Category Archives: Mental Health

Help Me Find My Tears Before They Find Me

We’re surrounded by the mirrors of our past.

A few months ago I gazed diligently at the mirror that resembled a time before (hyper) masculinity. As I reluctantly brought my car to a stop allowing an illuminated train of school children to cross, I replaced my feeling of frustration with a mindful gaze. Within seconds I noticed 2 young boys holding hands, engrossed in conversation as they crossed. My brain twitched. It was as if a lost memory had returned to me, and in that precise moment I thought to myself,

“I remember holding my male friend’s hand like that.”

As I continued to be enthralled by their innocence it dawned on me – I was missing pieces of my emotions.

I am a 28 year old man and besides the traditional African beatings I experienced whilst growing up, I can count the number of times I have cried in my life which come down to the following life experiences:

  • When I left primary school
  • When I lost my first close friend to Leukaemia
  • When I opened up to my partner about my masturbation issues
  • In my dreams

Now in light of the above, there have been so many situations where I’ve wanted to EXPRESS what I was FEELING, but it was no easy task or better yet, it felt impossible to do so. The image below is the best way I can describe what it felt like:

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Translation: Your expression can’t start because OpennessVulnerbility.dll is missing from your emotion. Try relearning these emotions to fix this problem. 

I hope that example suffices because if not, you’ve probably had your emotional motherboard wiped clean!

I’m a Wellbeing Management Consultant. I work with many people to find their own missing pieces. If there’s something I’ve realised about my journey is that I’m not emotionally unstable but rather emotionally trapped!

Mothers raise boys into gentlemen but society emasculates the gentleman into a man thus, weakening his ability to form healthy and lasting attachments, but strengthening his desire for money, lust and the pursuit of all things in quantity.

Despite the overtly hyper-masculine appearance, no man is exempt from the feeling of loss. Whether that be the loss of a friend, family member or the loss of a well-kept secret.

Why must our tears find us before we find them?

Crying is like art – an epitome of expression. We cry during times of happiness as well as sadness. I believe one of the biggest lies men tell themselves is that they are not emotional while at the same time negatively impressing what they lack upon their female-counterpart.

“You’re too emotional”

When you wait for your tears to find you, it often happens when no one is around to support you or help you understand what you haven’t experienced for so long. Need I remind you of the suicide rate of males (UK)?

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The problem isn’t that we are struggling. The problem is that we haven’t been taught to express in a open and healthy way – we’re emotionally trapped.

I vaguely remember a time before my teens whereby I was experiencing an scathing internal pain (which I believe was more emotional than anything) which prevented me from sleeping or thinking straight. I recall desiring to feel something other than this pain, even if it meant taking a kitchen knife from downstairs and attempting to press it against different parts of my arm. Now I didn’t self-harm but my point is, I wanted to escape the pain or better yet, dis-ease, by any means necessary.

Go deeper…

Okay, so I recently expressed to my partner that I’ve had multiple dreams where I find myself crying. At times, I am consciously awake when I realise I’m making noises and immediately open my eyes to put an end to it. It’s weird but lately I’ve interpreted it as a desire to express what lies deep within me. My battles. My Secrets. My other half of ‘entirety’.

I’m blessed to be with such a strong-willed and supportive partner to whom I expressed my first secret with – Masturbation – but that’s an entirely different article.

A numb man will never understand
an emotional woman.
In turn, he’ll never understand the pain he inflicts upon her.

This is a journey about reclaiming my emotional self in it’s entirety. I want to find my tears before they find me.

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Happiness Makes Time For Those Who Make Time For Themselves.

What we see on the outside often mirrors what we believe is dwelling inside. We understand a smile represents a happy person but seldom do we consider that the reserve might be true. An outward expression can also communicate what is missing within.
The soul cries out for attention while the ego fears vulnerability will be treated with further alienation. But at what cost is it worth appearing alive on the outside, albeit dying within?

A person that is happy with company but unhappy when alone, is not a happy person.

While it might be common to assume that loneliness and being alone fall from the same tree, loneliness is better categorised as one of the potential emotions that can derive from being alone. But that doesn’t necessarily suggest that being alone connotes an emotional imbalance, but rather the opposite.

When we are alone we are in the best position to measure and assess our overall wellbeing. Absent of life’s distractions, we’re forced to tune in to our inner world. There we are faced with our inner thoughts and inner feeling’s reverberatory need to be heard — not by others, but by you. If you’re not used to spending time with yourself, you might experience an unusual degree of dissonance when spending time alone with yourself. This can often lead to the need for external attention, which can momentarily offer solace. However, this should never be mistaken for a solution.

Some of us are in constant pursuit of relationships just to end the loneliness. But it’s our obsession with social media that is becoming the most virulent relationship of all.

Social media is the new escapism outlet.
People aren’t always sharing their problems to be understood. They are often sharing their problems to be heard. They believe that attention is a cure.

But these people are no stranger to the knowledge that numbing the pain doesn’t get rid of the problem. It only makes it more palpable.

Being alone is self-productive. 

Being able to exercise our vulnerability can help us avoid depressive states brought on by an accumulation of our worries.  But before we share our problems, we should equipped them with a self-purpose; to be understood and to obtain a better understanding of how we can overcome the feeling that follows us wherever we go.

