Neglecting Blogs Is Bad For The Soul

Again I’ve neglected to write on here recently. I’ve been trying hard to relax and take it easy and completely forgot to blog! I’ve definitely felt a bit of a hole in my weekly schedule without the blog.

So today, I’m going to go back to the idea behind a previous post of mine. Appreciation. I’m going to be writing about the things that I’ve appreciated over the last week or so. These can be the big things like a huge event or the little things like someone smiling at me in the street. So lets get started.

1. My Basic Human Rights

I’m well aware that my family and I aren’t super rich. But we earn and we have everything we need. Food, water and shelter. I’m able to live comfortably with a fair few extra luxuries as well but I never forget how lucky I am to have these things. 
I’m also free to say and do what I like (with the obvious exceptions of murder etc.). People won’t always agree with my opinions but it’s their right not to. I can belong to a faith if I so choose, but at the same time, it’s totally fine if I don’t. 

2. Music

I’ve been diving back into going to gigs recently with tons more to come. There’s nothing better than live music. That feeling of the bass hitting you right in the chest, the anticipation of the act coming on stage, the buzz you get from the crowd. You can’t beat it! Even if I’m not at a gig, I’ve been writing, recording and singing lots of songs. It’s a relaxing task which I can do at home whenever I like! 

3. Science and Technology

There’s no denying that technology is taking over. People are spending more and more time on their phones, computers, tablets and games consoles these days. Scientists have even found that people suffer from lack of concentration and increased anxiety when they’re separated from their phones for even a short amount of time. It’s not all good, but what I do appreciate is the time, energy and effort that goes into developing technology and science. Phones these days have more computing power than the systems used to send humankind to the moon. When I think of the huge steps in innovation that people are achieving these days it fascinates me, especially when we think about the real world applications that are possible!

4. The Tolerance of Society

Another thing that I really have started appreciating is how tolerant people are these days. Sure, in isolated incidents people are intolerant, even with the rise of less tolerant political groups, they’re still outnumbered. I’m also very appreciative of how intolerant people are of bulls***. #FoxNewsFacts took over twitter recently and it showed how people were absolutely unwilling to accept the rubbish “news” that Fox news are spouting. 
Don’t forget to appreciate the little things that happen throughout the week! We’re powered by positivity. 
A

New Year… Old Me?

I’ve been neglecting my blog somewhat recently especially over the Christmas break where I was refusing to do anything at all! But I’m alive and awake again and first things first, happy New Year!

There are a few different things that I’d like to write about this time. First of all a little bit of appreciation for all things 2014. Obviously this is a super short version of things I’m grateful for!

2014

1. Work
There was a point in 2014 where I wasn’t particularly enjoying my work. My depression was kicking my arse and I didn’t feel like I was up to the job. However it’s extremely important for me to recognise that without work, a routine and meeting the people I’m trying to help I wouldn’t be feeling better now and I wouldn’t be enjoying my work! 2015 has me sticking around with work with a new exciting role!

2. Friends
Well, there’s not much I need to say. I have amazing people around me. Not necessarily geographically, but you know what I mean. My friends always always support me through the roughest times and celebrate with me when the good times come! Even the friends I don’t see or speak to very often, whenever I see them, it’s like I saw them yesterday. We can pick off where we left off with no problem whatsoever.

3. Music

Whether it’s listening, gigging or writing music, I feel better when I’m around it. Music is one thing that almost everyone listens to and it’s often one thing that can instantly make people happy and I hope that I can make more people happy with my music!

4. Volunteering

I’m not doing as much as I used to at the moment but the little bits that I do always leaves me feeling great. I get to try new ways to help out the people on the programme and our little gang of mentors. Keeping volunteers motivated has never been easier than when I’ve got my mentors around!

2015

Lots of people talk about turning over a new leaf every New Year. It’s understandable, it’s a symbolic clean slate for the upcoming year. I’m not knocking those who make resolutions, but why do we need to wait for a new year to attempt to better ourselves?
I try my hardest at all times to make myself better than I was yesterday. I don’t want to wait for a new year to do that. Also, nothing that has happened in 2014 will be forgotten! The hard work that I put into 2014 will carry over to 2015 as will all the bad things. To me, there’s no clean slate. That’s not a bad thing though. If you lived 2014 to the fullest, that energy and positivity will carry over to 2015. 
Making a resolution is a great idea. New Years may be a good time to do it, but don’t forget you don’t need a calendar to resolve to do something. If you want to do something, DO IT! Don’t wait for a new year to do it. Just go for it. There’s no better time than the present. (I understand the present is new years day, but you get the gist.)
A

Blue Christmas

Christmas is a holiday which is widely associated with a fantastical magical feeling of good will, gift giving, love and joy. But is it always? Not for plenty of people.

