Dealing with grief…positively

Hi Everyone,
Stick with me if I go off track…

It has been a mixed week and roller coaster since my last post, no longer published (editorial reasons – on my part I must be quick to add) so some of you may have seen that post, others of you would have seen the post previous to that.

Tonights post is a really positive one and it is a really nice chance for me to discuss something with you that I am launching and that hopefully some of you will benefit from. As part of my voluntary work, I am working towards setting up my own charity, however at the moment it is only in its foundation stages and at the moment the idea is still a not-for-profit project. But as part of this service my team and I will be offering Student Mentoring, free of charge to the young people of Frome. We are able to offer support in many different ways and through many different mediums. We are able to offer face to face mentoring as well as mentoring via the phone and we are also looking into mentoring through mediums such as Skype.

Currently I am the primary mentor for the project and I have received the basic training to mentor students through grief related stress, relationship stress and school and exam related stress. This is by far no means the limits of what you can discuss. Furthermore we have links to external services that can help you further.

The service provides a completely confidential mentoring service and I am pleased to be able to offer it to everyone of you reading this that may require support. If this is something that you feel that you would benefit from, either drop me a message on Facebook or head over to the Cycle4Charities website (www.cycle4charities.co.uk) and fill in the contact form there. Alternatively you can email me on ben@cycle4charities.co.uk.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this post, I know that it is not much about me, but there will be one of those towards the end of next week, telling you how my first week at the new job has gone. But I really had to tell you about this today.

Thanks for the continual support!

Ben

The end of an era…

Welcome today marks the end of an era of me, the time has come for me to wave goodbye to all my colleagues at Knoll Hill Farm, thank you for such a wonderful 2 years. I have had a wonderful time but know it has come to the right time for me to move on. I have been successful in gaining a Job at TMTI in Corsley (a technology help centre) but I will miss my colleagues at KHF and will miss the amazing working atmosphere it provided. I’ll always be around though!

Now I know that it has been just a little over a week since I posted last, but I have decided that I need to get my thoughts out more regularly, so if I bore you, I do apologise but as I have said before, this is a way for me to express myself, especially to those close to me! So I dont wish to hear what I heard at school towards the end of last week!

So far the exams are all going well, apart from B2 (which I think most of the students would say). It was the worlds worst written paper and whoever wrote it deserves a kick up the backside. Whoever you are…you’re very mean!

The half term wasn’t really a break as such because of a lovely thing called revision…my heart goes out to all students having to revise, it is crap and feel like it will never end. But lets hang in there, not long to go!
This week hasn’t all be bad though, I had a nice trip into Bristol with Emily and her family, this was really enjoyable and was a very nice break from the revision. I had a nice evening with a few friends and a couple of beers, that was really fun and we had such a laugh. I had some great fun in the theatre this half term with my ‘little’ sidekick Oli (as you can see I have emphasised the word little, this of course has nothing to do with Oli’s height!), this was a great laugh. I realised that I been a complete twat to some people, this was not so great, but it was sorted. I made some new friendships and reinforced some old ones. I realised how privileged I am.

This week has also been a little strange for me, I have had people who I didn’t know messaging me on Facebook and talking to me whilst I have been out an about, congratulating me on all my awards. I really don’t know what to say to these kind hearted people. I still don’t feel like I am deserving of such prestigious awards, I am me. I do the things that I do because I know other people are benefitting from it. But thank you to all those kind people who have congratulated me! It means a huge amount! I thought I would include a cheesy photograph for the sake of it! 

Award Congrats photo.
Credits to Simon Heard//FCC Print Centre for the Photo

Changing the subject slightly, there is one thing that is bothering me at the moment. I just feel that there are a few people whom I am drifting away from, this is hard. I dont know whether its because I am not making the effort or its them not making the effort or its both. But it feels shit and I am not liking it! I am not naming anyone because this would be unfair and this will probably come back to bite me, but it needed to be said!

I know this is only a short post but I am tired and need to sleep! Night all!

Bugger off to the hate! I don’t deserve it!

 

There’s light at the end of the tunnel…

This post is a positive one and is mainly a thank you!

As some of you know, I was nominated and I won the Frome Youth Citizen of the Year Award, for this I am truly grateful to Frome College and the teachers who nominated me.

