Who Are You Anyway?…

This week we let the editor-in-chief take the reigns and share a letter he wrote to himself in a drunken haze, while he had to do a lot of editing, rewriting and sometimes guessing as to what he had written we thought it would be a good idea to share it with you all as an example of when things go shit that you can often remind yourself that there is always a future out there that you control. Because when you are at rock bottom the only way is up and sometimes we just need the rope and harness thrown down to us so we can start pulling ourselves out of the hole, hand over hand. So without wasting anymore of your time we’ll handover the keyboard to the boss and allow him to hit Ctrl+V and paste the letter and allow you all to read, ponder and question like we did whether we should have him committed.

Dear Editor-In-Chief,

If you are reading this it’s for a good reason, you wrote this letter to remind yourself that despite how you are feeling right at this very moment in time, as your eyes move from line to line reading every word and taking it all in. Things will get better, they have to get better and you will heal, we all heal. It just takes times and time is something you have plenty of. Make the most of the days, weeks, months and years you have on this planet and continue to have no regrets. There’s a difference between doing something and paying it lip service but you have always known that. It’s ok to be sad and upset, it’s ok to be angry but most of all it’s ok to feel the way you do. It’s natural and it’s part of the process, they say you’ll go through all the emotions and maybe you will, maybe you won’t there will however be a process that you will go through. But remember this letter is to remind you that in time things will get better but before then you will have some choices to make. Some that are easy, some that will be hard but at the end of the day you are the one who gets to decide on them. As you’ve always said you make your decision and you stick by it.

 

Like an absentee voter on election day, you have been missing for the last couple of weeks. While your body fills the seat in which you sit typing this, your spirit and mind are nowhere to be seen. Like a lost cat of dog you may need lost & found posters stuck to every light pole in the area offering a reward for your soul and spirit to be found. They are truly missing and with them you have lost the rest of yourself. You are a walking husk that resembles a zombie more times than not lately. Sleep eludes you as you lay awake pondering the future, past and present. You’ve lost the ability to find joy in life and people are starting to notice. Your colleagues at work and friends question how much you are sleeping and what you are doing with yourself in your spare time. They worry about you as does your family. You’ve never been one to take things lightly and we know you’ll be assessing everything and questioning yourself and everything going forward in life.

You might feel that life sucks at the moment and your life is coming down around you. Those foundations you built and planned on expanding upon are cracking, splintering and starting to literally fall to pieces like some dodgy tradesman’s handiwork. What you forgot to remember was the one thing you’ve told yourself time and time again. No plan survives initial contact and what could possibly go wrong, will certainly go wrong. Life has a habit of throwing people curveballs and though you might not be able to see it in this point in time you aren’t the only person who is going through things at this point in time. That being said you have some decisions to start making and for that you will need the following things.

 

Firstly you’ll need a clear head so do yourself a favour and put down the bottle. Sit and ask yourself how much alcohol you have consumed since that fateful day in late April? How many hangovers have you had? Ask yourself how your body feels and whether it’s coping with all the poison that you continue to pour into it night after night alone in the dark attempting to numb the pain and loss you are feeling. Put on your big boy pants mate, pour the drink down the sink and start to take life by the proverbial balls, take it like a man, yeah wrong choice of words but you know what we mean. You need to take a breath and put your general wellbeing in front of your current need not to feel a goddamn thing. There is a lesson in all of this somewhere and once you clear your mind you’ll have a little bit more of an idea what that might be but until them the wheels will keep spinning in the haze of your mind.

The second thing you need to do is stop looking for answers and reasons as to why. All it is doing is causing your anxiety to sky rocket and your depression to drag you back towards to that dark pit. Having been there before you know it’s not a good place for you to be and you’ll just make things worse for yourself than better if you let this drag you down. You want answers we get that, but sometimes there are no answers and you know that better than most people. You can feel the pain and hurt that comes with each word spoken between you. The tears you’ve shed are only just the beginning of the rough road that you will need to walk over the next couple of months. There will be good days and bad days but firstly you need to stop looking for answers, they’ll come over time and at present there are no answers. There is no one to blame, there isn’t a single moment that lead to this, this is life and unfortunately it will surprise you from time to time.

 

Not having someone or something to blame can be hard but it gives you something a lot of people don’t get and that’s opportunity, an opportunity to still keep some form of friendship, some form of decorum between the two of you and most importantly a piece of your heart still intact. Having that piece of heart allows the memories of the good times to far outweigh the bad. But should you continue to search for answers your mind is always going to be second guessing everything and everyone throughout your life. You deserve happiness and to have everything you want in your life you just need reminding of that from time to time, reminding that at the end of the day you are both good people who deserve the best in life and to be truly happy. It takes courage to speak your truth, remember that as you forge through the fog that is currently your world.

Thirdly don’t close yourself off from everyone and everything, in times like these it’s easy to throw up walls to protect yourself. It’s also very easy to shut yourself off from the world and become a hermit. You though need human interaction, you will go crazy if you are left alone with your thoughts and feelings. We are not saying distract yourself and not think about things we are saying don’t become a hermit. Don’t become detached from all the things that make you who you are. Make you the person that started on this journey, the person you have always been, the person you will always be. You owe it to yourself to get one foot in front of the other and continue on in the world. It’ll be hard, it’ll be damn hard but what alternatives do you have?

Drink yourself into a black hole after working so hard to get yourself out of the pit, spiral out of control and watch your life to continue falling apart? Lose your job because you are two hungover to turn up to work. Your friends give up on you because you don’t want to help yourself and turn them all away as no one could possibly know the pain and hurt you are going through. All that self pity won’t be worth a damn when you are on your own and a full blown alcoholic who needs rehab but no one is willing to help push you there. The only person you have to blame is yourself, you had an opportunity to make a decision early on in the piece how you handled this. Hence this letter. You are better than that and that is exactly why you made yourself write this letter to remind you that no matter how bad things get there is always going to be some good come from the worst of pain and loss.

Chin up and straighten that upper lip soldier, cry when you need to cry and lean on your friends and family. You are not alone and things could always be worse than they currently are. This will pass and the pain will heal with time remember that and if you need a reminder read through this letter and remember all the good times. Until then you are loved and appreciated always remember that. Get back into a routine and get yourself back to the fit, fun, friendly person you know you are. It won’t make the pain go away but it will certainly help you as you’ll have something to focus on and a goal to work towards. Until then believe in yourself you are your own hero.

Your biggest fan and supporter.

You

When writing this the intent was to remind myself that no matter what the darkest days hold there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. While friends and family will be there to provide support and love they can’t be the ones to push you to forge forward with life that is on you and upto you to pull yourself through the fog into the light. It’ll take time as does everything when you are healing or trying to get past something that has hurt and saddened you to the core. At the end of the day i know I will be fine and I’ll be able to move on with life but for now I’ll shed a tear or two knowing that a chapter has finished in my life and that I have no regrets. Some of the best memories in my life have been made over the past couple of years and I’ve met some amazing and uniquely wonderful people who all have a story of their own to tell.

We all go through tough times in our lives, times that test us and show us what we are truly made of and what it takes to come back from the darkest of pits the lowest of days and highest of highs. Life, it’s never a guarantee that everything will be ok or go the way you want it to, that’s the thing about life it will continue to test you to ensure you know you are alive and show you that you are stronger than you thought. It’s shown me through all the tears that I am stronger than I thought and that at some point i will be ok and I will get on with life but for now, I’ll take it day by day and get one foot in front of the other. After all it’s all i can do while I heal and mend the wounds.

Friends and family are there for me and I am thankful to each and every one of them that has reached out and shown me that I am not alone through this time. Even those who’s support i feel I don’t deserve have shown me that there is a goodness in everyone and that people move on with time and are able to get on with things that means that you can two. They say life is what you make and well you’ve got yet another chance to make something of yours and show the world who you truly are and what you are made of. Though life is hard in these days, never give up for your day will come. Anyone who is a Bliss n Eso fan will know that one and the song those lyrics are from is something of an inspiration as it With Friends like you.

Two songs that remind us to never give up and that we are our own heros and when you reach rock bottom you will bounce right back. Not to sound like a broken record but over time things will heal and change for the better. Like the title of this weeks blog the coming months will be telling in answering the question of “Who are you anyway?” we are no doubt about to learn a thing or two about ourselves and who we are and furthermore who we want to be when we come through the otherside of all of this. With all this advice I have given I hope some of it has sunken in and I’m not going to ignore myself but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done the old, do as I say not as I do speech.

