Fall Out

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Fall Out

I am sorry that it’s been a while since I posted, but I’ve been supremely busy at work!

I wanted to write about something some with anxiety might find familiar. It’s something I’ve been conscious of lately.

It started with a film shoot I went on with work. It was a busy day, with lots of new people to interact with. I had a lot of fun, but it was also quite intense. That day came and went without any major anxiety.

But fuck me, the next morning I woke up with ‘mental fall out’.

If you have anxiety you might get this. You wake up after something with your mind racing through the events of the last day. Forensically picking apart everything that you did or said. It’s like you conducting your own kangaroo court in your head.

It can be mentally exhausting to deal with all the emotions. But I’ve learnt to accept it as just another symptom of the endlessly chattering voice in my brain.

In the end, this time, I actually didn’t find anything wrong with the previous day. All was well and I passed unscathed. But even if something had come up in my cross examination, I’d just have to tell that chattering voice to STFU.

When Stress is Your Baseline

Unfortunately I’m not talking about phat funky basslines today.

No, it’s the other type of baseline, meaning your ‘natural’ state’, or your physiological default as a person. Because if you’re like me, your baseline has more adrenalin than most.

When I spoke to a psychologist about it, he told me it was the product of growing up in a high-stress environment. This was news to me because I always assumed that my childhood was idyllic. But when I thought back, my parents did argue all the time, and I did have a lot of problems with my relationship with my Dad.

So yeah, perhaps it was stressful. And perhaps that was what led to my body thinking that stress was normal, and always returning to that level of alert.

Whatever made me the way I am (which is, if we listen to the most recent studies and arguments by certain psychologists, both sociological, cognitive and genetic in origin) it fucking sucks sometimes.

I wake up and everything is sweet. Then slowly, I feel my CPU start-up and adrenalin starts edging its way up again. It’s like one part of me is adding chemicals, and the other part of my brain is ‘hang on why are we getting hyped?’.

Then my brain starts to look for reasons.

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I’ve been watching a lot of anime.

Is something wrong at work? Did I say something wrong to someone last night? Am I going to die soon? What did I forget about that might turn up soon to bite me on the arse?

I have to do my homework. I have to think my way out, or not think at all.

It’s shit. Anxiety is shit. But that’s what we live with.

I’m not posting as much, but I’ve decided that what I post from now on will just be raw stuff. It’s better that way. It’s selfish really, spewing out stuff. But that’s what I would want to read.

There is no conclusion to this post.

Just that if you feel my vibe, fight the good fight. And I salute you.

What’s the worst that could happen?

I know it sounds like anti-logic, but sometimes you have to imagine the worst.

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Stressssss

Years ago I think I was in the most stressful job I’ve ever had. I was aboard where I couldn’t speak the language very well and I had to manage people who didn’t really want to do things my way. It was incredibly hard to come in every day and the pressure was relentless.

But nowadays I have a way out of this seemingly impossible wall of stress. And it’s simple.

I imagine the worst case scenario. The thing that has been truly the source of all my stress and anxiety.

I get reprimanded by my boss. I get a warning. I lose my job. I lose my house. My family and me have to live in a van for a year while we scrape together savings.

I let it all unfold in my mind… then I come back.

Because once you’ve gone through the ‘worst’ in your head, it’s easier to see your present situation in a different light. One that is a bit more realistic.

Why?

Because you’ve already been to the worst place … the one your mind was so trying to avoid with all that stress attached…. and you lived to tell the tale.

The chances are things will never turn out the way you project them to.

Yes, stress is there to make sure we don’t cock things up.

But sometimes you have to step outside of yourself and reassess.

And fight fire with fire.

The burden of rumination

Firstly if you’re a cow reading this, I’m in no way criticising your digestion processes.

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U WOT M8

This is in fact about mental rumination. And why it sucks for your mental health.

If you’re in the UK like me, you’re still on lockdown. And while that is nice in terms of snacks and relaxation time, it’s also giving you a lot of time to ruminate over things.

Mental rumination is a good feeder of anxious thoughts. I find myself waking up to worry about something I did or said YEARS ago, which is a mental battle.

Also I ruminate over things that have happened more recently, like getting annoyed with my kid and whether I overreacted or was just a solid father figure. Other stuff too, like where am I going in life and how do I measure up with ‘the ideal’. Only what is the ideal and why does it matter so long as I’m doing my best?

Rumination makes us more considerate sometimes of how we act, but it can also be a form of self torture.

Which leads me to my point, that I think we should treat rumination like we treat a glass of wine. It’s okay to have a couple now and again, but when you’re drinking a whole bottle and becoming morose, that’s too much.

In short: please ruminate in moderation. 🙂

Sometimes you have to ride the storm

The other night I was tired and stressed.

And that was all the excuse my anxiety needed. The first ‘signal’ that anxiety had come knocking. I felt bad about myself. My vanity kicked up a gear, or insecurity anyway.

I become super vain at times like these, and stare at myself in the mirror, wishing I could change one thing or another about how I look.

But although I felt this stuff that night, this time, I told myself not look at the mirror. Instead, I told myself that if I went to sleep and got a good rest, the next day would be a new day … and mentally, I would most probably feel better about myself.

I knew that what I perceived on the outside of myself, was because of the anxiety I had on the inside.

I had to ride the storm.

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Many people who suffer mental illness experience highs and lows. Depending on the illness, some more than others. But generally there is a common feeling during the lows – that you’ll never come out of it.

Desperation, despondency and depression … they’re all part of the storm.

