An Eventful 2 Days

As some of you may or may not know I was due to marry my Love, Michelle, on Monday. If you know that then you will also be aware that she was 8 months pregnant at the time. Yes, it was risky to have a wedding that close, but feck it, we figured it would be ok.

So, the ceremony was short, sweet and lacking in babies (with the exception of my 3 year old nephew, but he is surely not a baby anymore). Everything was as it was supposed to be. We got married, signed the bits, took the photos and then headed for dinner in a classic Bentley! Beautiful! The day was going so well and we were delighted.

We made it to the venue, had the dinner, had the speeches, mingled and then Michelle headed up for a rest. This was at half 6 in the evening and we were enjoying our special day. Michelle had her usual aches and pains, or so we assumed. I got her wedding dress off so that she wouldn’t crease it while lying down and within 5 minutes her waters broke and her contractions started. 2 minutes apart and lasting 30 seconds each. Yeah, it was baby time. Turns out that the day was so good that our little bundle didn’t want to miss it, despite the fact there was still 4 weeks until her estimated check out time. Eager beaver indeed.

So, we got some clothes on the Mammy to be and headed for the car. I just had time to pay the DJ and apologise to him for having to leave abruptly on account of the waters breaking. He was shocked, I was shocked, Michelle was shocked, the baby was still cracking on.

Just to clarify, I had a couple of drinks (2) for dinner and did not want to risk driving. Michelle, with her 30 second contractions took the wheel. From Kippure estate in the Wicklow mountains to Dublin. She was a hero, this is why I married her.

Our birth plan went out the windows. The bags we prepared stayed at home. I made the call, straight to hospital. We arrived and a short 11 hours later little Anna-Marie Olivia Higgins came into the world with the sunrise. In a space of 18 hours we were catapulted from single people expecting a baby to a married couple with the most beautiful little girl in the world.

I fell in love with Michelle quite quickly. I fell in love with our little girl immediately!

One things for sure, it makes one hell of a story! One hell of a true story!

The Little Things

So Enda Kenny recently tweeted Twitter, it’s been a while… but it’s time to talk about the #littlethings“. Little Things, in case you don’t know, is the motto for the latest mental health PR campaign to hit Ireland and is run by the HSE. Ya know, the same organisation which manages our healthcare system.

So, Ireland and mental health. Yeah, we don’t even like saying mental health here, let alone do we like to talk about the issues surrounding it. It’s taboo, it’s worse than talking about anything else in the country. Mental Health issues? Nah, next topic please! The problems with these campaigns are that they never stick it out. The posters are left up for a while, the tweets flow for a little bit and the buzz words do the rounds on Kildare Street. We need a long term strategy to help the nation. We need to make our kids know that it’s ok to talk. That it’s ok to cry. That it’s ok to not feel strong all the time. Above all else we need to let them know that a permanent solution to a short term problem is not the answer.

What’s harder to ignore than mental health issues are the consequences of just presuming someone will be grand and ignoring the figures. For a moment I want you to think about how many funerals you’ve been to that were caused by suicides.

7. That’s how many I can recall right now. 7 funerals that were wholly avoidable if someone had just talked, or perhaps, if there was less of a stigma behind saying that you need help. 7 funerals. There were whispers at each one, whispers met with glances which clearly meant we don’t talk about that sort of thing. I heard an interview on the radio years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. A lady lost someone to suicide and she said something which has stuck with me ever since. As long as we keep whispering suicide we’ll still be dealing with suicide. As long as we keep denying that suicide exists we’ll still be dealing with suicide.

I am of the opinion that we are not a mental health friendly country. It’s all fine and well to show the public face on these things. It’s great, it definitely makes it look like we’re doing something. But are we making it more acceptable to stand up and say I need help? No, I don’t think so. We’re all supposed to grin and bear it and have our problems on our own. After all, we don’t want to make someone uncomfortable, do we?

It’s an unfortunate situation and it’s a high pressure one. For me the strain is starting to show. I’m getting married in less than a week, I’ll have my first baby in less than 5 weeks and I don’t have a steady income at the moment. It’s not that I don’t want to work, I have looked and applied and I have been rejected countless times. It’s killing the confidence, to be honest. So much so that I have a serious amount of doubt in myself at the moment. I find myself thinking;

Did I just waste all those years in college? What was the point in getting the masters? Why bother applying, you don’t have the experience, they won’t want you! It would probably be better if I wasn’t here!

It may sound crazy, but these are thoughts which flow through my head every time  I apply for jobs or even consider applying. These thoughts are made much better when it’s suggested I should just get a job (somehow I don’t think lack of applications is where I’m going wrong here).

