Before Christmas Kim and I were invited to a business networking event in Richmond, London, which was being hosted by our friends Helen and Ray; the idea of going to see them was good motivation for me, the problem was that there would be a lot of other people there, and that filled me with terror.
Two of my issues with these sorts of events are that I struggle with small-talk, and I’m scared of the inevitable question that you cannot avoid at networking events, “so, what do you do?” The thought of this made me panic because I didn’t know how to answer the question, and was worried that I’d look a complete wally turning up to a networking event unsure of who I am and what I do.
With Kim’s support I made it to the event and got to say hi to Helen and Ray, but other than that I was completely zoned out, I was overwhelmed by the number of people and clamed up, one lady came up to Kim and I but I couldn’t speak, thankfully Kim explained my muteness and the lady was lovely and understood.
The second half of last year was tough for me on a number of levels, I had lost all direction with my work, I had fallen out of love with running, and I was having a daily battle with low mood.
“To anyone out there who’s hurting – it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It’s a sign of strength.”
Talking and asking for help is probably the easiest thing in the world to do; so why do so many of us find it so hard?
The most obvious place to start is with our programming, what we are taught when we grow up, how society tells us we should react and behave.
When you look back through history, showing emotions doesn’t get you very far; if you’re a man, to show emotions is a sign of weakness, and if you’re a woman, you would probably have been branded hysterical.
To survive tough environments and stress you have to be solid, stand firm, be brave and in control….. start crying! Oh no you don’t, crying’s for babies!
Have you noticed that as soon as anyone starts crying, they immediately apologise for it?
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
When I was growing up, I guess I wasn’t really aware of what was going on in the world, there were only four TV channels, the news was on at set times and most of the time I didn’t watch it, I was only really bothered about the sports pages of the newspaper, and there was no social media.
Now you have news 24/7, and social media in the palm of your hand; it’s very difficult to avoid it.
The main problem with a lot of the media is that the focus is on bad news and it often paints a very bleak view of the world which can generate a lot of fear, and cause anxiety and depression. There are also parts of the media that like to spark controversy and pull people down, and it’s so easy to get sucked into this negative, sometimes spiteful world.
One of the main causes of anxiety is trauma; a lot of the time it’s trauma that has happened to us personally or it’s something that we have witnessed, but there is also something called Vicarious Trauma, and that’s where we are exposed to events that have nothing to do with us directly, but they still generate fear; the media is a main culprit of vicarious trauma.
When we are in a place of stress and fear it can be very difficult to manage our emotions, we can often find that we spend a lot of our time worrying, in fear, and sometimes blaming ourselves for the situation, even if it is out of our control.
Take the current cost of living crisis, struggling to make ends meet can bring up so many negative emotions and fears; for me it makes me feel even more of a burden because more pressure is on Kim, my wife, to earn the money we need. I start to dwell on the past and blame myself for what happened, often thinking that if I had done things differently then we wouldn’t be in this position.
Because my mental illness is long term, I struggle to see light at the end of the tunnel, and so I have a lot of fears about the future, how are we going to survive?
I, like many others, spend a lot of time in the past and the future, and the problem with doing this is that I don’t really get anywhere, all it does is either make me anxious (living in the future) or more depressed (living in the past). The key is to live in the present moment.