Rehab – Part One

They tried to make me go to rehab and I said no, no…….oh fuck it, go on then!

I’ve not written for a while. The truth of it is that I have been feeling really shit. Ever since I came off my anti depressants back in March, my mental health has suffered. I’ve gone back to that grumpy old man who got annoyed by absolutely everything. Whilst doing so, my anxiety has gone through the roof. Having never really suffered from the feeling before, I’ve found this unbelievably hard to get my head around. Constantly thinking about what is happening and why it’s happening at the same time as feeling guilty about not being the husband, father, friend, colleague I should be. Mind blowing stuff!

Then at the beginning of July, I went into work for a night shift and just didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to be anywhere apart from at home with my family. At the same time I knew that I wasn’t contributing anything to that side of my life either. I went out onto the balcony to vape (I like to call it my safety blanket) and looked across the skyline. I felt very lonely. Even with the support my wife provides to me, I just felt really…..SHIT. Upon that 3rd floor balcony, I had a brief moment where I looked over and thought, what would happen if I jumped? Would I die? Would I just hurt myself? Would I be missed? And at that moment I knew I needed to stop and get help. To be honest, I could never have jumped. As much as I put on this manly front to life, I am a scared little boy inside and jumping was never going to happen. So I managed to get through my shift and went home the following morning knowing that I wouldn’t be returning to work for a while. I was going to get help and change these feelings.

Luckily, my job offer a rehabilitation service for both physical and mental health. Set in a beautifully, picturesque part of Oxfordshire, this amazing facility is open to all that contribute to the charity and accommodates your every need. After suffering for a long time and lengthy discussions with my wife about being away for two weeks, I took the plunge and applied to stay there. To say I felt guilty about going is an understatement. But as my wife said, spending two weeks fixing my own mental health is much better than sitting at home becoming a fat, reclusive TV slob! (not her actual words but that’s how I was feeling) I am bigger help to my family if my head is in the right place.

So I booked myself in to rehab. Even writing that makes me feel weird. I think of rehab as a place where celebrities go after being smashed out of their faces through drink and drugs. Not someone who has a full time job, a family, nice house and a lot to contribute to the future of my kids. I wanted to change these feelings inside me and make myself a nicer person to spend time with. Not a grumpy husband. Not a shouty father. Not an aggressive colleague. Just a “normal” person, who could get through a day without letting everything get to me.

So that’s what I did. I jumped on a train on Tuesday 28th of August and headed off to rehab. I was scared shitless of what I would face. I think I was scared of learning more about myself and my feelings and how I would cope with being with a group of people that had their own issues to resolve. What if they were all knobheads? What if I hated being surrounded by like minded people? But I wasn’t coping doing it my way, so I had to give it a go. I didn’t share these feelings with anyone but my wife. Two days before I left I had a BBQ at mine with all my closest friends. I wanted to tell people about what I’ve been going through but there never seemed the right time to bring it up. Hopefully they’ll read this at some point and they’ll see where my heads at……

My experience deserves it’s own post and not to be tagged on the end of this part so will follow in due course. It was an amazing experience and it’s safe to say I’m feeling the benefits of it already.

KEEP TALKING…….

 

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Five ways for men to improve their mental health

I struggle with with keeping my head above the water on a daily basis.

A lot of men deal with this same struggle but fail to recognise that they have a problem and just sweep it under the carpet. Why is this? It’s because were men, isn’t it? We’re big tough manly men who don’t need help and definitely don’t need to tell anyone how were feeling. Feelings are for girls. Girls sit and talk about emotions and tell their friends how many times they cry every week and how they’re having a really tough day. The sad fact is that the majority of men don’t do this. If we get to go to the pub with mates, we talk about man stuff. Football. Beer. More football. We don’t like to show a weakness to our peers that may leave them to judge us and think were not manly men.

This mindset needs to change and here are five tips to help YOU through the struggles of mens mental health.

1. Prepare for the worst

Opening up about how you feel is a very scary thought for most. You will not get the reaction you want from everyone that you speak to and therefore you need to expect that people will not take you seriously. Over the last couple of years I’ve confided in people that I believed would take me seriously. Some of those people were amazing at listening to my woes. Others have not been so accepting, almost to the point of being dismissive that I was feeling the way I was. You will get bad reactions but please don’t stop trying to talk. You will find the right people to talk to eventually.

2. Make time for yourself.

“Me time” is thought of as a women only event. It’s common for a woman to disappear for a nice relaxing bath or to go for a coffee to have some quiet time alone. This is something that us men can do too. In those cold winter months, treat yourself to some decent muscle relaxing bubble bath and go for a soak. Believe me it works. If you get a spare half hour, wander down to your local coffee shop and sit with a coffee and forget about the strains of life. Get lost in the world of social media on your phone or take a good book and just relax. After returning from a hard day at work, say hello to the family and then retire to your bedroom to catch ten minutes of serenity before being pulled left, right and centre by your kids. You have to manage your brain and recognise when you need quiet time.

