The healing path

About six weeks ago, I began councilling for adults who are affected by a certain type of childhood abuse. I’ve avoided discussing it in detail my entire life, but it got to the point that it needed to be processed and dealt with with someone impartial. Although I’m 46 years old and i no longer harbour any resentment, it still affects me.

It can be challenging enough to live with the memories. But in discussing it, I have now bust open a can of worms. It has affected me on pretty much every level. Especially the way I cope in relationships. It’s hard to sink in that in some ways, I haven’t emotionally moved on from it.

It was easy to see and understandable that I suffered poor mental health as a result. The labels of borderline personality disorder to psychosis seemed a natural progression for someone who had no real stability growing up and abused alcohol the way I did. We were dragged from town to town in the wake of my dad’s ever deteriorating mental state before I finally left home age 15. His addiction problems only grew over time, and his threats of suicide became normal to us. He became dangerously unhinged.

I grew up up without any healthy mental coping strategies. I didn’t know how to deal with stress. My ADHD was simply my way of managing the pressures I felt. It seemed normal that I would seek out ways to quieten my mind. Alcohol became my escape, and I latched on to its mind altering effects from my early teens. And abused it into chronic alcoholism. Self harming was just another way to deal with my over emotional state. I was damaged goods, with no solid understanding of how to get by in life.

All this personal experience has been the driving force to becoming a better father, and it has become useful in that sense. Because I understand and know what a child can suffer from the absence of that love, my daughters deserve a loving dad who is stable and present. As much as I have changed and grown in sobriety for the better over the last decade, it seems I still have work to do to iron out some of the creases. And to finally discuss what needs to be talked about. To put it to bed once and for all.

So if you are a man grappling with a past that is affecting your present. Never feel ashamed to reach out and begin the unravelling process. It will be painful but also enlightening. Change and growth can be made from what is uncovered and let go of. The strongest thing a man can do is face his own demons.

Below is a link to the free meditation exercise I practice that led me to become free from the anger and also allowed me to strengthen from stress.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

Home improvements

It’s a mistake to get too comfortable in life. It’s easy enough to fall in that rutt where doing just enough to keep afloat, without rocking the personal boat becomes a way of life. Rewarding ourselves for a job well done when really we are just dying a slow death. Going through the motions and avoiding anything that may cause us discomfort.

We are all guilty of it. For decades all I wanted was an easy life, instead I suffered mental illness and alcoholism, so to me that comfortable life would be to have had enough alcohol that I didn’t run out and to have enough of a cocktail of meds that I didn’t end up back on a psychiatric ward. I wasn’t exactly aiming high but “horses for courses” and all that. What I really wanted was to have enough of a release of serotonin that I didn’t feel bad. And that, I felt, was the purpose of life.

Not everyone goes to the extreme of addiction but how many reward themselves in the evening with a few beers or a glass of wine? Or a joint? You feel you’ve earned it for facing the stresses of the day when all you are really doing is escaping for a breif moment. And it becomes a habit. You feel bad so you hit the feel good button. You may get that from flicking on netflix and zoning out into the TV or your phone screen. But when that becomes a part of your daily routine it becomes dangerous. It’s too easy to slip into that routine and believe that stress then reward is our sole purpose for being on this earth having a human experience.

For example, how many of you are stuck in a job you don’t particularly like, but you stay simply because it’s convenient? Getting a new job would mean going through the whole interviewing process again, it may mean you’d have to travel a bit further to work each day. It may mean working longer hours and a change in process and a whole different environment, maybe it could take extra training. So is it really worth it? Is the hassle and discomfort really worth the risk of bettering your situation and mental wellbeing? It should be.

It can also be this way with parenting and relationships. There may be problems at hand that need resolving. Minor irritations experienced that we let slide rather than bring them to the surface for discussion for fear of upsetting others.Many of us just brush these things off. I have been guilty of this lately. But these little, seemingly insignificant annoyances over time morph into resentments and explode. So rocking the boat is worth a sometimes heated discussion, especially when problems always have the capacity to get resolved.

So don’t live your life like a scratched record, forever waiting for someone else to pick the needle up and move it so the song can continue. Take uncomfortable action and make the first move- take charge of your life and begin to live in a world of real opportunity.

Don’t just survive – evolve.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

Another year

This year has been a case of “blink and you’ll miss it.” It seems like older I get the quicker the months dissolve. It certainly doesn’t feel like another year has gone by. Yet so much has happened.

The triplets have developed so much over the year from reading and writing to their speech becoming much clearer. They are full of wonder and interest in the world around them. They love drawing and colouring and are doing well at school, which they all enjoy. They have all made seperate friends which is good for them.

