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  1. How many keep a dream diary? Dreams can help us understand more about our psyche, our inner selves and often what is at the bottom of our anxiety. When we sleep the conscious part of the brain is suspended and the unconscious comes into play. All inhibitions fall away and the true picture emerges. The unconscious does not lie. It presents to you, in the form of dreams, how your life is going; what needs adjustment or even in some dreams what might happen if we go on with the course we are on. Have you ever awakened from a dream in a state of panic? I have. So what goes on? The unconscious tells you something that your conscious mind finds unacceptable about yourself. You wake up and the dream is remembered vivdly and you panic beacuse fear arises. We all know dreams can be frightening in the form of nightmares. Most dreams that come to those with anxiety are the " I am being chased by something. I don't know what but whatever it is it is out to get me" type. There are ordinary dreams, soon forgotten, and what Jung called,' big dreams'. Ones that have a depth of meaning. They need interpretation by someone who has experience of this kind of psychotherapy. Some schools of psychotherapy regard the interpretation of dreams as being an essential part of recovery. I agree having worked with a Jungian psychologist. When I was beginning to recover I had recurring dreams about 'The New World'. Visits to the USA where I have never been. This had nothing to do with America but the unconscuious, in it's own way, was telling me that a new world was possible. The idea of a new awakening. People went to the USA looking for a new life; a new beginning. Away from the prejudice and suffering that was evident in Europe in those days. My life was having a new beginning, which indeed it was. This is all symbolic but it helped me understand more about myself and why I felt as I did. Another was the recurring dream of fishes. My star sign is Pisces and fish can represent all kinds of thoughts and patterns of behaviuor. Books on dream interpretation are not a lot of use. It depends so much on how YOU see things. An elephant, for instance to some can be a big dangerous beast, best avoided. To others a gentle hard working animal. So the interpretation of your dream would depend of your feelings about elephants! If you keep a dream diary you need to keep a notepad by your bed and write down the dream as soon as you awake. Then look at it in the light of day and see what it is telling you about your life. You may be surprised. J.
  2. I may have posted this before but it is worth repeating. "Out of evil much good has come to me. By keeping quiet, repressing nothing, remaning attentive, and hand in hand with that, by accepting reality - taking things as they are and not as I wanted them to be - by doing all this, rare knowledge has come to me, and rare powers as well such as I could never have imagined before. I always thought that when we accept things they overpower us in one way or another. Now this is not true at all, and it is only by accepting them that one can define an attitude toward them. So now I intend playing the game of life; being receptive to whatever comes to me, good and bad, sun and shadow that are for ever shifting and in this way accepting my own nature with its positive and negative sides. Thus everything becomes more alive to me. What a fool I was. How I tried to make everything go according to my idea". Letter from a patient of Carl Jung. We have talked about acceptance many times and it does get confused with "putting up with" which is negative. True acceptance is positive. By keeping quiet. stopping the insistant craving of the mind to change things; to get everything the way we think it should be, can work wonders. How to keep quiet? By the practise of Mindfulness (which see in previous posts). Be attentive to the moment and if that involves being attentive to the suffering then so be it. Being attentive means that you look at it rather than run from it, which is self defeating. "IT" will pursue you. Turn and face "IT". To be looked at is "IT"'s worst enemy. J.
  3. I have heard this cry so often that I think it needs a few words. I do not lump nervous illness (GAD, OCD, Phobias etc) with mental illness. I know the medical profession do and that sometimes annoys me as well as upsetting people who have no more than mild anxiety. The label 'mental illness' sticks and gives a completely false picture of those with old fashioned anxiety. In my experience there is a major difference between Neurosis and a Psychosis. The latter covers all sorts of serious mental conditions such as Schizophrenia and Paranoia. The former nervous disorders; panic attacks etc. Most of, if not all, the posts on site like this are legible and coherent and if the person had a real mental illness it may not be possible to write that way. It is a sad fact that the more serious souls with severe mental illness often don't know they are ill. They believe even in their extreme condition that they are behaving rationally. If you believe everyone is out to get you then that is a deep conviction, not easily overcome. They believe it to be so. With nervous illness the ability to be rational is not lost although it may not seem so at the time. We are still capable of learning how to recover whereas in real mental illness that ability is mostly absent. I know from my own experience of GAD that when it strikes we are so bewildered especially if, up to then, we have been self sufficient people; even assertive. It comes as an enormous shock to realise that we are, after all, vulnerable. So try not to put the frighteners on yourself by imagining you are going mad. You are not. Don't let anyone 'label' you. He/She has this or that. To say you HAVE GAD or some such is simply a diagnosis of a particular nervous disorder. Then the Knowalls put all sorts on connotations on it and label you 'unstable', chronically ill or incapable of doing a days work none of which is true. This is particularly difficult in the work environment where nervous illness is nearly always misunderstood and your fellow workers tend to avoid you. So try and realise that you are suffering from a NERVOUS disorder and that you are not going mad. J.
  4. A wise man once said to me that from the moment we are born we are presented with 'overcoats'. Mum and Dad's overcoat, Auntie's and cousin' s overcoats which we wear possibly throughout our lives. We can get weighed down with them so that they stiffle us and if we have not the sense or ability to discard them then we remain in a state of anxiety caused by others opinions and views which, as children, we regard as gospel. If you are continually told that you are useless then your chances of believing that as an adult are good. "All- black- white- coloured- Jews- Christians etc etc can't be trusted" then that's how you will think until the day dawns, if it does, when you say "hang on a minute. That bloke was a Jew- Arab- Christian-Muslim but he was a nice guy and helped me so they can't all be bad". Then the conflict arises between what we have been taught and the actual fact. And that is when anxiety can start. Conflict is always at the root of any anxiety disorder. The conflict between what we think is true and what actually is." It is weak and childish to have any sort of mental problem" That is what a lot of youngsters are brought up to believe and is it any wonder that when they get some form of anxiety while at, say, University, they try and hide their fears because it is 'weak' to admit to them. Just when they need help and encouragement Dad's overcoat comes into play and they become more fearful and apprehensive because they should not be this way according to Dad and Dad is always right because Mum says so!! So lets look in the wardrobe and see how many 'overcoats' we have that could be discarded and only keep those that will keep us warm and give us comfort in bad times. J.
  5. "Saint Christophe has crossed the river. All night long he has marched against the stream. Like a rock his huge limbed body stands above the water. On his shoulders is the Child frail and heavy. Saint Christophe leans on a pine tree that he has plucked up, and it bends. His back also bends. Those who saw him set out vowed that he would never win through, and for a long time their mockery and laughter followed him. Then night fell and they grew weary. Now Christophe is too far away for the cries of those on the bank to reach him. Through the roar of the torrent he hears only the tranquil voice of the Child clasping a lock of the giants forehead in his little hand and crying "March on"- and with bowed back and eyes fixed straight in front of him on the dark bank whose slopes are beginning to gleam white, he marches on. Suddenly, the Angelus sounds and a flock of bells suddenly springs into wakefulness. It is the new dawn. Behind the black cliff rises the invisible glory of the new Sun. Almost failing Christophe at last reaches the bank and says to the Child, "Here we are. How heavy you were. Child, who are you?. And the Child answers, "I am the day soon to be born". From "Darkness to Light". Victor Gollancz. 1956. However bad we feel, however desperate and uncertain remember, there is always another day. Another day to begin recovery however bad we think we are. Carrying the burden of anxiety and fear and the mockery of others can be daunting. But the Child is always with you waiting to be born. March on. J.