A great post about judging others with disabilities and dealing with such judgement: “How To Cope When You Are Feeling Judged” by Despite Pain

via How To Cope When You Are Feeling Judged

We don’t need to get physical. Post by “Be A Teaching Unicorn” on special needs support practices and how to change them to protect kids and help them thrive

Bear with me, because what I am about to say cause you to feel defensive or want to click away. Please keep reading. We overuse physical prompts and support in special education, and we are setting up our students to be hurt in their lives. Whatttttt? Hurt? Yes. Hurt. One in three children who receive […]

via We don’t need to get physical. — Be A Teaching Unicorn

Insightful post by Urspo on the usefulness of asking for help more, masculinity archetypes, and some tips: Spo-reflections on asking for help

I am not a fan of Robert Heinlein. There are many reasons for this but one of them is about the traits of his novels’ heroes. They are often ‘The self-sufficient man’. The fellows could do everything themselves thus never needing help from others. Mr. Heinlein extols his readers (mostly boys) to be likewise and he castigates thems who do not. […]

via Spo-reflections on asking for help. — Spo-Reflections

7 reasons not to automatically cut out the negative people

On quite a regular basis I come across advice to cut out the negative people in my life, whether in an illustrated quote on social media, in a book or article, or on a podcast. The gist of the advice is that negative people will drag you down and ruin your attempts at living a ‘positive life’. There is some truth and logic in all this: depression can be a bit catching and presumably there are people out there who enjoy putting others down or making fun of them, and people who anger easily and say mean things. It’s undeniably important to look out for our wellbeing and reflect on how spending time with our current friends and family makes us feel. And I would never suggest anyone stay with an abusive partner/family member, who is violent, controlling, constantly critical, not understanding or manipulative. There probably are some people who you might need to cut out. But today I’m going to talk about why this advice doesn’t seem like great blanket advice, my experiences of it, and what I think a better approach could be.

1. Friendship is really important for people with mental health issues

Friendship can be hugely important for mental health, and depressed or anxious people needs friends too.

Here’s what some sites have to say:

There is a tendency to say that depressed people don’t need friends, they need a therapist. But, in reality, therapists can’t do everything and there can be long waits to see one and between sessions. And therapists tend to encourage depressed people to do more things socially. But that’s going to be difficult if their friends have cut them off because they are not positive enough!

roberto-nickson-g-unsplash
Friendship is super important for people with mental health issues. Photo by Roberto Nicksong on Unsplash. 

2. Losing friends is extra painful when you’re depressed or have anxiety

I can definitely testify to this. And depressed people often have an exaggerated view of their bad qualities, with many thinking they are worthless, so losing friends is only going to enhance this. Also, depressed people often avoid socialising even though it is known to help, and if they keep losing friends, that’s going to make them more likely to avoid seeking new ones for fear of yet more rejection and disappointment. Similarly, for those with social anxiety, rejection will feel very significant and will increase the barriers to making social connections.

3. One day it will probably be you who is the negative person

Depressed people can be a bit mopey to be around, they may not have a lot of optimism or jokes, they may be quiet or talk about themselves and their problems a lot. So, yeah, they might not be the people most likely to boost your positivity, but your friendship could mean a great deal to them at this difficult time. Many people experience depression at some point in their lives – one in five according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists – and it’s quite likely that one day you’ll be having a hard time and you’ll want your friends to be there for you even if you’re not all smiles.

robert-collins--unsplash
Most of us will be depressed at some point, or have a period of anxiety, and hope that our friends stick by us. Stunning photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash. 

4. A small sacrifice on your part could mean a great deal to someone having a hard time

I’ve very rarely turned away someone who wanted to be my friend. This has often been surprising to other people, who wanted nothing to do with the person who was a bit abrupt or talked too much. But I’ve always felt that meeting someone for lunch or a coffee was a small thing to me, and perhaps important to this person who had no other friends. Everyone needs friends.

5. You can feel good about being there for the person

If you really want to see everything in terms of the benefit it brings to you, well, you can feel good about doing something for another person. There is a deeper value in looking out for and caring for other people than in trying to make everything in your life ‘positive’, which, in fact, is an impossible and potentially quite a frustrating aim.

Also, showing a bit of kindness to a person having a tough time could help that person get better, saving the NHS some money, maybe also the benefits system, and reducing the likelihood of very sad, disruptive events such as suicides and drug addiction. Individuality actually often backfires because, ultimately, we all live and work in proximity with others.

6. You might regret cutting people out

I’ve cut out a couple of people. It’s easy to do it hastily in an argument or after they’ve said something you find really offensive, and quite hard to backtrack on. I’d suggest waiting a couple of days before cutting anyone out. You often don’t really miss something until it’s gone, and that can be true of friends. And waiting a couple of days gives you both time to cool off.

