Saturday, August 10, 2019

"PEACE OF MIND IS A CHOICE" - ISABELLE MERCIER


This is my cat, Buddy (painted by me). I'm so grateful for his love and companionship.

Hi there, Thank you to all of you who continue to read this blog, and if it's helping just one person, I'm happy. Below is a snippet of where I'm at right now, having just emerged from the worst suicidal depression I've ever experienced. Nowadays my preferred term for depression is "deep rest," which was passed on to me by a fellow yogi, Lana La Bonte. Her YouTube channel, Radiculously Rawthentic, has been a great source of knowledge, inspiration and motivation for me on this journey towards healing (which is never linear, by the way)!  Check it out in the 'Recommended Links' section. For a while now, I've been contemplating a Q and A live stream on YouTube about breaking free of OCD / PTSD to accompany this blog. You're welcome to let me know your thoughts about this and whether it might be of interest by emailing me at mail@gemmaboyd.com Thank you and all the best!


Review of completion of Self Journal (3)

v  I KNOW WHAT I’M WORTH AND SHOULDN’T SETTLE FOR LESS!
v  Jan and I’s relationship is more open and honest / has improved due to my period of reviewing erotic lesbian cinema (me honouring my own needs).
v  Happiness is not something I need to sabotage: I can find peace within and care for myself, and I deserve to be happy.
v  Don’t get into a relationship when I’m Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired (Dana Morningstar).
v  Love and lust are by their very nature obsessive; full of intense magic and intense agony, and I’m glad I dove right in because I’ve grown as a person and as an artist.
v  My COASN2 review was the hardest thing I’ve ever written and I didn’t give up: I learnt about filmmaking and faced down my demons to do with the male gaze and male sexuality. Others could feel the beauty, sincerity, energy and immediacy of my words. This challenged me enormously as an artist: I want more of this in order to feel alive and as if my life has purpose.
v  People fuck me over because I still let them.
v  My commitments to Self Journal, yoga, meditation, healthy eating and exercise have helped me to focus on the light during the deepest depression.
v  I need to feel and know that I’m safe when talking about personal stuff that makes me emotionally vulnerable.
v  Don’t forget to reward myself.
v  Change one bad habit at a time.
v  Lots of things make me happy and there’s lots that’s important to me both personally and professionally.
v  I loved and progressed enormously on the piano and felt the geography of the keyboard underneath my fingertips.
v  I began journaling for answers from within myself / to not deny my shadow side / to identify what issues keep getting triggered in me by others so that I might further heal.
v  I did more of what truly nourishes me and makes me feel happy and connected.
v  I need to build a support network around myself.
v  Any interaction on Twitter is getting sucked back into social media again, and these platforms trigger my OCD.
v  Don’t revisit past relationships.
v  I want to live my life fully in the present; feeling, hearing, seeing, touching everything around me. I don’t want to be controlled by anyone.
v  I scaled down my Internet usage.
v  I’m numbing out watching TV too much.
v  I don’t want to work in England.
v  Massive realisations (fully-formed) are dropping in (with Lana’s help): Now I feel I can do something about them.
v  My OCD/PTSD are no longer all-consuming in my life – and that’s down to me.
v  I recognised how lucky N***** is to have me as her piano teacher.
v  I’m reading more (the wisdom of Rumi).
v  I still feel a hunger to work.
v  N***** told me that her reason for playing the piano is for the love of it – and that’s down to me.
v  I crave face-to-face interaction with people – which I’m good at.


Saturday, March 9, 2019

THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE AND MOVING ON


'Graffiti, Paris, 2/19' by me


I've just returned from my beloved Paris - only after having been drawn back there countless times over the last 10 years, I found myself not so in love with it... Paris had changed and, I realised, so have I!

Given that in a few weeks Brexit is going to make it harder for me to go over to Europe, I'm pleased that I don't have the same hunger for Paris that I used to: At 43, I'm someplace between healing from my life and wanting to wildly live it... I want to visit new places, find creatively challenging work, and to explore my sexuality now that sadly my partner, Jan and I have agreed that after nearly 12 years together we both want to move on.

It's a tough, confusing, exhausting / exciting time of uncertainty, but it's as if some awakening's happening within me that I can't deny even if I wanted to.

Meanwhile my OCD (especially pavement checking for contaminated needles) has escalated due to stress, but that's only to be expected right now, I guess.

My work on boundary setting continues, and Dana Morningstar's Thrive After Abuse YouTube channel is helping immensely.

