Adulthood

Adulthood is a weird thing. I’m turning 27 pretty soon and I have achieved very few of the things I wanted to when I was a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty proud of the things I have achieved but lets be honest, how many of us can ever say that we’ve achieved everything that we wanted to by the time we’d “grown up”?

When I was a kid, I expected to have done all of these things by the time I was 25:

  1. Own my own house
  2. Own a car
  3. Be married
  4. Have a kid on the way
  5. Have a super high paying job where I didn’t have to be in an office but also didn’t have to do much work. (I didn’t understand how jobs worked back when I was 8)
  6. Go on 2 holidays a year
  7. Have a group of friends like in F.R.I.E.N.D.S

Now looking at my wishlist today, it’s kinda funny to think about how few of these I’ve managed to achieve. I am no where near owning my own house (I live in London and work in the charity sector. I’ve basically given up on owning a house in London…). I have no need for a car living and working where I do. I’ve been single for years which pretty much ruins the whole “be married and have a kid on the way” thing and I currently have a job where I’m currently in an office and do a lot of work and get paid less than I’d like. I only went on my first holiday in 10 years this March. I don’t really have a single specific group of friends but I do have incredible friends all over the country.

Some of these I’m more fussed about not achieving them than others. Some I’m kinda glad about not achieving and some, I have mixed feelings about.

Going on a few holidays a year was definitely something I’d have loved to do. But I spent years focused on trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I still haven’t figured it out so I’m pretty sure I wasted a bunch of years just waiting around.

I really wanted to own my own house. Or at the very least, I wanted to be living away. That said, I tried it and I didn’t do so well. I don’t think I’m the kind of person who was built to live with other humans. I would much prefer to have my own place where I could invite people round if I wanted to but also have my own space if I wanted to as well.

I’m super stoked about the friends I have so I’m not fussed about number 7 at all. I also don’t have the most well paid job in the world but the work that I’ve chosen to do is important and is hopefully making an impact on the world.

I’m single as someone can get and have been for a while. But for a long time, I wanted to be in a relationship because other people were in them. Now, I just don’t care. If I end up in a relationship, awesome, I’d be stoked. If I don’t, that means I can use all of my time and money and energy focused on myself and take risks and do what I want, when I want.

Adulthood is nothing like I expected it to be. I never expected to have mental health issues as an adult. But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that my childhood views of adulthood were warped. I set myself a time limit and was disappointed when I didn’t meet them. But why are we all in such a rush to grow up? Why do we feel like we have to have done certain things by certain times? So what if someone you know is already married? So what if someone else has their own car? That doesn’t make your life any less awesome as it is.

The only thing that I’m super disappointed about in my life is that I’ve played it safe. I have played almost every part of my life safe for over a decade. The one thing that I need to learn to do is take more risks. And that is definitely something that I’m going to be working on this year.

My main message for this meandering, rambly post though is don’t be disappointed that you haven’t achieved everything that you wanted to at this point in your life. Life isn’t that easy. It throws curveballs your way all the time. There is no time limit for success. You can define success any way you like. Just don’t judge whether or not you’re successful based on other people’s lives.

A

Don’t Meet Your Heroes… Unless They’re Wonderful.

You know how almost all of us have people we want to meet? Usually it’s celebrities. Sports stars, musicians, scientists, you know the type. But when was the last time you had someone “regular” that you wanted to meet? A regular Joe/Jane. A person who you’ve seen around or maybe spoken to once or twice online?

It doesn’t happen often does it? But for me, it happened! It all started with one of my favourite people [A] in the world who’s always supported this blog, my videos, my life in general including supporting me through break ups, awkward encounters, my lowest most depressed and anxious moments.

