Category Archives: Emotions

How an Introvert Discovered the True Value of Friendship

‘They might not need me; but they might. I’ll let my head be just in sight;
a smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity.’

Emily Dickinson’s words ring true – someone might need you.

How an Introvert Discovered the True Value of Friendship - The Last Krystallos
Life has been hard lately.
I’m not just talking about my own life – which has been shatteringly exhausting and left me on a precipice – but those around me have been struggling too. And when you look further afield, easy to do with social media and television in our laps, the world seems to be besieged and careworn, to say the least.

I have decided to love - Martin Luther King Jr, 1967 - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The world has been full of discord, death, politics, and division which reap uncertainty and insecurity, and I can see each of these things in my own personal life and amongst those close to me too. Add physical and mental illness to that and you have a cauldron of despair.

As an empath I absorb, I can walk into a room and absorb the emotions of those around me, but as the world about us shatters, soaking up its emotions is downright dangerous. I can’t dwell on what’s happening worldwide, or even in my own life, instead I want to concentrate on how we deal with the fallout. How we can cope.

Ian Hislop editor of Private Eye magazine recently said about those who voted Remain in the Brexit referendum after we’d been told many times to ‘shut up and live with the decision’“Even if you lose the vote you are entitled to go on making the argument,” This also works with all the mess inside our lives, or in the world at large, we can and should talk about it. But who do we talk with?

Kindness is more than... C. Neil Strait

© Lisa Shambrook

As I stand on the edge of this abyss luring me into a major depressive episode, I fight. Some days I don’t think I’ll win the battle, other days – like my last blog post – I know I can triumph. But what helps me fight? Who helps me fight?

The easy answer is my family. Without them I would be lost and I would not be here. But the bigger answer swathes a multitude of people in my life, most of whom I either do not physically know or who live many miles away from me.

DFQ-con-minion-con-nottingham-uk june 2015

My Writing Community – DFQ UK

Social Media has been a life saver. That might sound extreme, but it’s very true. I don’t find socialising easy or even possible at times, due to crippling social anxiety. I can overcome it, but usually only in my author guise, you’d be surprised how many authors have significant social anxiety, but that’s another story, so I find making friends very difficult. A year tutor’s school report that upset me greatly, back in year ten, told me I was ‘aloof’. She totally mistook being shy and anxious as being aloof and superior. If she’d taken time to get to know me she’d have found a generous, warm and giving spirit.

The advent of Facebook and Twitter, though, offered me friendships within my own living room. I had the chance to catch up with old friends, find new ones, and I discovered my community. I found people who not only understand me, but those who openly embrace me and love me.

They might not need me but they might - Emily Dickinson - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Take another look at Emily Dickinson’s poem – someone might need you. It might only be a smile, or a hug, and they might be virtual, but still a necessity. Kindness, friends, love and compassion are essential for the human spirit. Every comment on my blog, or Twitter, or my Facebook wall matters to me. Some have even saved me.

Friends are those who notice when you slip and are there to stop your fall... The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Friends help me fight. Friends help me battle the injustice of life and help me see the good and the beautiful. Friends support me and lift me. Friends have given me reason and love.  

Bekah at Calon Sept 2014

© Lisa Shambrook

Having a multitude of online friends from across the world has taught me much. I am learning now that I can foster friendships locally too. I used to feel insecure and unable to invest in friendships where I would actually have to put in time and effort. The natural introvert in me backed away from occasions where I could make friends and interact. I have some lovely friends in my life, who I have often neglected, not purposefully, but out of anxiety and insecurity. Learning that I can ask for support, or even accept it when it’s offered, is a huge and wonderful step for me. I am finally accepting invitations and discovering how powerful and necessary friends are, both online and in my physical life.

Meeting up for a hot chocolate, FB messages, and even texts (I don’t do phone calls!) from those who live close by are becoming more important to me as a support network, and I am extremely grateful for those care and take the time to be my friend.

We all need friends – I won’t quote song lyrics but there are hundreds of them alluding to the importance of friendships – and despite being a lone wolf introvert I’m finally realising why.

Kindness has a beautiful way of reaching down... unknown

© Lisa Shambrook

This week, be a friend, let your smile be just in sight.

Friends are those who notice when you slip and are there to stop your fall; and even better are those who hold your hand and your heart and prevent you slipping in the first place.

What’s your definition of a friend?

How important are friends in your life?

(This post is dedicated to those who matter  – the friends who have seen me through the tough times, whether you live close by or hundreds, or thousands of miles away –
You Know Who You Are
– because you are those who have commented, messaged and spoken to me and kept me here – Thank you ❤ ) 

Never Changing Who I Am – Believe in Yourself

I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I’m vocal about it.
I know who I am and I believe in myself…

Never Changing who I am - Believe in Yourself - the last krystallos - Lisa Shambrook

I spent years not speaking, not literally – I’ve always enjoyed talking, but I kept myself to myself and avoided confrontation and controversy – no more. I posted last year about How to be yourself and love who you are… and once you’ve achieved that, I want you to embrace the YOU that you love!