In what was one of our more heartfelt posts for the year we are hoping that we’ve provided you with an example of what you two can do when things aren’t going well in your life. A simple letter can be a constant reminder through the dark times that things will eventually get better. It’s not always easy to remain positive when things are falling down around you but all you can do it try and believe in yourself. It’s all one can do to get through day by day. Until next week remember you too can get by with a little help from your friends and its more than ok to ask for help, heck we should all be asking for help more often. Unfortunately that thing called ego often stops us from reaching out in our moments of need. Park the ego and get on with it. Until next week believe in yourself you are your own hero…

Halcyon…

The Webster dictionary gives us several options as the meaning of the word Halcyon, but we’ll just go with Tranquil, Calm, Peaceful. All things that when you switch on the news seem to things within a pipedream. While there may be pockets of beauty that people would describe as tranquil we live in a world that is far from Halcyon. Most people would say there lives are quite peaceful but what about those that don’t know or ever feel they’ll have inner peace? What about those that suffer from mental health issue will they ever find their own Halcyon or at least a little peace of it that will allow them to have a day or days away from fighting the battle that rages day in day out with there own minds.

When we first started this blog and it’s aptly titled self we never envisioned that we’d actually write several pieces that were personal and a slight insight into the minds behind the publication. Reading back through pieces we can see why people would think that we are mad, or at least a little angry with the world. The world we’ve created for ourselves in a bigger world where all we can do is try our best and be who we are. Not who people want us to be, or believe we should be. Our editor-in-chief has spoken several times about his battle with Anxiety and Depression. About the ups and downs, the highs the lows and the times he’s had to crawl out of that pit and put himself back together like a giant lego set. He’s not alone in going through this there are millions of people around the globe suffering but this isn’t something we haven’t told you before.

What does all this have to do with the word Halcyon besides everything of course. Think of Halcyon as a place in your mind. Now take that image and ravage it with the worst mother nature has to offer. All that chaos and destruction of the tranquil, calm, peaceful place is now replaced with uncertainty and fear. The more information we absorb the further into pit we fall. The black surrounding you like a blanket enveloping your skin and swallowing you up, stretching tighter and tighter around you until you can’t breath. Yeah that’s why this week we’ve gone with Halcyon to point out that you can go from a peaceful existence to a world of chaos within seconds and find yourself at the lowest of lows, you find yourself at Rock Bottom.

So what happens when you hit rock bottom and have to build yourself up again brick by brick. Do you have people you could rely on if this was to happen to you? Have you ever stopped and asked yourself what if? In today’s new age society we have plenty of life coaches that will tell you that you can’t think about the what if’s or have regrets because they’ll hold you back from obtaining growing, achieving and obtaining those future goals. But what if all those people are wrong and it’s not a bad thing to have what ifs and plan for the them. There is no reason you can’t have a future in which you protect yourself against a little pain and angst. Prior planning or preparation, prevents pisspoor preformances. The five P’s used by so many successful people around the world. That’s why people with Anxiety will often fall in a heap if something happens they hadn’t planned for or wasn’t part of their plan. They like to have routine and more importantly a sense of control.

Back to Rock bottom we aren’t talking about trying to prepare yourself for the worst but more so having some safety nets to fall into when the rug is ripped out from under you and your falling through the that floor towards the pit of despair. Because let’s be honest at some point in life we are all thrown a curveball or two that come out of absolutely nowhere and there is nothing we can do about it except stand there and swing. Swing with all we’ve got in the hopes of connecting and knocking it out of the park. There are those people that can bend and not break but for most of us that is not the case. Most of us break when thrown that curveball or proverbial rug is pulled out from under us. As we drift down through the blackness waiting for our bodies to slam into the bottom of the pit that for some people becomes bottomless, swallowing them whole, we are allowed more and more time to think. Time to reflect and this is where the what ifs come into play. By the time you reach the bottom your focus has turned to how in the hell are you going to dig yourself out.

Last time we check shovels and rope didn’t come at the bottom of a bottle but many a person turns to the bottle, while some people need heavier building equipment and find themselves nose deep in Columbia’s finest or Afghanistan’s brown being sunk into any vein they can find. The effects of drugs and alcohol on people’s inhibitions have long been documented throughout history. Hell the CIA and Army used LSD on soldiers during experiments and it was said to open their minds and mouths to things many had blocked out or forgotten. So it’s no wonder that a little dutch courage can have the tightest lipped people talking about their deepest darkest secrets and fears. Give them something a little stronger and they’ll tell you their unedited story word for word to the point your ears start bleeding. Every little nitty, gritty detail will come out, including things you didn’t need to know.

What does this have to do with the pit of despair and climbing your way back out or building yourself back up again. Well we are glad you asked because like always we have little insight and some advice we can provide. Like a shaken up bottle of soft drink it’s not going to spill over until you crack that lid open. Well to a lot of people wallowing at rock bottom in their pit of despair, drugs and alcohol are like those gimmicks people buy of those ridiculous TV advertisements to help them open tight lids on jars. They can often just have a placebo effect, in other cases they can actually work and crack the lid on all those thoughts and feelings that have been pent up well before but also during they time fell through the floor into the pit. Like Mount Etna erupting or that bottle of soft drink you’ve spent the last half an hour shaking. That pressure release can often feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders. As everything spews forth onto the ground around you or the people around you.

Too often though that need to be able to talk and get things out, before it spirals out of control, leads a lot of people become dependant on the bottle, bag or whatever crutch they are leaning on to help them through the dark times. But once we’ve pulled ourselves from the pit and put ourselves into some serviable order it will only hold us back from putting the final pieces of our puzzle back into place to create a new or continue our way forward in life. Whilst everyone will tell you that everything is going to be ok on your way down and then on the way back up their is a period where you gaze up from the blackness and wonder if it truly will be ok. That’s before you stub your toes on those bricks and either start to build yourself back up, decide to solidify your foundation or just build a little hut to wallow in all your self pity like a human hermit crab.

Whatever you chose to do know that rock bottom is a place that we can all come back from, the bottom of that pit allows us a solid base to build upon time and time again until we become that person we truly are or the best version of ourselves. You can learn a lot about yourself, about the true you in the dark recesses of that pit. You can learn about the person you want to be, ought to be and truly are. Out of despair, sadness and pain heroes are often born and as we’ve learnt from history, if you just believe in yourself you are your own hero. We have the unique ability to be able to rebuild ourselves time and time again in any shape and form we chose that best suits our needs.

Lean on those around you, do what you need to do but remember no matter how black the pit there is always a light at the end that we can climb towards either on our own of with the help of friends and family. Look after your mind, body and soul, you’ll need them in the weeks and months to come, they’ll be your greatest asset in the rebuilding and climbing phases you will go through. Times will be tough there is no deny that but you got this far so hang in there a little while longer and you’ll make your way out of the pit, hand over hand, foot by foot, inch by inch. You can find strength you never knew you had in the strangest of places. To quote Ayn Rand, for those of you who don’t know who she was, she was ahead of her time and a brilliant author. Pick up a copy of Atlas Shrugged it’s a great read and a classic.

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.”

― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

At Rock Bottom we have nowhere else to go, we have no other options but to either give up and as Ayn said let our our fire go out or to spark and ensure our hero doesn’t perish. As we close yet another albeit brief chapter of A Mind of Its Own we are reminded that life will throw you the unexpected, no matter how much you plan or prepare for it things will happen, they will creep up on you and they will hurt you. How you bounce back from it though is in your hands, you hold the power, not that black pit you find yourself in. Until next week, when you find yourself at rock bottom there is always options and always people you can lean on to help you climb. Adios Amigos!

Wicked Sensitive Crew…

It’s 2019 so one would think that people have the ability to overcome and adapt to the world around them, a world where people can be themselves without the fear of being judged or oppressed for their views and beliefs. That they would be free to ride the train in peace whilst reading a book. To not have to sit and listen to someone from another country preach anti-abortion and christian religious beliefs at them and a carriage full of people they don’t know. In an ideal world that would certainly be the case but in the world we live in where anything and everything goes, it seems to be the “norm” that anything that is deemed to be outside of the “norm” is strange and or just weird. Just like the guy on the Sydney train who, yes is entitled to his views and opinions should know there is a time and a place and that time and place is not on an evening train after everyone has had a hard day at work and just wants to wind down before getting home to their loved ones or pets.

