Geoff has given permission for us to use his story.
I was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 10 years ago. After trying to lose weight almost all of my adult life I suddenly lost around two stones for no apparent reason -something was wrong. After talking to a couple of health conscious friends I was still none the wiser. Did I feel overly tired? No! Did I go to the loo a lot? No! So I quickly ruled out the possibility of diabetes. As a last resort I visited my GP who after a couple of tests discovered I had sky-high blood sugar levels. It was a couple of years after first being diagnosed with diabetes, and after trying to control the illness first with diet, then with tablets, that my nurse said that I really should start injecting insulin. I’m sure I looked depressed – I was dreading this. My nurse must have noticed how down I looked and suggested I might benefit from a course of CAT. I agreed it was worth giving it a try.
The therapy began – the first hour seemed to last about ten minutes, and I can remember thinking while I was walking home from that first session that we didn’t touch on my diabetes. I realised later we were looking at the bigger picture, and at some point in the therapy I realised it was making me think much more deeply about myself.
So, my diabetes had been handed to me by ‘the great spirit’ at a time in my life when everything was going wrong. I had just lost a very (up till then) successful photography business. I had also lost a very beautiful house to the bank, and my child and her mother left to move to Brighton. I was left on my own in a city once full of friends, to try and survive in a field of ghosts.
I was left on my own in a city once full of friends, to try and survive in a field of ghosts.
During the time of my therapy I started to move and work in the world of filmmakers. This, for anyone who is not aware, is a minefield of the world’s most screwed up people, most of whom have located themselves in Brighton. Consequently one of the first things I remember therapy addressing was how to avoid ‘self-sabotage’, especially in the company of people in this industry. The fruits of the therapy were immediately apparent when I was on the verge of walking out on a feature film production as director of photography. Needless to say, I’m now extremely glad I didn’t. I began to see how self-sabotage did not serve me. Even though the feelings to do the same today are just as strong, I can handle them much better. I have to now find a balance between walking away from every situation that I feel is unjust or makes me angry, but without letting people walk over me. And I believe what I have learnt has contributed to the fact that I am now a writer/director/producer of my first feature film.
I can’t remember at what stage in the therapy we tackled the issue of diabetic control or rather the lack of it, but I do remember slowly realising the major importance of food. Now I must say at this stage that food has never been a big deal in my life. I have never been into junk food. However, as I was now taking insulin, what I ate, how much I ate, and when I ate became very important to me. I just thank God I never had a sugar craving!
It seems to me now that the structure of CAT was working so well that I could not tell (moment by moment) whether it was my well-being or my aspirations that were being addressed. Essential seeds were sown - I learnt a lot about myself – about day to day management, as well as the long term. About my position in the small world and my place in the big world. Understanding my depression and handling it were part of the solution.
the structure of CAT was working so well that I could not tell (moment by moment) whether it was my well-being or my aspirations that were being addressed
A real life example might help to illustrate this. A couple of weeks ago I was about to film two major scenes of my film. The night before I had a meeting with my sound engineer and first assistant director. After they left, an overwhelming wave of self doubt and depression swept over me. But I knew how to handle it, respecting my body I ate good food, respecting my mind I got some quality sleep using a technique I have learnt, knowing that in the morning I would be the strongest man in the world. I was and everything was fine.
The dubious attribute of having a so-called creative mind comes with all sorts of non-optional extras, which if controlled can be a wonderful thing. If not, they may just destroy you. I have had many friends who have destroyed themselves. Couple this mind with a degenerative illness, and being a single parent, you can really do with help sometimes. Especially in my case, every now and then, you have to stop writing your new film script or studying the latest movements in art.
And look after your teenage daughter, be there for her for a long time.
And look after myself.
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