She knew someone who had been struggling with their mental health [B] and she put us in touch. She also shared my posts on here, Facebook and Instagram. We started chatting nearly 2 years ago on and off and she is fantastic. Life has dealt her a bit of a shit hand but she has always powered through. Despite everything that she’s gone through, she is still going. And one thing I really, wholeheartedly, absolutely respect her for is sharing. We’ve had a fair few conversations about mental health. About her own and about mine. She spoke really openly and honestly with me very early on in our friendship and she knows exactly how much strength that takes. How much energy it takes to do that. How terrifying it can be. But she did it. And I’m so glad she opened up to me because I am so proud and honoured to consider her a friend.

Anyone who knows me or has read this blog is fully aware how much I value the sharing of all of our mental health struggles. It’s something that I think we all need to do more to help remove that stigma. It helps us all feel much more comfortable sharing our struggles. It doesn’t have to be public like what I’m doing. It can just be sharing with one person you trust, but please do share. It will lighten the load.

Anyway, back to the point. Yesterday I got to meet Miss B and she is just as amazing and inspiring as I knew she would be. Everyone always says “don’t meet your heroes, you’ll only be disappointed”. But you know what? Sometimes you can and should meet your heroes. Miss A is one of my heroes and she introduced me to Miss B who is now one of my latest heroes and I’m very grateful for it. A little extra joy was brought into my life today and I am very glad I met one of my heroes.

Twitter Time!

So I’m a big fan of I Fucking Love Science. I think it’s a great website/Facebook page that busts myths and shares knowledge (and also have some very entertaining articles about flat earthers).  But the other day, they shared a post about a tweet. This tweet:

So according to her Twitter bio, Hattie is a lifestyle writer at Metro UK and writes regularly about mental health. This is one of her recent articles which I really enjoyed reading:

An open letter to anyone currently struggling with their mental health

I am now officially a Hattie Gladwell fan and will be looking forward to seeing more of her articles!

But that aside, the tweet above is what I want to talk about. Hattie set the wheels in motion a very long, sad but also reassuring thread all about the things that people have said about mental health. The responses range from things friends and family have said, to doctors and other mental health professionals. Some of the things are heart breaking and rage inducing. Like this one:

Now, I’ve not had any comments this extreme about my mental health but I know full well that this kind of comment is all too common. I’ve had tons of friends tell me stories just like Amy’s. As I was reading through all these tweets, all I could think about were all the people who have made shitty comments to me. Comments like “If you really wanted to get over your depression, you would have by now.”. There’s so much shit going around and I started to think again about how people are arseholes. But then I started reading through responses to each comment and it reminded me how wonderful the mental health community is. Almost every post had messages of support and reassurance (and a lot of “oh my God, I had the same thing”).

If you’re interested in mental health, which you probably are if you’re here, I’d highly recommend reading through this thread. It’ll help remind you that you’re not alone. Lots of people go through the same thing and this may help you realise that sometimes you have to exorcise toxic people from your life.

One big thing that I did notice though, was that the majority of the tweets were from women. I looked through close to 100 of the responses and found very few men. This makes me pretty sad that so few men were on this thread when the statistics show that adult men are much more likely to commit suicide. I would love to see the stigma disappear so that men would be able to feel more comfortable talking  about their mental health.

Anyway, I’ve had a job interview today and I’m tired. I’m off to get some sleep. Please check out the Twitter thread and please remember, you don’t have to put up with bell ends talking shit to you.

 

 

Brain Freeze

So I’ve not really been on the radar much over the last few months. I’ve barely written on here, I’ve not made a video for over six months and I’ve not really even seen any of my friends.

Now the vast majority of my friends know what’s been going on with my life and completely understand why I’ve not been around but I’ve not really spoken much about my mental health and how that’s been affected.

So if you’ve read any of my most recent posts, you’ll know a lot has been going on. While I try my best to stay positive and keep my mood up and keep going with everyday things, I am finding it extremely difficult. This is neither a call for attention or a cry for help. I’ll be fine. However, I’ve always believed that sharing my experiences may help others who are going through a similar situation.

Right now my brain is a big ol’ pile of scrambled nonsense. My memory is shocking. Long and short term memory has suffered a lot recently. My brain has decided that remembering things isn’t what I should be focusing on right now. I’ve forgotten things from years ago which people have been telling me about and forgotten things from yesterday which I need to know to get shit done.