The first five years have been such a vital time for them and their overall development. And Stacey and I have worked hard to makes our home one of love. And it really shows in the girls natures They are growing into polite, kind, funny girls. We really couldn’t ask for more.

They have all taken a keen interest in the meditation I practice. As their father it’s my job to gently prepare them for the real world and to show them how to deal with inevitable stresses they will encounter, especially now they are growing older. So for them to see that I practice concious awareness will only benefit them. It’s a wonderful gift for me to pass on.

Frankie is doing well against the problems she’s had. There has been bullying at school which has been a real worry, but she’s out of the worst of it now. Having just turned 15 I found her a little job and she is enjoying earning her own money. It’s good experience for her, it’s a chance for her to learn a strong work ethic be a little more responsible for herself. I’m incredibly proud of her.

Stacey has continued with her charity work, running a breastfeeding peer support group. She also now facilitates a triplet mums group for the Twins Trust. She is currently planning a Christmas fundraiser. It’s a lot of work and she really enjoys it. She’s loves doing what she can to help others. As do I.

For me it’s been a positive end to the year. The steroid injections in my head have given me quite a lot of relief. Enough for my mental health to improve and for my life to become more manageable as a result. I also began GCSE English this year. I’m loving the challenge and am learning new skills to improve my craft. I have the idea for my first fictional novel and am looking forward beginning the writing process. It’s important that I keep improving my life. I may not be able to challenge myself physically anymore but mentally I can always grow.

So I’m cruising towards Christmas and the new year with a better attitude. Fatherhood hasn’t come easy for me. I still make mistakes but am always open to make changes to better the life of my daughters and strengthen the relationship with my wife. We’ve been given a tough gig but with laghter, love, patience and faith it’s becoming an ever more beautiful ride.

(As always, here’s the link to the free meditation I practice. It’s a way to strengthen from stress and deal with the pressures of everyday life)

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

The spiritual impact on mental health

Age 19 I was hospitalised with psychosis. I had suffered badly with deppresion and anxiety leading up to that psychotic break. It was a frightening time in my life, mainly because of the reality that I may not recover. I believed I would always be affected by poor mental health.

Alcohol abuse didn’t help my situation. I had been abusing alcohol from the age of 14, around 17 I got into drinking whisky and my drinking really took off – as did my troubles.

All the tension and fear I lived with was taking it’s toll. The voices snd hallucinations almost became a personal comfort as I struggled to cope with my emotions and life. There was no escaping them. Medications just made me worse and dragged me down further. I was convinced there was a another dimension to my suffering and I was right. It would be another decade before I made that stark discovery.

A decade later was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. My solution of alcohol was no longer keeping me stable. And without booze in a detox my mental health condition was magnified. I had sensed a darkness within me for a long time. It was a darkness I kept suppressed with alcohol – but alcohol was no longer working.

It was when I searched for a spiritual solution for alcoholism that the truth was revealed to me. There was a spiritual problem at the core of my suffering. I had sensed it from a child. From all the anger I harbored. It was the universal dark energy of resentment that was destroying me. And all the labels of mental health disorders could be traced back to it. There was no such thing as a chemical imbalance, only a spiritual infection. Medication would never work.

The more I struggled to escape it the tighter it’s grip. All my mental health problems were a manifestation of spiritual dis-ease. My real problem was spiritual in nature – not mental. Those diagnosis I had throughout my life were mere symptoms of suppressed resentment. And as long as anger remained in me I would have gone on suffering til the bitter end. Dying an alcoholic death. I had to be freed from what had infected me. I had to be freed from anger.

There is a meditation technique, thousands of years old that can resolve this spiritual conflict. I happened upon it by chance after getting sober. I was still plagued by anger and resentment but without alcohol and drugs to suppress those negative emotions. The man I met told me to meditate daily. That was it, I was told I needn’t do anything else. I couldn’t see at all how this was going to help me,

I was open to meditation, but the idea it was going to resolve my anger and mental health problems seemed ridiculous. I mean, after years of therapy and medications somehow by sitting still twice a day for 10 minutes I was going to get well and know freedom? I called bs on it. But it held my interest and I had nothing to lose by giving it a shot.

So I did. And ALL my mental health problems resolved as I was freed from anger and given a way to master resentment and build resilience to stress. And it happened quickly. Within the space of the first week of meditating.

If mental health problems are affecting you, and you are willing to approach them from a whole different angle. Give this a try and have your own experience. Make your own mind up on spiritual matters. But trust me – you won’t regret this.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

Phone addiction

Life has been a struggle lately. As much as I talk about being present I haven’t been living up to my own ideals.

