How to find an imbalance in the daily grind

29th September 2015: Sydney, Australia

‘About a Boy’ is a British film starring Hugh Grant who plays a single man in his thirties who has enough wealth to sustain his lifestyle without the need for employment. Obviously, the story expands from this very extremely minute description of the film, however, the fact he is unemployed is crucial to the comparison about to be made with my life. Just to note, I am definitely not in the same financial position as the character.

An interesting point taken from the life of the character is the way he dissects his days. Each day consists of separate units forming a total number for the day. Clearly, a major difference to the typical day lived by many whereby the demands of a job/career/study provide the structure. Ok, just to be clear, another major difference is the fact that I wish to be working, however, am yet to be in a position whereby my health warrants a return to the workforce. So, basically, the only comparisons with the film are the fact we are both single men in our thirties, and separate our day into units.

I only started making the reference to units last week when telling a story to some friends, however, I see major benefits in applying the rule into my life. Admittedly, I do not have a rigid approach to each day, and would put an estimate of units in my day as totalling seven. For arguments sake, we can say a unit equals approximately an hour, or less if a task is demanding or stressful. I feel the concept may be more accessible if applied to my life, and will show how difficult or tough weeks can be balanced with positives to avoid becoming overly stressed. For instance, yesterday was very busy for my current life so I ensured a portion of my day in the afternoon was dedicated to simply hanging with a friend in the sun while we were chatting. I acknowledge it all may sound superficial, however, the social aspect of my life was not given sufficient attention after my initial surgery. Instead, all focus was directed internally, and consequently there was an impact on my social life and mental wellbeing. To others, I would recommend you think about the way time is spent throughout the week in an attempt to outline whether an existing imbalance needs to be focused upon 😄

 

Motivation

1st July 2015: Sydney, Australia

I have commenced watching motivational clips virtually everyday, and it seems to have helped make positive shifts when comparing my mindset at present to how I was functioning prior to my previous surgery. Currently, I feel an overwhelming sense of finality, as this being the final stage of the process. I can completely understand how absurd it sounds, especially upon hearing the Cancer has also appeared on my lungs, however, my belief in my longterm health and wellness is not comparable to anytime in my past. There are many areas to contribute where these positive feelings derive from, and at the top end of my list would be the range of motivational videos being watched on a daily basis. The positive feelings and lasting thoughts anchored into my consciousness are the very reason for deciding to dedicate an entire wall in my room to motivational quotes and pictures. I am currently in the process of collating images and will show updates throughout the stages of development.

How to achieve stillness and find peace in face of adversity

4th June 2015: Bali, Indonesia

I am wanting to write a brief entry to remind me at later times of the complete stillness held within my current thought process. I contribute the obtainment of the present state of mind to the idea of compartmentalising certain thoughts in my life to particular periods in the day. Obviously, the main chain of thoughts causing potential damaging chatter to intrude my consciousness derives from the fear gripping me. The process of compartmentalising thoughts allows me to feel the fear whilst blocking it from taking over my life. Consequently, I then can remain focused on the hope and belief in being-well, and it appears the strategy of directing attention to health and life is more effective than directing all my thinking towards Cancer. My situation may fluctuate, and I need to accept this, however, hopefully this short entry can trigger some of the memories and emotions associated with this period whilst acting as a reminder of how peaceful life can be.

Does writing about Cancer and the feelings attached actually help?


28th April 2015: Sydney, Australia

The avoidance of writing about my ever fluctuating mental states seems necessary. My reasoning derives back to an earlier entry relating to an acceptance of my circumstances, and true acceptance entails an absolute submission to experiencing both the highs and lows associated with Cancer. Inevitably, down days are going to occur, and the process of documenting these days only seems to imprint a negative impact on my overall well-being. At times, a feeling of becoming stuck within a hole of despair is the predominant thought embedded within my subconscious, and consequently, my consciousness then allows these thoughts to sift into my everyday feelings and future outlook. It is somewhat paradoxical to refrain from writing about these times, however, it is a decision made to encourage a true acceptance of my circumstances whilst making a more conscious attempt at furthering my growth.

An entry with a twist, please take caution as I don’t wish to offend!

17th April 2015: Sydney, Australia

I do hope people are not offended by the post. My reasoning for being so explicit is to give an accurate account of the harsh reality associated with the uncertainty constantly encountered. Well, here goes, and please remember my intentions are to share, not offend!