Having spent plenty of time on trains across the country we and understand the need and want to just have a peaceful ride to your final destination. Why do you think so many people have headphone in and stare at their phones or tablets from the moment they get on the train to the moment they step off onto the platform. People like to use the time to decompress, the last thing they want is a raving American pushing religious beliefs and telling everyone he loves them. It’s bad enough we have a muppet in the white house let alone a religious nut on a train. If we were on the train we wouldn’t have been as nice as the man who eventually spoke up and asked him politely enough to shut up. As human beings we need to be more sensitive to others particularly in confined spaces. They say a comedian needs to be able to read the room with certain jokes, well the same goes for those who wish to get a point across as we said there is a time and place you just need to know when that time and place is.

Which leads us into this weeks blog, something that we looked at a lot over the week that has just flown by something that all our friends, family and followers out there with mental health issues might understand, something that is slowly changing and softening over time. In days gone by a man was defined by his masculinity, he was worshipped for his womanising ways and controlled the world through manly ways. But as Beyoncé said “Who runs the world? Girls” and any man worth his salt would know that. So why is it that men who are sensitive are seen as soft or less manly? If you are in touch with your feelings you are often on the end of some nasty name calling or ribbing from your mates at school or friends and family members? In a world where we are all striving for equality why is it that some women want all the same things as men and yet they still look for what they define as ‘A real Man’. They still have ‘man’s jobs’ or as we’ve come to know they as ‘Just the jobs they don’t want to do’.

So why as males are we become more sensitive, in an era where hipsters, trendsters and the LGBTQI communities are finally getting a voice. Why is it that the typical, fair dinkum, Aussie bloke become a softy? They say we are in the age of the Sensitive New Age Guy or as the ladies in CLEO, Girlfriend and other glossy magazines designed to create another generation of insecure, body image issued women refer to them as SNAGs. And yes that is a generalisation on our behalf we are well aware that it is not the intention of these magazines to portray a perceived image of what the ideal woman should look like. Perhaps that is just us being overly sensitive but there can’t be much of an argument against the fact that young ladies and women look at the covers of these magazines and subconsciously think that’s what I should look like or why don’t i look like that? Again we digress, and it’s time to get back on track to discuss the growing sense of sensitivity among young males.

When you think of masculine men we often think of the film stars of old that portrayed some of the most masculine characters you will ever see. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson to name a few. Just pick a male film star from the 80’s and early 90’s, the characters were all tough, masculine men who took charge and could easily fit that typecast of ‘A Real Man’ that we have been culturally accepting of for generations. Perhaps there is some fault in media that continues to push what a real man should be like. Men shouldn’t be sensitive, they shouldn’t cry, they shouldn’t have feelings and they certainly shouldn’t be worrying about how everyone else is feeling and whether or not they are ok. That is and has been male culture for centuries, since we walked out of the caves and began walking proud and tall we’ve always shown a tough, masculine, non-sensitive side to the world.

It’s a little like wearing a mask that is only taken off in the confines of your own house when no one else is watching. So again we ask what is it that is making men, particularly young men and perhaps more the millennial than generation Y morph into actual human beings with thoughts and feelings. We say that with a little skepticism as some of them are quite rude little bastards who have no manners or respect which is one thing we’d change if we could. Always respect your elders! They’ve been there, done that and a lot of the times got the t-shirt just to prove it. Those that have found some sensitivity and are in some ways redefining masculinity as well as showing future generations that its ok to be sensitive are striving forward with confidence, their heads held high and we might have a few ideas why. The A Mind of Its Own team compiled a few thoughts and reasons why we feel a generational shift is allowing men to become more sensitive with some resistance from an unexpected party.

Ok so is it more sensitive or are males just feeling it’s becoming more and more ok to just be themselves? Are we becoming more accepting of our inner self, of out thoughts, of our feelings. Of all the articles we read there was pattern beginning to map itself out before us. The shift wasn’t just in our minds as sensitive middle aged men writing a blog in between trying to finish a novel that’s been in the works for several years now. It wasn’t that people with mental health issues are more sensitive. It’s a generational thing that points to the fact that yes the world is slowly but surely changing but there is always going to be resistance. Women according to studies are looking for that softer man as they take charge of their lives and families in the 21st century feeling more empowered. We read several articles and blogs before stumbling across an article in Forbes magazine by Jules Schroeder that outlined the 7 following reasons she felt men are opening up to being more sensitive whilst redefining masculinity.

1. They Value Self Awareness. While traditional masculinity says “don’t feel,” modern masculinity says “dare to feel.” Millennial men are committed to knowing themselves on a deep and personal level—even if what they find is difficult to confront or conflicting. Rather than hide from or deny who you are, become curious about who you are and have the courage to represent yourself authentically.

2. They Are Non-Conformist. The rigid gender roles for men and women are becoming more loosely defined as millennial challenge the status quo. According to one international study titled “The Decline of the Manly Man,” the percentage of men who are staying home to care for children is rising today while women are slowly surpassing men in academic performance and closing the income gap. The evolved man isn’t swayed by gender roles or what society deems “manly.” He doesn’t need to be validated externally by conforming. He acts according to his own volition, and he isn’t threatened by women rising, either.

3. They Don’t Want To Compete With One Another. Instead of trying to gain empty status, the evolved man knows his worth lies within. He is secure within himself to the extent that he doesn’t need to put others down in order to feel better about himself.

4. They Value Authenticity. Men have no need to pretend they’re someone they’re not, because they’re not ashamed of who they really are. You can cultivate authenticity in your life by ensuring your outer self is aligned with your inner self. One Boulder, CO-based movement, called the Authentic Man Program, is dedicated to empowering men in their authenticity so that rewarding interactions are made possible.

5. The Want To Be Vulnerable. Outdated masculinity says men shouldn’t show any sign of weakness. But modern masculinity embraces vulnerability as an expression of courage.

6. They Act According To Their Values. A man follows through on his values. He values his own sense of self above others’ sense of who he is so he honors his commitment to himself first and foremost.

7. They Are Motivated To Grow. Evolved men don’t just stop at “evolved.” They are continuously looking for new ways to grow and develop themselves. You can be proactive about your own development by attending education-based events. You will be better able to see your own blind spots in the context of relationships, so considering joining a men’s group or starting your own.

One disturbing fact that came out of researching this piece was the amount of mental and often physical abuse that is brought against men and women. While the values and role definitions in relationships and culture are shifting so too are the figures when it comes to abuse. While men tend to react more physically, the alarming numbers of women lashing out at their partners has been steadily climbing in the last 5 years around the globe. Men are still 50% less likely to report abuse with most citing that it would be seen as weak to do so. Those that did report it stated that it started out as verbal abuse escalating over time, taking a turn and becoming physical. Police were also less likely to believe a male than female when it came to reports of physical abuse with some officers reportedly laughing it off and telling the complainant to just go home and sort it out.

It would seem even as we shift towards equality, slowly, like the hare and the tortoise and men start to become softer, more sensitive and as some females put it more feminine we as humans still feel the need to repress one another. Whether it be through cutting each other down verbally or physically lashing out we are still in the mindset that one sex needs to dominate the other, rather than finding that balance. Perhaps in our generation that is not possible while we still have cultural aspects ingrained in us from the past. But the millennial, perhaps they have an opportunity to lead us into the 22nd century changed where we are all truly equal and it’s ok to be sensitive. Sensitive towards yourself and sensitive towards others and a true picture of what a human being should really be. After all there are no rules that say you can’t be tough, strong, masculine and yet still sensitive, kind and caring. There is nothing to say you can’t have all of those great qualities.

While we feel that people who suffer from mental health issues are a little more sensitive than most people we believe this to be the case for one simple reason. They are more in touch with their emotions. Whether they are able to cope and deal with those emotions is a different question altogether but the fact that they feel on a different level to most people often allows them to understand emotions, feelings and thoughts a lot better once the tools are in place that allow them to filter and sift through them logically. When we set out to write this weeks blog the question we had in mind was why are we so sensitive or from the writers prospective why am I so sensitive? That wasn’t the question that we should have been asking. The real question is why are we always made to feel it’s a bad thing to be sensitive? Or in touch with our feelings? Why is it deemed feminine if we are empathetic, kind, caring and nurturing? Yes generally all female characteristics but nevertheless all traits that can also be shown by men.