My body and mind are constantly tired right now and while I’m exhausted, I’m struggling to sleep. There are a lot of evenings where I’m too tired to even eat, but too buzzed and awake to sleep. This has made work really really difficult. In my job, I’m required to be cheery, happy and personable and right now, I’m just finding that really tough. And that is by far the thing that drains me the most.

My motivation is at an all time low. I don’t want to do anything other than sit home and play videogames. I don’t want to think, I don’t want to work. I am so exhausted, so drained and so demotivated that the idea of applying for a new job is inconceivable.

At the same time, I’m being made redundant. Which you’d think would be good considering where my mind is at the moment. I know I want to take a break from work to look after my brain but at the same time, my brain is in overdrive worrying about where my next paycheck is coming from and what I want to do with my life.

Finally, I don’t want to see people. Even my closest friends. On the flip side, however, I want to be with my friends and want them to know that I’m not avoiding them and that I’m not angry or upset with them. This is arguably the hardest. Logically I know my friends are the most supportive people in the world and won’t ever think that but there’s the other part of my brain that worries that if I don’t see them, if I’m not in contact with them, they’ll not only stop checking in on me or stop inviting me to things but also that they’ll forget me entirely.

Now I know that all of this is a big mess in my mind. Thoughts that can’t be sorted, feelings that can’t be organised. But in time, those feelings and thoughts will sort themselves out. I just need to let my brain remember how to function. I just need to let my brain take a break and reboot. My brain has crashed and I just need to take the time to ctrl-alt-del my life back in order. And that’s okay.

A

2017 – A year of ups and downs.

So if you’ve read my most recent posts, you’ll know that life has been a bit mental this year. I was made redundant from a job, someone I respected passed away, my gran became really ill. More recently I found out I was being made redundant again and my gran passed away this weekend. All in all this year has been a bit of a shitter.

However many downs there have been I think it’s also important to remember the ups too. Good things have happened this year and whether they’re big or small, I think they’re worth mentioning. So after four days away seeing some amazing people in Newcastle, I’m trying to refocus and re-evaluate life. Before I start spilling my brain all over this blog though, here are some of the big and little things that I’m grateful for.

The Big Stuff:

My Friends

The fact that I know I could go to Newcastle and stay with two amazing people any time I need to is amazing. The fact that so many of my friends have been checking in with me and have been kind enough to offer me beer, food, a comforting ear, a day of singing and music or a conversation to take my mind off life is massively appreciated. One of my friends is even spending Christmas with me this year and will be flying over from Australia. Most importantly though, none of my friends have made me feel bad about skipping out on social things to take time for my brain and my family.

My Family

No one likes their family 100% of the time but I really think most people genuinely love their families. I really do love my family. I don’t always show it and I definitely could do more for my family. But if this year has shown me anything, it’s that my family is great (not that I didn’t know it before). Whether it’s the family a few doors down or family from across the world this year has made my family even tighter than before. I appreciate my family a lot.

My Job

Okay so I’m being made redundant but one thing I’m really grateful for is how flexible they’ve been with me. I’ve been allowed to work from home whenever I need it and leave at 5pm and finish the day at home. My colleagues have been amazingly understanding and I’m really grateful that I ended up in such a good team.

The Little Things:

Video Games

So the little things might seem trivial but I’m going to start with video games. I love video games. I play with people I’ve never met online and I play games that friends have recommended me and I talk to them about the game constantly. It might seem silly for a lot of people but for me, especially this year, videogames have been a fantastic escape for me into a fantasy world or twelve.

Internet

Okay so I’m not talking about social media or YouTube or anything. I’m talking about broadband and WiFi. I was paying a silly amount of money for internet that was barely working. But I changed WiFi provider and I now have super fast super reliable internet. So yeah it allows me to enjoy things like Netflix and YouTube which is another great escape.