Sure I’ve been going through the motions. I’ve been meditating daily; getting up with the girls; working; picking the girls up from school; cooking dinner and doing the baths but I have been distracted. Mostly on my phone. I’m not talking about the conversations I’m having with people on it, it’s the braindead flicking through pointless video reels I get lost in while life carries on around me.

It’s too easy when I feel stressed to just dissappear into the screen. The real problem is the stress that’s affecting me, the phone is just a symptom of that stress. The phone has also been a great way to take my mind off the pain. But when it’s causing more problems than it’s solving it naturally becomes an issue.

For years I hid away from technology. I lived without a smartphone before meeting Stacey; I also lived years without a T.V for that matter. But now whist trying to live a conscious life it has become another thing that I’m using to deal with the pressures of everyday life. And I don’t want to be a screen zombie, ignoring my kids and wife while distracting myself from the reality that I am struggling with the trudge of fatherhood.

So I have have come off Facebook. Only using it to share my blog posts. Plus we have a phone ban between certain hours of the day. I have already found myself less stressed and more present with my family. It was a simple change that is already having a positive impact.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

An English assignment – The island

As you may know I’m studying GCSE English as I want to improve my skills.

At the moment we are looking at creative writing and looking at different textures and styles. My homework this week was to describe a frozen view. That was all the information I was given. So I decided to describe the view from my porch on the week I left Papa Westray on the Orkney islands. I thought I’d share it with you. Any feedback would be appreciated.

‘The melancholy sky hangs sullen over the emense beauty of the silent, white bleakness that surrounds me. The heavy dark clouds whisp with slow, dramatic movement, dropping millions of falling diamonds, filling the sky with flakes of ice that drift down elegantly with soft, gracious dance. Landing to rest on the pillow of white that blankets the ancient, defiant island I call home.

In the distance, amidst the thick snowfall I see the hills of the neighbouring island, rising up to meet the sky like friends in close union. The weather beaten landscape lies naked and exhausted from the violent north Atlantic storms. No trees dot the horizon. The land dejected from the fierce weather. But today there is no gale or wind. Just a peaceful, almost eiree silence as the calm after a storm. The horizon a portrait of brilliant whites and malevolent greys. It engulfs me with it’s resplendent charm. As though for that moment heaven had decended.

The ice cold ocean of azure that encircles me beats waves on the rugged coastline, like white horse’s storming the shore. The rocks stand composed in the face of the aggressive waves like a Spartan army shielding an attack. But with all their strength and might the rocks continue to crumble and corrode. There is a sadness to their slow destruction but everything must change with the trudge of time.

Soon I will leave this place. The harsh, bleak winter will become just a memory like a snapshot, a photo that will eventually fade into the recesses of my mind. But as I stand here on this cold, crisp, captivating morning like the king of my domain. I count my blessings that for a brief moment in time, this frozen enchanted view is all mine.’

Si x

Real freedom

I used to think the perfect life was one free of stress. That if I could organise life to suit me, with just the right people in my life and the right circumstances, and that if truly focused on those things I could manifest them. If I could have all that I would find true fulfilment. What absolute bollocks.

Life doesn’t work that way because until I gave up playing God I would always be living to my own expectations of perfection. And it would only fuel ongoing resentment because of the failings to get what I felt I deserved out of life.

I cannot sheild myself from stressful events, they are always coming. I cannot avoid people who cause me upet. Because everyone is flawed. And trying to manifest the Universe to work in my favour? Imaginine the size of ego that it takes to believe I had such power.

Until I first gave up anger and mastered resentment I would never find peace or fulfillment. Unless I learned to build resilience to stress through non contemplative meditation life would continue to batter me. Until I was willing to quit playing God and just live life awake and consciously, life would continue to be one of chance and fate. Wandering blind and grabbing anything that may improve my situation.

Once I stopped running the show, clawing at my little plans and designs my life became fulfilled. With love patience and tolerance at the centre I discovered everything I needed right in front of me. It was at my finger tips the whole time.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

Don’t stress!!!

It’s been almost a year since I began practicing meditation. And in that time I have dealt with a lot in the stream of life. The main upheavals that have brought the temptation to bite into anger, resentment and fear have been becoming a father to triplets, and then dealing with occipital neuralgia and central pain syndrome. But in the face of these still turbulent event’s I have stayed, for the most, emotionally level. Which still blows my mind by the way.

Easy peasy

I’m a calm man by nature now. And there isn’t much that rattles me (although screaming kids at bath-time can turn the heat up a little), but I’m not going to lie, this months been a test. From illness to hospital visits, poorly kids and other little events have got me feeling drained and and exhausted. Stress is pressing on me like a weight pushing down on my shoulders. If ever we all needed a holiday it’s now. But that’s not going to happen so we’ll keep on trudging.