There are Thousands less fortunate than me who are going to be sending Christmas alone, be it in a big empty house or on the street and we should try our best not to forget that. Remember all the things we’re grateful for and try not to take anything for granted. Health included.

I bang on a lot about mental health and in my opinion its for good reason. Mental ill health can make even the most joyous of occasions dull, horrible and scary. For the last six or seven years or so I’ve struggled at this time of year. Lots of people do but for different reasons.

This time of year is where I feel loneliest, despite the good spirit and the family that I have around me. I love my family and I know my family loves me, but I never feel comfortable with them. I’ve virtually nothing in common with any of them. It’s something I’ve felt for a long long time, but it’s extremely clear and very obvious when I’m forced, one day a year to spend it in the sole presence of my family.

It’s something I just can’t explain. That’s the place that I feel most alone, when I’m surrounded by people who love me most. However, while I’m uncomfortable, lonely and horrendously awkward at this time of year, I am still grateful.

Grateful to have family at all, grateful to my friends, grateful to have food on my plate and grateful to be alive. I’m not a fan of spending Christmas day with my family. But for one day a year, I’m happy to sit through a day of good food, bad games and even worse music and tv. It’s significantly tougher than even the most taxing days at work, but it’s worth it to see my family have a good time. Besides, it’s not unusual that the more I pretend to have a good time, for parts of the day I do end up enjoying myself.

Other people have it much tougher than I do though. Mine is just one example of depression and mental ill health taking over the holidays. If you know someone who’s going through a particularly tough time this holiday season, make sure that you’re there for them. It’s always easier to get through things knowing you’ve got someone in your corner.

And for those who struggle with these kinds of things and particularly over-thinking which I’m sure plenty of us do. Have a look at this little gem, courtesy of CollegeHumor.

Christmas is always blue for me, but blue isn’t all bad. I really get time to reflect on what’s important, who’s important and what I can do to get to the point I can genuinely enjoy the holidays again. Besides, blue is one of my favourite colours.

A

Don’t Complain, Campaign.

So it’s the time of the year where giving is encouraged. Times are hard right now and the news, media, papers, magazines are all awash with stories of woe, things that need to be changed. There are a lot of issues out there that need people working on to make sure that our country and our society changes for the better.

There are a bunch of things that I’m passionate about and lots of issues that I’m eager to tackle in anyway my time and energy will allow. For example, mental health. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I’m keen to get people talking about mental health. Trying to take power away from mental illnesses by acknowledging that they’re just a small part of what makes us who we are. I’m constantly planning, brainstorming and talking to others about potential campaigns that I could run to potentially tackle the issue and I feel like in my own very small way I’m already campaigning for change.

Lots of people, however, are what some call Armchair Activists or Slacktivists.

Urban Dictionary define an Armchair Activist as:

“One who sits in their armchair or desk chair and blogs or posts Activists issues on facebook without ever really doing anything about said issues or exercising any form of activism as it would require that person to actually leave the armchair.”

Wikipedia defines Slacktivism as:

“The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it take satisfaction from the feeling they have contributed.”

I’ve been guilty of being a slacktivist before. Occasionally I still feel like one. However, I often get feedback about my efforts in trying to get people to talk about mental health and it helps me realise that even my small little blog and the openness in which I talk about my own mental problems and encourage people to do the same is helping a them come to terms with the hand that’s been dealt to them. This isn’t me tooting my own horn, or blowing smoke up my own chimney or another way of saying that I’m showing off. All I’m trying to do is show people that it’s not as hard as it sounds to campaign for something you care about. There are small things you can do, like blog and talk and share your story or the story of others (who are happy for you to do so). It might not feel like you’re campaigning, but at the very least, you’re laying the groundwork for a campaign. 
I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people who are motivated enough to campaign about the things that matter the most to them, even though sometimes they work themselves to sickness! 
The message I’m trying to get across in this post is as the title says. Don’t just whine about the issues that you’re upset about. Get up out of your armchair or desk chair or sofa and do something about it.
If you’re interested in running your own campaign check out these links.
vinspired.com/cashpoint
Alternatively, search for an existing campaign and volunteer for that. Chances are, there are tons of campaigns that people have already started which would be happy to have some willing volunteers! 🙂 
SO
Don’t complain, campaign. 
A

The Holiday Spirit

The holidays are coming! The Coca-Cola advert has been on the TV, John Lewis with their annual dose of heart warming, Sainsbury’s with their historical Christmas advert. It’s all kicking off.