Also, for survivors of OCD / PTSD, you may find the book, The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma by Bessel van der Folk, an illuminating read.

Monday, February 4, 2019

TRUSTING MY GUT INSTINCT VERSUS SELF-DOUBT


I experienced full, enjoyable days in snowy Amsterdam, stayed in the best hotel ever, was surrounded by kind, helpful locals, and grew as an artist and as a person.

During my time in Amsterdam, I had a decision to make: I'd been teaching one-to-one private music student X since June last year: Initially I liked him a lot; loved his sensitivity as a musician, and he was an enthusiastic student.

As you know, working one-to-one with a man is a challenge in itself given my underlying fear of male sexuality, but so long as I feel comfortable with a man, I try to push through this for the sake of earning a living and doing what I love.

I hate people asking personal questions and making personal comments because it feels like an intrusion, and my PTSD was triggered massively when a while ago, I was alone with student X and he asked me my age. At the time I dismissed this as being just an innocent question, although I couldn't understand how my age was relevant to my teaching him.

We carried on with lessons and all was fine: I was glad I'd been able to overcome my demons and give the guy a chance.

Since about November time, though, I was becoming increasingly frustrated at him barely doing any practise, then by the time Christmas was over, I'd sensed a definite shift in our working relationship: The lack of practise persisted even though I tried to be understanding about his time constraints (which, incidentally, he hadn't been honest with me about when we started lessons... another thing I ignored). He wasn't listening to my instructions as he was performing, and I found myself having to repeat and repeat myself - even having to shout out "Stop!" on one occasion. Also, I smelt cannabis on his breath, which once again triggered my PTSD.

One of the personal boundaries I've set for myself  is that I can no longer be around people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol because doing so reminds me of such people who've abused me in the past... one whiff of these substances, and in body and mind I'm immediately reliving these ordeals: Once my PTSD is triggered in this way, my OCD flares up, too, in an attempt to help me control these intolerable feelings.

Despite knowing that I have this limitation, part of me is still telling myself to 'get over it'; indeed, I walked through the cannabis-wreaking streets of Amsterdam, wanting to experience fully what the place had to offer.... BUT BEING IN THIS ENVIRONMENT WASN'T GOOD FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH.

It was at this point that I decided to go with my gut instinct and to honour my personal boundary: I could no longer teach student X, and I finished with him as professionally as I could.

I suppose it's a massive step forward, having the courage to take care of  myself and to lose lots of money in the process by terminating the lessons, but I'm still riddled with self-doubt: Have I been unreasonable? Was I being self-destructive? Was I imagining things? Was I right not to believe student X when he denied everything?

The fact is that I'll never know if going with my gut instinct was definitely the right way to go in this situation, but at least my PTSD / OCD are no longer being triggered by this individual, and IT'S EVERYONE'S RIGHT TO GET THE HELL OUT OF A SITUATION WITH SOMEONE THEY NO LONGER FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH.... I DON'T HAVE TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT HOW I DIDN'T GIVE THIS MAN YET ANOTHER CHANCE...

This is all so hard, and straight after I went through with this decision, I hit myself, pushed everyone away, descended into crisis.... out of sheer frustration that I have to live like this.

But then I remembered how far I've come on my journey towards healing myself - and it's a LONG way.

So my resolution at the moment, is to try to talk kindly to myself every day... especially when I'm going through a really difficult time.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

FEELING PROUD OF HOW FAR I'VE COME


A selection of the reassurances to myself I would compulsively write down throughout my thirties and forties.

I'm off to Amsterdam by myself with a musical instrument (or maybe simply the most powerful, original and precious musical instrument I possess; my own voice) for three nights on Monday.

As ever when I go away, my OCD / PTSD has flared up and it's doing its best to run me into the ground: I panic that due to the change of routine I'll lose things / people that are dear to me, and my sanity. I over-anticipate and my mind races, meaning it's very hard to anchor myself in the present... but I want to see more of the world, especially before Brexit... and the only way to do this is to face my demons.

Personal circumstances are very difficult, too, but I feel stronger and less fearful in the face of the stalking family members consistently subject me to: I want and deserve the chance to heal from my abuse once and for all... and I've told them that if they contact me again, I'll bring historical abuse charges against them.

The above photo is of just a small part of my bulging folder of reassurances compulsively written to myself that nobody had hurt me / that I hadn't hurt anyone / that I hadn't been contaminated / that I wasn't going to die, which for years I wouldn't let out of my sight.