3. Exercise

Exercise is a proven way to get positive endorphins flowing through your body. It feels shit when doing it but the results are massive in improving your mental health. I personally struggle with this one as I’m slowing turning in to an overweight middle aged slug. My passion is football and I’ve promised myself that this preseason is going to be the one where I really get my self back in shape and reignite that fire in my belly. Find yourself a sport that you love and get yourself out there. A team sport is great for taking your mind off of the strains of life. A solo activity can also help in getting you that peace and quiet that we all need.

4. Eat well

A healthy diet breeds a healthy mind. If you find yourself fattening up like a bear in hibernation season then this won’t help you. Comfort eating feels great at the time.  A pack of biscuits for breakfast. A burger for lunch. Chips and more chips for dinner. It’s an all too common way for us to make ourselves feel better. It’s far too easy and that’s why we do it. We don’t need another stress in our day so we resort to eating shit food. But if you just make that extra time to prepare something a little healthier then you will feel the benefits. Why not try and start your day with porridge. Snack on some nuts. And then tuck into a fresh bowl of pasta in the evening. Thank me later!

5. Get professional help

There are thousands of people out there that have studied for a career in helping people like you and me. I was lucky enough to be able to get that help through my employer and after a rocky start, I opened up like never before. Ask your HR department if they offer any help. Imagine being able to say anything you like without upsetting anyone. Get anything off your chest without the fear that someone would take it the wrong way. Shed a tear without being judged by your manly mates. Visit my Help Me page for a couple of ideas of where to start but there are so many more people out there that are willing to help you open up about your mental health. Here you will find techniques that develop your skills to deal with your stresses and strains and start you on that road to recovery.

You are amazing!

I hope some of these ideas help you in your quest for sanity. It’s a fucking tough journey that we go through. Please don’t ever be afraid to open up and talk. I’m very lucky to have a wife who sits and listens to my woes, but we all need to develop our own ways to look after our mental health. You are more than capable of dealing with your own mental health issues no matter how helpless you feel right now. Talk to someone and feel the weight lift of of your shoulders.

Ups and downs

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There have been many ups and downs over the last couple of months.

Anniversary

This photo was taken on a very cold day in April, on a beach in Wexford, Ireland. It was a special day for us as it was our eight year wedding anniversary. EIGHT YEARS! Fuck has that flown by. I was a daddy to a one year old and a step daddy to a twelve year old. I was (relatively) calm and every day was pretty nice and normal.

Fast forward to today and that one year old is nine and excelling at everything intellectually. We have a darling little daughter who is seven and and a very confident, yet demanding, young lady. The cheeky little step-son is twenty and has just flown to the USA as a tall, handsome, amazingly well rounded young man, to work at a summer camp. We have just bought a dog! The Mrs has been through every emotion possible, good and bad, over the last few years and has come out the other side as a strong, amazingly beautiful, tenacious and assured woman who deals with everything put in her way!

But what about me?!

I’m forty years old. Some would expect a mid life crisis at this point. Buying a soft top sports car and hanging around bars with people half my age in order to feel young again. Not me. I went through my own little breakdown and now into my fortieth year on this planet and I’m still trying to find my place. I don’t mean in my family. Believe me, I know my place there as my seven year old daughter firmly puts me back in it if I am ever to dare to step ouit of line. God forbid I have an opinion of what time she should go to bed or wear on a daily basis.

I mean what do I want to do. I got into my current career path at twenty five. Like my dad, I joined a job that should have set me for life and retire on a nice pension. But that seems further from the truth each day. I started out on the path to becoming a London Taxi driver a few years back, but doubt set in and I gave up on that as well. So my new idea is computers. I love technology. I am a self confessed geek. I’ve strated studying for my CompTIA exams in PC maintenance and hopefully that will open doors to where I’ll go next. I hope.

The future

All this has become clear since our anniversary. For reasons not to be discussed here, I’ve grown up again and and tried to slow down in my day to day life. My mental health is important and that’s something I started to forget. The Mrs reminded me of my hours spent talking to my counsellor and CBT therapist and how that calmed me and got rid of that shitty little stress gremlin. Well he crept back in and I started feeling the strain again. The little bastard was giving my brain a good kicking on a daily basis and my thoughts of being the lead character in Falling Down  was at the forefront of my mind. Luckily for me, the Mrs reminds me of how I used to be when I met her and the person she fell in love with and how I need to be more like that. Not the person who goes bat shit crazy because someone dares to walk in front of him on the tube platform.

So now I’m back on the blogging trail. Writing and expressing myself and my feelings. This was a big help when I first started and hopefully it’ll keep me sane looking to the future. Hopefully…….

A Complete Guide to Keeping Your Nan Alive

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Ok so the title of this blog post is a little bit edgy to say the least. I wanted to write a post about my beloved Nan and her recent struggles and so enlisted the help of a website to help me think of a title…….and this is what I ended up with! In reality it’s my Nan that is keeping herself alive with her fighting spirit which belies her nearly ninety five years on this planet.

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