#008 Social Anxiety, prisoners in ourselves.

Apologies to regular readers as I have not been here for a while to post. Although I have an awful lot of good positive things to add to this site soon. The black dog does not visit me much these day’s which is brilliant. Unfortunately the odd days he does come back it feels like I have run and face-planted into a black brick wall at 100mph. I have a good plan of action and medical support in place for keeping the black dog tame which I intend to speak about in my next post on this blog #009.

Like all invisible illness it is very hard to for the people around you to truly understand your daily battle, most of us don’t expect you to either. I speak personally here, but I have a strong feeling I may speak for many when I say if we can’t do something, attend some event, go out for the drink, make that gig or meal out please accept our apologies for not attending. Spending the next 10 minutes chatting, emailing or texting to convince us to do a certain thing only adds to our pain or struggle.

I have made clear my depressing battle is over for now, I have found a way to tame the black dog. The awful hangover it left me with was very bad anxiety and nocturnal panic attacks. After a lot of hard work and medical help I also bought this under control. I also changed some things in my life and adopted a new way of living which you may read about in other posts on my blog.

However despite all of this success I still have the odd rotten day, like my G.P regularly reminds me, these are passing episodes, they will not last. She is right, they do not last and things really do go back to normal again.

I am still struggling with one aspect of anxiety some people experience, this is what is known as Social Anxiety and in no uncertain terms it is an absolute arse to fight. It is also very hard to understand when your life before any of this was so full and outgoing and you regularly see reminders of this around you. If you do not know what Social Anxiety is you can read more about it here.

I have not posted this to seek attention, no way we hate drawing attention to ourselves when it’s at it’s worse. I have not posted this to make excuses for missing all those birthday parties, gigs, nights out, events, weddings, family events and any other social event I may have had to miss in the last 6 or 7 years. Social Anxiety normally haunts people after significant or traumatic life events, well I have had about 5 or 6 of those leading up the start of all my mental health problems back in 2009-ish.

I have decide to post this now because I think I may be winning a little, the time is right. We should never ever have to say sorry for being ill and I won’t. I want to say thank you instead to those who know, those who do not know, those who tolerated me and thought my excuses were just excuses but still asked me to attend parties, gigs etc. Thank you to all of you, you know who you are and I appreciate this. Well here I am telling you why? I have no control over this aspect of my health, I am however fighting back again,

Social Anxiety causes immense physical and mental ill health, some aspects of this I can’t even begin to describe but in brief if it hits me when I am asked to go somewhere or do something and I actually make it out, it has been one hell of war inside to get that far. Often once I am there I am good. To get to the stage of being at said event I may have gone through physical pain in my joints and muscles, palpitations, panic attacks, sickness, headaches, hot and cold sweats, my stomic will or would have been doing back flips like an acrobat from Circus De Soleil and I would have visited the toilet more times than I care to mention leading up to going out the door, yes fight or flight really does happen even when something good or fun is about to happen. I would normally also pace up and down like drill Sargent in my house.

Should the above be that bad or worse which is more common with events I have planned or prior knowledge of I have no other option but to make my excuses. I am about to try some new techniques for fighting back. I want to fight back as this is my third and very last hurdle I have to cross to finally beat this crap that has been holding me back for the last 7 years of so.

Thank you for sticking by, thank you for asking me time and time again to attend something, even though I may have said no many times I so wanted to come with you. Please do not stop asking as this gives me a goal and one day I will be saying YES!


#008 Social Anxiety, prisoners in ourselves.

#007 Life isn’t all about money.

#LivingAChilledLife #LivingALifeYouWant

So much of the current politics are putting normal rational citizens against each other over money, this is so sad and disappointing because we are all better than materialism…
I have just read the article below on The Minimalists Instagram page it’s perfect and needs to be shared.

Life can be mighty expensive inside the flashy walls of our consumer culture. Dinner and a movie. Daily venti lattes. That cute new outfit.
Those cute shoes to go with that cute new outfit. The price of a couple hotdogs and a beer at a ball game. 
Not to mention all your bills. Gas. Electric. Mortgage. Car payments. Insurance. Credit cards. Student loans. Add it all up and it can be crippling financially. It’s terrifying to even think about. 
But not everything costs an arm and a leg. The best things in life are free is an overused platitude; but the nice thing about platitudes is they’re often true—they are often maxims by which we could improve our lives if we didn’t dismiss them as overly trite or vapid. 
Thus, the best things in life are, in fact, free. Love. Relationships. Health. Personal growth. Contribution. Six-pack abs. But we’d like to posit to you that nearly everything you need to enjoy your life is free as well. Sure you need money to pay for certain necessities, but most aspects of your life have the potential to cost you nothing—the system is already set up to make your most enjoyable experiences free. 
Exercise is free when you do it at home or in the park or anywhere that doesn’t cost a fee. Walking through your city and taking in the beauty of it all is free. 
Listening to music you already love is free. A glass of tap water is free. While your food costs money, choosing healthy food over junk food is free. Reading a book is free. Writing about your life—or someone else’s life—is free. Wearing your favorite clothes—your favorite teeshirt, jeans, and shoes—is free. Lovemaking is free. Sitting with a friend or a lover under the stars and laughing together is free. Going to a friend’s house and watching a movie together is free. Donating your time to help out at a local soup kitchen is free. Sitting in a quiet room and enjoying your time alone is free. The air you breathe is free. Most important, your freedom is free. Although we often spend a lot of time and money just to give it up.

#007 Life isn’t all about money.

#005 Digital Minimalism

Just a short post today about one of the steps I used to help beat my anxiety and my minimalist journey.