Over time we may see a change and these qualities will be accepted in men but for now both men and women will have to continue in their set gender stereotypes that have been cast in stone for centuries. Because let’s be honest for just a second if we may, it’s not just men who judge other men for being sensitive, women are often just as judgemental as their male counterparts when it comes to the sensitivity of men. Still to this day, Friday 12th of April in 2019 it is seen as very unmanly to be in touch with your emotions and have a little bit of softness about you. How many times have you heard the words “You need to grow a pair”, come from the mouth of a woman or “You’re being rather emotional for a bloke”. Far too often as humans we tend to speak before we think, instead of letting our minds filter and process what we are about to say. For some people this may be a difficult process in itself as they feel justified in their position. For others though it is just purely about getting their point across whether they are right or wrong. We tend to refer to these people as the Last Word Brigade.

In another eye opener for the year we’ve learnt that it’s the kids once again leading the way rather than the adults who should know better having spent more time on the earth and experienced more in their lives. Perhaps we should just hand over the keys to the city now and like the lost boys in Peter Pan let the kids govern themselves. They seem to be doing a lot better job than we certainly are when it comes to being in touch with ourselves and the world around us. They say the children are the future and from the looks of things they weren’t wrong. While the kids continue to get it right and grow, we adults will continue to maintain the status quo only to bitch and moan about things rather than making an effort to change them. From the Wicked Sensitive Crew… here at a A Mind of It’s Own we bid you another fond farewell for the week and we look forward to seeing you all the same time next week for yet another install of the blog that keeps on keeping on. Until then Sayonara, yep Japanese this week just to mix it up from the usual European goodbyes.

Beat Up Car…

As I sat in a Cafe waiting for my over priced flat white and a fat filled ham, cheese and tomato croissant I found myself watching the people around me. Something that I often find myself doing when I am sitting on my own waiting. Most were busy chatting with there friends or colleagues as they too waited for their overpriced caffeinated beverages prepared by the underpaid barrister who seemed to know everyone who walked into the cafe. Amongst them was the odd person who caught my attention through their anxious, nervous behaviour. Like the bleached blonde who continued to tap her foot as her eyes darted around the room like she was waiting for someone to jump out and mug her. Or the gentleman who was attempting to tuck himself deeper and deeper into the corner in the hopes of burying himself in the brickwork and avoiding everyone in the room.

It was the first time I had consciously noticed myself looking for people displaying anxious behaviours. Was it because I myself was feeling anxious? More than likely it was, I was in a city where despite having grown up it no longer felt friendly. I had burnt a lot bridges here and when my anxiety was through the roof I often feared running into people I knew. We’ll call it FOBS (Fear of being seen) which unlike FOMO (Fear of missing out) often has me ducking and weaving particularly when I don’t want to speak to people. I guess you could call me the Ninja of avoidance at times. It was all in the avoidance of having to have those conversations where despite the sincerity often behind them you still can’t help but feel some judgement particularly by those who thought you were going to go places.

That’s not to say I haven’t, I’ve been plenty of places and tried plenty of different things only to fall back on my passion and a job that allows me the flexibility to write when i want and what I want. Had someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life 10 years ago the last thing on my mind would have been to become a writer. Over the years though that urge to tell stories both real and make believe has grown stronger and stronger to the point where I look forward to putting pen to paper or sitting in front of my laptop with a cold beer and tapping out a short piece for a blog or working away on my book. It’s also become a very useful tool in my battle against anxiety and depression.

Through writing I am able to give a voice to the things I struggle to say or speak about with family and friends. I am able to give my demons a face and therefore recognise them in the dark times I find myself in a pit of self loathing, insecurity and pain. Most of all I am able to make sense of why I am feeling the way I am in that particular moment. Like the parting of clouds allowing the sun to shine through I can once again see what is in front of me and live in the moment, rather than worrying about the past. There are some people who would say that writing is another escapism and allows me to once again avoid dealing with the heart of the issue. But it’s to those people that I now write.

Too often we are quick to judge what we do not understand or what scares us. We are quick to point fingers or give labels and throw stereotypes around before we’ve we’ve even considered the ramifications of doing so. Mental illness and I can’t speak for everyone but I can speak for myself does not define me or govern what I can and can’t do. It does not make me any different from you or the people around you. In fact chances are that one of your close friends or family suffers from some form of mental health issue given that statistics say one in every six people is a sufferer.

Again with the labels, sufferer, yes there are days that I struggle, there are days that I go from feeling on top of the world to wallowing in a dark, dank, stinky pit of depression, rage and anxiety but I am not suffering. In fact these days I am probably more the norm than the exception. The only difference you might find between me and you as you read through this is that whilst I might not physically talk about I have learnt that it is ok and I talk about it through my writing. I give a voice to all those who still can’t but will grow and develop on their own journey to learning that it is ok to talk.

Whilst I might be able to put all this down on a page and spread a message to 100s if not 1000s of people around the globe the sad truth of it all is that I am still unable to often talk about it all with my wife, my friends and my family. I struggle to voice when the pendulum is swinging and I am going from high to low but like a beat up old car I will get there in the end. I will get there because without those people in my life I would not be where I am today. I would not have the courage to share my battle with you nor the ability to articulate to you that opening up and expressing yourself, your feelings, your thoughts it’s all ok and you shouldn’t hide from it.

For years I found it easier to hide from it all and bury my feelings only to become that over sensitive person who wanted to have a deep and meaningful after a few beers at the pub. I was that guy that portrayed complete happiness on the outside only to be a minefield on the inside. One wrong step and I exploded, firing off from the hip without a single thought of what was coming from my mouth. My wife often refers to it as my mindless rambling and the point where she knows that I am not ok as what comes out of my mouth makes absolutely no sense. It will take me a couple of hours to come down from my somewhat convoluted high horse of jumbled thoughts and irrational behaviour. Only to enter the feedback loop from hell and get angry at myself for getting angry.

Even now writing this my mind wanders back to all the times I’ve lost my shit, become over anxious, made myself physically sick by over thinking and more often than not tried to numb it all with alcohol rather than talk about what was wrong or how I was feeling or most importantly what had triggered me and why I was feeling it. It also churns over with ideas on how I could have handled things a lot better. All I needed to do was take some time and think about things. Slow down and allow my thoughts to collate, manifest and be reflected upon before they are splurged out into the world as incomprehensible sentences to later be deciphered on my therapist’s couch as I recollect my latest episode where my anxiety and depression got the better of me.

Yeah it still gets the better of me no matter what I techniques or methods I use to get it under control actually sorry that’s not the best words to use. Manageable is a better word to use, whilst there is a part of me that feels one day I will control my anxiety and depression at this point in time I manage them not control them but simply manage them. On a day to day basis I manage my mental health. Sometimes I’ll go weeks on end without it really getting to me or getting me down. Those are the weeks that I have everything in sync, my routine is tight, I’m exercising and I’m being creative whether it be writing, painting, drawing or building something. Ok so keep my mind busy and active it helps me out, except when I am trying to sleep but I’ve found reading tends to send me into dreamland pretty well.

As I finished my croissant and watched the blonde lady continue to tap out an anxious beat I gave her a reassuring smile to let her know that everything will be ok. The world may not be black and white, it may not be clear cut and dry and it certainly may not always be predictable but it is what you and I choose to make it. Despite those days where you might feel you have control over nothing in your life you do have the options and ability to change things. It was a lesson that took me over twenty years to learn and one that I no doubt thought I never would as I became more depressed and anxious overtime that I wasn’t a somebody and swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck.

In those often fleeting moments where I find myself people watching and wondering what there lives are like and whether they often struggle I am reminded of the greatest, most precious and real piece of information I will ever receive. I am human! We are the only species on the earth that is able to feel a raft of emotions and think cognitively for ourselves. We are the only species that is allowed the freedom of thought. Whether we can voice those thoughts is a different question all together and not one that I am willing to broach in this price of writing. My point being we are blessed with imaginations, thoughts, feelings, pain and the ability to experience it all in the way we want.

Your mental health issues do not make you a monster that should be hidden away from the world. Sure it can be monster that needs taming and made beautiful from time to time but it does not make you a bad person, it does not make you someone who should be a social pariah or shunned by friends and family. It makes you a superhuman in my book. You are someone who battles day in, day out. It makes you often more human than those around you as you feel everything and often have the ability to feel and read people’s energy when you enter a room.