I found myself at the recent open day for CarTrawler looking at jobs I was really interested in, but when I got in there I had a panic attack and I could not wait to get out. I put on a nice suit, brought copies of my CV, polished my shoes, had a haircut (Thanks to the lovely Michelle, without whom I would lose my freaking mind altogether) and even cleaned the car. As soon as I got in there I convinced myself I did not belong and thought about nothing but getting out. That was alarming. It felt like the weight of the world was on my chest and I could not breath. This has happened before so luckily I was fairly certain it wasn’t a heart attack. I just stayed in the car for 15 minutes, calmed myself down and kicked myself the entire way home, as you do.

The truth is that I’ve never really stopped kicking myself. It stops when it gets bad and everything just kind of comes to a head. Luckily I have Michelle and my Mother to read me like a book and help me through the rough patches. On the whole though, I’m a stubborn Irish man and I believe that I should be able to just get on with things. I should be strong and silent, but I’m afraid to talk about my mental health, that’s why I stay silent on the matter.

I’m afraid to talk about it because there is still a stigma in Ireland around the whole matter. Depressed? Nah, you’re just feeling down at the moment! Stressed? Nah, probably just a hangover! Suicidal? Sorry, eh, that’s my phone, see ya later!

I don’t know what’s crazier – Admitting I’ve thought about ending it all (I don’t anymore, I couldn’t do that to my wife-to-be or unborn child) or being afraid to ask for help for fear I might be shunned like a leper! 

Why would I be so open about this? Hopefully this might ring a bell with someone and make them feel less alone and less hopeless. Hopefully it will make someone look for The Little Things in their life which make them happy. So what do we need? We need to have a long term view on this. We need to be able to stand up and say “FUCK IT! I’m not alright!”. We need to teach the next generation that it’s ok to talk and that it’s ok not to be strong all the time. It’s ok to let someone else take a bit of the burden.

We need a change in thinking and to destigmatise mental health issues. But overall, we can only do this by changing little things as we go along. It’s easier to move rocks than it is to move mountains. Little steps, little things.

 

The Zombie Apocalypse

A lot of people spend a lot of time planning for the Zombie Apocalypse. What they’ll do, who they’ll save, where they’ll go. I’d be one of them, I think it’s quite important.

So what do you do? You plan for the occasion. You’ve got a world of nastiness trying to get in to feast on your ever so tasty flesh. Best to not let that happen really.

What do you plan for?

  • Make sure you know what’s going on first. Be an awful shame if you just went around the house swinging a bat and knocked your Mother clean out. Imagine discussing that over Christmas dinner for the rest of time. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
  • Do a roll check. Yeah, sounds a little bit like school, but it sure would be handy to know who’s still in the world of the living. Get people to sound off and if possible secure them in the one location. If it’s not possible then tell them to go to a predesignated safe spot, batten down the hatches and wait for help.
  • If the situation is truly dire and you have Zombie hands coming through the door then you need to bug out immediately. Have your escape route planned and make sure everyone knows the drill. If you live in your standard house then a jump out the window will probably not kill you. Don’t go head first. Feet first and try and roll when you hit the ground. Broken legs are far easier to recover from than a broken neck or the damage some house invading zombies will inflict on you.
  • Be prepared to defend yourself if you need to. If you absolutely have to fight the good fight then you do that. This should be used as simply a last resort. You’ve tried everything else. You can’t escape, you can’t account for your loved one’s, you’ll have to fight it out. Remember, you’re not there for the 15 rounds. Move quick and stay low. If you watch rugby then you’ll notice that the best and most effective tackles occur below the waist. This is the best way of taking someone to ground. Fighting is exhausting and you need your energy to live.
  • Know your escape routes. Know where the keys to the doors are. Know who’s in the house. Know where you agreed to meet when you get out. Remember to bring a phone, you’ll need to call for help.

So there ya have it. A quick guide to what to do if Zombies come knocking. It’s always a bit of craic to talk about that, especially with The Walking Dead coming back on our screens.

Now, I would like you to substitute “Zombies” for “Fire” and “Burglary”. When was the last time you planned for that?

Know your way out. Know your plan. Know who’s in the house. Know what to do. Know that your family’s safety is paramount above all else. Things can be replaced people can’t be.

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

So tell me your faults

The question in an interview that you always know you’re going to be asked, but you never quite know how to answer.

Realistically, what are you supposed to say to “tell me your faults”? They may as well say “tell me what’s wrong with you, c’mon, I dare ya!”.