My Camera

I’m not the most active on YouTube any more and I’m not the greatest film maker or photographer in the world but fuck me, taking the camera out for a day of shooting video or doing a photography tour is absolutely amazing fun.

Sidenote: If you’d like to come along on a photography tour of London with me for the amazing Project Parent come along to the event page here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/181144485778845/

So as I mentioned at the start, 2017 has been a bit of a shitter, but it’s not all been bad. Thanks to everyone who’s made my 2017 slightly more bearable and occasionally a whole lot of fun. Still though, fuck 2017.

Hard Times

Sorry for going AWOL the last month. It’s been a little bit of a stressful time!

In the last month or so I’ve been hit with two pretty tough pieces of news. The first was that a friend of mine passed away. He was the friendliest, most caring guy you could meet and although we hadn’t spoken in quite a while, I was absolutely devastated to hear about it all. He was from a volunteering programme I took part in a few years ago and he made such a huge impact on so many people. He was volunteering for my best friends project and was regularly reassuring her, supporting her and delivering care packages to parents who had children in hospitals.

Then last week, I found out that my gran has cancer. My gran is 83(ish) years old and has lived 5 doors away from me for as long as I remember. She would always look after me, my brother and my cousins when our parents were out working one of their many jobs when we were young and she has always been kind, loving and cheerful (unless she had to miss out on playing mahjong). Hearing her news and hearing that she’s ready to give up is really tough.

As a result, my social life has suffered, my work life is a little bit mad and my mental health has plummeted pretty drastically. My usual techniques of music, video games, video making and comic books just aren’t cutting it and I’m finding that I’m beginning to struggle to do basic tasks. Sleep has been eluding me for the last few weeks and I’m physically and mentally exhausted. I’m constantly feeling guilty for not being able to do everything I usually do to the quality that I usually do it to.

I’m trying constantly to remind myself that I shouldn’t feel guilty and why should I? Okay so these things aren’t happening to me, but that doesn’t mean they don’t affect me greatly. People that I love and respect are going through some really hard times and that’s going to have an impact on me. Right now, it feels like life is a little bit shit and for me right now, it is. I’m going to try to not feel guilty about depression hitting hard at this point in my life because even someone without depression would feel like shit with all of this.

Bad news affects most people with depression more than it would healthy people. That’s just a given. And getting out of a depression slump is one of the hardest things to do but it is doable. With the help of my friends, my family I will get through this as I have done every single other breakdown and panic attack.

In the meantime though, I’m going to feel like shit and that’s okay.

A

Lasts and Firsts

It’s been nearly a month since I’ve posted anything. Sorry about that. I’ve been a little busy! Lots of freelance work, a little volunteering but most of all I was getting ready to leave my job.

After nearly 4 years at my job, I took redundancy and decided it was high time to try something new. I was sad to go, but excited for the next big adventure. Nervous, but excited. So over the last few weeks, I spent a lot of time focusing on the lasts. The last time I’m going to run a session for Go Think Big. The last time I was going to go to get curried goat, rice and peas for lunch from my regular place. The last time I’d be able to walk 10 steps from my building to my favourite bar. The last time I’d sit and have lunch with my team in the middle of work. The last time I’d travel up to Leicester to the head office. The last time I’d be able to make ridiculous jokes and hear the familiar voices and groans. The last time I’d lock up the office.

In a way it was really sad to go. But I wasn’t upset. It was a strange sensation. I was leaving people I loved working with, friends and colleagues I respected but I was fine. For me, this time, I switched very quickly from focusing on my “Lasts” to going back to “Firsts”. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried new things since I started this job but they’ve been things that I’ve done extra. My job was a constant. Now, I’m going to have to try to establish a new constant in my life at my new job. It’s excited and nerve-wracking at the same time.

But now, I get to focus fully on the exciting firsts again. My first day (which is tomorrow, scary). My first paycheck. My first friend at the new job. My first lunch. My first work drinks (please please please let there be work drinks). My first opportunity to prove myself. My first big mistake. My first meeting. My first young person to support. My first experience working in International Development. My first joke in the new office (this one will be crucial to establish myself I think.).