Mistakes will be made, things will no doubt fall apart but just as there a bad times there will be good times and you are human. Your mental health is important and you are important remember that. We each have a story to tell and something to contribute. As the sun dawns on another day and I board yet another flight for another city I urge you all to find your voice whether that be interptive through one of the arts or through speaking with friends and family or even a stranger. It’s ok to talk and will become more and more encouraged as we rid the world of the stigma that mental health issues are taboo and shouldn’t be discussed.

As I write this I know there is much more that should be said and could be said but I have already taken up enough of your time with this health check and sanity piece. On behalf of the team and myself at A Mind of Its Own we appreciate your readership and constant support as we bring you a new piece each and every week. I promise I’ll hand you back to the team next week to give you a zany take on a topic that comes to us in the early hours of the morning when we should be fast asleep dreaming of tropical beaches. Until next week take it easy. TC…

Leave the War with Me…

There is something to be said for finding your happy place particularly in times of need. Go to your happy place… It sounds like something out of an Adam Sandler film perhaps it was Happy Gilmore as he attempted to putt for the millionth time in order to get enough money to get his grandmother’s house back from the debt collectors but whatever it was he found a place in which he could be happy and himself. So what’s your happy place? Given it’s Christmas and it’s often a hard time of year for so many who are battling their own demons, we thought it appropriate we look at anxiety and depression and how to cope with them throughout the silly season.

Once again we’ve handed the reins over to the the creator of this here fine piece of media to discuss Anxiety and Depression through the holiday period. Knowing it’s a time of year when things start to become a little tiring, a little stressful and somewhat difficult to cope. We handed over the writing of this weeks blog to the Grumpy old man of the office after all it was the least we could do considering we didn’t get him a christmas gift. He has all sorts of coping mechanism for dealing with his anxiety and depression but his best and favourite outlet or his ‘Happy Place’ if you will is sitting right in front of a keyboard listening to the click, clack of keys as he taps out some writing from the original mind of its own. So without further adieu we hand over the keys to the kingdom to the man, the myth, the legend? (Insert questioning face emoji)…

It’s good to the see the team still have a sense of humour after I’ve banished them all to the naughty corner and told them coal is on the cards this christmas unless they get their acts together. It’s been a long year here at A Mind of Its Own, a long but enjoyable year. We’ve covered so many topics and continue to advocate that its ok to talk and more importantly it is more than ok not to be ok. The challenge comes in knowing it’s not weak to ask for help but takes more strength than most people realise. It’s at this time of year that I genuinely become drained both physically and emotionally. As people, we often don’t realise how much we give to others throughout the year. We support both friends and family in some cases so we don’t have to deal with what is going on in our own backyards and in other cases because it’s just what we’ve always done. We’ve always been that shoulder to lean on, that bag to punch, that friend that is always there when we need them.

We do it all without little regard for ourselves and our own physical and emotional wellbeing. Like most things though in life, we can only take so much before it all comes crashing down like a proverbial house of cards. For me it manifests itself in various ways but one in particular is sheer tiredness. I find myself sleeping more and more and feeling somewhat lethargic throughout the day. I struggle to keep my emotions in check and find myself leaning more and more on my coping mechanisms. The big one for me being my writing and spending my time my happy place. There is something cathartic about putting all my thoughts and feelings down on paper whether it be with a pen or taping them out in the virtual world. To me nothing beats that sound of the click, clack of keys as my thoughts appear on the screen before me.

Overtime I have learnt not to fear what I write and more importantly to share it. Whether that be with close friends and family or strangers through this blog. Having to get past the vulnerability and being scared of what and how people will perceive my writing has helped me to not only share my story but helped in my day to day struggles as I battle my own mind, thoughts and insecurities, as i get them out for the world to see. It took me a long time to be ok with letting people know I suffer from mental health issues, but now that I have I realise i am not alone and there are so many people around the world battling day to day like me. Spreading the message that its ok to talk and it’s ok not to be ok is something that didn’t come easy at first but now it’s second nature and hopefully by putting myself out there I am encouraging other who a struggling to speak up and seek some help or confide in a loved one or friend.

Having multiple projects on the go at once allows me to pick and choose depending on my mood, emotions and feelings which one I work on. It also allows me to plan for the future in terms of my writing. When things get really dire I find myself exercising a lot more and even meditating to keep myself balanced. Whilst the brain is a beautiful thing I find that mine can often be destructive and troublesome given the time to wander and analyse life way too much. The constant question of self and those around me becomes tiring and at some point once that fuse it lit and begins to burn out I know there will be an explosion. How it all comes to a head is anyone’s guess. It can be any emotion from anger to sadness or a mixture of them all that leaves me feeling ashamed.

Ashamed that whilst I have gotten better over the years, I still can’t master my emotions. Being reflective I know that I only have myself to blame. I’m the one that takes on too much, who tries to be there for everyone. Who carries the world upon my shoulders as though it is my duty to ensure everyone is ok. Without looking after the one person I rely on the most. ME. It’s a flaw that I own, that I know I can work on overtime. During this holiday period I urge everyone to make sure they take some time out to look after themselves. Self Care is so important and is often overlooked. I can honestly put my hand up and say that my own well being is always the least of my concerns. Finding excuses is not hard, there is always some doing it tougher than I am or going through something that requires immediate attention. Like I said finding an excuse to not have to deal with myself is always easy. Its doing the hard things we often shy away from.

It’s usually this time of year that things will bubble to the surface, those questions that have been haunting me all year, the self loathing, the feelings of being stuck in a dead-end job and the unreasonable insecurities that tend to rear their ugly heads as I have way too much time on my hands to think and over analyse. In years gone by I have busied myself with as much as possible, cramming my days full of things to do as a way of distracting myself from the thoughts brewing inside my head. Hence why for me in particular the holiday season is a good time for me to do a lot of self care and to get as many of my thoughts and feels down as possible. It’s a time in which I can utilise all the tools and techniques I have learnt over the years while I reset.

Whilst it is important particularly over the holidays to ask if people are ok and to be there for friends and family it is so important that you stop, take some time out for yourself and ask yourself if you are ok?. Do the things you need to recharge. Go get a massage, read a book, go to the beach, write, see a movie, go for walk, be active. Whatever it is that helps you find your happy place, a place where you can be you and have no worries. As Bobby McFerrin sang ‘Don’t worry be happy’. Some people will read this and say you are just bandaging over the problems and you are not getting to the root cause of the issues that are making you anxious or depressed, i am inclined to agree with them but I will also caution that, that is an ongoing journey and not something that is going to be fixed overnight like a pantene advertisement.

So this Christmas give yourself the gift of Self Care, you can still be there for everyone but it is important that you do look after yourself and not just those around you. Do the little things that make you happy and stick to your routines. If you gym every morning make sure you do that, if you meditate than do that, if like me you write, than write till your little heart’s content, whatever it is that makes you feel good do it. There is nothing selfish about looking after number one. After all how are you expected to look after everyone else if you can’t look after yourself. The little coping mechanisms you use to get through the days will be so important this holiday period as you will often find yourself with more time on your hands as businesses shut down for Christmas and New Year and without work as distraction for some of us that gives our minds plenty of time to wander.

One thing I often overlook is leaning on friends and family myself, whether it’s a pride thing and having to admit i need some help and can’t do it all on my own or whether its purely because I prefer to listen. I know this Christmas I will have to lean on those around me at some point. I will need my friends and family even if it’s just for an hour, a day or a week. I am only human and at some point I will fall into an emotional heap. There have been times in the past where my wife has found me on the shower floor in absolute tears because everything has become to much or my hands will make fists and hit a tree only for to realise that was stupid as it swells and requires ice. But without my friends and family to lean on it would be a battle that was constantly draining. The hardest thing again is realising its ok to vulnerable in front of them. You don’t have to be tough all the time and letting down that guard will often save you a lot pain and suffering on your own.

The holiday period is a time to catch up with friends and family but don’t feel obligated to do so. I am forever reminding myself that just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean I have to. There is nothing worse than dragging yourself along to something when the last thing you feel like doing is being around people and having to make small talk. You don’t have to make up excuses, don’t even need to explain why, what you do need to do is what’s best for you. If that means not attending something because you need time to yourself than take. All too often we feel we have to do things because it’s the right thing to do, the socially responsible thing to do. At the end of the day I say what’s best for you is the socially responsible thing to do, holidays are a time for doing what you want, with who you want. It’s nice to be invited places but that doesn’t mean you always have to say yes! It’s ok to say NO thank you.