Today I never write any such reassurances down: It's taken three years of enormously hard work... learning to trust myself again, to get to this stage, and I shall hold onto this fact each time I push myself further and further outside of my comfort zone.

Planning my days and setting goals using Self Journal (see the recommended link beside this blog), has helped me so much over the past couple of months to focus on, enjoy, and play in the present moment, and due to this I feel I'm blooming more both personally and professionally. 

I'm also beginning to listen to and to act on my instincts about people, and continue to work on honouring my own boundaries and limitations. It all feels pretty foreign right now, and self-doubt does creep in, but generally I feel as if I'm treading a happier path.

Just one other thing I'm not so happy about: I noticed that a lot of the audience who read this blog are either spammers or sex cam users... more predators in other words. Nobody has left me any messages of interest or support for over a year, either. I've thought about deleting this blog - but you know I'm not going to because there may be someone out there who will really benefit from reading this, plus I'm very proud of the progress I've made on this self-directed journey.

Bye for now, and do check out the 'Recommended Links' section for some great videos and tools to help in the bid to break free from OCD / PTSD.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

A DEVASTATING REALIZATION

Me

Hi everyone,

It's been a while since I posted, which I take as a good sign because it means that my mental health problems haven't been at the forefront of my daily experience, but transitioning into wellness can often feel like falling apart as it has done this summer.

Here I shall share with you my most recent diary extracts born out of my yoga and meditation practice:

5th June 2018

I left the house for a walk without Jan being at home to make sure that all of the household appliances were safe for the first time in years, plus I didn't phone her for reassurance that I hadn't left anything on or any windows open.

10th June 2018

Note to self: Don't get friendly with any of my teachers as I know (and have ignored it), that I can't handle this blurring of personal and professional boundaries.

15th June 2018

In tears / self-harming / bullying 'OCD' intrusive thoughts, but Sarah the fox helped me to remember what a good heart I have and that I would never hurt children: I needed to have a cry.

17th June 2018

I know my personal limitations as a private music teacher and I didn't exceed them.

19th June 2018

Negative thought loop: I have no energy for my life / the future / for furthering my career.
Positive turnaround: I have energy, strength, commitment, integrity, and have overcome great obstacles in order to stick to my artistic path.

21st June 2018

Yoga helps me not to be afraid.
In one deep breath, everything can change.
Yoga = How I can go from being a glass to being an ocean that the rocks of life keep dropping into.
My sense of empowerment grows each time I take the small steps required to move my life forward in some way.
I am the doorway to infinity: With discipline comes freedom.

23rd June 2018

I can overcome my 'PTSD' flashes when working with students who trigger them, by distracting myself with music.

11th July 2018

It's easier for me to say 'yes' now that I have more confidence in my ability and right to say 'no'.

20th July 2018

Yoga and meditation are helping to keep me anchored in the present moment as a professional musician.

I treated myself to a viola and an acoustic guitar for all the hard work I've done this year as a private music teacher.

12th August 2018

I was proud of myself for intervening when I found out that a girl I was teaching had been subjected to child abuse at the hands of another teacher, which her parents had done nothing to prevent. My honesty in this situation was appreciated by this family.

19th August 2018

Through self-love, I have come to the devastating realization that my family groomed me for narcissistic abuse and that I'm surrounded by many people close to me personally and professionally who neither care for nor respect me.

20th August 2018

I rescued a kitten after considering killing myself; knowing deep down that having yet another cat to care for was going to make me feel more trapped, and that it was really me in need of rescue.

3rd September 2018

A part of me still isn't in control of how I sabotage all my efforts to progress in my career and relationships. I don't completely understand the reason for this.

16th September 2018

I'm a lot better at not apologizing when asserting my personal and professional boundaries.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

TO STAND UNSHAKEN, MIDST THE CRASH OF BREAKING WORLDS

To illustrate my never-ending journey towards more freedom from my OCD / PTSD over recent months, I'd like to share some of my Yoga and Meditation Journal entries:

Tuesday 8th May 2018

I've freed myself from OCD / PTSD.

Wednesday 9th May 2018

I'm grateful for A. W. even though I want to sever ties with her, like everyone I get close to.

Friday 11th May 2018

Despite my pushing away and pulling towards me of anyone I let my guard down with, I'm a good person.

Sunday 13th May 2018

I've pulled a muscle in the front of my left shoulder and can't relax / am clingy for home comforts in anticipation of leaving for Paris, and my 'OCD' intrusive thoughts are intensifying as usual.