Don’t get me wrong, most of these Firsts are going to be exciting, but f*** me, it’s also kind of terrifying. After years of new people coming into a place where I’m comfortable, it’s my turn to be the new guy. Times like these, while positive, can really trigger a person’s anxiety. It can really make people feel awful, awkward and scared to be themselves. There’s a high chance that this’ll happen to me too. I fully expect it to. So I’m going to prepare myself. I’m bringing things that I know will calm me down during the day. Music and noise cancelling headphones are first, of course. I’m going to bring a book. Maybe even bring my camera and my new macro lens. It’s going to be an amazing chance for me to be brave, grow and learn to beat my anxiety.

Wish me luck.

A

P.S. Thank you to all the people that I’ve worked with over the last 4 years, whether that was at the NYA, Go Think Big, the old Think Big programme, and all the amazing friends I’ve made through partners, other charities, events etc.

Welcome To Mental Health Awareness Week

So today is the start of Mental Health Awareness Week (if you couldn’t have guessed by the title) and I thought it’d be a travesty not to write this week.

So I might not be able to commit to a post every day as I’ve not done a huge amount of planning but I want to write as much as I can. I’ll be uploading a post to the blog that we do at work so I’ll be linking to that at some point. This year’s theme is Surviving or Thriving? It’s a good theme and one that I often ponder.

I’ll try to discuss that theme later on in the week but today I’m here to talk a bit about one of the worst parts of depression and anxiety (in my opinion).

The feeling of loneliness. 

My depression often makes me feel worthless. It makes me feel like I’m undeserving of friends and on my worst days that I don’t have friends. I used to (and occasionally still do) think to myself that my friends weren’t my friends at all. Instead they were gaining my trust so that they could pull some kind of shitty pranks on me and were just waiting for the right time to humiliate me. And I thought that they were all in on it too. Even the ones who don’t know each other. So while my depression makes me feel like I don’t have friends, my anxiety has a different effect.

Anxiety prevents me from reaching out to people for fear of alienating the few friends I imagine I have. And so begins the spiral of loneliness as a result of mental illness. My brain tells me I have no friends and I’m worthless and as a result of that insecurity I become too anxious to attempt to make any new friends.

I’m one of the fortunate ones though. My friends have proven time and time again that they’re there for me. That they’re real friends. That it’s not some sort of sick and extremely elaborate hoax. I know I have so many people I can turn to. People as close as London, as far as Newcastle. Hell one of my best friends is all the way in Australia. And they’re always there for me. Some are friends I’ve made online through video games or forums or Instagram. I have managed to find friends when I thought I had none and would never have any and I’m grateful for every single one of them. And if they ever need me, if they ever feel like I did and sometimes still do, I’m going to make sure that they know I’m always going to be in their corner.

Sometimes you really have to look and reflect to see who’s really there for you. I really genuinely hope and pray that anyone who has the same thoughts as me can fight through them, reach out and remember that people care. If you really can’t think of anyone, remember that I care. I’m in all of your corners. I got you.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, please make sure you contact your doctor. You can also access counselling services and other treatments, often for free through charities.

If you’re in the UK check out these guys:

https://www.mind.org.uk/

http://www.samaritans.org/

Be there for one another. Look after yourselves.

A

Progress, Updates and Next Steps.

So it’s been a while again. This job hunting thing is taking up a fair bit of time.

But anyway, this is another short update on the blog, the YouTube channel and social.

The blog is still going to be getting updated and soon it’s going to be more regularly and more consistently! Same with the YouTube channel. I’m in the middle of editing episode 2 of the Invisible Illness Human Library. You should have a look at episode 1 if you haven’t done so already. Things are changing quite a bit though. Every month we’re going to be posting about a specific topic. Those topics aren’t ready to be revealed yet but there’s some really cool stuff coming!

