Category Archives: Mental Health

Climbing Mountains

As I said in a previous post I was looking at starting counselling again. To reiterate, it’s not because I think I’m on the verge of losing ALL my marbles but rather I’m doing it to help me get through some rough seas. To be honest I think it’s something which a lot of people could use.

It’s a lot like mountain climbing. You look up and are in awe of the place you want to be. It’s so far away and you never think you’re going to get there. The thing you have to realise is that you can’t really think about the top, you can’t really think about the place you want to be, you just have to concentrate on taking that next step, that’s all. Unfortunately for me I’m not Superman, so it is highly unlikely I’ll do this in one bound. I’ll have to put the effort in and just take it bit by bit.

That’s where I think I’m falling down. All I can see is the big picture. In every picture there are little bits. Little sections that make up the whole scene. Looking at the big picture in your head and just expecting it all to come together is overwhelming. It’s very stressful trying to get all those things on the canvas at once.

So I’m going to start mountain climbing instead. Hopefully I’ll also start that again literally. But metaphorically I’m going to start taking things step by step. Little steps and little changes. Little obstacles and little jumps.

Maybe someone might read this who needs a little push or who needs to see they’re not alone. As REM said; Everybody Hurts. So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop, breath and do something small. Take a little step. Make a little change. It’s the little things which matter.

Couch to 5K – Day 2

So it’s only day 2, still early days, but I’m still feeling optimistic about the whole thing. Just to make this a little clearer, I have done a few 10km and 5km runs in the past. The problem was that I hate running, as I said. I have very little knowledge of running techniques or best practice so always just end up hurting myself and feeling it for weeks after. That’s always put a dampener on the whole thing for me. It was never any fun, I didn’t really enjoy it. I enjoyed the medals but always felt I was doing it wrong.

So this is where the couch to 5k will shine for me. Hopefully I’ll learn a lot more than I knew and make this form of exercise a life long thing for me. I figure that I owe it to my daughter, my wife and yes even myself.

I know, you’re all dying to know how we got on tonight, right? It was good. The important thing is that it’s broken down into manageable sections and we just go at our own pace. The people there are all there for the same thing and that feels good. There’s no pressure, it’s structured and there is support there for you.

In the past I only really liked to exercise alone, but I have to say that it is nice having the little lady there. We have a laugh, we talk, we joke and we support each other. That’s nice at the end of the day.

My advice at this stage is that if you’re thinking of taking a positive step like this then do it, what’s the worst that can happen? You go at your own comfortable pace and just get on with it. So grab some comfy runners and get out there.

The hardest step in this was getting started, that first night going up. But even now this early in I’m definitely glad I’ve started!

A Social Friend

Social media is a hobby of mine. It’s an annoying, rewarding, draining and informative hobby of mine. It is many things and it has many purposes. The one underlying selling point behind any social media networking platform is that it is meant to make it easier for you to stay in touch with people. So my question this week…is a social media friend a real friend?

Unfortunately the answer is not as easy as a straightforward yes or no, it’s a kinda depends answer. It also depends on what you’re using. Twitter for instance is usually a no. I have 1,000 or so followers on twitter at the moment and I doubt I will ever get to meet 10% of them. Instagram, that’s another one. I interact with people purely based on photos and little else. LinkedIn is for business. I never LOL or LMAO on LinkedIn (in fact I haha, not LOL). There are many more and they all produce the same answer. Yes, it’s nice that you follow me and I appreciate it, but let’s not swap addresses just yet.

Facebook, now that’s the one that’s getting all too real. For some people their whole lives are lived out on Facebook so it would be just logical that their friends on that are their real friends, right? Wrong. Facebook is strange. It really has integrated itself into every part of our lives.

It’s an odd one really. Facebook allows us to show our best sides to the world. It turns the introverts into the extroverts and the passive into the militant. All without doing a thing. It allows us to feel connected when in reality we’re isolated. It also allows us to become the ultra creeps that reality and society wouldn’t tolerate. If you end a relationship, be it a partner, friend or just somebody you can no longer stand you are expected to move on. However, Facebook makes that impossible. Which in my eyes makes Facebook unhealthy. If you break up with someone you don’t stay outside the house waiting for them to do something, yet you’ll stay on Facebook waiting for them to check in or upload a photo, thus negating any positive action you had taken to move on. Remember, the person you see on Facebook is not the real person.

