When I chose with my head and not my heart

When I was admitted to the mental hospital Akeso Clinic Parktown for the second time last week, it was because of depression. May had been a down month, so my doctor admitted me.

Once more it was the best place to be when my life is not good. The first time I was psychotic from bipolar disorder (which I still have). That was in November 2016, I had hoped never to be an in-patient again.

I was admitted. I am an extrovert so just being around people the whole day long helped me feel better. More routine was also good for me. The group classes they have there are very helpful. Some I knew and were boring to me. Others I had completely forgotten about. Something that I didn’t enjoy was the lack of fresh air because most of the patients there are smokers, so all the balconies are ruined.

After classes were done in the evening I was usually bored, so I took some board games with and played chess and checkers.

Romantic and sexual relationships between patients are not allowed. Despite that, I really enjoyed playing checkers with one woman. Her name was Sarah (not her real name). We would play checkers and talk. She talked mostly, but I found it absolutely wonderful to just listen to her. We would get so engrossed in the conversation that when we looked down to the board we would often not know which side we were playing as.

She was a smoker. She came out of a 2-year abusive relationship. She tried to kill herself. She gets very jealous. The list went on and on. So many reasons for me not to date her. Despite that, I was addicted. Playing checkers with her was the highlight of my day.

Seeing my psychologist and psychiatrist almost daily, I kept them informed of this new relationship. They did some research into her and told me what I already knew: She was bad news. Despite that, I was just getting more attached. My dysfunction had found a match in hers.

I had been put on Lithium and was feeling better. So to keep us apart they decided to discharge me. I said goodbye to her and left. I sent her number to my father and then deleted it on my phone. That night she called and we talked for the last time. In 5 years I will contact her again. Then she should have sorted out some of her issues and I should have sorted out some of mine. Hopefully, we can meet again then and maybe have a relationship that won’t just be an endless cycle of drama and dysfunction.

If we had stayed together it would have been a trainwreck, it would have been co-dependency, it would have been anger and tears and hurt feelings and drama. Intellectually I knew it would have been very very bad, but my heart was deeply attracted.

I chose with my head. It was not an easy choice. I had to delete her number, or I know that I would have contacted her again.

I was sad. I still am. Hopefully, as time goes by I will know for certain that I made the right choice.

Have you ever chosen with your head instead of your heart? Was it the right choice? Let me know in the comments.

Joshua Marais




Another narrative fails

Saturday morning I woke up at almost 3 and I couldn’t go back to sleep because my back hurt no matter what position I tried sleeping in. The past few months I have been trying to maintain a posture that is at least functional and also trying to improve it. When I removed it from my main focus at the end of August it started sliding. It fell too far.

I did not panic. I knew that the narrative collapsing is not my life collapsing. It just meant back to one day at a time. When the sun came up I went on with my life. I was excited for the day and looked forward to going to a vegan food market. When I was home again that afternoon I took a nap. And woke up 5 hours later still dressed. Then I stood up and went through my normal bedtime routine.

The narrative was totally dead. I knew that I had to change in a major way. Probably sit a lot less and a lot of physio. I could not finish matric, read books and blog sitting down. Maybe a standing desk? Or voice dictation for the blogging? I did not know.

My foundations were incomplete and I knew that they might not be strong enough to build on. I had hoped to shore them up while also building higher, but that had not worked. So collapse, and then start from the beginning. Resisting it would not make it better. We need a strong body, or at least not a weak one, to focus on higher things, like mathematics or blogging.

The week before last I didn’t have a book review. Last week I also did not have a book review. The pace has become unsustainable.I do not get to reading a book every week and writing a book review on it. I am choosing other things that feel more important above reading. I’m now officially ending my commitment to have a book review out every Thursday.


RSA Hypnotherapy Course

This past weekend I attended a great hypnotherapy course at the conscious healing centre in Sandton. It was presented by Arno Stadler with much assistance from Brigette Bowles.