Tuesday 15th May 2018

I can't relax in anticipation of the imminent change of routine, and am experiencing intrusive thoughts about a (potentially) dirty brown carpet in my hotel room when I get to Paris.

Wednesday 16th May 2018

As I was about to board the Eurostar to Paris, I had a panic attack due to my 'OCD' intrusive thoughts and my banking app. had stopped working, which threw me. By doing a 10-part breathing exercise on the Eurostar, thinking about yoga and my long-term commitment to writing down positive affirmations, I was able to win out against my demons.

Despite my panic attack, I'm a lot calmer and have more of a sense of personal safety this time in Paris, and have stopped asking Jan (my partner) to text me reassurances. Also, I haven't been writing down reassurances to myself that I'm safe whenever I'm alone with a man.

I'm stronger than I think.

Friday 18th May 2018

Regarding a sensory 'sound' meditation with A. W.: Having the soothing gong of a singing bowl to focus all of my attention on really helped me to distract my mind from going down a terrifying route due to all the strange sounds and voices outside my hotel room.

I can trust my instincts.

Saturday 19th May 2018

Being in Paris and feeling alive, I realize how depressed I've been in England.

Sunday 20th May 2018

Regarding a sensory meditation (turning up and down the senses) with A. W.: I'm no longer so hypervigilant / my PTSD symptoms are manageable, and I'm not wearing earplugs so often.

 Monday 21st May 2018

I'm enjoying living in the moment more.

I am open.

Writing down positive affirmations is definitely helping me to think more positively.

Regarding an earthing / walking meditation with A. W.: I did this meditation with bare feet on the dirty brown hotel room carpet I'd had 'OCD' intrusive thoughts about. I didn't enjoy the sensations, but there was nothing to fear.

Tuesday 22nd May 2018

My commitment to yoga and meditation are paying off.

I practiced slowing down and savouring each place I visited in Paris today.

Wednesday 23rd May 2018

Regarding a sacral and solar plexus chakra meditation with A. W.: A lake of deep blue water in the bowl of my pelvis. I liked the idea of 'scooping out' these chakras. This meditation will reconnect me to my 'Paris' me whenever I want.

Thursday 24th May 2018

I used breathing, meditation and yoga stretches to help me transition from Paris to London.

Monday 28th May 2018

I spoke about my OCD / PTSD symptoms in the past tense!

Monday 4th June 2018

A. W.'s chakra and sensory meditations enabled me to more fully enjoy living in the moment on my recent trip to Paris: I wasn't preoccupied with intrusive thoughts and fears of being under attack.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

MEDITATION AS A TOOL TO SUPPORT WELLNESS

'Buddy' by me.

Maybe the fact that I haven't posted in a long while on this blog is indicative of the fact that my OCD / PTSD symptoms are no longer taking centre stage in my life: They're there, of course, at every turn, but having deepened my meditation practice with Aprille Walker over the past five months, I've discovered tools such as breathing meditations, which are helping me gain more perspective and control over my anxiety.

Yoga and meditation teacher, Aprille, has also become a close friend of mine due to us having much in common both in a professional and a personal sense: We're able to talk about things we've rarely shared or explored with others, which has made me feel not so alone in the world. My new cat, Buddy (above, who I adopted from the allotment site I work at), also brings me great comfort and is a great educator in the art of 'just being' and not stressing over what should be getting done.

I'm more mindful of certain activities, such as social media, that I can obsess over in an unhealthy way, so I've actually deactivated my Facebook account (preferring just to message my friends instead). My interactions with people in person and with my garden feel much more real and substantial than most of my interactions in cyberspace, so I choose to focus on those.

My OCD / PTSD symptoms are triggered hugely by members of my estranged family (especially my dad), who despite knowing I want no contact, continue to stalk me in any way they think will provoke a reaction. I refuse to grant them the satisfaction of believing they can control me from a distance like they did when I was growing up, but knowing that they're never going to stop, tips me into an intense need to control my immediate environment by checking appliances, the pavement, etc.. It's practically impossible for me to heal under these circumstances, but yoga continues to provide me with a safe haven which I'm enormously grateful for, plus gardening keeps me grounded and uplifted.

I just wish I had more people in my life who I could talk with about my OCD / PTSD, as most people I mention it to continue to ignore it... pretend it doesn't exist. At least this blog has afforded me the space to reflect on how far I've come in attempting to free myself from this disorder's hellish grip.