H is For…

It’s a great month for mental health awareness, September is suicide prevention month and Thursday the 12th was R U Ok day. As some of our followers well know, mental health is a topic that is close to our hearts here at A Mind of Its Own. We’d like to think we are part time advocates and yet full-time suffers who are here to help others by spreading our message that it’s ok to go and seek help, it’s ok to be suffering and most importantly it’s okay not to be okay. So in tribute of mental health awareness we handed over the reigns to the big man and let him do what he does best and write this weeks installment all on his own. He took a big step last week personally in his journey through his battle with mental health. As a team we are proud of what he’s managed to achieve and the courage it took to do something so we’ll sign off and leave you to him.

There are a couple of days each year that I tend to get passionate about, AFL Grandfinal, Hockey grand final and well any sports final that is a good excuse to get on the cans (Tins) not breasts. But days where we get to stop and think about a cause that affects millions of people around the world, those are the days I am most passionate about. The causes that have not only affected me but those I care about and those I wish to help or at least attempt to help through my journey to wellness. As you go through this blog there is a lot of raw and emotional details that quite often gets left out of stories that are told but as some point they all come to light and need to breathe.

The term head fuck (sorry for swearing) was certainly something that was floating through my mind all day last Thursday. Whilst I can talk about pretty much anything there are certain topics that push my anxiety through the roof. Lets just say my body does not react well to stress or anxiety for that matter and given getting up in front of a lot of people is usually not my favourite thing to do unless it involves alcohol it was safe to say everything was on high alert and I was running the various ways it could all turn out in my head and what people would think of me once they knew everything about it or at least enough to start making their own opinions of me and what I am going through on a daily basis.

Sitting their palms clammy, chest tightening, thoughts racing through my head, in front of a group of people that know me as someone I am not. That is not my idea of fun or my idea something I want to do very often. Why was I there? I was there to tell my story, my battle, my fight, in the hope that it will inspire others to at least start the conversation. A conversation, any conversation, what we don’t often realise is that by having a simple conversation that we could be saving someone from themselves, from the darkness, from that abyss. Mental health issues affect everyone at some point throughout their lives. There have been times where I’ve sat at bars drinking my sorrows away talking to absolute strangers about my thoughts and feelings all because I knew the chances of seeing them again were slim to none.

And so last Thursday I dug deep and faced myself, my insecurities and my anxiety and depression head on but what I didn’t count on was the fact it would floor me a couple of days afterwards. I asked myself if it was a selfless act to help others or whether I did it more for me to face my fears. I left out a lot of the gory details but I shared enough that people understood that my journey hasn’t been easy. It took a woman for me to finally go and get myself some serious help. It only took one day where all my insecurities and issues flooded to the surface in a body wrenching panic attack that had me hugging the toilet bowl until I was sick. Sitting in the shower head in hands waiting for the next wave of nausea to hit me while my head swam in a sea of thoughts and self doubts that I couldn’t control.

I knew it was time for me to go and see someone, time to go and get some professional help and time to start putting my mental health first. I may not have done it for myself but I did do it for those I love and care about. I did what I needed to do to ensure I was on the road to recovery, on the road to rescuing what I could from that dark place I had ventured into. In a sense, who I am, hates who I’ve been. Yes, I thought it was weak to speak, I thought it was unmanly to not be ok, to let people know that I was not ok, I thought it cowardly to need help whether it be professional or from family or friends. Five years on and I now see that it takes more courage to speak your truth than it does to find every excuse under the sun to ignore what’s really going on.

So I sat there in a room full of colleagues and told the truth, the more I think about it the more I see that it wasn’t just for me it was for them to. If I got through to at least one person then I know I’ve made a difference. If not then at least I can say I did something that scared the absolute crap out me. It put me out of my comfort zone and made me face something I’ve often kept hidden from the public. It wasn’t that I was ashamed, it was that I didn’t think it was any of their business. I didn’t need everyone to know what I was going through, only those nearest and dearest to me needed to know that was going on. Then one day this blog started, first of all it was only ever meant to be an outlet for me to write as a coping mechanism something I would do to help me through the worst of it. Little by little I grew the courage and confidence until at one point last year the first A Mind Of Its Own post went live. Forever marking a milestone in my journey with mental health and a great day for our new fans who get some of their time wasted each and every week.