To be nobody but yourself - ee cummings, the last krystallos, lisa shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

I’ve learned that no matter what, even a people-pleaser won’t please everyone. So stop trying. Just like I know that not everyone will love or even like my books, not everyone will like me, and I’m okay with that. I am confident enough in myself to know that those who do love me matter more than those who don’t. In the same way that when my writing touches another person and they tell me how much my book helped them, that is the person the book was written for, other opinions don’t matter.

Importantly, I keep writing for those who do love my novels, those who melt within my words and discover beauty and new worlds. I won’t change my writing to fit with the latest fad or style, my words are mine and hopefully when you uncover them you’ll drift away to a place of hope and dreams. But if it’s not your thing, that’s cool, keep looking until you find what matters to you.

This is the way I live my life. Other people matter a great deal to me, but I’m not changing who I am to fit. Once you know who you are, embrace yourself, and love yourself. It’s very true that if you can’t love yourself you’ll struggle to love others.
Robert Holden said: Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.

A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms – Sensei Ogui - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

So, accept who you are
Never apologise for who you are
Love your flaws, they’re not flaws they’re YOU, uniquely you
Accept that society’s love for perfection is not only unattainable, but not truth
Stop comparing yourself to anyone
Live your own life
Be authentic, honest and true to yourself
Be good to yourself

Never changing who I am, It's Time - Imagine Dragons, the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Love who you are. Don’t change for anybody else. That’s not to be confused with not growing and we should always, always change for the better when we can. That’s when we accept who we are and love ourselves, when we reach for that distant star, dig deep, and spread our wings. Change is good – but never change because society tells you to, or someone doesn’t like you as you are. Only change because it is better than who you are now, and only change if you want to.

I know who I am – and I like, no, I love who I am.

Never Changing who I am - Lisa Shambrook - the last krystallos

Never Changing who I am – © Lisa Shambrook

I am a fighter and a rebel. I’m a peacemaker and a dreamer. I yell and I shout and I make a lot of noise. I whisper and ponder and learn. I battle for justice and integrity, and I yearn for equality and truth. I will stand and fight for what I believe and I won’t be quiet when voices need to be heard. I’m an observer and a star-gazer. I am a romantic and a crusader. I’m a cynic and I’m tired. I’m negative and positive. I’m an idealist and a perfectionist. I’m lost and I’m found. I’m both broken and whole. I am small, but I am, oh, so big and my ideas and my desires fill the world. I am strong and I love.

I will not apologise for being me. I don’t need to make anyone proud. I don’t need your validity, only my own, because I believe in myself.

Believe in YOU – BE YOU – Be yourself.

    Don’t let anyone change who you are.    

Anxiety Disorder – the Illness that Inhibits You and How to Beat It

Anxiety is hard to describe to someone who doesn’t suffer with it. The dictionary definition of anxious: feeling or showing worry, nervousness, or unease about uncertainty. While this definition is true, anxiety as a mental health disorder is much more than that.

Anxiety Disorder - the Illness that Inhibits You and How to Beat It - The Last Krystallos

Imagine being held up against a wall with a knife at your throat, your anxiety would be understood, in fact most people would say the emotions running through your head would far surpass anxiety. Anxiety disorder is the same, but without the intruder and the knife at your throat.

anxiety disorder quote by Lisa Shambrook, the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

16th – 22nd May was Mental Health Awareness week in the UK and May is the awareness month in the US. Anxiety and Panic disorders are often glossed over when mental health is discussed, yet these enemies have been the bane of my life since a very early age. I spoke about it with Stigma Fighters and have included it in posts about depression and self-harm, but anxiety has been my constant companion.

Anxiety is common place amongst several different mental health disorders: OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Agoraphobia, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Panic Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety, Separation Anxiety, and other phobias. It often accompanies depression and other mental health conditions.

“Almost one in five people feel anxious a lot or all the time, while nearly half feel more anxious than they used to.” AnxietyUK

In 2013 there were 8.5million cases of anxiety in the UK. Women are twice as likely to suffer as men, and more than 1 in 10 of us are likely to have a ‘disabling anxiety disorder’ at some stage of our life. Many of those suffering from anxiety, up to 70%, will have further anxiety based disorders like the ones mentioned above. I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder complemented by Clinical Depression, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety and these often result in self-harm, and this is not uncommon.

The most common physical symptoms of anxiety are:  a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest tightness, butterflies (or worse – I have spitting dragons) in the stomach, and nausea. Often these are joined by a dry mouth, the urge to pass urine/empty bowels, trembling or the shakes, and sweating.
These are accompanied by psychological symptoms like: feeling very tense and agitated, a fear of losing control (anxiety sufferers are often control freaks – I am), huge irritation, a feeling of detachment, and/or a feeling of dread – or as I call it ‘that impending sense of doom’.