On previous hypnotherapy courses that I have attended there I was surprised and curious to see how much energy and attention I spent deciding whether or how much to eat of the biscuits that were usually laid out with the coffee and tea.

My higher self didn’t want to eat them because they are not that healthy and I wanted to perform at my best, uncrippled by bad eating habits.

My inner child just wanted to munch them up. I saw it as a rare opportunity to get cookies. *Sarcastically* which you know is such a rare and hard to get a hold of item.

Every time it was a struggle. I would not eat them, but with regret. I would eat them, and regret it. I would compromise and feel unsatisfied.

The Saturday was the first day of the course. At the first tea break, I didn’t eat any of the biscuits. The inner dialogue went something along the lines of: ” I can eat them anytime I want, but right now I don’t want to eat them so I won’t.” How much of that was true and how much just rationalisation I do not know. A large part of the discomfort I felt was that I became unsure of what I wanted and no longer trusted myself fully.

At lunch, I did eat some of the biscuits. If I had not eaten some the mental negotiation and compromise I had would have been completely shredded. It would have been an invitation for anarchy. Having a partially satisfied inner child still allowed you to function. If your inner child was in open rebellion, good luck mate. It was around first, can throw tantrums and hates being forced. So the first day ended almost in a draw, almost in conflict. Unease was in the air of the metaphorical saloon where my subconscious played the piano with a wary eye and a six-shooter within easy reach.

The second day dawned and all the players were darting glances and shifting around nervously.  Harmony was far from view. Figuratively.

To practically show us all how it really looks to do a resource state they would demonstrate by doing a session on one of us. Somebody was getting bonus therapy. Out of the 18 people there, 5 of us were willing or eager to be the guinea-pigs. You were not allowed to vote for yourself. When the votes were counted I had seven and the nearest had six. I was getting the front row seat.

One of us did the relaxation and then Arno took over. He set up Ideomotor signalling, which is just asking me to choose fingers for yes, no and I don’t know yet. So if I am deeply relaxed and don’t want to speak I can just twitch a finger. Then he asked if I had permission and support from my subconscious. I did not. Asking we found out that I would only have support as long as I was safe.

Then he led me on a visualisation where I spoke to my inner child and hugged him. He wasn’t feeling happy. He wanted me to play more. He wanted to have fun. He could have things just because he wanted to. There was no need for him to earn it. And not having fun was a lot worse to me than the minimal effects that I would feel from eating biscuits.

After crying and to-and-fro I could take my inner child’s hand and have him follow me to play.  After the session, I ate biscuits and enjoyed them. I also asked the girl there for a kiss that I had wanted to do for some time. She said no, but I still felt so much better for asking.


Now I will tell of what happened earlier the day.

One of the  guided meditations we did as a group was one where you forgive. You forgive other people, they forgive you and you forgive yourself. Because it’s hypnosis, the forgiveness is on an emotional level instead of the mental/verbal level that we usually forgive somebody.

The experience that each of us had varied wildly. Some were more bizarre than the average dream, some were just pleasant journeys of the imagination. All of us had emotional reactions. The instructors were well prepared with tissues. Another person and I cried hard.

A short description of what the meditation was: The normal introduction to focus on the person’s voice and allow yourself to be guided. Relaxation deepener. Then imagining a place that pleases us. Finding 3 doors. Entering each. In the one all the people that you have to forgive. Another with people who forgive you. The last with a mirror where you forgive yourself.

The room with the mirror was where most of the action happened for me. I had done other meditations before where you imagine yourself during different times of your life. Eg. five years ago, next year, five years from now. I experienced/ imagined something similar that time. In the mirror, I saw many selves. three or four were of me when I was younger. Forgiving my younger selves was emotional but not overwhelming.

I also saw older versions of myself. One a young adult somewhere in his twenties. The other old(to me), maybe forty years old. Trying to forgive them was overwhelming. I cried harder and tissues aplenty were needed. The group moved on to a visualisation of absorbing a rainbow but I was still caught up in the images of myself. Leaving each room we could imagine a book with the names of those we could not yet forgive.

