A Successfully Selfless Sunday

So as many of you may have read, it was my birthday at the weekend and my friends and I thought we’d do something different this year. Every year I end up going to a bar, drinking more than is usually responsible and regretting life choices for a long time.

This year we planned something a little different. You can read about the plans here.

Due to some questionable planning on my part, we didn’t make it through the whole list, but what we did achieve made me really proud. Proud of myself for making such wonderful selfless friends. Proud of my friends and my family for being so willing to get stuck in and for giving up their Sundays to make other people smile. Proud of the public for not only taking part but paying it forward.

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Some of Carl’s best cards!

The main thing that we did for the day was writing out lots of positive, motivational and inspirational messages and hand them out to people along with a flower and a few chocolates.

I knew from the get-go that we weren’t going to change the world with this small act of kindness, but it brightened an otherwise very grey London day, for us and the people we were handing gifts out to.

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My beautiful team of volunteers for the day

One of the most exciting things that I’ve seen is that friends who live too far to join in in person carried out their own acts of kindness wherever they were as well. I’ve been getting letters, texts, messages from people all over the place telling me about their random acts of kindness for other people. You can see some of the examples below! One thing, that I know is the case for lots of my friends, is that these random acts of kindness aren’t unusual for them.

So many of my friends spend all their time and energy trying to make other people’s lives better but it’s really rare that a truly selfless person will list out all the things that they’ve done other people.

They rarely  get to see the impact that they have on the world and that breaks my heart a little bit. So my final birthday wish is for you to be a little bit selfish so that you can make sure to spread more selflessness. I wrote a whole post about it ages ago and it’s important to me that you recognise the amazing things and impact that you have on the people around you and the world.

Good deeds don’t always get recognised, but they deserve to be. Often they do, of course and that’s great. But sometimes people won’t notice that you’ve held a door open, or paid them a really nice compliment or helped them in any way.

So to all of my friends and family, the worlds teachers, campaigners, activists, doctors, engineers, youth workers, fast food servers, bus drivers and everyone in between, celebrate your contribution to the world, give yourself a pat on the back sometimes. If you’ve helped someone smile today, you deserve it. Kindness deserves recognition, even if it’s from yourself.

Recognition today goes out to all of my friends and family who helped me to spread some cheer. Those who came on the day, those who donated items for us to use, those who carried out their own acts of kindness in response to this all deserve my gratitude and appreciation, as well as all my birthday well wishers. You helped give me the perfect birthday!

Every act of kindness will be appreciated. I appreciate kindness wherever it’s come from. I want to celebrate kind acts that you’ve carried out. Comment them on here, or tweet me. Have yourselves a wonderful, kind week.

A

 

Countdown to Selfless Sunday

So it’s Thursday right now and in a few days time, it’ll be my birthday! This year has flown by. Lots of amazing things have happened. Lots of awful things have happened too. As mentioned in a previous post for my birthday, rather than doing the usual night in a bar getting off my face drunk, hating life and regretting my life choices, I’ve decided to spend a day doing random acts of kindness.

Now I fully expect this to be significantly less popular than a bar and getting slaughtered. However, lots of people have been really kind, sent things that I can use to make everyone’s day a little nicer. So I’ll be joined by a few people on Sunday to do some goodness. #SelflessSunday

I’ll be tweeting on #SelflessSunday and@Albysaurus so if you’d like to follow the action, please get stuck in! For those of you who read this who are SUPER KEEN please feel free to join me. 🙂 I’ll be meeting most people at Victoria Station, London at 2pm. We’ll be starting from there. I’ll be buying as many flowers as possible in the station so that we can hand them out. I’ll be bringing books, pens, postcards, post-it’s everything we can get our hands on so that we can write out as manynice messages as possible. This was the original list:

  1. A meal for a homeless person
  2. Help an old person/person less physically able with their shopping or cross the road
  3. Sing for the sick
  4. Sing for random people to put a smile on their face.
  5. Write and distribute positive notes to strangers
  6. Tape some coins to a vending machine for the next person
  7. Give strangers a flower
  8. Pay for a coffee for the next person in the queue
  9. Community clean up
  10. Pop up yoga session for people
  11. Give Blood
  12. Give random people a compliment

We might not be able to do them all on the day but we’re going to do as many as we can and make it as fun as possible for everyone involved. 🙂

If you’re not able to make it please make sure that you just do a little good deed for the day. Tell your loved ones you love them. Help someone cross the road. Hold the door open for someone. Smile at someone!

