I'm a wise old man. Well I'm certainly getting older every year and I've started to look back at my life and look inside myself, to find out who I am and why. And that feels like a kind of wisdom.
But it took me a long time to get there and I had to come to a crisis before finally admitting that crying at lunchtime wasn't normal and it was time to do something about it. That something was talking to my GP and trying a low dose of anti-depressants for a year, which did stop the tearful episodes and allowed me to concentrate at work, but didn't solve any problems.
The crisis came this time of year, but three years ago. In brief, my mother ended her four month battle with cancer the same day she met her new-born great-grand-daughter (our grand-daughter). The pills I was taking meant that I hardly cried at her funeral, and I was someone that could shed a tear just thinking about that scene in Dumbo (you know: baby of mine). But things at work continued to deteriorate and it's taken all my strength – and lots of support from my wife, the NHS and from work – to keep my nose above water.
I stopped the pills and began CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which included an introduction to mindfulness. It's not fixed my life but has given me some tools and tactics for coping when things don't go right or just feel tough.
One concept it introduced me to was 'being kind to yourself'; there's a meditation called 'befriending'. If you find it hard to be kind to yourself, you should think of a person that loves or loved you unconditionally and try to see yourself through their eyes.
Having a grand-daughter has made me think about my own grandparents and how easy it is to give unconditional love as a grandparent. Uncomplicated by the need to discipline (as a parent must) but with all the love, plus a licence to spoil. So I try to be a grandfather to myself, and give myself that unconditional love. Why not try it, if you find it difficult to love yourself, and say to yourself:
"May I be safe and free from suffering. May I be happy and healthy. May I have ease of being."
Toby aka Grandpa Punk
A Moodscope member.