However I was nominated by Frome College, a specific idea of Mrs West, for a very prestigious award in a national award scheme (The Princess Diana Award). Yesterday morning, I was summoned to the Principals office… (at this point I was thinking shit…what have I done)! Then a large number of people decided they’d pop in and I was told by Mr Ball that I had been successful and I had one a Princess Diana Award under the Champion Volunteer section. This came as a complete surprise to me and I was totally speechless when I was told!

But I couldn’t have received that award, if it wasn’t for the reasons that I have volunteered. Those reasons are some other incredible young people. They include the students that I have mentored, the students that I have lead on DofE, the students I have worked with on Theatrical Productions, the staff members who have been able to make my work possible, the colleagues that I work with as part of my voluntary efforts. So thank you to all of those people, and a special thanks to those who provided me with the testimonials for the award, your references made me speechless when reading them, to know the impact that I have had on the lives of other young people is incredible.

As part of both awards I discussed my new project that I have set up with the support of the Frome Youth Bank – Cycle4Charities (website to come soon). The idea of the project is to set up sponsored cycle events that raise money for charity and also improve the physical/emotional/psychological wellbeing of young people in the Frome area. The ultimate goal of this is to become a registered charity that improves the lives of young people. If anyone is interested please drop me an email on ben@cycle4charities.co.uk. Special thanks to the FCC Finance Department and Frome Town Council for the support with this project.

So whats next…I have to go and make a speech at the Rotary Club Meeting on Tuesday 2nd June (this is for the Frome Youth Citizen) and unfortunately I will be missing the award presentation for the Princess Diana Award, as I am away, but I have been told to watch this space by Mrs Edwards (I have a feeling something is coming my way from Frome College – don’t embarrass me too much…please)!

I don’t want people to think I am up myself, because I am not and I really did not expect to get these awards. It however has been a little bit of light for me at the end of a very long tunnel.

I would like to thank some very important people in this post…so here goes:

Firstly – My Mum, she can be a pain sometimes but I would be lost without her! I love you mum!
My lovely, one and only, Emily, I know I am a pain sometimes but you always stick by me!
Two of the worlds best friends anyone could every wish for, Jess and Claudia, always there for me!

My wonderful colleagues and friends at the Merlin Theatre, without the support of you guys, I would have had no chance of getting the awards. So a huge thanks to Claudia, Matt and the team!

The wonderful teachers that have supported me through the good and tough times, but there are a few that I should name. Firstly my Head of House: Mrs Bendry, whom has been there right from day one at Frome College and looked after me all the way; My Tutor, Miss Clark for the wonderful support that you have given me over the last two years; Mrs Edwards for the help and support recently; Miss Latham for the light hearted comedy that gets me through the tough times and the support that you have given me; Mrs Love for the incredible support you have given me and the smiles you have managed to get out of me and Mrs West for her sense of humour and kindness!

Every single one of you reading this for your support and kindness through the tough times and making me laugh through the good times.

Finally, my final and largest thanks goes to my inspiration for life, my Dad. Without you, I would not be the person I am today. You were and still are a very special and incredible man. It is a shame that I am unable to thank you in person. I am not ashamed to say that I miss you and that I would do anything for that extra hug and a moment to tell you what I have achieved. I hope you are proud of me, and I hope that I will continue to make you proud! My love always mate, keep on sleeping tight!

One week down…four more to go

Its only a short one…I am tired!

Well as promised, I have decided to post a bit sooner because I have decided that it would help me, so I do apologise if I am starting to bore you.

Other than the exams, this week has been pretty great for me. Lets start with the exams and get them out of the way first.
The B3 exam was fine, no worries at all but B2 was a completely different story, whoever had written that paper ought to be shot, the way that the questions were worded was awful and it was so unbelievably unclear about what they were answering. Again I found the C3 exam fine and the C2 one a little more challenging but thats life. 4 exams down, 13 more to go.

Now as you could probably work out, I was struggling with dad not going at this time, so I thought long about it and decided that I should just embrace it. So this week I have made sure that he was with me wherever possible. I don’t usually were any form of necklace, ever, however this week I have decided that I would were the St Peters Cross dad wore during ‘The Troubles’ conflict in Northern Island. It is a piece of jewellery that will forever be very special to me.