With technology comes easy, but easy soon becomes a distraction. I only just really learned how uneasy social media sites can be. The very popular one everyone uses seems to have become very negative lately with a small exception.For that reason I drastically changed how I use it. I now log in via web only and use it as a communication contacts tool. This has made a great improvement on my life no end.

I won’t try and sale you the reasons why you need to learn for yourself but this article by Cal Newport should go a little way to helping with a digital declutter.


#005 Digital Minimalism

#004 Alcohol, the drug my body doesn’t need.

At the start of 2017 after serval discussions with my amazing supportive partner who always encouraged me by saying alcohol will not help the black dog. I dumped alcohol from my life.

I didn’t drink regularly, it’s just how I consumed alcohol was the problem and the after effects it had on my mental well-being, sleep and it most definitely affected my anxiety levels afterwards.

I will give you one example, I would finish work on a Friday, grab a bottle of red wine from the shop near home. After my son was asleep I would have a glass and watch a movie, ok nothing wrong with that, no, but I would easily finish the bottle that evening as it felt like I was self medicating my depression and later on anxiety. Like I said my partner suggested a few times it would help me if I stopped doing that. At the time I was to stubborn to see the truth.

I woke up one Monday morning before heading off to work and said right that’s it I am ditching alcohol. Also in addition to my partner saying I shouldn’t drink I also read a link one of the Mums from my son’s School posted on social media, it contained the true medical facts about alcohol and depression.

Here we are late March 2017 and I have not gone back to alcohol, I had one urge to during this period but I purchased some alcohol free beer instead.

So what has it done for me:~

To start with I am sleeping better than I ever have done. My anxiety has only reared it’s ugly head once or twice in this period. This was linked to external issues which I resolved with rational thought.

The other bonus is the positive affects on my own physical health I have lost some weight, I feel physically better and I look better with regards to wellness. Proving just some alcohol at weekends can have a massive impact us.

If you are wanting to break the friendship with alcohol for any reason please look up and join Hello Sunday Morning, I found it a very useful tool.

Finally I will never say never but at this stage in my life I have no plans or urges to refurn to drinking alcohol.

#004 Alcohol, the drug my body doesn’t need.

#003 Running from the black dog.

Back in the early to mid 1990s my Dad was involved in a very serious road traffic accident. Despite seeing the accident coming and taking evasive action by parking on the layby he still came off pretty bad. Eventually he recovered but not without some ongoing pains that would hang around for the rest of his life.

Fast forward to the end the 90s and heading into the naughties my Dad then faced further health complications and was admitted to hospital. After a long stay he left hospital following a triple heart bypass operation.

Let’s now skip forward to the mid 2000s, another health complication arrives in my Dad’s life, the early stages of bladder cancer. During this time and leading up to it my Mum was also poorly, I think a lot of this may have been linked to the stress of caring for my Dad off and on over the years.

Sadly on Friday 27th November 2009 my Dad lost his battle with cancer. A few days before a good friend of mine who was around my Dad’s age also lost his battle with cancer.

In 2010 some good, actually amazing news happened for a change, the birth of my amazing son, this was so nice after so many years of bad news.

Onwards to Friday 23rd March 2012, the tragic news arrives about a very close and dear friend being killed in a motorbike crash.

On reflection all of the above are pretty big life changing events when it comes to the human coping mechanism. On reflection I feel I didn’t ever stop to grieve or reflect on all of the things that happened.

For many years I seeked various types of help and support trying to fight depression and it wasn’t until 2016 that I truly beat it after I was able to get to the bottom of the cause.

Move onto late 2016 I realised even though I beat depression it left me with some awful baggage, hiddeous anxiety and social anxiety. I hid away, I stopped going out and I stopped going to gigs (I loved going to gigs), just made excuse after excuse, some people just wouldn’t understand, I feel some still don’t.

One morning I woke up and said that’s it, enough is enough this is not going to ruin my life I want to beat this by any means possible. I went to the GP and luckily I got to see a very understanding clued up Doctor. She really understood where I was coming from and her advice, help and suggested medication was the start of what would be my road to recovery. By mid to late December I was seeing some real progress and my mind was back with me, I was able to start making some serious progress and life changing actions which I’ll write about later in my blog.

#003 Running from the black dog.

#002 Minimalism and the black dog

About 6 or 7 years ago my battle with the black dog started. If you stick around and follow my blog you will learn more about this in later posts. When this battle was finally over in 2016 I was left with what I call “The Hangover” this came in the shape of life changing anxiety, more about that later. Late November 2016 I woke up and said ENOUGH! I am not going to let this crap control my life a moment longer. I left the house that day determined to seek further professional help.

After a few weeks I was in full swing on my plan to recovery and things were really starting to look up. In December whilst on a break from work I was looking through Netflix one evening and I spotted this film “Minimalism: A Documentary about the important things” https://minimalismfilm.com/

I was never a person who earned loads and spent loads, but the message in the film about living intentionally and spending more time with one’s you love really hit a spot. We spend so much time in our lives chasing income, career, goals, stuff (most of which is crap), chasing a bigger home, chasing the rat race norm we forget why we are here.

After the film I discovered the amazing weekly podcasts by The Minimalists http://www.theminimalists.com/podcast/.

One thing led to another and I started my journey of living a more intentional life, I have slowly removed the physical clutter from my life, although this is going to take some time to work through. My next step was to work on the very important stuff, mental clutter, financial stress and non essential problems. I soon discovered most problem were not problems.

This way of living will not work for everyone, but the harder you look at it you may see elements of it that will work for you, for me many aspects of it work and will continue this journey. I will continue because along with other steps it has helped me beat anxiety and this time it feels like it’s for good.

#002 Minimalism and the black dog