The collective journey was over and I opened my eyes. Tears were still seeping out and I could feel a lot left to release. People shared their experiences and there was interesting variety but I was still focussing on myself. One other person was also not yet done crying. When I got more tissues they were used instantly. Then I left the room to continue crying.

I was crying for the pain and the mistakes. I knew that despite trying my best, despite the best intentions, I would still fail. Behind the intellectual rationalising, “There are no mistakes, only feedback.”; “Failing is part of life” There would be failure. I will still fail in life. It will still be terrible. It will still hurt deeply. All the personal strength or development will not change that. If I wanted to avoid such pain I would have to also cut myself off of some of the greatest joy and deepest satisfaction that one can feel. I would be blunted emotionally. We need the contrast. A permanent upside is no upside at all. And I no longer do that.  I know that to be an adult you have to be able to cry like a child.

Despite or because of meta-cognition, trying to keep my life in the right rhythm I will still at times dance with completely the wrong rhythm. Sometimes it will go terribly. It will be okay, but still terrible. I didn’t know if the pain would be mine, caused by me, or felt for someone. There and then I just felt the pain and allowed the emotion to flow.

I also felt pain from my past. Pain that I had buried, lied about to myself or fled to distraction. I cried on my own. I was raised as a Christian and have been an atheist for a long time but I beseeched god. Not God as an omnipotent paternal Christian but god as the song of the world, the spirit and meaning of the Universe.  I asked why I had been left alone. The answer I got from myself was that I needed to learn to how to dance on my own.

I did not believe in destiny years ago, but these days I do. Even if destiny is just our unconscious actions and beliefs.

After a while which felt like the perfect amount of time, Lance and Katya came out to comfort me.  It was soothing to be held by Katya while Lance stood by. Thank you both. Knowing that we go through life with other people and that they can hold you when it hurts is worth an absolute fortune.

After a while, it faded and I no longer cried. I had accepted, mostly released and was ready to move on.  The rest of the course went without special mention.

That night I went to an event and really enjoyed connecting with the people there. I feel that the more connected and accepting I am of myself the better I connect to others.


This course was sooo beneficial for me and I am grateful and excited that I will be able to share even a fraction of the experience with others as well. The people are so supportive and I feel a kinship of spirit with them. The presenters are excellent at what they do. The venue and setup are good. It’s awesome that I can access the feeling of being on top of the world anytime or place now.

To happiness, and beyond!





I intended to iterate in 3-day cycles until I found a relationship that served me more with food. What I have found is that my eating was out of kilter because my life was out of kilter. It was partly a way to self-sabotage. It is unlikely that you will be very productive or break bad habits if you are feeling sluggish and off from eating wrong. As well as not believing in my daily actions I was not believing in myself.

In part, I stopped trusting my voice in fear that I was wrong. General fear and uncertainty about the future and my ability to pull it off was fuel to the fire. Movies also became really boring. At some point, you just change out of frustration and resolve to attempt it, even though you might fail.

Through this, I wrote down some of my thoughts and analyzed them. I was blown away by how many beliefs I had circulating. No wonder some of them were conflicting and ground me to a stop. I used a lens that sees beliefs as assumptions about reality that pruned possible options to eliminate probable dead ends and allowed you to focus. Putting them on paper I saw that some were very flimsy. Working with assumptions that had little evidence to support them wasn’t very intelligent.

I questioned some and discarded others. Reducing them to thinking and mere interpretations allowed me to stop seeing them as cold facts of the world. It’s hard to fight reality. Interpretations can be changed, adapted or re-created.

Food was directly coupled to the rest of my life. I no longer needed to stop myself from myself. I need less to desperately distract myself from a world that seemed too terrible to face. I partially stopped delaying what was inevitable to me. I was willing to explore once again. So I did things that made eating a side-show. I brought back more authority to my choices and compassion for myself. I created the mental distance that allowed me to feel an impulse and not immediate react to it.