As slightly defeated as I’ve been feeling, I know il never sink again. At least not back to the bottle or into serious mental health problems. Occipital Neuralgia has had a damn good go over the last few years but even with my slumps into negativity I have always been dragged back out again. Conscious awareness has been my saving grace. Faith through meditation is a powerful force in my life. That and a sense of humour. Which both my wife and I accredit for getting us through the insanity early parenthood with triplets.

Even in the most stressful times we have found ourselves levelled out with laughter. Like the time we had two toddlers with ear infections and one with a throat infection. After three nights and days with barley any sleep. Comforting screaming sick girls we got hold of doctor on the Monday morning and just sat and looked at each other and burst into tears – followed by belly laughter at the sheer madness of our situation. If we didn’t laugh we’d never would have made it together.

Don’t stress! A great saying indeed, but sounds impossible in practice. But I’m telling you now that stress needn’t be a universal energy that beats and grinds you into physical and mental demise. Eventually taking you out, full of resentment at the injustice of the negative events of your daily life, and at mercy of the people that just plain pissed you off. Make no mistake – anger is a killer. But it’s possible to live free from this ravenous force. If we meet stress with grace we strengthen and grow. It’s that simple. Anger and fear are no longer the driving force.

Practicing conscious awareness is simple. It’s about living in the present moment where there is a metaphysical protection against the emotions that weave their way through thoughts. So if you think real meditation is about fantasising about relaxing on a sandy beach with a fat suitcase full of money and a pinacolada, trying to manifest the Universe, you’d be very much mistaken. Thoughts are the problem. They take us away from the present moment. Into resentment about the past and in fear around the future. Both bad neighbourhoods to be wandering around in.

This practice is simple. Incredibly powerful and it works fast to bring you back to consciousness. To wake up back to the land of the living where life is actually happening. This is all you will ever ever need. Just 10 minutes x2 times a day. Then you will find dealing with kids, with family and even the most stressful events and irritating people with ease. And it happens without effort. They say there is no miracle cure for dealing with the stresses of life. Well congratulations! You’ve just found it.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

Relief

About six weeks ago I was given a diagnostic nerve block. Steroids injected straight into the occipital nerves in the back of my head. It was about as fun as it sounds but I got relief for the first time in four years. It was like a huge weight being lifted. I got my mind back. It was a game changing treatment.

Last week pain slowly returned so I contacted the pain management team at the local hospital and they said they could help me again. Once again there was light at the end of the tunnel.

I had to go through A&E because they don’t have the funding for an outpatients service. So I checked in yesterday morning and was told to come back at 1pm for the treatment.

This time the kind Doctor explained that this nerve block would last between 3-6 months, and boy did he go to town on my head. He used an ultrasound this time and was injecting me for around 25 minutes. It was a painful procedure but once he was done I was again pain free. The man is a legend in my life. He’s told me at the first sign of pain come back and he’ll give me another one.

I feel lucky to have met this man. This procedure has been life changing and I feel human again. My mental health has improved and I feel more conscious and present with my family. Although there is no cure I have a temporary solution which is more than I could have hoped for.

It’s been a long and painful road to get to this point. Faith and meditation have been my saving grace, and the love of my family which I am blessed to have. I still suffer from CPS and nerve pain in my spine but it’s one hell of a lot easier to deal with without nerve pain in my head.

So it’s onwards and upwards. Thank God.

Learning to write

I am three weeks into my GCSE English class and it’s blowing my mind. Although I have this blog, and have a book published I have realised don’t know a great deal about writing. That there is a whole world to delve into.

I love writing. It’s a way to express myself and share the thing’s I feel are important and may benefit another. But what I am learning is that there is a process to bringing the pen to paper. There are styles of the craft and I’m like a sponge at the moment. I’m taking it all in.

I learned to write by reading lot’s of books. Before I wrote my book I was advised by an author friend to read ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King (the horror guy). He knows a thing or two about writing an engaging book. In that book he shares his story of becoming a writer. About how he puts a book together. It was an interesting read and I learned a lot that helped me in my own writing process.

I have idea’s for non fiction books that I intend to write and am realising that I can do it. By improving my skills I can bring my ideas to life with style and creativity. I never knew where to start before with non fiction but am getting fired up with the reality of what could be. I’m glad I made the decision to take this course.

So this isn’t a post about triplets or fatherhood, all of which are fine. I just felt like sharing this. And I look forward to unleashing my first novel on you all in a few years time.