I'm Matt, creative, writer and illustrator of the book "Tell Your Negative Thoughts to STFU". This is an anxiety blog where you'll find my ramblings on mental health, with various book recommendations and some chill music thrown in.
I almost forgot to post, on one of the most relevant days of the year for this blog. I’ve focused today on telling all my negative thoughts to shut the fuck up, and I hope you have too :).
I’ve also started reading a new book called The Untethered Soul by Michael A Singer. it’s a really interesting book about getting to know your inner self. I know that sounds wanky, but I actually think it’s a quite special read … and forces you to think about how misguided your little internal anxiety voice is.
I’ll be posting more about it soon. But for now my friends, I hope you’ve had a great World Mental Health Day!
In the realms of psychology, the word trigger refers to something that elicits a cognitive event. Or put in layman’s terms, something that has an affect on the way you look at the world.
Triggers can be anything, and depend on the individual in question. They can be a social circumstance (shit, I said something dumb and now I’m going to be chucked out of the tribe!), a smell, something the person has consumed like alcohol or a certain drug. The list goes on.
A fellow student at my old University had a fairly unusual trigger. Every time she saw an image of Rolf Harris, she’d have a nightmare. Okay so we didn’t know at the time, but her subconscious thoughts were scarily on the money.
Personally, if I drink too much beer after a heavy work week (which in advertising was pretty much an occupational hazard on a Friday night) I wake up very anxious the next day. For me, alcohol and work-related fatigue don’t mix well, but that’s not necessarily a rule of thumb for anyone else.
When it comes to being aware of your own ‘triggers’, the ones that cause you anxiety or otherwise, you have to be your own detective. A good detective sticks to the facts, and tries not to be too emotionally-led (difficult when you’re actually in the throws of an anxiety attack), by analytically and systematically compiling evidence. I know this because I’ve watched shitloads of detective programmes.
Think about the days that surround your most anxiety-ridden moments. Was there a specific type of stressor? Work deadline? Did you eat before you went out drinking? Did someone say something that pushed specific kind of buttons? Did you get a sense of deja vu? Did you compound several things together (eg. being naked + on a busy bus + in the middle of Trafalgar Square)?
In the end, you’ll hopefully work out your triggers then adjust your lifestyle to avoid them.
The wealth of the rich is growing at a much faster rate than that of the poor.
But what does this mean?
It means that the wealth disparity between the haves and have nots is at an all time high.
And with the arrival of the pandemic and millions of people losing their jobs, often blue collar jobs, this disparity is going to grow even more.
When you consider that socioeconomic factors such as unemployment and poverty are correlated with a risk of mental illness, it’s truly concerning.
So what are the government doing to handle the mental health? I don’t think they are doing enough. In fact this article details a sad lack of meetings between the Health Minister and mental health organisations during the Covid crisis.
Sorry to write such an annoyed post, but this is an area I think that we as a society need to be doing better in.
And I’m going to think about all the things I can do personally to push the government to act.
I’m not an overly spiritual person, but there is something that interested me in buddhism with the story of a demon called Mara. Mara was the demon of self-doubt and appears in the story of the prince Siddhartha Gautama, on his journey to enlightenment (and becoming the Buddha). Ultimately, Mara tests him in battle, which is as much a physical battle as it is Siddhartha’s battle for liberating and disciplining his mind. Siddhartha prevails and becomes enlightened. However even after the battle, Mara still shows up from time to time in the now-Buddha’s life. And when he does, the Buddha simply says “I see you, Mara”.
The Buddha has effectively recognised his enemy and as a result, that enemy loses his power.
Anxiety and depression are illnesses that any sufferer will do anything to avoid. We try to ignore them, distract ourselves from them or anaesthetise ourselves enough so we don’t feel anything. But just like the story of Mara, sometimes it is better to be consciously aware of the demons we face. And to face them, without self-judgement or blame.
This is called being ‘Mindful’. About living in the now.
And yes, it’s not that simple for many people who are facing these kinds of illnesses.
But if we can start to say “I see you” to our anxiety or depression, it does lose some of its power, because we no longer are letting it control us. We are facing up to it.