What did I eat during this wallowing? Too much bread with peanut butter and coconut oil. Sometimes cheese. Broccoli or rice with way too much mayonnaise. Pasta. Meat that did not seem genuinely appetising and left guilt. Generally too much, so that I was sometimes over-full. Sometimes I would eat when I wasn’t really hungry but just seeking something to do. If there was chocolate or sweets around it would have been gone. There wasn’t so yeah choice architecture!

To happiness, and beyond!

Finding the wrong routes.

I played a logic puzzle games called Grow Tower. It is not a very complicated game. You have to place blocks in different sequences, trying to grow your tower as high as you can. The blocks interact with each other and can set off cascades. You could solve it by just brute force trying all the different combinations, but it’s faster to see the patterns and construct a solution.

After finding most of the correct moves it still took a surprising amount of failed attempts to finally crack the pattern and beat it. It was very satisfying to do so. The animations were unique and I enjoyed watching them.

There are more such puzzles. A specific one that is a lot more complicated and has a completely different setup that one I have not cracked. I suspected for a while that I would not crack it by trying to keep it all in my head. Yet I still delayed in starting to write down the wrong solutions. This puzzle will take me at least a few hours, maybe more.

I have started to write down the wrong solutions so that I make sure not to retrace them. If I want to solve the puzzle I have to keep going.

We(I have) done the same in life. Not taking the effortful road even though we can see that the easy one is not going to work. Persisting with ineffective solutions. I don’t know whether it is just the sunk cost fallacy or whether people are just unwilling to accept that it will take a lot more work than they would have liked. A lot more than they thought initially. Huh. I’m just talking to myself again.

Persistence. To keep trying is something that could lead to more success in solving puzzles and in life generally. I wonder why I seem to quit near the end. When the going gets hard. Maybe school taught me that it is always easy. Yet I know some things cannot be bought. Discipline. Self-control. Self-confidence. Enthusiasm.

I think. Probably too much. But I think that we could all probably do with a measure of reflection. We could all stop doing the thing we know is not going to work. We don’t need to be afraid of trying and failing. The great journeys have many dead ends. Roads that end up at being only to a place with a great view are also worth walking. Life is a Brownian motion.  The game of life is truly worth playing.

To happiness, and beyond!


August Monthly Review

Another month.

My focus for this month was that of doing my physio exercises. I started well with a chain of 7 created in July. I managed to continue for another 10 days, making it 17 in total. That was the longest I would get it this month.

I lost my chain for 4 days and then restarted it. When Wednesday came along I did not do it before going to gymnastics and afterwards, I was tired and did not do it. The rest of the month was fitful and did not have chains longer than 2 days. The days when I did do it I did it before going to gymnastics. Leaving it for afterwards, when I had walked back and was exhausted did not succeed.

Getting to all that I wanted to do seemed hard. It felt like the week had only begun before it was time to do a book review or write a blog post once again. I can definitely improve in that aspect by planning ahead what I will read as well as general time management.

My experimental week where I did not attempt to do academic work was instructive. By chunking a lot of social interaction in a short space I have already adjusted and started calibrating in a another direction.

My learning Zulu from the gate guards also moved forward: I now know 20 words easily and 10 more barely.

As for my overarching narrative I still feel that there is something lacking. I want to move out and go and work, yet I also want to stay and get very good marks for my matric. Getting sick this past weekend was also not a pleasant experience. I am grateful for it, for by feeling really bad I re-appreciate just feeling normal and non-delirious once more. But I don’t want to be sick deliberately.

For the next month I will not choose one focus and track that. I am going to do 3-day iterations and review after each. Iterate what? My eating habits. I have not felt in control or highly supported by the food that I have eaten these last few months. I am above my ideal weight with somewhere between two and five kilograms. I don’t like it. I think it is easier to never get fat than it is to become thin again. So now I will give it focus until it is once more a place of strength.