizz and froth to Fire and Ice.
Sometimes I’m called to sharpen the cutting edge, and sometimes to blunt the cutting edge. Don’t give me that old-time religion. Don’t give me that new-time religion. Give me that all-time religion that’s as hard as rock and as soft as snow.
I’ve stopped trying to make life work, and started trying to make life sing. I’m finished with second-hand sensations, third-rate dreams, low-risk high-rise trades and goose-stepping, flag-waving crusades. I no longer live by and for anything but everything God-breathed. I can’t be bought by any personalities or perks, positions or prizes. I won’t give up, though I will give in… to openness of mind, humbleness of heart, and generosity of spirit. When short-handed and hard-pressed, I will never again hang in there. I will stand in there, I will run in there, I will pray in there, I will sacrifice in there, I will endure in there– in fact I will do everything in there but hang. My face is upward, my feet are forward, my eyes are focused, my way is cloudy, my knees are worn, my seat uncreased, my heart burdened, my spirit light, my road narrow, my mission wide.
I won’t be seduced by popularity, traduced by criticism, by hypocrisy, or trivialized by mediocrity. I am organized religion’s best friend, and worst nightmare. I won’t back down, slow down, shut down, or let down until I’m preached out, teached out, healed out or hauled out of God’s mission in the world entrusted to members of the Church of the Out-of-Control… to unbind the confined, whether they’re the downtrodden or the upscale, the overlooked or the underrepresented. My fundamental identity is as a disciple of Jesus–but even more, as a disciple of Jesus who lives in Christ, who doesn’t walk through history simply “in his steps,” but seeks to travel more deeply IN HIS SPIRIT.
Until he comes again or calls me home, you can find me filling not killing time so that one day he will pick me out in the lineup of the ages as one of his own. And then… it will be worth it all… to hear these words, the most precious words I can ever hear:
“Well done, thou good and faithful… Out-of-Control Disciple.”

All Night Long

A collection of lit candles on ornate candlesticks

A collection of lit candles on ornate candlesticks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new experience came last night when I attended part of an All Night Prayer Meeting: 10pm start through to 8.30am with communion at 7.30am.

You could go for the whole night or just for a while, praying for community, healing, breakthrough etc. I made it for a couple of hours (due to my health issues). It was nice. The little church was lit by candles and there was music and singing and prayers, then chatting and snacking. A little tent had been erected too, in the church, with pillows and books, for peaceful retreat!

Most of the prayer warriors there are experienced Christians so I felt like a novice but that’s okay. I did not do much ‘out loud’ praying but I did write out a prayer and pin it to the cross and added names to various prayer sheets.

I’ve also started helping out with a pastoral team project. I can’t afford to tithe so thought that offering to ‘serve’ was a good measure.

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Prayer Instructions from Jackie M Johnson, author:

In the morning: Pray for wisdom, guidance, healing and favour.

In the evening:  Give thanks and gratitude for all God has done for you that day – whether you enjoyed it or endured it.


Can’t Make it to Life Group This Week But Here’s the Subject Matter

Prayer Candles

Prayer Candles (Photo credit: dlanham)

‘Masterclass’ – Mark 1:14-45

REFLECTION | main points

  • Prayer is costly
  • Prayer brings clarity

DISCUSSION | helpful questions 

  • Who would you want to have a Masterclass with and why?
  • What is the greatest hindrance to you prayer life?
  • Is there something that helped your prayer life?
  • Discipline leads, feelings follow – is this true? Can you see any dangers in this?
  • Is there a difference between a life with prayer and a praying life?
  • Did the time spent in prayer affect Jesus? In what way?
  • Can you think of 3 things that improving your prayer life might cost you?

CONNECTION | wider passage

  • Why did the first disciples respond so quickly to Jesus’ call (16-20)?
  • How did Jesus deal with the evil spirit – what can we learn from that (21-26)?
  • Jesus had a strange request for the healed man – why would that be (40-45)

APPLICATION | helpful ideas   

Pick ONE thing that you will endeavour to start afresh in your personal prayer life.
Then pick ONE thing you endeavour to start afresh in your public prayer. Share them with an accountability partner in your LIFE Group as you pray for one another.

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