And we’ll continue to write, to spread the message and to question everything. I and the team will research what we don’t know, listen to other people and their opinions and continue to attempt to share both sides of the story even if we don’t like and or agree with them. We’ll also continue to highlight the stigma that comes hand in hand with mental health. We’ll give a voice to those who don’t have one or haven’t found the courage and confidence to speak up and ask for help. We are all about creating conversation or at least starting them and watching them go up like out of control bonfire and walking away. In some ways we are the instigators of the conversations that no one wants to have.

The following was written in a dark place at a dark time but it was written to give the reader a sense of what it’s like to suffer anxiety and depression from the mind of some who suffers and who is able to articulate feelings into words to allow a genuine description of what can and does go through the mind of someone who battles anxiety and depression on a daily basis. The description below is how it is to be in my head from time to time. It’s not always this way but a lot of the time it can be a dark fucking place where things make little to no sense. Well at least that dark place has helped us to create some kickass blogs over the past year that we a super proud of like really proud like a parent watching their child’s first dance recital or game of sport. So without further ado we hand back over to the bossman to show you the otherside.

Thousands of words flutter across the screen yet none of them make sense. Like your mind all scattered and your body that’s lost control. The legs that don’t work with the mind running at a million miles an hour. You question yourself and wander into the meadow of self pity and doubt. It’s not all flowers and greenery in your head, it’s the warzone with bullets flying, shells exploding and misery exposing itself to the world. Welcome to the daily struggles, the daily battle, welcome to my warzone. I don’t need you to challenge me I have a constant battle raging in my head. It’s a challenge to draw a ceasefire from the warring parties but there are days that you manage to negotiate a truce at least for a couple of hours before the first shots are fired to break the silence.

There are the days where the body just goes into shutdown or full revolt like the spanish in 1936. From feeling on top of the world one day to laying in the fetal position in the shower as you throw up from the anxiety induced nausea the next. Then comes the embarrassment like you’ve just crapped yourself in front of the entire school during assembling. Stuck in the infinite feedback loop of embarrassment that you let it get to the point you were physically sick and wanting to hide away from the world for days on end. That’s the sort of thing that goes through your mind once you’ve experienced the sweat, tears and chest tightening, nauseating effect that anxiety and depression can have on the body.

You wanted to understand it, see a little insight to daily life, well welcome to the world of an anxious man.Thoughts all battling to take centre stage, all there to make your mind a jumble of feelings, thoughts and constant complaints. And yet ours is just mild can you imagine a severe case of anxiety or depression. They say they understand yet they are often ill informed and question the why. Trust us when we say if we had the answers we’d tell you because we’d like to know ourselves. Why our smiles are often fake and our feelings are hidden behind a mask worn for the world’s sake just as much ours. We don’t really want the questions, sometimes we just want to be left alone in our darkness. Most of the time we’ll rise from our ashes like a phoenix born again until the next major battle.

It could be hours, days, weeks or months but nothing can prepare you for the next onslaught and the army marching through your mind, heart and soul. You might just get a taste of what it’s like for some of us on a daily basis and that will be enough for you to look into the light from the darkness. You still won’t understand or comprehend how we battle, how we strive, how we make it through the days but you will find a respect that wasn’t there before, something born from exposure to the thing you didn’t want to know or understand. Now you know a little bit more perhaps you’ll pay attention when someone needs or asks for some help. Maybe you’ll see the signs as they arise and be able to lend an ear because sometimes that’s all it takes, sometimes that’s all we need, someone to listen.

We’ll leave it there for another week and thank all our pundits for having a read of something that was a little hard for the big man to write but something that needed to make its way to screens of the men and women of Australia and the world. It’s something that we’ll continue to write about and something that will always be close to our hearts. We’ll continue to spread the message that it’s okay not to be ok and that it’s more than ok to seek help. So again we’ll wrap up this party and wish you all a fond farewell until next week or the week after. It really depends on who can come up with a new idea or blog and get it down on paper the quickest but never the less we’ll be back on your screens before you know it. So with that all said and done we wish you a bonza week and we’ll get back to you before you know it. A Mind of Its Own out…

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