If you take one thing from this blog today it is to look after yourself over this holiday period. Easier said than done, I know. I know better than most but I also know that without self care and those around me to lean on instead of everyone leaning on me I’d be a shell of emotions come the new year and questioning whether 2019 was just going to be a year of the same circles going round and round once again. Self Care does not mean you have to ignore everyone it just means looking after yourself and doing what you want and need to be the best version of you. You can still be there for friends and family you just need to put yourself first for a change. Look after you and you’ll be able to spare some emotional capacity for those who need and want your help.

For me everyday is R U Ok? Day, I will forever ask it and I will always be there to lend an ear or a shoulder for those in need. I also know that I need to look after myself in order to do that. Finding my happy place wasn’t easy but now that i know what it is i’ll always have an outlet or coping mechanism to help me through the bad days because there will be bad days. These days the good far outweigh the bad but it has taken a lot of work both mentally and physically to get to this point and the educating is far from over. There is still so much work to be done before I can truly say I am OK.

So from the main mind here at A Mind of Its Own, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Remember it’s ok not to be ok and it’s certainly ok talk. You do you as they say and look after number one this festive season. That self care is of utmost importance during the silly season. Friends and family will be there for you, as you are for them. Lean on them if you need to, there is no shame in asking for some help. From the team and I until the next episode which by the way is another milestone edition! As the title say leave the war with me and I’ll continue to fight it… Peace out hombres…

Devil on my shoulder…

We promised you a second piece last week, we promised that double dose of a mind of its own. We owe you an apology, often we don’t see what goes on behind closed doors and last week for the team it was a massive reminder of that. The generally funny and often quirky blog that you all love to read is going to get a little serious for our second installment this week and touch on a subject that has affected 100s of 1000s of people around the globe. Normally this is where we’d insert a joke or two and take a track down the rabbit hole with Alice but not this time. This time we are seriously going to be be serious.

Since its inception A Mind of Its Own has been very vocal about mental health awareness and ensuring Australians in particular are getting the help and support they need. We’ve discussed how it is ok to speak out, how young men and women have battled with there demons. How we are slowly evolving and becoming more and more open with our thoughts, feelings, emotions and that there is potentially a further place that our conscious minds go to when our body’s kick the bucket and give up. That we potentially come back over and over again to awaken those that need help seeing their is a higher being if you will.

No matter what your beliefs we can all agree that women’s and men’s mental health awareness needs a little more support and a little more work particularly around suicide prevention. Its a topic people tend to shy away from, a topic that saddens people and a topic that well to be honest is one that most people would prefer to lock away in the taboo chest never to be spoken of again. No one knows the pain and anguish people must go through to feel that suicide is their only option left to stop the pain, stop the hurting, stop the thoughts, stop the burden they often feel they are.

It seems we all have a devil on our shoulder as per the title but for some its often worse than we’ll ever know. Whether your devil is drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, addiction of any form or mental illness there are options for you, there is help for you. We know there are those that will read this and say we have no idea what people are going through and you would be right, we don’t. No one really knows what goes on behind closed doors but believe that with the right help and support there is a solution for everyone out there and being advocates of mental health awareness and suicide prevention we can only try and help those who need it before its too late.

By starting the conversation we hope that men, women and children around the globe start to have a conversation and seek the help, support and stability they need. We need more options for those who feel the only option they have left is to take their own lives. By doing so we often wonder whether they have considered the legacy of pain they will leave behind. The long lasting effects on family and friends who will question for years to come whether they did enough for the fallen. Why hadn’t they reached out, why hadn’t they just ask if they were ok and needed to talk?

Across the country there are programs, charities, support groups and even medical institutes to help shoot the devil on your shoulder. It’s never an easy road to walk when seeking help but the moment you do, the weight of the world can often feel like its been lifted from you. The hardest part though is often admitting to yourself that you need some help and can’t do it all on your own. Once you’ve jumped that hurdle there will be plenty more to come but the closer you get to that often elusive finish line that keeps moving as life shifts and throws more hurdles in your way. The more it moves the more you have to dig deep and get out of your comfort zone but that is something that will become easier the more you accept needing some help and the more you open up about your demons.

As individuals we can do our part and ensure we are asking people if they are ok, a simple conversation can save a life or even make someone’s day. Even if it’s not the topic they really want to talk about, people often just like having someone there to listen and make conversation with them. Over time those conversation will become more and more in depth as you build trust between you. But just being there for friends and family is the first step in helping them help themselves. You can offer advice or suggestions but most of the time the best help you can be is to just be there and listen.

That devil on your shoulder whether it be your thoughts, your addiction or some other problem or issue can be shot. We know several people both friends and family who are forever trying to shot the devil on their shoulder. Over time it becomes easier and easier but it has taken them a lot of hard work and fair amount of pain to get where they are. But as they say you’ve got to take the good with the bad right? And it’s the things are that are always tough and hard that are worth doing. There will be those the uneducated we like to call them that will never understand the struggles and pain that those fighting a mental illness go through day in, day out out. It’s a constant battle that will often get the better of you but we learn to adapt and overcome the more we chose to fight it.

The option to fight may not always be the easiest choice or the one that family and friends decide to go with and it’s those moments where the black dog wins swallowing the ones we love and care about that bring pain and from time to time a legacy with it. Whilst we can never tell someone what to do or make them do anything they don’t want to we can provide them with options and do the small things to help them out as much as possible. Be there and provide that support but don’t make them feel like a burden. Seek professional help and support them through their journey.

For those of us feeling like we’ve exhausted all options remember this, you hold the key, the power and the ability to fight it, you just might not know it yet or how to, but given time and the right support and help you will discover all the tools and techniques to fight that devil in your own time and your own way. We just need to accept that it’s ok to need and to ask for help from time to time. There is no shame in admitting you have a problem that you need help with. It’s more empowering than you may think admitting you are struggling and can’t do it all on your own.

From the team at A Mind of Its Own, we thank you for taking the time to read this blog. To all those that have lost someone before their time to suicide, illness whatever it might be our thoughts are with you. There are no words that can make the loss any easier we can just say that those loved ones are never forgotten and will always be remembered, we can honour them by changing tune and making sure people know that it’s ok to talk and by asking those around us if they are ok or just starting a conversation. Until the next post our friends if you or a loved one need some support, guidance and or help below are the details for a couple places to make a start if you are feeling as though you can’t go to a friend or family…

Lifeline Australia

13 11 14

http://www.lifeline.org.au

Beyond Blue

1300 224 636

http://www.beyondblue.org.au

Two Feet on the ground…

As Dolly Parton once sung we are all “working nine to five” or at least five thirty, six ish depending on what time the boss leaves the office. Here at the world’s silliest blog we work whatever time we like, heck half the staff are passed out at their desks fast asleep most of the day. Like a good Mexican restaurant we let them siesta for as long as they like. As long as they walk into the editor’s office with great ideas every week they can come in at ten past nine and leave and quarter past nine for all we care. Ideas are what keep this fine publication ticking along week after week and the sponsors happy. If we had any… Hint to potential investors if you want your free t-shirt you are going to need to actually spend money.

With the chief out of the office on some quest to show he’s still young by putting his body through the wringer and seeing if he can still compete at the top-level of amateur sport. Which is what lead us to write this week piece. With all our competitors writing about self-care at present it was only reasonable that we jumped in the paddock and marched along to the feed trough with the rest of societies sheep. So self-care what is it you ask? So did we, we asked a lot. There were some disturbingly bad answers on google as to what selfcare is so before your minds wander into the proverbial gutter we’ll put it out there.

Noooo self-care is not playing with yourself for pleasure. It is exactly what it sounds like. Self care is taking care of oneself. In a general sense, self-care refers to activities undertaken with the intention of enhancing energy, restoring health and reducing stress. There are many ways to do this and self-care is something that can be personalised for every individual. Well that’s what our good friends at google tell us anyway once we did a quick search.