People suffering big anxiety or panic attacks can often feel like they’re about to or are having a heart attack. The impending sense of doom can fool you into despair and can lead to self-harm and depression, and even psychotic episodes.

almost one in five feel anxious a lot or all of the time, while nearly half feel more anxious than they used to - Anxiety UK, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

I wish I’d known I was suffering from an anxiety disorder as a child, it would have made those moments preceded by panic attacks much easier to cope with. I had several occasions at school when I sat in a classroom unable to concentrate, unable to sit, my head filling with fog, my heart beating like it would explode, numbness coursing through me, and fear spreading through my veins for no particular reason. Several times I ran from PE, or after assembly, and locked myself in the bathroom, or ran from the school building and all the way home – my heart thumping like a road drill and feeling like I was being chased by the entire zombie cast from The Walking Dead.
Even as an adult I’ve sprung from my seat or dropped everything in a shop to run like a deer escaping a hunter. These panic attacks have been the companion to my anxiety.
My anxiety has been crippling. It’s prevented me from many social activities. It’s stopped me experiencing things that have made me apprehensive, and halted my progression where I might have soared.

10384605_1107283399287337_1890644189568564194_n

Source: ugly-bread

I have lots of online friends, but I’ve found it terribly difficult to form friendships amongst those I know in my locality. I’ve been a loner and alone. My family have been so supportive and they have encouraged me to do more and rise beyond my anxiety, very often accompanying me until I have scoped out new ground and lost the anxiety. Believe me, it can be conquered, but it’s very much one-step-at-a-time!

I have also attended an NHS course for Stress Management, which gave me facts and help for Generalised Anxiety and Depression. I have taken Cipralex (SSRI Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor class antidepressant) a commonly prescribed antidepressant which also helps anxiety. I wish I could have had more counselling covering anxiety; I have had private counselling on issues in my life which have helped, but not specifically for anxiety. I would advise anyone suffering Anxiety or Panic Disorders to seek help from your GP. Put yourself on waiting lists if you have to, and get help. It is out there.

Invisible and visible illnesses - lisa shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

Check out my blog post on The Battle to Beat Depression, Nature’s Antidepressants, and Coping with Self-harm – How to Fight the Urges and Win you might find something to help you, as I’ve used many of these ideas to fight my anxiety as well at other disorders. Also take a look at Shelley Wilson’s Resolution Challenge blog, her post Using a Dropbox to Release Worry, Fear and Anxiety, offers a great idea about writing down your anxieties, fears and worries, screw them up and drop them in a jar – then when you’re ready, take a look at them, if you wish, and see how you’ve grown in the meantime, or just let them go and take great pleasure in ridding yourself of the notes in the trash, or maybe burn them, watch your anxieties go up in flames!

lisa-shambrook-anxiety-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Sometimes your anxiety might be a short-term thing, caused by troubles within your life, like exams, divorce, and illness, things that you can overcome in time or on your own. Sometimes you may be suffering from a more malignant form of anxiety, it might be a mental health disorder or a physical disorder and you need medical help. Whatever kind of anxiety you suffer, know that there are many of us who understand and help is available.

It’s also important to know that anxiety is normal, it’s an emotion that we need and it helps protect us from harm.  

Don’t suffer alone.

What helps you most with your anxiety?

Visual Dare – Crumbling

She couldn’t bear the shaving brush and foam on the bathroom windowsill, and his cologne still clung to the sweater gripped between her fingers. Martha buried her anguish within his scent and memories as she clutched his jumper to her face.

Six days was too long, far too long.

She shrugged his sweater over her head and ignored the cawing birds as they flocked beyond the cliffs. Their mournful cries served only to intensify her grief and choking sobs.

Two uniformed figures walked towards her; they’d known she’d still be there, down on the beach. Their gait slowed as the salty gale assailed them and their shoulders sagged. Black boots kicked the sand as they walked and as she watched behind her trembling fingers, the oldest removed his hat. Tears trickled and she knew what they’d say.

Six days was too long, far too long, and now – too late.

(149 Words)

00. VisDare Badge
Written for Angela Goff’s Visual Dare – One week, 150 words, one black-and-white photo that could spawn a hundred different stories.

Go take a look at the stories in her comments, each a different take on the picture above!

Coping with Self-Harm: How to Fight the Urges and Win

I want to talk about self-harm today,
because I’ve been self-harm clean for six month now,
almost to the day, but I still recall the last time I cut.