Even in the office, we’ve been singing Christmas songs. Tinsel now adorns much of our furniture (much to my dismay). Christmas cheer has spread throughout the office. Madness!

We are, however, coming off the back of Black Friday and Cyber Monday which are two HUGE shopping days in the states which is a sort of unofficial kick off for the Christmas shopping season. Lots of people rush to the shops to take advantage of the slashed prices and even in the UK, Black Friday took over. People fought, rioted, stores were flooded with customers. Police were even called and shops were closed down.

There are a few views on this phenomenon from our cousins across the pond. Some think it’s a great thing that we can get so many deals so cheap. It’s crazy that these people can sell these amazing items so cheap right? Admittedly, yeah we all love a bargain but is causing riots in stores worth it?

Others see Black Friday as a day of selfish capitalism, furthering the power of the corporations where we’re told that to be happy we need these items and these corporations are “helping” us out by slashing prices for us! Again, I can see that too.

Another point of view is that people who look down upon those who went to shop and fight for goods for their homes are filthy peasants who behave like animals for luxury items. What about those who wouldn’t be able to afford it without the sale? Who knows?

I took advantage of a few little deals on Black Friday. Things I’d like to use to spread a little happiness. Admittedly I didn’t do the trip into the shops, I purchased online with a purpose. I want to focus on the positives though. Post-Cyber Monday, there was Giving Tuesday. A day all about giving back to those around you, your family, friends, community. This is a movement which is significantly smaller than Black Friday, and even it’s little brother Cyber Monday but gaining momentum. I don’t know if it’s because I’m in a giving sector, but it’s growing.

I’d highly encourage you to take part in the Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar. It’s exactly what it says on the tin. 25 acts of kindness in the lead up to Christmas day.

Also, recently I was featured in a video for vInspired, a charity that set me on a path of kindness and social action. We’re signing people up for the Thunderclap for tomorrow, so get stuck in and get involved if you can! Share with everyone and donate anything you can afford to. 🙂

These are just some of the little things that you can do to help others. Feel free to get in touch if you want more opportunities to help. I’m sure I can help you find a bunch of different opportunities!

A Glorious Return

So I’ve been experiencing some pretty awful writers block recently which may be a result of my recent panic attacks and dip in mood. However, I’m feeling significantly better now and I’m keen to get back on the blogging scene!

I’m very lucky to have had a really good week and been able to do the things which often lift me out of my funk. I even managed to socialise four times in one week! Tuesday night I went up to Newcastle to stay at some friends new flat before they headed down to London for graduation. On Wednesday night I went for dinner with an old friend in Newcastle. I went for a lovely dinner with people I volunteer with/volunteered with on Thursday and got the worlds messiest burger. Friday I managed to head out with some more old and new volunteering buddies for a chilled out evening in a nice bar by work. Good food, drink and company. What more could I want? I also had a really great week at work, speaking to hundreds of young people about running their own community projects and receiving some fantastic feedback from the event organisers. This set me up for a dynamite weekend.

So far this weekend, I’ve been writing songs, rewriting old songs, listening to music, playing music, singing along with music and reading about music. It’s been a pretty music fuelled Saturday. But as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, music is something which I love, something which makes me feel better all the time no matter how low I’m feeling.

All the songs that I write though, aren’t just to cheer me up. I always try to write songs for people who might also be going through a rough time and need cheering up. Besides music and friends, the thing that always cheers me up the most is knowing that I’ve made someone happy, made someone smile and helped to change someone’s mood for the better.

As some of my Facebook friends know and some of my twitter followers know, I’ve uploaded a few of my songs for people to have a gander at. I received some really nice feedback saying that I managed to put a smile on faces. This was pretty ace for me. My mood was dipping, my body and mind were exhausted, but the fact that I managed to make my friends smile with the music I created means that I was able to combine the three things that cheer me up the most.

If you don’t believe that cheering someone up will make you feel better about yourself, your mood and life in general, I challenge you to give it a try. And just a bit of shameless plugging, please find the three songs I uploaded just below. Right there. If you’re having a bit of a lousy Saturday, hopefully I’ll be able to brighten it up for you! Enjoy, smile and have a good weekend.

A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3Fjci_OX2Y

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDP0CDO4UsU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RarOWXqrWTQ

Mental Oriental

So today, unfortunately, I’m off sick from work. As I’m writing this I’m lying in bed, on my phone, barely able to move. I had a night of panic attacks and being almost completely unable to sleep. You may think that something horrible happened to make me feel like this, but you’d be wrong.

This is going to be a quick post.

