The past 30 years have taught me quite a bit. I’ve pretty much experienced every emotion there is, and along the way I’ve discovered ways to live with them.
My hope is that by sharing my story, it will help others to realise their potential and see the benefits of sharing your stuff. You can take from it whatever you feel is beneficial; I just want to prove that talking, writing and sharing is ok.
In this article, I'd like to cover with you the six core things that I've personally struggled with the most. So let's kick things off with the motherfucker that is ...
1 — ANXIETY
I’ve lived with panic attacks and anxiety since I was about 13. Mine stem from a whole range of things but mainly come from my mum. As amazing as she was, she was someone you feared upsetting or getting on the wrong side of.
Growing up, I lived with this fear day in day out. Most days were filled with ‘what if’ and anticipation—which is what drives anxiety. The fear of ‘what if’. The best way to overcome this is to say fuck fear. A coping mechanism I was taught is to embrace fear. Find the reason why you’re feeling anxious and confront it head-on. Fear of having a panic attack will only cause a panic attack. Using a distraction will just lengthen your anxiety. Find fear, hunt it down, look it in the eyes and say “Fuck you”.
2 — ANGER
It’s not easy to be mad at people we love. I was furious when my mum chose to end her life. But how can you be angry at someone who’s dead? It’s much easier to get mad at the door not shutting or the TV remote not working. Locking up anger only leads to more frustration and more anger.
So let it out. Tell the person you’re angry with that you’re angry with them. Tell them why. Can’t do this? Then go outside and let it out. I go to the beach, find the biggest rock I can and throw it as far as I can. I imagine throwing it at the person I’m angry at. The gym is another good place to get angry. Don’t smash up your house or room. Go lift something heavy. Throw something big. Use a punch-bag. Letting anger out is the only way to stop feeling angry. Just don’t hurt yourself or someone else. You’ll be OK.
How many times have you said “I’m OK” when someone has asked you if you’re OK? I cried when my mum died, and I didn’t care who saw it. But not long afterwards, literally a few days later, I stopped crying. I decided I was now OK. She was gone. I was here, and I had shit to do. Two years later I had a mental breakdown. The hurt, the pain, the uncried tears from the last two years all caught up with me, and I imploded.
I still find it tough to cry. But I always feel better for doing it. One thing that helps me is music. A particular couple of tracks that cause me to break down into a dribbling mess of tears. Don’t be afraid of the things that make you cry. Use them to your advantage. Don’t be ashamed. It doesn’t make you weak. So grab the tissues and shed some hard-earned tears.
4 — DEPRESSION
Feeling depressed feels like you’re dragging a one-ton weight around with you. It’s like swimming in glue. It’s exhausting and makes you feel like giving up. I remember the lowest I’ve ever felt and thinking it would never pass. I thought: “That’s it, I’m fucked. This is my life.” But slowly it passed. Some of it on its own, some of it by me accepting it. It’s like all these feelings. The more you fight it, the worse you feel. You know why? Because you’re just fighting yourself.
As soon as I accepted my depression and said “Fuck it I’m going to bed, and I’m not going to move for three days” the sooner I was out of bed. It’s not giving up on yourself. It’s just not forcing yourself to be happy. Sometimes you need to give in to the way you feel. Sometimes you need to just feel like shit and switch the world off. It won’t last forever. It will pass. Just go with it.
5 — LONELINESS
After my mum had died I was left with an immense feeling of loneliness. I was not only physically alone, but I also felt isolated in what I was going through. I wasn’t alone at all. Talking to others about my issues helped me overcome this. There’s always someone out there going through the same thing you are. Find them. Speak to them.
As soon as I did this, I realised that physically being alone wasn’t that bad. And that depending on the company of others made me feel more lonely. I learned to enjoy my own company. It was an opportunity to do whatever I wanted. Do something you love and talk to others along the way. You’ll soon realise you’re not alone and that your own company is not that bad. Be a mate to yourself. Do what makes YOU happy. And don’t feel guilty for doing it.
6 — CONFUSION
Feeling confused sucks because you can feel everything and nothing. All at the same time. During my breakdown, I was in a world of confused thoughts and feelings. Why do I feel like this? What’s wrong with me? How can I stop feeling like this? What should I do?
Chasing for an answer can feel like you’re stuck on repeat. So stop. Switch off and list everything that is on your mind. You need to break the cycle of confusion. If writing doesn’t help, try giving your mind some peace with a simple task. Give something the best clean it’s ever had or fix something. Meditation is the act of focusing the mind on a mundane task so the rest of your mind can find peace. Forget confusion for just a few seconds. Stop chasing it. Let go of it. Focus on something completely different.
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Chat soon and take care.
Founder of MindJournal