Coping with self harm, how to fight the self-harm urges and win, the last krystallos,

My brain was mush, my stomach swirled and churned, and I could barely breathe with the weight on my chest. My body shook, shivered, and sweat. A mixture of sadness and anger and nausea overcame me and, as rage developed, I took to the knife. It wasn’t an actual knife – my weapon of choice was a pin, a sharp, but innocuous pin, meant to hold material together, but used for destruction instead of creation. It scratched and scratched at my skin until beads of crimson sprang through and it continued as scarlet dripped from my arm. Tears slipped down my face and choked in my throat and I couldn’t even see or feel what I was doing.

the-slow-regard-of-silent-thing-self-harm-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook excerpt from The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

That scar sits on my arm, an unwanted, but necessary, reminder, just like the others that adorn my skin. I’m not trying to romanticise cutting, but those who do it need to know that they’re not alone, that there are people out there who understand the swathe of emotions and compulsions that attack them – and that they are conquerable.

Yes, I mean that, self-harm is conquerable and you can win. I’ve written before about ways to comprehend, fight and overcome self-harm. If you need to understand or find help please read: Understanding Self-Harm: the Truths and Myths and How to Help.

Self Harm is conquerable, beating self harm, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

Self-harm, though, is like any other addiction, or learned behaviour, meaning that to defeat it you will need to continuously fight it. Again, I outlined many ways to help in my previous post, but I want to touch on what helps me most.

Talisman, totem and stim – A talisman is generally a jewel, or a stone, a charm or an item that means something to you. A totem is regarded as the same, a charm or a ritual object (think DiCaprio’s totem in Inception). A stim is a little different; it’s a behaviour – flapping hands, head-banging, repeating noises, words, movements, or smoothing, rubbing or spinning an item. The BBC have a great article on this: Stimming – What autistic people do to feel calmer. (Neurotypicals, or NT’s like me, also use them)

talisman, totem and stim - the last krystallos, self harm,

© Lisa Shambrook

I’ve seen many self-harmers use the talisman/stim approach and it can work. Touching a pendant, stroking a ring, clutching a pebble – all stim behaviours with a totem of choice.

I attended a Stress Management course on the NHS, several years ago, when counselling and the such were not available to me, and still aren’t. It gave me many ways to deal with stress and anxiety, but it also tried to encourage those with totems and stims to give them up. They talked about keeping a pebble in your pocket and holding onto it when you felt anxious, something physical and ‘there’. It can help you find strength and courage, I can testify to that, but they tried to inspire those of us that did to train ourselves out of it. Maybe in the long run, it would be better not to have to rely on anything but the strength of your mind, but in the meantime if something works, stick to it!

talisman, totem and stim - acorn cups and hazelnuts - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I have a couple of totems and stims. I keep acorn cups or hazelnut shells in my pocketseverywhere – you won’t find a coat or a bag without one in it. These I use for anxiety and prevention of panic and self-harm. My family find it affectionately weird, but love me for it. I’m a squirrel, claiming acorn caps and random nut shells and if I stop on a walk, it’s because I found a new one.

I have other stims, almost unnoticeably nodding my head (since age 12), picking at my lips, and pulling off scabs and habitually making un-self-harm injuries bleed again, and I used to bite my nails – many will relate to that one! These all precede or accompany anxiety and if I recognise them early, I can use my totem to calm me and prevent self-injury or panic.

The best way I ward off those urges to harm is to polish an acorn cup or hazelnut shell between my fingers. I do it subtly, quietly and imperceptibly hopefully not to bring attention to myself. People have sometimes seen the acorn cup sitting atop my finger but are often too polite to say anything!

In Beneath the Old Oak, my second book, Meg deals with her anxiety using an acorn cup:

‘Meg shifted and reached into her jacket pocket. She retrieved an acorn cup, dipping her thumb into it. Unconsciously, she rubbed it, her thumb smoothing the inside of the cup. A habit she’d had for so long the little wooden talisman was as smooth as silk inside, and even its knobbly exterior was somewhat polished. She ran the cup across her lips, to and fro, and allowed her thoughts to wander.’

Meg’s use is one of habit, an unconscious routine to deal with the anxiety she feels. Sometimes routine, habit and coping strategies bring success, peace and calm. When I am overwhelmed in either the urges I described at the top of this post or with anxiety that feels like it’s crushing me, or panic that’s threatening to push me over the edge, sometimes my acorn cup or my broken-in-half hazelnut shell can calm me enough to prevent more serious behaviour. Some people with these stims feel foolish – don’t. If it saves you it’s worth it.

talisman, totem and stim - acorn cups and hazelnuts - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I’m an empath – I’ll post about that another day – but suffice to say I feel everything. I feel pain sensitively and exquisitely, and sometimes that’s enough to tip me over the edge. This world is full of personal pain, and sometimes I wish I could dull my sense of discernment. Many of us will need to fine tune our senses and learn to cope with the pain the world throws at us. Coping methods are vital to our survival. In my previous article I point out coping strategies including: rubber bands, taking time out, breathing through, ride it out, distraction, know your triggers, remove yourself, be with people, and finding creative ways to release your emotion and stress. Talismans, totems, and stims can be part of this process and help you to overcome the urges when they hit.