It’s the impossible question to answer correctly. It is the Kobayashi Maru of the interview world.  So what do you say to it? Well, you think up your most endearing quirks:

  1. Oh, me? Oh yeah, I definitely work longer than the hours expected of me (this is unfortunately true, as my wife to be and previous 60 something hour a week job will attest to).
  2. I’m far too nice sometimes (Nope, not really! You eat my lunch, I will go all Ross Geller on you!).
  3. I sometimes find it hard to leave my work in the office (Sometimes true, but then again, only because some employers make it impossible for you to leave it at the door).
  4. I always try and please everybody (I don’t. You can’t. It’s impossible. All you can do is your best. You can please some of the people some of the time et cetera et cetera).
  5. I’m too much of a perfectionist (What! Really?! Every time I say this I feel like I’m screaming HIRE ME YOU F***ER, SURE I’M TELLING YOU I’M BRILLIANT).

Tell me your faults. To the interviewee it reads like an invitation to openly lie about how bleeding deadly you are.

Think about it, what if you were honest? Would they openly welcome you in as the pint swilling rugby fan with a penchant for Facebook stalking until 4 in the morning (Oops, I accidentally clicked like on a photo from 2009 on my cousins friends sisters friends bikini picture from Ibiza).

So what is the question all about? I think it may be a trick question. A question put there to try and identify just who the insane people are. When you think about it you end up spending more waking hours with the people you work with then your own family. You kind of want to be sure that the dude(tte) sitting on the opposite side of the table isn’t going to come in in a long trench coat someday muttering about the reckoning.

Is there a right answer? No, I don’t think so. However, I do think there are varying degrees of wrong answers. As long as you don’t leave the person on the other side of the desk screaming for the cops, then you probably did ok.

So what will I say the next time that question is put to me? My faults, you say? Well, I stay up too late, I watch far too many Zombie films, I have a slight obsession with Scarlett Johansson (especially in 3D), I don’t really exercise enough, I tend to undress across the bedroom floor leaving a minefield of clothes for the missus to contend with and yeah, that cup of tea without a coaster underneath? Yep, my work!

Actually, I might just tell them that I work outside of my designated hours, that I’m far too nice, I bring my work home with me, I try to please everyone and I’m absolutely a perfcetionist!

Irish Water

Ya know what? Screw it, I’m gonna say it…we need to pay for our water and that’s a fact. Unfortunately we can’t continue to “piss it away”!

However, that doesn’t mean I agree with the way Irish Water, the Government or the protesters are handling the current situation. Irish water are being ridiculous in their handling of the situation,  the government should probably reconsider their “just do it” stance and the protesters really need to look into who they’re following. Also, look up the legality of this “No contract no consent” bull. No, really, do! It’s bull!

Our population is growing by the day (I’m adding to that at the end of November) and we need to ensure there is a water supply for our children and that the infrastructure to support it is put in place. That’s a good idea.

Unfortunately up to this point the whole thing has been handled terribly by everyone.

Irish water should really reconsider their communication strategy and get the hell off social media! Also, not going on €6,000 yoga retreats would really help people to not hate them.

The government should put their hands up, admit it’s a mess, and try and take control instead of shirking their responsibility. Should they decide not to then they are delivering the future of this country into the hands of Sinn Fein (and their crazy inept policies).

The protesters. Unfortunately I would be of the opinion that the protests at the moment are the result of misdirected anger. All too often the protests feature signs, placards, rants and songs about bankers, property tax and the celtic tiger! Having to pay for water just seems to be the straw that broke the camels back. Also, take a look at the personal agendas of the people starting this. The people running the whole abolish the charge thing as an election promise will jump on any bandwagon they believe will get them a handy number on Kildare Street. Be wary!

Having to pay for our water and for upgrades to the system it is carried in is unfortunately one of the more sensible things the austerity masters have brought in. It’s just been handled about as well as a 2 year old with a can of petrol and some matches, somewhere along the line it was always going to be a disaster!

My Ultimate Film

Basically it would be a combination of “Taken”, “The Guard” and “Intermission”. And it would be called “Hard as nails C***s” (the name can be negotiated.

So what do these films have in common? Liam Neeson, Colm Meaney and Brendan Gleeson all play rogues. Liam Neeson is the lethal weapon, Brendan Gleeson is the happy go lucky craic having cop and Colm Meaney is the dedicated agent of the law.

How hard could it be to get these 3 into a film together? Gleeson and Meaney already played Guards (we all know Gleeson survived at the end of The Guard). All we need is for Neeson to have a stopover at Shannon that goes on a bit too long and then BOOM…something happens. Anything happens. It doesn’t really matter what happens. All that matters is that these 3 are combined in hitting back.

OK, now I’ve put that idea out there, could someone please do that? PLEASE?!

Top 5 most annoying Facebook Characters

We can all think of someone when it comes down to annoying Facebook Characters. Hell, I can hardly say I’m innocent of not being annoying on social media every now and then! #Obvious

What I’m gonna do here is have a look at the Top 5 most annoying Facebook Characters. Starting with Number 5:

Number 5: The Health Status Updater. Yep, got it, you’ve got diarrhea and a runny nose. Don’t care. Get some 7UP, stick it in the microwave and away ya go. If you’re that sick then surely you don’t have time to be updating Facebook? Oh wait, you even have time to upload a picture. Best to stay off the internet. Forever. Please.