I shat myself today. Admittedly, a rather unorthodox start to an entry, however, it seems no other words will explain the embarrassment caused by the events of this morning. The incident is hopefully the final piece of an unfolding puzzle, responsible for causing havoc on my body over the past three days. I am unsure whether a link exists between the recent chain of events and the unfolding circumstances within my life for over a year now. It simply felt like my body needed to shut off from everything, and the 19 hours of sleep on Wednesday is surely evidence of this. A description of the recent feelings could be linked to images of a storm descending on my body to knock all the energy from me. Consequently, I am left curious as to the reasoning behind the sudden shift from feeling a seemingly normal level of health compared to now.

Interestingly, feelings of shame do not register in my thinking when recalling how the incident occurred. Instead, the unconditional support of my mum shines vividly, and helps me to see the situation in a humorous manner. In saying that, I am hopeful the storm passes, opposed to signalling something more severe than an singular, childlike accident. One point considered heavily over the past few days is the similarities to the difficulties had prior to the detection of the tumour 18 months ago. Furthermore, I have considered my possible vulnerability in Indonesia. Thoughts of regret have definitely circulated in my mind in relation to my travel plans, especially considering I am will not be insured due to the costs associated in covering me. In addition, it will not simply be a case of going to St Barts Hospital in London where I am known and receive the necessary treatment. Instead, there is a real possibly I will be in a very remote place, or worse, just need to tolerate the pain and self medicate till appropriate help is sought. Both, not very inviting prospects!

Future vision for work

4th March 2015: Sydney, Australia

Recently, I have been thinking about a model to base a private consulting practice upon. The idea consists of having two separate arms, targeting both people with Cancer and others in the community with varying concerns. The two populations would be served by two separate theories. Namely, the Sunflower Framework for people with Cancer and the MESA principles, another model I devised to work with young people or adults with any number of concerns. The separation caters to a wide range of the community, with an underlying theme connecting the two principles together.

Obviously, a lot more work is required to bring the idea to fruition, with advertising, the creation of a website and other factors to be considered, however, it seems a realistic, achievable and feasible option to explore when I am ready to renter the workforce. I understand the theory has not been explained, and is untested. Therefore, further focus and attention is required on the matter, including the undertaking of a process (peer reviews and consultations with other professionals/academics) similar to the efforts involved in launching the Sunflower Framework.

Further updates will be provided as and when attention is directed to the matter.

An activity designed to help others manage stressors in their lives

1st March 2015: Sydney, Australia

An ever constant doubt about the relationships in my life, future job prospects and my overall identity have resulted in the formation of a concept to help switch my mind into a mode whereby change is possible. A need to support my thinking resulted from an increasing amount of stress placed on my mind and body from the factors mentioned above. The idea is fairly basic, with the foundations based on a strategy where mental imagery is used in coordination with a directed focus of giving sufficient space to matters of importance so they can be processed rather than blocked into my subconscious. Application of the concept is relevant to the emotions involved in breaking up with my ex-girlfriend whilst also playing a role in managing the feelings associated in response to the knowledge of living on Chemotherapy due to the removal of the Cancerous tumour growing inside me.

A description of the concept entails centring upon the matter causing stress, then mental imagery is used to create a visualisation of my hands letting go of balloons as a means of signifying the release of the stress from my mind and body. I have found an increased size of balloon correlates directly with a greater intensity of thoughts. Furthermore, the idea has also expanded at peak periods whereby I need to actually physically open and release my hand to replicate a bunch of balloons flying away from my hands. Interestingly, the created image was not planned in advance. Rather, the use of balloons came to my consciousness whilst attempting to find acceptance in both situations and was seen to be a fitting image, especially with the symbolism connected to letting a bunch of balloons release from your hands. To conclude, I must add there is no research to support the proposed strategy, and it may not be useful for all, however, it has proved useful for circumstances, so I wished to share it with others.

Why feeling at home is more comforting as time passes..