A

 

 

The Recovery Part 8: Success In Selflessness

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why the f*** is this guy sauntering back onto the web to tell us things when he ditched us for so long. Well that’s totally fair. I’ve been pretty shitty when it comes to blogging the last few months (not that I was particularly consistent before).

Well the short version is that I was taking a break from blogging as I’d run out of things to talk about. I’m sure everyone was getting rid of hearing about my recovery (though I’m clearly writing about it still) which is still ongoing, though I am doing better. Panic attacks are limited now to bed time when I have too much time to think (so I’ve been playing retro Pokémon games to fall asleep faster with less panics). Social anxiety is lessening, though please don’t put me in a room with a whole load of people I don’t know and tell me to socialise. I will cower in fear, hide in a corner and most likely hyperventilate.

My reason for writing this post is that I feel as though I’d lost my way with this blog recently. It started as a blog about volunteering and has become more about my mental health than anything else. I am certainly looking at diversifying the content that I put up here to include things that I find interesting (I hope you’re all ready for Nerdpocalypse) but again, lots of it won’t have anything to do with volunteering.

However I have a few projects in the pipeline which will be happening in the next few months and I’m super keen to share the first one with you. I’ll soon be turning 25 years old. A quarter of a century. I’m really lucky that, at this milestone, we generally don’t start to have gammy legs and broken backs. I’m reasonably healthy and able. So for my 25th birthday, my friends and I are coming up with a list of 25 random acts of kindness which we’ll carry out on my actual birthday. 25 is quite a lot and there are only so many hours in the day so we’re looking at doing small, thoughtful gestures. Here’s the list so far:Diem.jpg

  1. A meal for a homeless person
  2. Help an old person/person less physically able with their shopping or cross the road
  3. Sing for the sick
  4. Sing for random people to put a smile on their face. 
  5. Write and distribute positive notes to strangers
  6. Tape some coins to a vending machine for the next person
  7. Give strangers a flower
  8. Pay for a coffee for the next person in the queue
  9. Community clean up
  10. Pop up yoga session for people
  11. Give Blood
  12. Give random people a compliment

We only have 12 things so far so we’re needing lots more! I’m hoping for a huge group of people who can help me tick off every item throughout the day and I’m reaching out to everyone on the internet to help out. It’ll be taking place in London on Sunday September 4th, likely starting from Croydon first thing in the morning. I’ll surely need help carrying things from my  house through Croydon and into London.
If you’re interested at all, just pop a comment down and/or email me. 🙂 I would love to get someone along to help to document the day via video and social media as well.

I’ll be tweeting out using the hashtag #SelflessSunday.

It’s sure to be a Spectacular September Sunday of Successful Selflessness so please join me for part of or all of the day and help me celebrate my birthday in the best flipping way possible!

I hope you’re all feeling happy, healthy and loved.

A

Mental Health Awareness Week: Tag

So it’s come round again pretty swiftly but we’re slap bang in the middle of MHAW.

The delightful Becca has tagged me to talk about my mental health. You should go check out her post here. First things first, thank you to Becca for sharing her story, answering these questions and helping to make talking about your mental health normal. Now, I’m sure regular readers will know a fair bit about my journey but here goes! (Warning, this is going to be a long one.)

  • What mental illness do you have?

I have depression and anxiety.

  • When were you diagnosed?

I was diagnosed with depression when I was 18 and still in college. The anxiety was when I was around 22.

  • Who knows about it?

Almost everyone I know. I try to be as open and honest about it as possible though that doesn’t always happen! The first person who knew was my ex who to this day I’m grateful to for supporting me and getting me the help I needed. We don’t speak anymore but I’ll always be thankful for helping me to get better! The first friend who I told about it was one of my closest friends and my sister from another mister. That was the hardest thing for me, just coming to terms with it all. I was so scared that it would alienate me from other people because I wasn’t normal.

  • Do you receive treatment for it?

I’m currently on a pretty decent dosage of Fluoxetine (I think it’s called Prozac in the states). I’ve been on more different tablets than I can count and have gone to counselling multiple times but believe it or not, the idea of talking about it to help me recover is still quite scary.

  • Has your mental illness stopped you from doing anything?

My anxiety and depression stop me from doing a lot of different things. Though I’m outwardly a very chatty person, I despise meeting new people fearing that they may hate me. It regularly stops me from going out and socialising with friends. So often, I decide to stay at home rather than see people I really want to as I’m so scared of talking to people that I don’t know. My mental illnesses also stop me from doing some really basic things too. It often leaves my body completely exhausted and I sometimes struggle to get out of bed, speak, eat, drink or even breathe sometimes. I’ve also (not for a while, thankfully) once left a restaurant because I couldn’t decide what to eat.

