Monthly Archives: August 2018

Talking with my inner critic

As I pause to write this blog, I’m in two minds.  I know precisely what I don’t want it to be, which is the flip side to what I normally feel when I write a blog.  My inner critic is saying ‘you don’t want to write this blog, it’ll be rubbish and nobody will read it..’ and so it goes on.

I’ve written previously about my depression, because I believe that being open about mental health issues is a good thing, and that any remaining taboo around them frankly is in need of decimating in the swiftest way possible!  I think one of the impacts of this for me is that there is no real ‘cure’ as such, I have just got better at recognising the signs and deploying the constructive coping mechanisms that I have.  I quite often have to switch off, as overthinking is one of my favourite things to do (if you sort that one, then please do let me know!!!)

So a couple of weeks ago I had a real dip, began to really doubt myself.  I also think one of the skills I have developed is to distinguish between the ebbs and flows of every day life, where it is perfectly natural for my mood to fluctuate (often on a Saturday afternoon at about 5pm after my beloved Sheffield Wednesday have invariably lost) and what might be a bit more of something to keep an eye on.

When it is the latter, that inner critic of mine really gets going.  Though I can only speak from my personal experience, I think its particularly easy for the inner critic to speak up where my impairment is concerned. When you have the mind of a 35 year old, and the body of a pensioner, often the brain is willing, but the body is not.  The flip side of this is that I’ve become particularly adept at solving problems and finding solutions to this, even if its just not straying far from bed at the weekend.

The trouble with my inner critic is this: It is exhausting! When I was 21, I was lucky enough to get into Cambridge.  There was a myth that was particularly prevalent there (and to be fair, in lots of other places too probably!) which we called the ‘imposter syndrome.’  Someone would come up, tap you on the shoulder, and let you know that there had been some terrible administrative mistake, and you shouldn’t be here after all.

I took my imposter syndrome with me, and have only really got to grips with it a few years ago.  I had told myself for a long time that when I got my PhD, I would have all the validation I needed.  Truth is, it was only after then that I had a bit of a eureka moment and found that my certificate didn’t in fact come with a gold plated key to wisdom.  True validation was something that had to come from within and that I had to train myself and work on.

Which brings me back to a few days ago.  My inner critic wouldn’t shut up, and I knew I had to change things a bit.  My standards are infinitely high dear reader.  This is no bad thing, but I needed to change my approach.  I needed to be more compassionate with myself.  I needed to start to re-recognise the good things.  To take time to be grateful for them again rather than taking them for granted.

So I started each day with a list of the positives and ignored the inner critic.  I close each day with listing the things that had gone well, that I had to be grateful for, and which I was looking forward to tomorrow.  The inner critic is still there, and probably always will be, and has its place.  I need to use it to drive me on to better things, rather than coming up with reasons to help me stop from even attempting them.  It’s definitely a work in progress, but one that I feel better for having started 🙂 My questions for the day are now as follows:

  • Morning: What have you got to be thankful for.  List at least 3 things if you can
  • Through the day: Notice your ‘wins’ – what have you accomplished?  Write those things down and tick them off!
  • At the end: Think about what you have worked on – and what has been developed. What have you achieved? List at least 3

Still the trepidation as I hover over the publish button for this post.  As you read this, you know that my inner critic has taken a back seat on this one.

I offer this blog to everyone else with an inner critic that needs to be put in its place from time to time.  It can be done 🙂

The PIP Journal – A draft

Well its taken longer than I’d like, but better later than never hey.  I’ve been working on the draft of the PIP Journal for a while and I’ve given it to Fran, who is great at designing things and making things like this come to life.  I need to emphasise that this is very much a work in progress, and I have paused deliberately at this point to get feedback from the people who matter most, the people who hopefully will be using it!

The journal is designed to guide people through the PIP process in a supportive way, particularly with reference to the form and completing it in a focussed and relevant way. Samples of the draft content are as follows, just click on each image to view it in more detail:

The next stage for me is to get feedback on the full draft over the next few days, using a few people who have been generous (or brave!) enough to give me comments on this.  I will then look to publish the full draft, along with a full plain text version.

If you have feedback based on the above images, please use the following form to give your thoughts, and thank you in advance for your views.  I might not be able to include all of the feedback in the final version, but will read all the comments I get carefully.

[contact-form to=”[email protected]” subject=”comment on PIP journal”][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”1″][contact-field label=”Email address” type=”email” required=”1″][contact-field label=”Message” type=”textarea” required=”1″][/contact-form]

Thank you for your continued interest in the project 🙂

1 The PIP Process: The Journal

Hello dear reader.  Something I have always tried to do is to take positives from difficult situations.  Its one of the things that, at risk of sounding very old indeed, has got me where I am today.  So I have been reflecting on my experiences of the PIP process, and how best I can make a constructive contribution.  The feedback on my blogs has been very kind, but that doesn’t seem enough..I still feel the need to make a tangible contribution.

This particular idea has been inspired by Fran, who has been working really hard on producing journals of her own.  ‘Why not do a guided journal for the PIP process?’ she said to me one evening, and that really hit home with me in a good way.  Having done some research on it, there are lots of great guides produced by organisations, which this journal can refer to, but it struck me that there was something missing.

This something was a bit of a first hand perspective, and a guide that could effectively function as a bit of a companion to the PIP process, trying to break it down, and to help people record information on the form in particular, that was relevant when it came to completing the application form.  The application is long and complicated, but if broken down, can seem a lot more manageable.

So this is what I am working on.  Since talking about it on twitter over the past couple of days, this project has already taken on a life of its own, so I hope that it will be helpful when it comes to other people who have to go through the process.  I know that from my own experience, a voice of someone who had been through it and got to the other side was really useful, and I want to capture that.

I’m also looking to test early drafts and get feedback from people, so that this is something which hopefully hits the mark.  I’m trying to set up a bit of an informal testing group so that we can explore things together.  This project is a bit of a personal venture, so I won’t be looking to formally partner with any organisations to do it, and my intention is to make the product free of charge so it is accessible.  Unfortunately, this means I also can’t pay anyone for the time they take to feed in their views, but I am hoping that the promise of a useful product is enough.  What I will do is set up a mailing list, so that I can keep people posted about any updates

I’m not in a position to comment on timescales at the moment, as I’m concentrating on trying to get a decent journal out in an efficient timescale, as well as juggling a few hats in life (don’t we all!). The standard disclaimer applies, this is a purely personal project unconnected to any of those other hats, and the views expressed within it will be purely my own, but then you knew that already, yeah?

If you’d like any further information, please send me an email via the contact me page, and I’ll do my best to get back to you as soon as I can 🙂