Whether that be caring for your mental health, physical health or purely pampering yourself in order to feel a little better. That’s what we are talking about when we talk about self-care here at A Mind of Its Own. Not enough people take the time to look after their health in general. They go through the motions and complain they are time poor or just too busy to find time to do the things that would make them feel so much better each day if they consistently did them.

The big dog (Our Editor and Chief) is a classic example of inconsistency when it comes to looking after himself and doing what is right for his mind, body and soul. We asked him what his routine looks like when he feels he is his best compared to the days where we all run for the hills knowing what he is like when he hasn’t had enough sleep or isn’t taking care himself like he should. As a man who suffers anxiety and depression he knows he is best when he has a routine, sticks to it and he makes time to cover something from the mind, body and soul.

Speaking first hand around the office he is the first one to point out that ten minutes each morning meditating is a great way to start the day followed by forty plus minutes of exercise, a good breakfast of eggs and toast and you are ready to rock n roll. Your mind is clear, your body feels healthy and most importantly your soul is happy. As wise as he is, he is also the first person to point out to you that what works for one may not work for the other. We are individual beings and whilst we may share body types, blood types, skin colour and various other things we are all very different and therefore our bodies react differently to exercise, meditation, massage, treatments etc. Therefore you cannot prescribe one regime for everyone.

The best coaches in the world work out how to motivate their athletes, they deep dive into what makes them tick and from their better understand that what motivates one may not motivate another. While there are generalities that can be passed from one individual to the next it is all about that single being and what works best for them. While teams sports are all about the team goals in order to reach those goals and objectives you need to get the most out of the individuals as they a brought together as a team.

As you get older and some of you wiser perhaps, you tend to know what works for you and what doesn’t, yes you may have to try a thousand different ways and things, but eventually you will get there and work out what is best for your mind, body and soul. It does become more and more important the older you get to ensure you are looking after yourself. The lessons you learn about yourself will help you through all facets of life including love for all our fans still searching for the one. It’ll happen and you’ll know when they are the right one just don’t forget to put a ring on it when you do meet him or her.

So from the team at the world’s funniest, friendliest and most sympathetic blog, take some time out each day to look after number one. I can guarantee your number two, three, four and perhaps five will appreciate it. You’ll find not only will you feel fresher, fitter and friskier well we don’t know about the last one but you’ll feel better as you go about your normal routine looking after everyone else as a lot of people tend to do. Starting your journey could be as simple as taking yourself for a walk followed by writing down your thoughts and feelings. So until next week… Au revoir!

Are you still having fun…

With Thursday the 13th of September being R U Ok? Day, we asked our editor and chief if he’d sit in his seat and discuss anxiety and depression with our readers along with telling us how much talking and writing about it has helped him over the past couple of years. As they say a single conversation could make someone’s day, their week or their year. It’s ok to talk and more men and women need to be educated that is ok. SO over to you chief fire away and don’t bore the readers too much please…

Well with that introduction I’d better ensure to make this an easy, breezy read for the folks at home. If you had of asked me to write about this a year or two ago the answers would have varied from Aww hell no to a few expletives followed by a staunch no. The fact that I am now able to sit here and talk about it is a testament that if you can find that one person and start opening up, the more you do it the more you become comfortable doing. In saying that I still struggle to speak with people about my anxiety and depression that I don’t really know or that I am not comfortable with. Even writing this now has a me a little anxious as to what people may or may not think.

Like thousands of men and women across Australia and around the globe I suffer from anxiety and depression. I have my good days and yes I certainly have my bad days, my wife will be happy to attest to that. The good news is they are coming few and far between, I won’t lie and say it was easy to get to this point but I will say that it took a lot of hard work and honesty. Firstly being honest with myself and secondly being honest with those that I care about and love. Being honest and admitting to myself that there was something wrong and I needed help was probably one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life.

No one likes asking for help especially when they often can’t put their finger on exactly what the problem is or why they are feeling that way. So when people used to ask me what was wrong or why i was being quiet I would often just say nothing and try to disappear into the background. I tried changing the topic and more often than not I would ask questions and listen so I didn’t have to deal with my own thoughts and feelings. We all have days when we are feeling a little blue so I put a lot of what I was thinking and feeling down to that. At the time I was living in Brisbane, a long way away from my family and close. Yeah I had some good mates around me but none that I was comfortable talking to at the time.

It wasn’t until I started to display physical symptoms that I knew I had to do something, I had to see someone. I remember one day sitting on the floor of the bathroom feeling nauseous, there was a tightness across my chest and I was actually physically sick and I couldn’t control my thoughts. It was something I had never experienced before but it was something that would happen to me more and more over the following months until I saw someone. Now I would love to say that I plucked up the courage and went of my own volitions however I didn’t. I was given an ultimatum but it was the one that I needed and deep down I knew it was for my own good.

With my decision made I then struggled for some time as to who do I go and see, do I get medical help, do I go straight to the psychologist or psychiatrist, do I talk to friends, family. What do I do? It was daunting, I searched online, I read articles but at the end of the day it was a conversation with my father in law that changed it all. You see we don’t often get to see what goes on behind closed doors. We don’t ask questions that are personal and as men we just choose not to talk about our feelings. Its ingrained and beat into us from birth, strong men don’t talk about their feelings.

This one conversation though set me on the right path, through opening up I learnt that I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t the only person to go through this and there is nothing wrong with asking for help and knowing that it is ok to talk. Now my journey to seek the help i need may be different to a lot of people. I had a Skype call with one of the nation’s top professors of Psychiatry who then pointed me in the right direction and made recommendations. From there I saw my physician and on that back of that we setup a mental health plan that suited me.

My next hurdle along the way was having to take medication, it got me down and made me even more anxious that I needed to take a tablet each day to ensure my highs and lows were kept in balance. It honestly made me feel miserable but what it did do was allow my brain to slow down and process things a lot better. The more I researched what I was taking the more comfortable I became. I would talk about it in my session with my psychologist and together we began forming a plan to put in place the strategies and techniques to allow me to cope with my anxiety and depression if I ever came off the medication.

Over time my dosage has been adjusted, slowly becoming less and less as I become more and more comfortable with my own thoughts and feelings. How I manage and process them has gone from one of confusion and often being overwhelmed to now being ok with them and letting the thoughts and feelings come and go as they please. I’ve also learnt that talking about my anxiety and depression or writing about it has helped me a great deal. Being ok and realising that it is not a weakness but a strength, a strength that shines through in the day-to-day battle with my mind and thoughts.

The uneducated will make comments like what have you got to be sad about or are you suicidal. A lot them won’t even attempt to understand and will shy away from people with mental health issues. The truth is that mental health issues affect everyone differently, yes it does overwhelm some people to the point they want to the pain to stop that’s the sad truth but they are often the people who need our help the most. They are the people who just having a conversation with them could make their day. It could save their life, the problem is a lot of people still feel the shame and stigma that comes with mental health.

Conversations have helped me over the past couple of years, just having them has opened up my eyes to the world and to the fact I am not alone in my struggle. It has helped me understand my mind, understand my anxiety, understand my depression and most importantly understand that it’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to talk, its ok to ask for help. It’s ok to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. Take a leaf from the young females of the world they put themselves out there on social media on a daily basis with there blogging and fashion posts but they are allowing themselves to be vulnerable often for a good cause.

I’ve been humbled this week by several people reaching out to me and sharing their stories and asking for help. Whether they were inspired by me finding my voice and asking for help or not is irrelevant the fact they were able to speak up and say there were struggling made me both proud and humbled at the same time. They were taking the steps to find their feet once again and work on themselves. Most importantly they were learning to love themselves once more. The biggest part of any healing process is accepting that you are going to be ok and who you are.

So it is to all those who are struggling in the world, you are not alone, there is a good chance the person sitting next to you right now is going through the same thing or has already been through. Do yourself a favour and ask people are you ok? What you give you shall receive tenfold as the old saying goes. Pay it forward, look after yourself and take care of those around you. It’s ok to talk, its ok not to be ok, and most importantly it is ok to ask for help. From myself and the team here at A Mind of Its Own, R U Ok? Start the conversation even if it isn’t for you.

Limelight…

What a week it has been, we’ve been jetting about this amazing land of ours for our job that actually pays the bills. Adelaide and Canberra have felt the presence of the Mind of Its Own team this week in our travels. We’ve tasted the wines of South Australia and got to hang out in the halls of parliament with some of the MP’s. OK it wasn’t the halls but the flight from Canberra to Sydney on our way back to god’s country. Ah that would be Northern New South Wales. OK, OK enough fibs we caught a glimpse of them from cattle class where we barely had any room to move and our knees were up around our ears. Oh and not to mention our beers were overpriced for the portion size.