It helps to review the last couple of weeks on a frequent basis:

  • What have I achieved during this time?
  • What have I found difficult in the past week?
  • How can I improve on this in the upcoming weeks?
  • Why was I feeling angry last Thursday?

We are but a growing story deep inside an even bigger novel, and the last thing you want to happen is to be left behind in your own story.

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This should serve as a reminder that true happiness comes from within and not in the form of short lived feelings that dissipate once the experience is over. Be the type of person that doesn’t seek happiness but instead acquires the ability to become happiness at will.

A must read if you have more pressing concerns around depression:  HAPPINESS: DEFENDING AGAINST THE ONSET OF DEPRESSION

Post Industrial Economy: Reclaiming your creative mind

“Creativity is the birthright of every human being” – Chairmain Kato

The industrial economy for most is very much the only reality that exists. These people perceive their working life as intended by those that shaped the educational institutions they were reformed from. The industrial economy refers to a historic method of working whereby companies created machines that required people to operate them. At the time, people were considered invaluable cogs to the results of ideas that ameliorated the state of the economy. Fast forward to today, the consumer is being familiarised with a robotic era in which you’re greeted by an automated entity in customer services, self-service checkouts and delivery drones. People in the workplace are becoming obsolete. But I can no longer see this as a bad thing. In fact, it is necessary.

There has been a shift in what is considered invaluable, and while that may no longer be people, it’s their ideas that hold the meaningful key to tomorrow’s growing economy. There’s been no better time to reclaim your creative mind!

We have just arrived on the other side of Mental Health Awareness week. I had the luxury of hearing a story from a doctor who traded in his stethoscope for a more meaningful approach to helping his clients.

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Chairman Kato pictures in the red sofa

Chairman Kato’s creative mind manifests in the form of painting, photography, installations and music but he described how his experience within the medical industry didn’t allow his creativity to surface as freely as he desired. He has delivered a talk called ‘The Art of Career Suicide’. I believe Kato’s story is one we can all resonate with but with it brings a conflict between the pursuit of happiness and security.

My appreciation for Kato’s transition lies in how he continued to use his art to help people rediscover their creative self. This just goes to show that what you might consider your purpose can have more than one form. But it’s left to us to explore the form that best supports our wellbeing. I believe Kato’s mentoring and coaching can be beneficial to those wishing to unleash their creativity.

Our time is money but many of us are being undervalued. Financial security is just as important as a good work ethic is to help maintain our lives, but that doesn’t mean we should become robots or rechargeable batteries that are so easily replaced. Tenure has no place in a post industrial economy. The idea of being given security has become a palpable illusion.

My work involves helping people who suffer from anxiety, depression and an array of mental and physical disorders, and do you know what they consider the biggest risk to their health? Work.

I see friends and family overworked to the extent where they believe collapsing on the commute to work is normal or their anxiety and depression is self inflicted. This has got to change! If our jobs plays such a major role in the state of our wellbeing, perhaps it’s time we revaluate how we function in our roles or better yet, reclaim our creative mind so that we can create an environment better suited to work in.

Special thanks to Ana Seferovic for inviting me to the talk.

If you or someone you know is suffering with depression, this is a MUST READ: Happiness: Defending against the onset of depression

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The Misinterpretation of Loneliness

Like many others, man is a social creature. But we spend vast amounts of our time observing other people from the sidelines while they engage in an activity we were designed to participate in. Observing from the sidelines has become an activity in itself! Just moments ago, I was scrolling aimlessly through my Facebook timeline (as you do), having lost interest in the timelines that of Instagram and Twitter. Once I grew weary of Facebook, I closed the app and moved on to the next. In less then 2 seconds of closing the app, I had instinctively reopened Facebook again. This was no accident, and it wasn’t the first occurrence either. This behavior was not indicative of poor use of time but more so a deficit in something integral to our daily active lives: social activity.

While it was true that my day had been productive, it had been inefficient. To help you understand this, I’ll provide you with a scenario that most of us are all too well familiar with: a high output of productivity with a low intake of food. I think we can all agree that no matter how busy you have been, if you do not eat a sufficient amount throughout the day, you’ll be impeding your health which in turn, impacts on your productivity. Correspondingly, social activity is food for the soul, but we are at risk of serving up a distasteful alternative.

The social apps on our phones and tablets missed out an crucial point when using the word “social” – it takes place in real-time. I have conversed with many people who admit to mindlessly scrolling through their phone no matter where they might be. Bare with me while I briefly digress: Parasites are interesting creatures. They first infect the host, whom is often unaware of its presence, and pretty much live in/on the host rent free. Some species even manipulate the brain of their host by causing them to commit suicide in water so that they can reproduce. If you think that’s shocking, I’ve seen mobile phones manipulate people into finding plug sockets (even at weddings) so they can “charge” their phone for more mindless scrolling.

How can we be at an event where we need only ‘be’ to elicit social activity, and still find ourselves craving connection via the online world?

The truth is we are lonely. Not because of our environment’s state, but because many of us are deprived of the state encourages us to rise from our newly found (online) comfort zone. We are addicted to connection and no longer familiar with interaction, because in a world where we are rewarded and validated for every action we make, it has become easier to be who we think we are as opposed to who we really are.

Being alone is a choice. Loneliness is the deprivation of a social life.

 

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