Anyway some very exciting news: I am very pleased to announce that I was nominated for and have won the Frome Youth Citizen of the Year Award 2015. I really didn’t think that I would win the award, the competition was strong but this made the dullness of the exams slightly more bearable.

The week has been fairly positive and it has ended with a lovely weekend away on DofE expedition with some wonderful Year 9’s.

Lets see what next week brings.

Continual good luck to my colleague and friend, Matt Tipper (check out his blog here: matttipper.wordpress.com)

Having been up since 5am this morning, I am very tired and thinking of now going to bed!

PS: Those observant ones out of you I now have a custom web address, this is an incentive for me to post more. The old link will still work!

higher hare from bicknoller

A wonderful view from this weekend!

The exams are coming…Dad isn’t going!

Before I hit you with the bulk of my blog post, which today is going to be pretty balanced, I would like to wish my friend and fellow Theatrical Tech, Matt all the best with his road trip. 5,000 miles in 26 days on his vespa. Check his blog out here (mattipper.wordpress.com – very inspirational chap). Good luck mate, I shall take good care of the Merlin for you!

Now I would also like to take the opportunity to say a humongous Good Luck to all of my friends who are going to be taking GCSE, AS or A2 exams over the next few weeks! I am sure that you will all do well!

I don’t want you guys to think that I am asking for sympathy about my exams and in fact just to clear it up, I am not blogging to get sympathy (as I overheard in a conversation about me a couple of weeks ago!) I am blogging because it helps me get things out of my head and allows me to be the person who I want to be. I do it because it is one of the only ways in which I can express myself – its not something I am very good at. So just for future reference if anyone would like to judge me, have the bollocks to come and face me about it, don’t slag me off behind my back!

Anyway… I always knew that exams and grief weren’t going to be an easy set of feelings to deal with, and I thought I had psyched myself up for it, but then I had Dad’s birthday to comprehend with and this just screamed out – “Ben you fool, you need a reality check!” I realised actually how much impact Dad’s birthday was going to have. But yet again I had put this to the side and tried to ignore it. Ben 0, Grief 1.
It felt as if grief was singing this to me

Since January, I have been seeing my amazing counsellor, Ruth. She has been able to help me open doors in my head that I didn’t ever think that I would be able to open. This is the way my brain feels sometimes

padlocks

 

Sometimes it feels as if unlocking the padlocks is going to be an impossible challenge, but somehow Ruth is able to allow me to unlock these padlocks, one by one, even if it is only one tiny turn of a key at a time. This ‘unlocking’ has enabled me to open up and deal with some of the feelings that are associated with grief. But ultimately, I am still crap at expressing myself – because of this it means that unfortunately my mind is always distracted elsewhere, this coupled with my lack of sleep, and stress (that I am sure every one of my friends knows about) is just driving me into a pit. My first exam is on Tuesday and I feel that I may crash before then, not because I am under revised, in fact its nothing really to do with the exams, it just the lack of me dealing with thinks and the lack of me being able to express myself is slowing driving me nuts and this is the first time I have admitted this, so I guess its one step in the right direction.

Before anyone says anything I AM NOT DOING TOO MUCH OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL…IT IS THE OUT-OF-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES THAT KEEP ME SANE AND PLUS I ENJOY REVISING IN A TENT ON THE QUANTOCKS OR IN THE MERLIN THEATRE, I am away from home and away from memories of my dad, it is a bit of respite and I concentrate better. That’s that rant over, but I need to keep going over the next few weeks, so a small plea to my friends, if you see me heading for a ditch, just tell me a funny joke/make me laugh and honestly you will do the world of good! To the teachers – don’t nag me, I will be a grumpy shit and you’ll regret it. Lets just get the 4 weeks of hell over with.

I have decided upon a date to scatter my dads ashes, and it is before I go away so I can treat my return to England as a fresh start and can then hopefully start to move on. I would like to thank both sides of my dads family for the support. I say ‘both’ because there is a disagreement between two sides, I am stuck in the middle, I have no issues with any of them. I intend to get on and talk to both sides. If people don’t like this, well they can piss right off. It is my life I will life it how I want to.

