Day 382, I met with the aforementioned individual who has offered to mentor me, yesterday. Ahead of the meeting I was feeling a mixture of apprehension and excitement. I was excited at his obvious confidence in his ability to help me improve my speaking and felt apprehensive because I believed us to be different personalities and I feared rejection. From the perspective of low self esteem, my mind automatically puts people who I perceive to be better at me in some area (in this case public speaking) on a pedestal, and I negatively compare myself to them. I also find myself easily swayed by their opinions (because their opinion has got to be worth more than mine, right?). Happily, my belief in this way of thinking is waning. I am so glad that we did meet yesterday. I found him to be a highly interesting individual with clearly a lot of wisdom and experience to offer. Although we are different personalities, we also have a lot in common in relation to where we have both been in the past with mental health. I think that he assumed my story had been similar to his and recognised a kindred spirit. He stated that he sees so much potential in me and wants to help develop my confidence. After the few hours that we shared together, I was left feeling ecstatic about the conversation we shared and my future growth as a speaker. I enjoyed our conversation immensely and it is clear that there is much I can learn from this individual. He has put together a plan of action for developing my speaking confidence which involves doing lots of table topics. My anxiety came up in the conversation. He said not to see it as an obstacle to effective public speaking but an aid. It will never go away no matter how accomplished a speaker I become. I have to learn to channel it. I'm coming to an end of month's trial of a gluten free diet. I am inconclusive as to whether it has made a difference to my mental health. I can still experience pretty strong episodes of anxiety which cause me to despair, but this is within a picture that is altogether more brighter. I have become a more optimistic, positive and self-loving person. This isn't possible without the daily effort I make to congratulate and be kind towards myself. In truth, my diet hasn't been entirely gluten free. I have eaten small amounts of gluten accidentally before realising that certain products contained the protein. I may have to go on a gluten binge to see the difference, yet if I have eaten some gluten already, the experiment may never have been valid in the first place. Regardless, from the things I have read about gluten so far, it seems like a good thing to cut out from my diet permanently. Over the past two weeks, I have also tried to follow Dr.Perlmutter's guidelines closely on a high fat and protein and low carb diet. Within the past few days I have had to deviate from this diet because I was losing too much weight that I cannot afford to lose. I also felt tired and lacked energy and concentration in the day at work. As vegetables don't produce much energy, the only way to get the calories I needed on this diet was to eat a ridiculous amount of meat, fish and eggs. I am a pescetarian, so it was already difficult getting my daily recommended calorific intake after cutting down on carbs. . I have decided to create my own middle way diet based on wider reading. While the evidence on gluten being harmful for the body seems pretty damming on the whole, the jury is still out on Perlmutter's claims that it is best to reduce or even cut out carbs altogether from the diet. My new policy is that I will keep up the fat and protein intake, while eating moderate amounts of carbs. I am eating gluten free bread again, but only 3-4 slices a day. Essentially, it is a balanced diet with a nuance about not going overboard with carbs, and refined carbs in particular. I sorted out my holiday this week and have got round to finally booking some time off. I couldn't find a residential retreat running in August easily accessible by public transport, so I decided to opt for a small break down in Kent, where I studied at University. I am going to spend a few days with a relative who lives in the county before going back to my University city and revisiting the old haunts. I love this beautiful county. The Garden of England is an apt description for a stunning landscape of rolling hills and rich woodland. I am looking forward to having a relaxing break, spending time with friends and family, and being spiritually nourished by nature. Although I wasn't able to find a residential retreat for the time of my annual leave, I have managed to put together my own retreat weekend of sorts by combining an afternoon retreat at the Zen temple and another, day retreat on Sunday at the Triratna Buddhist centre, both of which I am looking forward to greatly. My progress with sleep has reached a plateau. I had a few days when I woke up feeling a bit groggy, but I have had some goodish nights too. I still seem to be waking up around 5.00-5.30 and I don't know why that is. In my struggle to keep on top of everything, I have been pushing myself to get a lot done in the evenings. The downside of this is that my mind doesn't always get the period of calm it needs to settle before sleep.