Number 4: The Character Assassin. Ya know this one. The one who complains about that certain someone who they thought they could trust but really couldn’t so now they must tell the world, but not reveal that certain someone. But don’t worry, apparently karma is a bitch. This is normally followed by a stream of comments consisting of; “You ok hun? Xoxo”, “Who is it hun? X”, “Pm sent x”. This is passive aggression in it’s silliest form. The really funny thing is that the person about whom you are talking knows you probably mean them and will comment on or like your status. It’s a vicious circle really.

Number 3: The couple. OK, so this one is one of the most annoying. Ya get a couple and they live on Facebook. They tell the world everything about their relationship and how fantastic it is. You just know that this couple are probably too busy showing the world how much they love each other and not enough time actually showing it to each other. After all, if they were that enamored with each other would they have enough time to spread the word about it? Besides, half the time these couples end up going from; “In a relationship” –> “It’s complicated” –> “Single” followed by “You ok hun? Xoxo”, “Who is it hun? X”, “Pm sent x”.

Number 2: The armchair revolutionary. Overthrow the government you say? Start a revolution? Change the norm? Take back the power? Off ya go so, lead the way. Oh, after the next cup of tea? Back into your chair you go. I know we Irish know how to complain and do we ever complain, and then not do anything. Here’s a hint, if you see a foolproof way to fight the power by updating a very long status update, look up the legality of it. Chances are if you’ve seen it on Facebook it’s probably a lie.

Number 1: The Game Invite Person. Nope, I don’t want to play your Facebook game with you. Please stop inviting me. Oh look, another game. Nope, don’t wanna play that one either. I think we can all agree that this is one of the most annoying trends on Facebook. Ya wait all day for a notification and then BOOM, ya get one, it’s an invite. Nope, block. I’m only on Facebook to stalk people, complain and put up pictures of my cat, like normal people, jeez.

Now, there’s my top 5 most annoying characters on Facebook. What are yours?

 

Wouldn’t care if he was selling nuclear weapons to children

It’s the problem with modern big corporations, they aren’t chasing dreams anymore, just figures and money. It made me think; some businesses wouldn’t care if they were selling nuclear weapons to children as long as:

  1. The children had the money to pay and;
  2. They could get away with it!

Working for a big company is fine, as long as you know they won’t care about you or anyone else that works there. It’s all well and good taking in your wage but when it comes to working for a place where their dreams revolve around figures and dollars then you become expendable.

Yes, I know, you need money to survive, but if you have a dream and if you haven’t the balls to follow it and you settle for a faceless job, then they’ll eventually quash that spark inside of you. If that’s ok with you, then ok, that’s your choice, let your idea and spark die. Your choice, just don’t complain about it!

The real crime is not in failing, but in not trying.

 

More than just lifting

So it looks like I’ll be doing more than just lifting now. Well, obviously, I’ll still carry the bags. Thankfully I’ll be getting some professional guidance from Michelle’s physio/pilates/former midwife instructor extraordinaire lady in Celbridge Pilates.

Yesterday I attended a relaxation class which Adeline puts on for her pregnant clients. If you’re wondering, yes, I fell asleep and yes I snored a little (much to Michelle’s chagrin). It was nice to properly relax.

So I eventually woke up and Adeline switched off the recording. Michelle had floated the idea that I would be interested in attending her class to see how I could help and try and further understand the upcoming task. Adeline has decided to bring the Dad’s into the loop, starting in October, for Q&A and probably hints and tips. Apparently other Dad’s are interested too!

I think this will make the whole thing less scary and more manageable. I get the idea that sometimes things are out of my control. It will be good to know the difference between helping and hindering.

The Parents

I recently imparted the smallest bit of wisdom on a friend of mine, something I shouldn’t have really known, but something I learned from someone else. It felt good and got me thinking, again, because I think a lot. That’s what I’ll be (hopefully) doing for my child, giving them little bits and pieces along the way.

Then I started thinking again. I just presumed that both of my parents just knew things. They were patents after all, they should know everything! What I’m starting to understand is that they were telling me the little bits and pieces they had learned along the way. I never really gave them credit for just being people.

So now I really feel for my Mam for the pressure she must have been under and I really miss my Auld lad for not being able to share this moment of clarity with him. I’m sure he would have just laughed and patted me on the back.

So hopefully I can let my child know that I am just a person and that I do make mistakes. They’ll understand right? Nah, not at all!

Husband & Father. Green hat with a hint of Black, White, Yellow, Red & Blue.

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