But most importantly, know that you’re not alone, that there are people out there who understand and people who have taken time to learn and have compassion. These people will support and help you.  Find what you can to help you deal with self-injury, but maybe the most valuable thing will be talking to someone who understands, or who’s been there, someone who can help you understand and love yourself.

If you can, be that person.

How do you prevent self-destructive urges, or how do you cope with being overwhelmed?

Everyone’s experience is valuable and you may help someone
who needs to hear what you’ve been through.

If you need help, please see your GP, or at least check out some of the
great sites online that can help: NHS ChoicesThe SiteNSPCCHelp Guide

Beneath the Old Oak AD with SynopsisSelf-harm is part of my book ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ and an unedited NaNoWriMo snippet can be read here. To read more of Meg and her mother’s struggles ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ is available on Amazon and Etsy.

“Turn those dreams of escape into hope…”
Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control and she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak, but a devastating storm will change her life forever.

The Most Valuable Way to a Happy and Successful Relationship

Kindness is the recipe for keeping a relationship alive. 

The most valuable way to a happy and successful relationship, the last krystallos, relationships, love and marriage, better relationships,

When an article, featuring research from The Gottman Institute about how to make a relationship work, recently popped up on my newsfeed it made me think.

You can read the article, but in a nutshell, couples were interviewed and studied as they interacted with each other, and then re-interviewed six years later. From their research Gottman separated them into two groups: the ones whose relationships fell apart or who were chronically unhappy together – the Disasters, and the ones who were still together and happy – the Masters.

Unexpected kindness is the most powerful...agent of human change Bob Kerrey, Bob Kerrey quote, kindness, kindness quote, the last krystallos,

©Lisa Shambrook

Their analysis showed that those who were defensive in their relationships suffered and those relaxed and comfortable maintained happy bonds.

He followed his study in 1990 with a retreat in which he invited 130 newlywed couples to relax together while he watched how they interacted.

Quoting from the article: Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife — a sign of interest or support — hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.

The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either turning toward or turning away from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.

People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t — those who turned away — would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”

Kindness is more than deeds it is an attitude expression look touch anything that lifts another person, C Neil Strait, the last krystallos, kindness quote,

©Lisa Shambrook

Again this made me think and consider my own relationship. How do I respond to my husband’s bids for my attention? How does he respond to mine? This reaches further than just marriage too, how do I listen to my children, who tend to bid for my attention even more than my partner?

Gottman found that: Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had turn-toward bids 33% of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had turn-toward bids 87% of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.

Do we meet our family’s needs?

Kindness has a beautiful way of reaching down into a weary heart and making it shine like the rising sun, kindness quote, the last krystallos,

©Lisa Shambrook

Our society has become very secular and families find it more difficult than ever to interact with each other. We may be overwhelmed with work commitments, exhaustion, social media, hobbies or just plain disinterest. I was shocked one day when my child attempted to get my attention when I was online. I parried her constant efforts with “Wait a minute, I’m busy right now…” and ignored her protestations against my lack of interest. What was I doing? I was reading online articles, none of which were going anywhere, and none that I couldn’t return to when I had more time. A glance at my daughter made me stop. I closed the laptop and turned to her. Her particular needs weren’t imperative at that moment, but I knew that if I kept ignoring her, or turning away, then she would stop coming to me, which would be heartbreaking. If I ignored the simple things then I’d never get to hear the big things.

The same thing works within marriages and turning toward and recognising the worth of your partner’s need to be heard and loved is imperative.  Read my article How to Feel Loved to learn about your and partner’s Love Strategy, and discover how  we feel loved.

True love a matter of anxious concern for ones companion, Gordon B Hinckley quote, love quote, the last krystallos,

©Lisa Shambrook

Gottman declared that: contempt is the number one factor that tears couples apart, and Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together.

Kindness, validating, and loving each other is what keeps couples close and intimate. It builds trust and loyalty. Kindness grows. What you give you receive back, and like a muscle it expands and flourishes the more you use and show it.

love is when the other person's happiness is more important than your own, H. Jackson Brown Jr, love quote, the last krystallos,

©Lisa Shambrook

I’m lucky I have a partner who has always spent time concerned for my feelings. He has an intuition I didn’t appreciate when I was young, that doesn’t mean he always gets it right, but the intention is there and that’s a winner. When we first married I was a very introverted people-pleaser with very low self-esteem and I often felt I’d cheated him by marrying him. I was suffering CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and was ill for the first six or seven years of marriage. Add to that, he had no idea of my battle with depression, anxiety and panic and I spent much of the first decade of our marriage trying to make up for not being what I thought he deserved!