20th February 2015: Sydney Australia

An element of ‘being at home’ appears to continually provide a level of comfort and security to my overall well-being and mental state, and I would add, this feeling has most definitely grown over the past year, especially bearing in mind past travel and time spent working overseas. If I were to pinpoint the reasoning for the change, I would simply associate a degree of ease felt when returning home. An ease with a place is fairly vague statement, especially considering the completely relaxed surroundings I was immersed within during the past week. The difference though is the absolute comfort in knowing all, or the majority of my basic human needs can be readily met without any effort. I guess a criticism could easily make reference to a reliance on the support, namely my parents seeming evident, and for a now 31 year man this is surely not desirable. My response is fairly untypical of comments made in the past, and in no way am I playing the victim, however, the reality is I had Cancer and am now routinely feelings the side-effects of Chemotherapy. I must note my recognition for the difficulties others endure, many who experience a higher degree of discomfort or pain, however, the impact the overall experience has had on me is still severe enough to cause evident changes to my seemingly apparent vulnerability.

I believe further unfolding events are certain to follow, even after the conclusion of the treatment. Already, financial, career, interpersonal and personal aspects of my life have been effected, and yes, some of these points can be balanced against gains incorporated into my life, but, in reality I am in my infancy with my experience, and future unknown challenges surrounding the aftermath of treatment are inevitable. In saying that, a level of caution is required to ensure I remain grounded within the norms of life. It needs to be remembered that all people will face future challenges of some degree in their life, regardless of whether they have endured Cancer. Therefore, attention needs to centre on the present moment, and a step towards achieving that would be to recognise I am in the comforts of my home with no stress in any way placed on me. A point seeming more important in my life as time passes on.

Carer support

20th October 2014: Sydney Australia

In terms of how my body is feeling it has been another happy day! A few other areas of my life wouldn’t necessarily be deemed to be in a similar place, however, limited attention will be directed towards this as my focus is on remaining positive about the current level of health experienced. One of the days highlights consisted of a discussion with the an employee of the Australian Cancer Council whereby I touched upon the ideas surrounding the principles of The Sunflower Framework. The response was extremely encouraging, leaving me with a sense of satisfaction whilst also propelling me into the next stage of writing so the manuscript is in a position for others to read and provide feedback.

I made the call to Cancer Council to make inquires about what support is available for carers, with particular focus on my mum and capacity to maintain her well-being and strength in face of the stress and worry associated with my circumstances. Prior to making contact, I had a discussion with my mum requesting her to consider linking in with a support group for carers, and to my pleasure she was interesting in taking up the option. Surprisingly, there seems to be little support available to carers of people with Cancer. I am not at all undermining the need for support in other areas, I was just astonished to see the vast support network opportunities available for carers of people with dementia, mental health and disability in comparison to the little support available to people with Cancer. The three areas mentioned above are all extremely difficult, draining and stressful areas for carers, and it was positive to see the available options. I did just feel a little perplexed at the disparity of specialist support available for carers with Cancer, especially with the rise of Cancer within the population, and it made me think about the gap in service availability.

Accountability

15th 2014: Sydney Australia

Accountability had been an area addressed in previous entries, and is seen as key to remaining focused on executing whatever tasks are planned. Obviously the fact of having no manager or coach to oversee my progress, results in a dependency on my own motivation and drive. The very existence of these daily entries are a source of keeping me accountable, leading me to follow through with points covered. One example was the the idea of having a two day fast/cleanse, and currently the idea is yet to progress from a pre-planning stage. Therefore, I am setting myself a deadline of having the fast/cleanse completed by next Friday.

It will be interesting to track the two day period whilst also highlighting the usefulness in completing the journal as a source of keeping me accountable over the coming week. In regards to accountability, I am still going to seek the support of a friend or past colleague to keep track of my progress in some areas of my life, namely the group programme I wish to run, however, in terms of personal goals, the process of journalling can prove to be a very effective method of ensuring I follow through with ideas worthy of pursuing. In addition, it is such an individualised tool for expressing myself without a filter of others influencing my headspace.

I mentioned the idea was in what I consider a pre-planning stage. Therefore, the task ahead is to take the steps necessary in making preparations to follow through with the idea. Firstly, I need to decide on the method for conducting the two day fast/cleanse. Next step will be to ensure my family are notified of my plans to obtain their support, especially when the evident changes are noted, i.e. not eating breakfast or joining dinner at the table of an evening. Finally, a creation of a weekly routine is necessary to arrange exercise for days outside of the period plus the avoidance of any other events/tasks requiring more effort than required.

I have no idea whether I will complete the fast, and consideration needs to be directed to the purpose and benefits of such a task, especially bearing in mind the recent bouts of nausea experienced. Regardless of whether I complete the fast, I will be able to comment on the matter from an informed position. An area of importance, particularly should my plans to support the journey of others with their Cancer experience come to fruition.