Mind Cloud is a blog written by Sarah Gibbs, Smart CBT’s psychotherapist.
Some people get frustrated when snow disrupts their usual routine. It can, of course, be very irritating to be unable to travel, and it can be troublesome and even dangerous when stuck in the elements. From our lucky position in Ipswich town, we don’t often experience problems when snow settles. I love how it makes us pause, wait and watch. Snow brings mountain smells and a quiet slowness. The air transforms and nature is illuminated. The log cabin seems even more inviting in the snow – a warm, safe haven for calm and reflection.
As the festive season draws closer, it’s natural to think about the year behind us (which has flown past) and the year ahead. To all the clients we welcomed this year, thank you for choosing Smart CBT+. We wish you comfort, peace and happiness this Christmas, and we look forward to a positive New Year, filled with opportunities and hope. The office is open again from 2nd January 2018.
In March 2017 after a busy day in the log cabin, we found time to attend Ruby Wax’s Frazzled show at Norwich Playhouse. Time flies, so I am only just posting about it now, but it’s something that has stayed with me over the past few months.
Ruby’s lived experience, academic qualifications, stand-up comedy and best-selling books have all come together to make her a visible and vocal ambassador for mental health in the UK. I was curious about seeing her live and looking forward to the event. Observing the full theatre, it was clear that Ruby’s informal style had attracted all kinds of people. The stage set was simple and open, creating a relaxed atmosphere, but there was also a sense of anticipation which showed how popular Ruby is.
The experience did not disappoint. Ruby combined humour and intellect during a conversation with the audience about mental health, with many questions and answers normalising how we are all frazzled as we engage in our frantic lives.
I am not the biggest fan of celebrities, however Ruby unplugged gave a genuine, candid and unique insight into her experiences with depression and the use of mindfulness backed by scientific facts. Her frank opinions and wit made the show accessible and encouraged us all to make some changes and live a healthier and happier life.
We all have lots of browser windows open in our mind. But for most people, their mind is operating like a computer overheating, not knowing how to reboot. Mindfulness calms our cortisol levels and shrinks our amygdala (our threat centre) over time. Attention defines us in any moment. If we come to our senses we can learn our personal theme songs (thinking habits), become an observer and redecorate our minds. But mental exercises are like sit-ups, which require practise and routine to notice an impact.
The format of the show and mindfulness is not for everyone. I found the event funny and light-hearted about serious matters and at times painfully vulnerable with public, honest disclosure. And it was great to meet the lady herself. Ruby is an engaging and thoughtful conversationalist about mental health, the psychological toxicity of modern life and the ways to overcome it. My take-home messages were: Stop striving, the time of your life is NOW, you have arrived.
Ruby’s books Sane New World and A Mindfulness Guide For the Frazzled are both thought-provoking reads and she has also founded Frazzled Cafe, which is a place to meet and talk, currently hosted by some Marks & Spencer stores.
For those that suffer, mental illness can be hard to describe and explain. For those that don’t, it can be hard to imagine and understand. Some artists are bridging the gap by exploring mental health problems through their work.
One of my favourite artists is Gemma Correll, who went to the same primary school as me in Ipswich, and is now widely successful. She’s developed several brilliant illustrations that capture her perspective on anxiety and depression.
Gemma hopes that by injecting a little humour into her drawings, she’ll break down part of the stigma around mental health and encourage others to be more open about what they’re going through.
In May this year, Gemma took part in Mental Health America’s Mental Health Month campaign, which asked people to share what mental illness feels like for them under the hashtag #MentalIllnessFeelsLike.
— gemma correll (@gemmacorrell) May 31, 2016
— gemma correll (@gemmacorrell) May 30, 2016
— gemma correll (@gemmacorrell) May 27, 2016
— gemma correll (@gemmacorrell) May 26, 2016
— gemma correll (@gemmacorrell) May 18, 2016
— gemma correll (@gemmacorrell) May 17, 2016
— gemma correll (@gemmacorrell) May 16, 2016
— gemma correll (@gemmacorrell) May 13, 2016
— gemma correll (@gemmacorrell) May 13, 2016
You can read more about Gemma and her art in this Metro article and find some of her official prints and other collections at the Ohh Deer shop. I’m so looking forward to the next installment from this talented, relatable artist!
What does it feel like to take part in CBT? This poem by D. Barrett, from the Oxford Guide to Surviving as a CBT Therapist, is about a patient receiving CBT. I thought it was the perfect way to start my new blog, Mind Cloud, which will record aspects of my work as a psychotherapist.
Waiting expectantly for you to start
Spilling the beans
Revealing things that have torn you apart
Feeling your way
Exploring the events
That blacken your day
Like raking hot coals
What do you need to achieve
What are your goals
Discussing in detail
The shadows of life
Sometimes can wound
Like turning a knife
Any yet suddenly
A chunk of light seems to appear
You want to reach out, hold it
To draw it near
Someone who listens
Adds no burden or blame
Doesn’t laugh at your feelings
Doesn’t fill you with shame
Slowly unravelling the tangly web
Feelings of anxiety beginning to ebb
Calmness descends, like a comforting hand
Acceptance and knowledge sharing the same land
Learning to stop the roundabout
From going full spin
Controlling the turmoil
You can find yourself in
Using the brakes
The tools you have learned
To finally find the peace
You have so rightfully earned