In recent months I’ve had people who are on my Facebook friends list completely blank me and not attempt to say hello. It’s not a nastiness in them, I don’t think they dislike me, I just don’t think we’re friends, and that’s ok, we don’t have to be. As I type this a lady within ear shot has taken someone off her wedding invite list because they’re not a Facebook friend and they never added them as a friend. But really, is a social friend a real friend? No, I don’t think so.

People who maintain social media friendships are fair weather friends. They choose when to interact with you and when not to interact. They make a conscious decision that they only want to be there for the good stuff. A real friend is there for the good and the bad. The tears and the laughs. The ups and the downs. A social friend is there exclusively when they want to be. That to me is counter productive to the human condition.

Facebook is dragging online issues into the offline world. It’s making us into an awfully anti social bunch altogether. Perhaps it would help us all if we cared less about who was liking our updates and cared more about who wanted to meet for coffee. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing if we paid more attention to the people in front of us and less to the people stalking us online!

What do you think? Is social networking the most anti social thing to have happened to us? Do you type LOL more than you laugh with people? Let me know in the comments!

 

A Bad Week

So some weeks you have your good days and your bad days. The past week was a bad one for me. Unfortunately I did the one thing I told my (relatively new) wife I wouldn’t do and I kept it to myself. OK, so there are plenty of things I told her I wouldn’t do, but in terms of things to not tell her, that was a no no. Sure, I could go out and have the 10oz steak and tell her I had the side salad, but when it comes to mental health I think we’re both quite clear on the subject. Talk or it will eat you up.

I’m not saying we’re brilliant at the whole expressing ourselves thing, far from it really, but we are learning. We’re learning that keeping it inside often just makes the whole situation a hell of a lot worse. So it was a bad week.

In the grand scheme of things I don’t have it too bad. I have a wife who loves me and a child who lights up when she sees me. Somewhere along the line though I buried something and didn’t talk about it and then something else went in on top of that and then I piled in more on top of that. It was the second anniversary of my Fathers death last week and I guess that was the straw that broke the camels back. All I could hear was the doubt in the back of my head creeping in. All the negativity of the past year had just caved in on me and I was stuck under an avalanche of issues. Ya know, the usual worries and fears had come home to roost. Like a monkey on my back just tapping away at me:

Hey, why haven’t you gotten a career yet, loser? Still no sign of that house for your family, no? Ya know your daughter is going to be ashamed of you, right? You’re doing everything wrong, why are you bothering? That idea will never work, best to just give up! 

Some of those are actual questions (although phrased differently) that have been put to me over the past year. I’m not a weak guy, in fact, at one stage I could actually bench press more than my body weight (I’m also not a light guy). That doubt though, that monkey on my back, was like a weight on my chest, pushing me down into quicksand. I was sinking.

Eventually I cracked, it had to come out. Thankfully my wife was there for me and could help me and we hugged it through. So we settled on a few things:

  1. The negative voices are wrong!
  2. The negative people should be forgotten and be allowed to be miserable on their own time!
  3. My daughter will not care about what I do as long as I’m there for her.
  4. I need to revisit the idea of counselling.

That last one came as a sort of calming revelation. I had been to counselling during secondary school and briefly during my Masters and found it to be very beneficial. It’s not the kind of thing that you have to cling onto for life, but it certainly helps when you’re mentally hitting bottom. Talking things through always helps. At the very least I will not do this for me, but for my daughter. She needs a Dad and she needs one that can cope. Last week I was not coping. Admitting that was hard.

So, now I’ll go to counselling. Hopefully someone will read this and will maybe take a look at themselves and decide that f*** it, I could use a hand to get through this rough patch in my life right now. Counselling is like mountain climbing, you’ll only ever do it one step at a time. Strength does not lie in refusing help, but embracing it.