I made sure Vince’s needs were met, I insisted he completed his dream of passing his motorbike test and owning a motorbike, and he gained many employment qualifications on courses, some we paid for and some subsidised, whilst I ignored my needs. I refused to buy new shoes when mine had holes in and I couldn’t see that I was creating an unbalanced relationship. It wasn’t until I sought help for my conditions that I finally allowed my husband’s help in reaching for my own dreams. I had no idea that it hurt my husband when I put myself last, effectively turning away, and I had to re-evaluate my priorities.

lisa-vince-25-years-2016-the-last-krystallos

1991, 2001 and 2015 Vince and I ©Lisa Shambrook

Creating balance improved our relationship and helped our love grow deeper and stronger.

Again, this is vitally important in all our relationships, not just our romantic ones, but healthy partnerships help strengthen homes.

my bounty is as boundless as the sea, Juliet, Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, the last krystallos,

©Lisa Shambrook

Shakespeare’s Juliet proclaimed infinite love – maybe we can do the same in all our relationships.
Hubby and I will reach twenty-five years on our wedding anniversary in October this year. I can testify that love and relationships aren’t child’s play, or maybe they are – children are more unconditional?

Relationships require work and trust, depth and compassion, kindness and validation, honesty and love.

If we try – where love is reciprocated – then we can turn toward and meet each other’s needs and live within happy and fulfilling relationships.

Here are the Gottman’s Top 7 Ways To Improve Your Marriage

How do you keep your relationship alive?
What’s the most important ingredient to you for
a successful marriage and/or partnership?

 

Chocolate Heaven – What’s your favourite?

Chocolate Heaven – What’s your favourite treat?

Chocolate Heaven - What's your favourite - The Last Krystallos

Velvet luxury, happiness and pure delight – that is chocolate.

This seems to be the right time of year to write about chocolate. A couple of months past that chocolate fest which was Christmas, Valentine last Sunday, and the next chocolate fest of the year, Easter, right around the corner! Yes, rather tongue in cheek – because for me, every day is a chocolate day…or at least every day has chocolate potential!

Chocolate Heaven - What's your favourite? The Last Krystallos

Clockwise: Galaxy, Lindt Strawberry Cheesecake, Nestle Dairy Box, M&S Mint Whips © Lisa Shambrook

I’ve written before about Hot Chocolate, and I’ve literally traipsed around my town seeking out the best Hot Chocolate, but this is pure chocolate…and I want to know which is your favourite?

Hot Chocolate - Chocolate Heaven - The Last Krystallos

Clockwise: Hot Chocolate: Calon – Carmarthen, Calon Takeaway, Chocolate Utopia – Nottingham, and Calon © Lisa Shambrook

Chocolate contains chemicals which lift moods. It contains phenylethylamine and tryptophan, which both work as antidepressants by combining with dopamine which is naturally present in your brain, and produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter that creates feelings of happiness.

And since chocolate creates happiness, here’s a pic of what chocolate produces – endorphins! “What you see is a myosin protein dragging an endorphin along a filament to the inner part of the brain’s parietal cortex which creates happiness. Happiness. You’re looking at happiness.” (Shanna Germain FB)

i1tbl29

 

So, chocolate is a gateway to happiness, can you feel my whimsical adoration of this substance? Why don’t you tell me which chocolate you like best, so if we ever meet, I’ll know what to greet you with!


*Note: I appreciate the chocolates here are probably all British, let me know your favourite bars from wherever you are in the comments! Educate me…

favourite chocolate - the last krystallos

Chocolate © Lisa Shambrook

 

Misophonia – When Sounds Torment and Drive You Crazy

At twelve-years-old I thought I was going mad.
I couldn’t deal with small and quiet aural and visual stimuli.
It took many years to discover Misophonia is real and I wasn’t crazy.  

Misophonia-the-torment-of-sound-the-last-krystallos-title
Misophonia, often known as 4S or SSSS (Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome), is a very real and restrictive disorder for those who suffer and those close to them. 
I’ve written before about being a Highly Sensitive Person HSP and promised to post about Misophonia.

As a child your quirks are just that, quirks, then you recognise differences between you and those about you. I struggled with noises and visual disturbances.

202. Lisa 10 t-shirt 1981 tiny crop

© Lisa Shambrook

I liked quiet. My bedroom was at the far end of our house with a corridor, bathroom and spare bedroom between myself and the rest of my family. My room was my place of solitude. Though my inability to deal with small noises was apparent earlier the first major problem aired when the neighbours, an elderly couple with a penchant for opera, played music loud and I could hear it through my bedroom wall. The emotions that overwhelmed me were irrational, overwrought and internally violent. I was a placid child, so any violence got absorbed and/or released upon myself. My place of safety was violated with that tinny, muffled sound that emanated through my walls and I had no idea how to deal with it.