We did however get to spend sometime at the War Memorial checking out there new exhibit ‘From the Shadows’ focusing on Australia’s special forces past and present. We can safely say it was a very humbling experience walking the halls of the memorial dedicated to the men and women who have fought to protect our country. Ok so maybe not so much protecting our shores, there was a brief period where Japan was knocking on our doorstep during world war two but for the most part we have always gone to war on behalf of the crown or to support our American brothers across the sea.

So after our visit to the nation’s capital and the city of churches with exhausted minds and tired bodies we returned to our place of peace to enjoy some time away from the office. Hence why your weekly edition is so late. Apologies to our supporters, we may be late but we have finally got here for you. So this week we wanted to look at Anxiety and sport particularly with finals just around the corner across multiple sporting codes. From our elite athletes to our amateur sports men and woman, being a part of a finals campaign is something that whilst exciting can often become very overwhelming.

Whilst athletes at the professional level will have access to sports psychologists, your everyday joe playing in their local competition during finals time does not. Often when it comes to big games, whether it be semi finals or a grand final it can be overwhelming for people who have never experienced the pressure that come with a finals campaign. Even those who have played finals year in year out can still experience pre-finals jitters. Speaking from experience we know that it can be an anxious time as you wait for your game to start.

More often than not athletes will play the game over and over in their heads before they’ve even stepped on the field or court. The anxiety that builds up before a game can see even the best of athletes run their race before it starts. Within sport there are two main types of anxiety in Sport, trait anxiety and state anxiety.

Trait anxiety is more general and enduring, suggesting a predisposition to anxiety in all areas of life, not just in sport where as state anxiety is transient and specific only to the particular situation an athlete finds themselves in.

They display themselves differently in each individual. From the athlete that spews before each match to the basketballer on the free throw line whose mind is his greatest obstacle. In training they make every single shot, never miss, but during the game they struggle to overcome the anxiety that builds every time their feet touch that line.

So to our amateur athletes across the country experiencing any of the following symptoms just remember that it is a natural to feel these things and the best way to overcome it all is to discuss it with coaches and teammates. Some of the symptoms you may feel could include the following…

  • Cognitive symptoms relate to thought processes, including fear, indecision, poor concentration, loss of confidence and defeatist self-talk.
  • Somatic (physical) symptoms include muscular tension, clammy hands and feet, increased heart rate, sweating and butterflies in the stomach.
  • Behavioral symptoms relate to patterns of behavior, including inhibited posture, fingernail biting, avoidance of eye contact and uncharacteristic displays of introverted or extroverted behavior.

Here at a Mind of Its Own, we’d like to say, good luck to all those participating in the big dance throughout September. And for those that aren’t there is some quality viewing as all! The football codes are entering finals time, netball oh wait that’s done the Sunshine Coast Lighting took that title, there’s some golf tournaments, some over paid tennis players running a court, table tennis tournaments from south-east asia and home-grown lawn bowls finals and all your other favourite sport can be found across the channels you pay for with your fox sports package.

Remember why you started to play the game and remember to be nice to those that officiate it. But most of all have fun out there whether you play at the elite level or amateur so you can taste those sweet victory beers without the scrutiny of the media or your sponsors. It’s all about the enjoyment and we all make mistakes. So until the next time we grace your screen, peace out and enjoy September…

New York State of Mind…

Ever just wake up and wonder what it’s all for? Why life has pointed you on this path? Why your best mates all seem to be doing so much better at life than you do? Well the good news… This isn’t an advertisement for a way to improve what you deem as your shitty life. Chances are as you look at things through your goggles preparing for the super storm that is not going to come and rain on your parade, life may be better than you think.

In this week’s piece we revisit depression and anxiety to discuss how it can take on A Mind of Its Own. Don’t question it, we really did just manage to slip our blog sites title in once again. We aren’t beyond a shameless plug of the little safe haven we’ve created in which all these wonderful blogs can be found for you to read over and over till your heart’s content, your minds numb and your fast asleep in your favourite chair.

So where’s your mental health at? Have you asked yourself lately or has someone asked you? Have you spoken to someone when you’re feeling a little off colour? Have you been to see your doctor? Chances are if you’re male you’ll have answered NO to a lot of these but you’ll have never have asked yourself why your first response was no and was always going to be no. History has played a massive part in why that answer was always going to be a NO. Today’s youth aside the generations gone by have been raised to be tough. Men are told not to cry, not to talk about their feelings.

It’s interesting that the #Metoo campaign gave women who were struggling a platform in which to voice their deepest, darkest moments, fears and concerns about what the male dominated world has done to them and yet as males we still sit back puffing on cigars, sipping whiskey, bottling up our problems while we watch the world go by. Ok that may have been a gross generalisation of how males operate in society but I know from personal experience it’s not too far from the truth.

Whether it be the suffering of a mental health issue or problems at home with a loved one, money troubles, problems at work etc, unless it’s discussing how your favourite sports team performed on the weekend, it’s not something you generally talk about with mates at the pub on the weekend or your office mates around the water cooler on a Monday morning. So what makes it easier for women to communicate in general? Wives across the world would stop nagging to be talked to if there husbands just opened up and talked about their feelings from time to time instead of drinking their worries and pains away down the pub with Tommo and Roachy while staring at the Dapto dogs on the bigscreen.

It has been said that women are more mature in general than men, I’m starting to believe in terms of emotional intelligence this is very true. Perhaps emotionally it’s easier for blokes to just throw up a wall and pretend nothing is wrong. One of the toughest men i will ever meet on this earth and was fortunate enough to be related to told me on his deathbed, the one thing he wished he could of done better was talk things out a little more with family and friends before it got to this point as he had a lot to say.

The more we sit back and let things evolve before intervening the more they spiral out of control and again for what our pride at saying we were tough in our darkest moments and battled through it? Sometimes you it’s more manly to stand up and say enough is enough and know that it’s ok to ask for help. Don’t let your demons, troubles and worries take on a mind of their own. Sometimes we just don’t know where to start but once you start and that weight like the world is on your shoulders, lifts and there is an instant relief.

What is the point of days like R U OK? Or having foundations like Beyond Blue who focus on mental health and that generally of men. Movember over the years have raised money for men’s health each year often focusing on mental health as an issue in which we, yes we being men have neglected all too often over the years and why? Well that’s simple all because a lot of us were brought up idolising tough men and being told that men don’t talk about their thoughts and or feelings. Particularly if you are going through a tough time.

Yes the fear and stigma are still there that people will think you are weird, but remember as a generality, people don’t understand what they don’t know or a willing to understand and learn about. It’s ok to talk and furthermore to seek advice and medical help from professionals. There is no reason to hide anymore, anxiety, depression and even just having a bad day are as common as a cold and something that we can talk about. No we should talk about. Whether that be with a family member, friend, stranger or a professional it’s only going to help you.

From this writer to men and women across the globe don’t let your pride or fear of being judged get in the way of having a conversation that could help you out and change you life for the better. As suffer of anxiety and depression there was a fear I would be judged by my friends and family, yet finally when I found my voice they were nothing but supportive and continue to be supportive.

As an advocate of men’s health, I can only say to you it’s OK, it’s OK to talk, it’s ok to speak out and find your voice. It’s OK to lean on your friends and family in times of need or doubt. We all need someone we can talk and that one conversation could go a long way to putting you on the path to recovery. Women and Men alike around the world could be in the same boat as you and you’d never know.

Ladies and gentlemen it is Ok to speak up and seek some help or just talk about what’s going on in your life. Who knows your loved ones might really appreciate you reaching out to them. Your friends certainly will that’s for sure. To my friends and family I appreciate that you were there for me and encouraged me to seek some help and continue to be there for me in my down days.

To you the readers, this medium helps me more than I let on. The ability to write and put my thoughts and feelings down allows me to manage and maintain my battle with anxiety and depression. So I thank you for the encouragement to continue to write each week and for taking the time out of your busy lives to read each post. To the fanatics (You know who you are) thanks for being faithful to blog and my writing, you make writing this each week all the more worthwhile.

Until next week, take it easy and remember there is always some we can talk to about whatever is going on in our lives.