A storm no one else, not even loved ones, can seem to breach. A storm that blocks out their words of reason. A storm that hampers your ability to hear normal conversations in the same way. A storm that wants to drag you down into it, to behave the same way you always behave in the storm.

So if you experience that, I know it’s not easy, but you have to trust that you’ll come out of it. For me, it meant going to sleep and hoping that I would wake up in a different frame of mind. But I know, it’s not always that simple. And if you suffer from say depression, well that storm can continue for days weeks or months.

But the only way you can handle it is to face it, and not let yourself get drawn in. To distract yourself. To listen to a song. To ask a friend to drive you around for a bit. Or maybe just bake something.

I’ll admit that I fail sometimes. Often. I look at the mirror and hate what I see. But I know, that I have done this before. That I came through it and felt better.

So fuck the storm. You WILL get through. Just trust.

Alexa, Open Warp Core

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Okay so I’m a bit of a sci fi nerd, so this impressed me on more than one level.

And also I realise that not everyone approves of, or wants to listen to, anything about Alexa.

But regardless, there’s a new feature where you simply say “Alex, Open Warp Core” and it will play ambient warp core sounds.

For me, this is fantastic as I’m constantly looking for ambient sounds to either meditate to or work to. It’s truly just white sound. The kind that would put babies to sleep. Which makes me a giant man baby who can’t chill unless I hear white noise. But I don’t care. It’s so chill!

There’s also a YouTube version if you don’t want to get an Amazon-sponsored listening device in your room.

Go here or here for the 24 hour version.

Dreams can be arseholes.

Getting sleep is very important for your mental wellbeing for several reasons.

Obviously it’s a time for your body to mend, recuperate and that feeds into your wellbeing.

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Zzzzzz

But there are other aspects. Not least, dreaming is the time where your brain processes stuff that has happened to you during the day. It’s a time for sorting through all the conscious and unconscious thoughts you’ve had, and making sense of them all. Sometimes it connects those thoughts in weird ways, which is why you end up not wearing pants on the bus in your dream, or trying to fly away from a monster.

But here’s the thing, as your mind sifts through all that day’s shit, it means that any anxieties you also experienced, come to the fore.

Like last night – I dreamt that several people who I used to compete with at work were loads more successful than me. Which is in part true, lol. But the dream took it to the next level with a grand award ceremony that saw me winning fuck all, and them winning everything.
It didn’t help that my dream had invited all my loved ones to see how shit I had done, either.

Then I woke up during the night and had a semi panic attack. Which was fun.

What is my point? That sometimes your mind works stuff out, but sometimes it’s also an arsehole, dredging up insecurities or old negative core thoughts.

The important thing is to have coping mechanisms so if you do wake up, you can distract yourself enough to think of something else. My coping mechanism is to go on Reddit and watch gifs of people getting knocked over by dogs (reddit.com/r/Dogberg) but that’s just me.

Sweet #dreams!

Looking for trouble

One of the habits someone with anxiety can have is to look for things to get worried about.

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Chaos reigns!

I know this, because I do it. Or at least one part of my brain does. It seems like it is ‘always on’, and always on the look out for things that are not quite right. And if it doesn’t find anything, it enlists part of my imagination to imagine shit things. It’s like that one person in your group that loves trouble.

And if it doesn’t find trouble, it goes looking for it.

That’s why I, or any anxiety sufferer, needs to ‘check in’ with our own mind some times. Practise slowing down and reviewing our thoughts. Because it’s easy to get sidetracked by these silly worries that our mind makes seem like the truth. But if you face them, and recognise those worries as unlikely to come true, then it’s like calling out that part of your brain that goes looking for trouble – and asking it to quiet down. For a bit, anyway.

As far as I’m concerned – my restless imagination helps me in my job as a creative. But I have to keep it occupied, or it does go off on one.

Of course when you are stressed, and going a million miles an hour, it’s difficult to recognise these thoughts. It’s difficult to ‘unpick’ which worries you have are valid and which ones are bullshit.

Which is why you need to slow down sometimes. Have a cup of tea, and review!!!!

Happy 2021 and F**K Trump

I haven’t been able to write much in the last couple of weeks as I’ve been so busy starting a new job. But what a year it has already been. Out of all that has happened, the Trumptards have given me the most anxiety. I mean how brainwashed can you be? Or maybe just plain old racist.

I realise going into this year that I’m one of the lucky ones. A new job and financial security. Not everyone has that right now. I can’t imagine what it must be like if you’ve been out of work for 10+months.

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We just donated our 1 year old PC to a family in need as they can’t afford a computer for their kids’ homeschooling. It wasn’t much, but it made me feel good to do it.

Altruism has been proven to improve a person’s emotional wellbeing and peace of mind. I have my own theories why: we still are heavily programmed to be social beings. We need to be part of a community. So by looking after others, we’re actually just obeying our social programming – because good things in the end come back to you.

Just like being a seditious, racist, fat prick of a president who spreads hate will come back on him. I hope.

If I Have to Hear Another

If I have to hear another “This year hasn’t been easy for any of us” in a radio ad.

LIKE, DURH?!?

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We’ve been here, in our houses as our jobs disappeared. We’ve seen relatives get sick. We’ve cared for neighbours. We’ve watched politicians politicise everything. We’ve watched them give money we need to their mates. We’ve seen NHS heroes exhausted, shell shocked and STILL under supported.

We know it’s been a bloody hard year!

But it’s also been a year that has taught us about being close to our families. And to be grateful for what we have.

Because life gets dark sometimes, but there is always light if you look for it.

But for christmas-bloody-sake, stop harping on about “This year hasn’t been easy” you carbon copywriting twats!