At twelve, my grandfather came to live with us. He was already in his late eighties and difficult, but he needed care. I had a chair on the edge of the living room by the window and I could shield myself from others in the room. I had a problem with my mother’s twiddling thumbs, or things I could see out of the corner of my eye. I was already moving books on the bookshelf, so that light and dark spines did not alternate or stand out. My grandfather’s chair was put beside mine, and his legs when crossed left his foot dangling in front of the television. When he bobbed his foot I felt like I would go crazy. My adrenalin surged, my anxiety hit the roof and I wanted to scream and cry. Another safe place was gone.

I had no idea what was wrong with me.

misophonia, severe hypersensitivity to sound, noise, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

It wasn’t until many, many years later that a name was put to my condition. Misophonia.  It covered everything that drove me crazy. The sound of people eating (I cannot listen to or be with people eating unless I’m eating myself), snoring, breathing heavily, music from other peoples’ headphones, tapping fingers, cracking knuckles, whistling and chewing gum (both make me want to strangle people), humming, fingers tapping on a keyboard or screen, and the clatter of cutlery all trigger my fight or flight anxiety response. Add to that visual stimuli like the avoidance of lights reflecting on picture frames, fluff and lint on the floor, anything bright that catches and distracts me and you have a real problem.         

My flight response is my default, as confrontation is something that triggers other major anxiety responses such as self-harm. I respond to misophonia with trigger levels of 6 to 10, which you can read about in this Misophonia activation scale *, but my main coping strategy is to eradicate the trigger or remove myself from the area.

 

Misophonia, also known as selective sound sensitivity syndrome, is a newly-diagnosed neuro-otological disorder that affects children and adults. Sufferers can feel immediate and intense rage at others’ eating and breathing sounds, about which they become hyper-aware and obsessed, sometimes with an ability to recall trigger incidents years after the event. The condition often sets off a “fight or flight” panic reaction in the sufferer and has been responsible for ruining relationships, breaking up families and leaving those most acutely affected suicidal. *

When a person with misophonia is exposed to a sound in their trigger set, it results in an immediate negative emotional response. This response can range from moderate discomfort to acute annoyance or go all the way up to full-fledged rage and panic. **

To help a non-affected person understand the impact misophonia has on someone with the disorder, they might be asked to imagine how they feel and react when they hear the sound of fingernails being scraped down a chalk board. Most people dislike this sound and will probably ask the person to stop! However, this example falls short of reaching the intensity a misophonia sufferer experiences. **

Caitlin eye

© Lisa Shambrook

I was particularly relieved to know I wasn’t the only one, and have since found many friends with the same disorder. You know who you are! I was also relieved to find my visual disturbances were also part of this: Some are also affected by visual stimuli, such as repetitive foot or body movements, fidgeting, or movement they observe out of the corners of their eyes. ***

It’s good for my family to know I’m not mad, and that the actions/noises that trigger me so much are not their fault. It doesn’t make it any easier to live with, and I know it frustrates my poor husband hugely, but it does validate my condition.

There are treatments, which I’ve never asked for, as I can’t imagine having to explain it to my Dr – it seems so trivial compared to many other illnesses and diseases. The main treatment is CBT Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and I’ve never been able to get that for my anxiety or depression, so I can’t imagine it being available for misophonia!

girl with boots, leather and frills, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

So for now, I cope and avoid triggers. Many people suffer mildly from misophonia-like symptoms, but for those of you who know the true reality of this disorder – how do you deal with it? And how serious is its presence in your life?

This post has been particularly difficult to write, but this page for Sufferers at MisophoniaUK has been particularly helpful to me, even as far as bringing me to tears as I realise some of my unwanted symptoms are quite normal. I hope it helps you too.

Please check out these amazing pictures of Mental illnesses as Monsters by Toby Allen and scroll down to Misophonia…

* MisophoniaUK
** misophonia.com
*** Wiki Misophonia

Listen to your Moments of Silence…

Silence sings to me – it always has.
I’m a loner and I’m comfortable with silence.

Listen to your moments of silence
Noise, too much noise, fills this world and I often have to escape, which fits with my being a runner. I like the absence of noise and sometimes I need to escape to it.

A friend recently spoke of silence and asked are we human doings or human beings? I love this and it immediately resonates. We get too caught up in the doing that we forget to just be. When was the last time you allowed yourself to be..? When did you sit and listen, or watch, or just be?

silence-moss-stone-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

It’s no coincidence (well, it might be) that SILENT and LISTEN are spelled with the same letters…think about it, take a moment…

silence-Rainy-Sunrise-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

When was the last time you listened to the rain pattering gently on the roof (probably not long ago if you’re in the UK…)? When did you last hear birdsong or soft wind whispering through the trees?