I’ve also found that friends with depression or anxiety are often the most loyal and appreciative. The most entertaining, fun friends are often those who won’t stay in touch if you move and may be more prone to dropping you if they get in a relationship or find more convenient or more fun friends elsewhere. And, hopefully, those friends with depression and anxiety won’t always be so anxious or depressed, and will remember how you stuck by them and be there for you when you need it.

7. Learn to develop boundaries and care for yourself

If spending time with someone is leaving you feeling drained, worried or low, this could be a great opportunity to work on your assertiveness and self-care. Figure out how long you can spend with that person without it having much of an adverse effect on you, and then implement it, if you can. If necessary, tell them you need a bit more time apart and feel free to only take calls or look at their messages when convenient to you, if that’s an issue.

paige-muller--unsplash
Developing boundaries and assertiveness often removes the feeling of needing to cut someone out completely, and is a great skill. Photo by Paige Muller on Unsplash. 

In the UK, we’re not great at assertiveness and we’re quite prone to avoiding situations that might feel a bit awkward. I’ve come to think that’s not a good thing and I’ve been working on not being so avoidant. Once you learn how to look after your needs and ask others to respect them, you won’t need to ghost people, block people or completely cut people out of your life (except in extreme cases perhaps). And those are great skills to have in the workplace and as a parent, when you simply can’t avoid everyone who causes you irritation or upset.

If someone often gets angry with you, or says things you find offensive, or says a lot of pessimistic things that make you feel demoralised – try bringing it up and explaining how it’s affecting you. I’ve done this and found it has worked. If someone values your friendship, they will make the effort. If they don’t then, fair enough, cut them out. Likewise, if you know for sure that talking to them about the issue won’t help, or if even minimal contact is going to be too upsetting to you, then that is probably a sign you should cut them out. I’ve actually never met anyone like that, or anyone really manipulative who tries to make me feel bad but I assume they are out there and sure, avoid them.

In summary, here are a few reasons not to automatically cut out the negative people:

  • A small sacrifice on your part could mean a great deal to someone having a hard time
  • Friendship is really important for people with mental health issues
  • One day it will probably be you
  • Losing friends is extra painful when you’re depressed or have anxiety
  • You might regret it later: consider all the good times you’ve had with this person and their good qualities
  • Rationing time with such people can be better than cutting them out completely
  • You can feel good about being there for the person
  • Use it as an opportunity to learn how to develop appropriate boundaries and assertiveness

What are your thoughts? Share below!

Related links

https://byrslf.co/why-im-not-cutting-negative-people-out-of-my-life-in-2018-db043a38b412

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/the-other-side-of-cutting-out-the-negative-people A description of how it can feel to be cut out

https://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-deal-with-negative-people-or-difficult-people/

 

 

Government Finally Reveals That More Than 4,000 Died Within Six Weeks Of Being Deemed ‘Fit For Work’ (post by Kitty S Jones)

via Government Finally Reveals That More Than 4,000 Died Within Six Weeks Of Being Deemed ‘Fit For Work’

In my experience, and considering the usual newspaper articles about ‘benefit cheats’ and ‘scroungers’, most people think that the UK benefit system is pretty lax and a lot of people are exploiting it in some way. This post presents a starkly different reality, and shocking statistics even for those accustomed to hearing about how painful experiences of the benefit system can be for disabled people.

Managing chronic pain: tips you won’t find elsewhere

Since developing chronic pain, I’ve been surprised by the general unhelpful nature of information out there. My friends and family thought doctors would solve everything, but to be honest they didn’t do much to help me, and physio didn’t work for me either. I’ve written this post to share some of the things that really did work for me, and that I wish I’d thought of trying sooner. Don’t worry, none of it involves some weird snakeskin oil on Amazon or anything like that ‒ it’s all quite general stuff and best of all, it won’t cost you anything or take a large amount of time!

And no, I’m not going to do the usual and suggest you eat well, exercise and try to get a good night’s sleep.

Typical advice for managing pain can sometimes be quite depressing for those who have tried the suggestions already and not found them possible or helpful. So, time for some new ideas!

Analyse

I first began properly analysing on the advice of a speech therapist. She wanted me to map out the times of day when using my voice was painful and to note whether various things had positive, neutral or negative effects on it. Through this analysis, I discovered that steam inhalation helped, as did gargling, certain reflux medications and voice relaxation techniques, while other things didn’t help.

I continued this investigative approach for some time, playing around with the times I took medication (with my doctor’s approval) and the times I did inhalation and voice exercises. In particular, gargling and taking Gaviscon before making a phone call really helped, as did spreading out my reflux medications across the day and not talking in the morning until I’d done an inhalation and had a cup of tea to warm and moisten my vocal cords.