  • Is there anything in particular that has helped you?

Music, art, comic books, videogames and volunteering. Oh and food. I love food. Music is my favourite way to unwind and calm myself down. I love to sing and play. There’s something very therapeutic about creating something. Whether it’s a piece of music, a piece of art, a delicious dish. Or just saving the universe from monsters and aliens. Of course the other huge thing that helps me is having good people around me. Friends and family are not to be taken for granted. Whenever I need it, I seem to get a text or call from my best friends. Whenever I go home to see my family, we chat all night, we eat and watch Grand Designs. My work also helps me greatly. It’s a job I love and getting to work with and support other young people to help their communities and themselves gives me endless pleasure.

  • Can you describe what it feels like to have your mental illness?

It feels like a prison of thoughts. Every single interaction I have, whether professional or social is an absolute ball ache. I go through all the possible scenarios that could possibly come out of this interaction. What if I say something that offends them? What if I say something embarrassing? It’s exhausting. It’s a constant feeling of ineptitude and inability to function normally. It’s comparing myself to everyone else in society and to societal norms and trying to fit those molds. It’s like an elephant standing on my chest and daggers poking my brain. It’s more often than not a complete numbness to everything in the world. Pleasure is an uncommon thing and it’s very rare that I feel truly happy to be alive but I want to get back to being happy again.

  • What is a common misconception about your mental illness?

That it’s as easy as flipping a switch to turn it off. The number of times that I’ve been told to just get over it and stop being so miserable is impossible to count. It’s also the least helpful thing in the world. If I could do that I would do that in an instant. I don’t believe there’s anyone in the world who would want to suffer with depression and anxiety. I know so many people who I’ve worked with, volunteered with, spoken to online who are fighting the same fight as me and it’s probably the most common thing that is said to us. 13245324_1854977518062911_6991456438909472387_n.png

  • What do you find the most difficult to deal with?

The guilt. It’s unfounded, unfortunate and irrational. I would never feel guilty for breaking my leg and not being able to do something yet for some reason, not being able to bring myself to go out and see people because of my mental illnesses fills me with so much guilt. I feel guilty that I miss birthdays, gatherings, parties, dinners. I struggle to do any of that stuff unless I’m in control and I’ve planned every detail and know exactly who is and isn’t going to be there. I feel so guilty for letting people down and disappointing people but if it was the other way round, I wouldn’t ever feel like they were letting me down. They’re just looking after themselves.

  • Do you have anything else you’d like to say?

First, thanks for reading this far! It’s always a struggle to talk about these things so openly but it’s important that I do. I would love for more people to do the same so that I can make sure that we’re not going to be stuck feeling bad about our illnesses. As always, just make sure that you ask your friends how they are. Offer to support each other, look after each other, be kind to one another and make sure that there’s always love and compassion at the forefront of your mind.

Also, just generally don’t be a dick.

As this is mental illness tag, I’m tagging everyone who’s reading this. Drop it in the comments below if you’re comfortable doing it or write a blog post of your own. Otherwise, please feel free to like, comment and follow me for more mental health posts. 🙂

A

The Gateway To 2016 And The Ones You Miss The Most

This isn’t going to be a generic 2015 summary and 2016 preview. I’ll do a little bit, of course, but that’s not the focus of this post.

Sure I achieved a lot this year. Met some amazing people and saw lots of brilliant things happen. I’ve also taken a few hits this year. My confidence at work has increased greatly but my confidence in social situations has plummeted. However, this isn’t a sad story so don’t reach for the tissue. I’m determined to be better so I know I will be.

Anyway, this post is more about the people I wish I could be with tonight. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a delightful evening cooking a baked lamb meatball ragu but I was meant to be in Newcastle with my extra families so I miss them tons. The brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles from the north, the nephews. All of them. I miss all my old Team v people (and I apologise massively for not keeping in touch with lots of you!). I miss my friends around the world. I miss my friends who live in the same town/city as me but I never seem to be able to connect with.

Admittedly I’ve been much less good at keeping in touch with everyone recently due to various self made mental barriers too. I’m working on it as hard as I can so I’m hoping I won’t be missing you for long.

But for me, and I’m sure everyone else I know, there’s that one person that I wish I could see right now more than anyone. Hopefully, like my person, they make you feel like a better person, they make you smile and feel comfortable. You might not speak to them often and might see them even less but whenever you do see them or speak to them, you’re excited to and it feels like nothing has changed.

So for your first kind gesture of the year, I implore you to drop that person a message, a text, write them a letter, visit them.

Happy New Year.

Love, smiles, and good vibes.

A