Things are getting there and the Admin side of dads death is almost sorted. So hopefully over the coming weeks and months, I can start to unlock more and more padlocks. I will be posting more regularly for my sake and also to express myself for the people who need to know.

All the best to everyone in their exams. Keep living life to its full, because you don’t ever know if it will be cut short!

Much love to my Mum, Emily, my friends and of course it goes without saying my Dad!

 

Its been a while… a lot has happened…

Two things seem appropriate to start this with. A song and a quote!
The song: Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol, this was the song that was played at my dads funeral and was one of his favourite songs, it is also one of mine.

The quote: “In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.” – Dalai Lama. This is a quote that Dad found when he was spending his last few days in Dorothy House Hospice. He used to to install positivity both on himself and those around him.

Now that we have got the introduction out of the way, let me give you a run down of what has happened in the almost 2 months since I last posted (so much for regular posts)…
– I have celebrated my first birthday without dad.
– I have had some really great moments
– I have had some really low moments
– I have had some really stressful moments
– I have had some really relaxed moments
– My head has returned, at points, to its vortexian (I think I made a word up) state
– AND Richard has returned at some very significant points

My Birthday…
I’m not going to lie, my birthday was very raw and I didn’t feel myself all day, however I put on a rock solid exterior and I managed to maintain it thanks to my friends, those of you that were in my lessons on that day, but especially to the lovely people that I eat much lunch with (you guys get a special mention). I didn’t really have time for the upset to hit me on my birthday as I was at school until 3, rehearsing until 6, then I had a staff meeting until about 11. So I came home and went straight to bed. Woke up on Friday and it was another day!

Low & Stressful
Well what I have discovered is that I stress myself out. I can’t work out how I am feeling sometimes, this leads to me getting frustrated, this then leads to me getting angry with myself. The anger frustrates me more, then I stress because I am frustrated… it’s a constant cycle! It is so difficult to break out of it!
When I am feeling like this, I feel low, in fact lower than low… I feel as if there is no ground beneath my feet. I think to myself, well who is to blame for this? I blame myself, but then I rule myself out. I blame the doctors that couldn’t save my dad, but I rule them out. Who’s left? The only person I can think of is Dad, but is blaming him justified…? I think so (in a way) because he has left me stranded in this very exposed world, with no ground beneath my feet. Thats not justifiable but any stretch. Now I know some of you reading maybe thinking ‘Why the hell is he blaming his dad? He couldn’t do anything about it!’ – I know this because its the response that I have had before. Now talking to my counsellor, she has reassured me that it is normal for me to do that because it is the centre of all my pain and distress.

The Great…
Thanks to my wonderful friends, family and colleagues I am able to have some really great moments! So I am going to take this opportunity to thank a few individuals, but I would like to thank every single person in my life for keeping me going. So the individuals…

  • My wonderful girlfriend Emily – for being there always and supporting me through the tough times. For loving me even when I am a complete dick.
  • My wonderful friends Claudia, Jess, Barney & Millie for always being there even when I am chatting total crap and making you cringe with my dreadful puns!
  • My wonderful colleagues at the Merlin Theatre – Matt & Claudia. Matt has been a constant source of inspiration for this blog, despite having to experience a dreadful illness, he’s still going strong – I really look up to him, no more words needed, so thanks Matt. Claudia for giving me the constant opportunities to progress in the world of theatre (even if I cock them up sometimes). Thank you for your support and guidance along the way, for being the Stage Mum and looking after me when I am falling into a heap.
  • My Stage Crew pal, and great friend Oli. Despite what mood I am in, whilst doing a show he manages to get a smile from me and calms me down if I am stressed/angry – thanks for the chat tonight Oli.

The list is not extensive and I would like to thank everyone who positively impacts my life.