Regarding YouTube, a wonderful wonderful update is that I’m not alone any more! A friend of mine Lily, pictured below, is going to be creating a video for us. If you guys watch and love her stuff she might even agree to make more for us! Lily is a cracking film maker and she’s an alright person too, I guess.

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Welcome to the crew, Lily! 

Regarding social media, Twitter and Facebook will be going up in June-ish. You’ll be able to follow us and like us soon so keep your eyes peeled for an announcement! This is all really exciting and I can’t wait to share the new and improved Success In Selflessness with you all!

A

Introverts, Extroverts And The Weird Ones In Between

So I’m up in Newcastle at the moment, staying with some friends over the next few days to catch up, relax and enjoy the city that I love so much. The people here that I’m visiting are amazing. I love them like they’re my own brothers and sisters. They ground me, lift my confidence and my spirits but are also not afraid to take me down a peg or two if I’m being a knob. They’re perfect friends. I met almost all of them through my old volunteering days and those are the days that made me do a whole lot of thinking.

DSC_0018.JPG

Seriously, look how majestic this place is. 

As I’m sure you’ve read in the title, I want to talk about the types of personality there are. Particularly introverts and extroverts. Now, a lot of people just think that extroverts are highly social party animals and introverts are recluses who don’t mix well with other human beings. Occasionally that can be true but I personally feel like it’s a little more complex than that.

I cannot for the life of me remember where I read it (it was most likely on a random post on Facebook) but the post said that extroverts get their energy from other people while introverts get their energy from themselves. I like this way of thinking about it. Extroverts are in their element when they’re around other extroverts and sometimes may struggle to spend extended periods of time in their own company. Introverts relish their time alone and that gives them a sense of comfort and contentment, but again, they may struggle when dropped in a large group setting.

Almost all the people who know me would consider me an extrovert. When I’m around people, I’m generally very chatty, I can be loud, brash and a little rowdy (especially after a few pints). I’ve always considered myself an introvert. It may be due to my mental ill-health, it may not be. I love my time alone. I make sure that I give myself time to just be with my thoughts or to do simple little things just for myself. Sometimes, if I’m already at home, I flat out won’t make plans so I can stay at home. When someone else cancels plans with me, I’m almost always pretty pleased about it as I can throw on my pajamas and watch a film. Obviously I’d have loved to have seen the person or else I wouldn’t have made the plans but cancelled plans just means I have more me time. I’m not even a fan of texting or calling people anymore. Like, I won’t flat out ignore anyone, but I’ll avoid checking my messages for a few days at a time.

Recently though, I’ve begun to think about myself as an ambivert. A nice balance between the two. At work I’m usually upbeat and lively, especially if I’m delivering a session/working with a large group. And even though my anxiety usually skyrockets and eventually leaves me physically and emotionally drained, for a short period, I get my energy from being around those people and working with them. But then as soon as I get home, I just want to eat, play some games and sleep with no more contact from the outside world.

I’m not sure if I’m making any sense right now as it’s 11pm and I’m half asleep, but to me, being an ambivert (or at the very least, moving from introverted to ambiverted) strikes a perfect balance. It’s what I’m working towards. I am not naturally extroverted, despite what others may say about me so I’m trying to learn to be that way. It’ll allow me to meet more amazing people, experience new things. I’m also trying to stay true to my introverted roots by allowing myself to shut away from the rest of humanity.

When I was volunteering, I was super introverted at first. I never approached anyone until I got to know them. There were 100 of us at a training weekend and that terrified me. I waited for people to approach me and was even more scared that no one would approach me. Luckily I attracted amazing people, the people I’m visiting right now. They managed to start pulling the extrovert out of me and I’m grateful for it. Without them I’d not be transforming into an ambivert and to be honest I’d probably be a proper hermit by now.

There’s nothing wrong with being either an introvert or an extrovert, but for me, I am really looking forward to being someone in the middle. It’s a fine line for me, but I’m prepared to walk that line if it means it’ll help me become a better, more rounded and braver person.

Also I need people to go see films with and eat nice food with. Mainly that.

A