Ram Dass said The quieter you become, the more you can hear. I intrinsically liken this to nature, but think of the times we don’t notice another’s feelings, or their troubles, or even their joys, because we’re not listening.

We miss out if we’re too busy to take time out.

silence-ocean-waves-still-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Silence fits me. I like to write in silence, I like to sit by the ocean and watch a sunset or listen to the waves. I like to walk in the woods and hear the soft sounds of nature caress my senses.

Silence is a great source of strength – Lao Tzu. This quote speaks volumes, quietly, of course, both in being able to listen, to take time out and to curb our responses.

silence-Dandelion-Clock-Wishes-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Stephen Hawking said Quiet people have the loudest minds and I agree, my mind takes strength from silence and uses it to embrace me. My creativity, my writing, my soul needs quiet to allow the chaos within to still. But even when I’m quiet, even when I’m still: When I am silent I have thunder hidden inside – Rumi, thunder and lightning and beautiful chaos write their stories in my imagination and fill my mind with wonder.

frosty-web-silence-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Moments of silence, of reflection, of contemplation and pondering allow my mind to muse and grow. I like to cultivate and embrace my moments of silence. How do you like yours?

silence-Innocence-Frost-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Take time to just be…
just be and breathe in the glorious wealth of nature, solitude and peace.

Just be…

 

How to Feel Loved – Discover your Love Strategy

Have you ever considered what makes you feel loved?
Do you know how to make others feel appreciated and valued?
Read on…and discover your love strategy…

how_to_feel_loved_the_last_krystallos_lisa_shambrook_Title

A thought-provoking post inspired me to consider what makes me feel loved, how does love manifest itself to me, and what makes me feel good? I found the original post on Head, Heart, Health and discovered more on NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) sites and posts about Love Strategies.

how-to-feel-loved-the-last-krystallos-lisa-vince

© Lisa Shambrook

So, take a moment and think about what makes you feel loved?

Is it a word whispered in your ear, or a thoughtful gift, or holding hands?

We have three basic Love Strategies: Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic.

Visual: the need to see love – that special look, flowers, that thoughtful gift, romantic acts and gestures, rose petals on the bed…

Auditory: the need to hear it – whispered words of love, sensual talk, the tone of voice, poetry…

Kinaesthetic: the need to feel love – the touch of your loved one, holding hands, cuddling close, an unexpected kiss…

The idea is to work out which you are, and that’s where it got interesting for me. I looked at how I felt loved within my relationship, and then how I feel loved in general.

how-to-feel-loved-the-last-krystallos-rose-petals

© Lisa Shambrook

To begin with, being an observer, I believed I’d have a visual Love Strategy, but on deeper consideration I found the visuals were less important to me than the kinaesthetic aspect.

You need to ask yourself which of the three could you do without, then get serious and break it down to just one choice. I knew that in my relationship, if my partner couldn’t show me love with flowers, gifts or that look in his eye, I’d be okay as long as I could still feel his touch. Hearing the words, I love you, are so important but if I was deaf, it would still be his hug and a stroke down my arm that would mean more. So I knew I was kinaesthetic.

This became even more apparent when I thought about what makes me feel loved in general. What makes me feel good – is seeing, or hearing, or feeling more important to me?

how-to-feel-loved-the-last-krystallos-hot-chcolate

© Lisa Shambrook

Again, I’m an observer who notices everything, the small things: the heron alighting by the lake, the flower in the hedgerow, the clouds sailing across the sky…but it’s the things I feel that affect me most. The silky taste of Spanish hot chocolate makes my heart sigh. Pulling a woolly jumper or blanket around me comforts me, the velvet feel of rose petals between my thumb and finger calms me. I love splashing through the ocean’s surf, kicking through autumn leaves or crunching through snow…all these delight me. Sinking into water and swimming, I love the feel of the wind caressing my hair, sunbeams kissing my skin and hugs from those I love. Seeing and hearing compliment my experiences, but I need to be enveloped, engulfed, and immersed to really feel and it’s tactile for me.

All these things show me that my love strategy, the sense that makes me feel the best, is kinaesthetic.

how-to-feel-loved-the-last-krystallos-cat-misty

© Lisa Shambrook

What’s yours?

We can enhance our relationships if we understand what makes us tick, what makes us feel good. Not just in romantic encounters but in life itself. If we know what makes our loved ones happy we can create healthier and stronger bonds, and we can all feel more loved.

how-to-feel-loved-the-last-krystallos-cosy

© Lisa Shambrook

If your partner’s love strategy is visual perhaps you could leave them a love note or take them somewhere special to make them feel loved…

If they are auditory you could be sure to tell them often how much they mean to you or leave a loving message on their answerphone…

And if they are kinaesthetic, take time to hold them close, and always remember that meaningful touch…

Work out your love strategy and enjoy enriching your relationship!