The Return of Richard and his Vortex…
Now in my previous post I mentioned a bloke called Richard, or Dick for short (he’s not real before you ask), if you haven’t met him yet, look at my previous post. Anyway recently he has returned and he brought with him a vortex of emotions similar to those that I mention in my first post, it has really brought me down, but I haven’t shown my emotions lately because I have hardly had the time to think. But tonight Richard thought he would be clever…
I was entrusted by Claudia (Stage Mum) to do sound for her production and guess what I mucked it up and boy did Richard want to get to me about it, the little Dick was determined in crippling me! The show came to an end, I knew I had mucked up and Richard decided to attack. Claudia (Stage Mum) came to talk to me about things, I knew that I had mucked the sound up for her show. I know that the sound was pretty crap and it was my responsibility, so guess what Richard took advantage of my distress and I had a meltdown. I lost control of my emotions. So I just want to say sorry to Claudia for breaking down and to the cast, band, crew and audience of tonights performance as well as Claudia again for really mucking up the sound! I think I will stick to what I know next time (lighting or calling!). But thanks to Matt & Claudia, as well as Oli for cheering me up!

Well, thats a wrap as they say. I hope to blog sooner next time.

Some quotes to close…

Returning to my Dads favourite quote:

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Email: benjamin.manning99@gmail.com

Thanks for reading.

Just one of those days…

Why did I even bother leaving my bed?

Life likes to chuck things at you especially when you are low, least expect it or could do without it. Today was unfortunately one of the times life in its ultimate wisdom struck and boy did I know it.

When I emerged out of my bed this morning after experiencing a night of about 4 hours sleep, I just knew that my day was going to be unbelievably rubbish. I was right…

Relationships (family, friends and romantic) are all part of regular day to day life, and they often can form a basis for the way in which we live our lives. Now, when going through a bereavement, every single one of these types of relationships are tested, sometimes to the maximum – this can be a highly emotional time for everyone involved. It can often leave people extremely annoyed, angry, frustrated, upset…the list could go on, however I think you get my point. At this point you are probably thinking – well whats this got to do with anything…? 

Well this morning after my somewhat non-ideal night of sleep, I had breakfast and talked to my mum like any normal school morning but the walk to school changed that somewhat…
I have always had a fairly short temper, however since Dad died, I have been slightly more volatile and my resilience and strength to prevent little things getting to me has decreased significantly. As you can imagine this is not ideal in certain circumstances.
So when walking to school, a normal conversation got to me and despite having hours to think about why it did,  I am still not at all sure why it did. This flip of my temper, caused a tricky, heated and somewhat awkward situation between myself and somebody very important in my life. This I feel incredibly guilty for. I shall not publicly name the person, however those of you who know me will, I’m sure, with a bit of intelligence be able to work out whom it is I am talking about. So I would like to publicly apologise to that person for my outburst this morning.

This mornings events really set me off track for the rest of the day and left me struggling to concentrate (which as a GCSE student isn’t ideal) and I know that my actions wouldn’t have made my dad proud, in fact he probably would have had something to say about it – so Dad, I would like to apologise to you too!

This song seemed appropriate:

 

Working out why?

When I got home, I sat and tried to work out my feelings for about an hour. In this hour, I cried, I shouted, I yelled, I punched a wall multiple times, I tried to write down my feelings but I wasn’t getting anywhere. This just annoyed me even more. But finally I got somewhere, I sometimes get days where my head doesn’t feel like it is in the same place as it was before dad died (now this may sound strange to my friends because they may not think that I have changed as a person) but thats what it feels like. And as for these stupid outbursts of anger, I am going to call them Richard because sometimes they are a total Dick! They really throw me back.

Now as you may remember, in my last post, I mentioned the ‘Five Stages of Grief’ – in the last post I was able to identify what stage I was in, however today I was unable to do that, again this frustrated me!

I apologise to every single person who I was off with today. Its nothing personal, its just Richard trying to get at me. And to those of you who managed to get a smile out of me today and those who were willing to listen to me blabbing about my crap! Also a MASSIVE to Mrs Love (my GCSE Computing teacher) for always being there for me and always willing to listen to me, even if it is a repeat of everything I said not a week before.

What next…

My sincere apologies go out to those who I have been off with today!
My thanks goes out to those who have been there for me today!

Thank you for taking your time to read my blog. Sorry for the somewhat negative vibe! If anybody has any questions at all please feel free to email me on: benjamin.manning99@gmail.com

Shoutout to Matt Tipper for the continual inspiration!

Tomorrow is a new day and hopefully a fresh start with those who I have annoyed today!