Yesterday was fantastic. I worked with a colleague who I’ve never worked with before who was not only good fun, but also taught me a lot about what we do. We worked with an award winning group of young people with various physical and learning disabilities to develop some project ideas and I had a fantastic time. I came home to a lovely dinner and my family. Nothing to complain about here. I went to bed pretty early and read my book and fell asleep happy within a few minutes.

Out of no where, I woke up and struggled to breath, terrified and shaking and sweating. This is the thing that is important for me to  make sure people know about. Out of no where. Depression, anxiety, in fact most mental health illnesses come out of no where. It’s incredibly tough to control these things so again, if you have someone in your life who experiences this kind of thing, please don’t dismiss them, please don’t walk on egg shells around them, just be there for them. People need different things after an episode, some prefer to be left alone, some want people right there with them. Whatever they prefer, just make sure that you let them know, that you reassure them that they’re not alone and that you’ll be there for them if they need it.

Right now, sleep deprived, aching all over and bed ridden, I think I’m just grateful for the fact that I’m alive enough to tap away on my phone to share this post.

Signing off affectionately,

The Mental Oriental.

Adventure is out there!

On days like today when I’m feeling down and out, exhausted and annoyed at everything things just seem to go wrong. All the trains from my station getting me to work have been cancelled or severely delayed and there is a very angry, loud woman opposite me on the alternative train. I just want to hit the hay, back to bed and sleep it off. That won’t happen though as I’m working until around midnight schmoozing with directors and important people etc.
All I try to remind myself though is that I’m not limited by my job, my choice in transport or even the people I have to schmooze. I have some super exciting things coming up this week and in the near future. I’m heading to see Paolo again on Thursday, providing he’s better, I’m heading to my friends birthday on Saturday after work, hi Rob! I’m looking at moving up to Newcastle and I’m constantly meeting new people. Life is exciting. There are tons more things too but because I’m on a packed train I don’t want to ramble.
Life is as exciting as you make it. Is your job getting you down? Why not take a risk and change career or job? Social life lacking slightly? Go join a club or share a hobby with someone, reconnect with old friends or make some new ones. Adventure and excitement very rarely seek you out so it’s up to you to find it and make the most of it.
When you’ve got depression this can be one of the hardest things to do. I used to feel like that all the time, my life was unfulfilled, I felt like I had no friends and I hated my job. I was lucky and found volunteering which was an adventure in itself and one I’m still on now! This led to a change in career through meeting new people and improving my social life. Now I share music with most people I meet. I sing with people all the time. I still force myself to do these things every day and although I hate myself for making me do it, I always appreciate it in the end.
Adventure is out there. But it’s not going to come to you. Overcome your self set limitations and go grab the bull by the horns. Not literally. Please.
A

Note: As I posted this late, I didn’t get to see Paolo. I did however, take an opportunity which led me on an adventure onto the Thames today which included me performing and recording my own music in front of people AND on camera. More to follow soon! 🙂

Selflessness is…

Balance is key to a good, healthy, fun and happy life. The work-life balance is always one which is tough to get a hang of. The friends-family balance is just as tricky (at least I think it is anyway). Everything in life is a delicate balance, the see-saw effect means that too much of any one thing makes life a bit crap!

A lot of people I know have a pretty unhealthy work-life balance. I used to as well. One of my jobs from a few years ago would keep me busy from around 8/9 in the morning well into the 8/9 in the evening realm. I loved my job, but I ended up neglecting my social life and barely looked after myself. Needless to say I got pretty ill and ended up having to miss a few days of work. In my attempt to be selfless I ended up not being able to help anyone.

It’s taken me a few years to force myself to be able to fully adequately balance my work-life. I try as best I can not to work out of hours and to make sure I take back all my extra hours. It’s not always easy when there’s a lot to juggle and when you’re finding it hard to focus. My depression often makes it hard to focus, especially if I’m going through a particularly rough patch. What’s important to do here is to ask for help and to look after yourself.

Remember this: you can’t help anyone if you’re dead.

If you want to continue to be selfless and to help others, to look out for those that you care about, to stand up for those who aren’t able to, you’ve gotta look after yourself first. Go see a show, visit some nice sites, listen to some music, just do something to look out for yourself.

This might sound like a selfish notion, but I don’t see any problem in being selfish every once in a while if it allows me to go out there at my best and help people.

Selflessness, like every other part of life is a balancing act. Too selfish and you’re a bell end. Too selfless and you won’t be in any fit state to help anyone.

I hope for you workaholics, super socialites, recluses and never-indoors-ers this blog will be able to give you a nudge to make sure your life is balanced. I promise you it’ll be much more fun.