To get started, I’d advise you make a chart with each hour of the day down one side and all the things you can think of that might influence your pain levels down the other. Then note in each box when you’ve done something and what your pain level was. This will help you find trends.

DSCF1049
It feels a bit neurotic, but you can learn a great deal from making a chart to track your activities, meds and pain levels. You can also use one, after the analysis phase, to keep track of your daily targets and encourage pacing. 

When I did this with the leg pain I experience, I discovered that doing things earlier in the day and resting in the evening allowed my leg pain to ease off before bed – since pain when trying to sleep was the biggest issue for me, this was a great discovery.

If you have a chart like this, you can also use it to monitor the effects of medication changes or changes in physio exercises, and so on. You can note your pain levels out of 10 if you find that useful, or just describe it. By doing this, I’ve been able to clearly evaluate the effects of various insoles and changes to my routines.

There is a possibility that your pain is truly random, but you won’t know unless you investigate it.

Find your limits and decide when to be flexible with them

Once you are taking note of your pain levels and activity levels, you can more easily manage your pain. Of course, in some instances you will not have control over triggers e.g. work or childcare responsibilities. Some things you won’t be able to change. But you may still discover or think of adaptations that could help you at work or when caring for kids, such as ways not to do so much lifting (e.g. take files out of a box and lift individually rather than lifting the whole box) or ways to rearrange your time (e.g. taking kids to the park in the morning rather than afternoon).

Once you have done your best to arrange your medications and carry out activities in the optimal way, you can think about spreading your activities out over the day or week. For example, maybe you can do half an hour of cleaning daily rather than doing it all at once on Wednesdays. The usefulness of setting limits and spreading things out is that it may get you out of that boom and bust cycle where you constantly do a lot, get lots of pain and have to rest, then do a lot again… For some people, this will be unavoidable due to inflexible commitments but for many it will be possible to exert some control. While it can be annoying to have limits on how much you can do, it can also be amazing to have fairly stable pain levels and less unpredictability. You won’t need to cancel plans so much (if at all) and you may be able to stop using ‘flare-up meds’. Your friends, colleagues and family can also get some certainty regarding how much you can do.

angelo-pantazis-unsplash-people jumping in water
Pain management can be quite a fun-buster so sometimes you’ll probably want to be flexible and accept you’ll need a day or two off afterwards. Photo by Angelo Pantazis on Unsplash. 

You might also like to consider when you will be prepared to go beyond your limits and accept that you will have some flare up afterwards e.g. for friends’ birthdays, weddings, a favourite hobby, a work training day etc. If possible, you can then plan to take it easy on the following day(s), or take extra medication.

There is a risk your life will become less spontaneous and fun if you follow your limits strictly: it’s up to you to weigh up the pros and cons of such an approach.

Focus on pain-free parts of the body

This technique is really obvious in a way but it doesn’t crop up in many places. In fact, many will advise you to investigate the pain. This has some advantages e.g. you may realise it’s not as bad as you thought and you may be able to observe it in a less emotional way, even noticing there are some pleasurable aspects to it, such as some warmth or tingling. However, what has really helped me is focusing on pain-free parts of the body. Our mind tends to zoom in on pain. It wants us to be fully aware it’s there, presumably to encourage us to try to stop it. However, with chronic pain this focusing is useless and unpleasant. Keep taking your mind to a different body part, if you have something that’s pain free. It can even be a bit of a surprise to remember it’s not actually you’re whole body that’s in pain! And this may even help reduce the tendency of strengthened neural pathways to form between the painful body part and your brain.

An alternative version of this is imagining a soothing sensation filling the area where you have pain.

And finally…

Check out my post on how to prepare for a physio/hydro appointment, if appropriate

Remember that you are a hero, even if no one but you knows it. Living with pain is super hard and many people will not understand that but congratulate yourself every day for soldiering on.

Treat yourself with love and compassion when you accidentally go beyond your limits. We all do it, regularly, and you shouldn’t blame yourself. Learn to let go.

Cast off the ignorant remarks of ignorant people. Life’s too short. Seek support in those who understand, and try to educate people when you get the chance (see my post on the taboo of chronic pain).

Have you tried any of these tips? Or do you have some of your own? Comment below!

Warrior-fighting-dragons
This is you! Keep going 🙂 And don’t let anyone make you feel inadequate.  Pixabay image. 

Related links

Managing chronic pain:

Useful strategies, such as shifting your focus:

http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/chronic-pain/11-chronic-pain-control-techniques

A free meditation:

https://www.meditainment.com/pain-management-meditation

My favourite chronic pain bloggers, who have useful coping tips and strategies:

http://princessinthetower.org/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/turning-straw-gold