Focus On You

An interesting but not easy to write subject this one. A bit self centred to start with but has a strong message.

I have found that my last ten years (since becoming depressed) has been focussed on other people and making them happy – I now am starting to believe that this is because I was so unhappy in myself. It was pleasing to see others happy because of me and this behaviour took many forms; from telling jokes, to witty quips at important meetings, to being that ‘ratbag’ in the office, to producing theatre shows that toured internationally.

I was that guy who was ‘out there’ a little (or maybe a bit more than little) and refused to succumb to the expectations of the circles in which I mingled. In the Army, I was too rock and roll – in the entertainment industry I was to ‘Army’ – in the corporate world I was too relaxed and unfocussed – in the public service I was too focussed and driven. I guess I was the true rebel without a cause. But as long as I provided some entertainment or happiness to others, it gave me pleasure.

I enjoyed pushing the boundaries, testing the system and always having that little bit of ‘me’ inserted into the system or process. Yes as a sales executive I conformed to the need to wear the right type of clothes – although the business suit (fashionable name brand of course) hardly ever came out of the cupboard – Slacks and bright coloured shirt (usually striped) was my standard attire with a sports jacket that usually was a little quirky and pushed the boundaries. In fact one day at the corporate office they had a Tracy Dann day where everyone in the office wore stripes – and it just happened that on that day I wore a plain shirt. It was hilarious.

The rebellion gave me interest in my life – it was the corporate world and was highly stressful, I saw it as my role to try to lighten the atmosphere and provide a little bit of interest in what was otherwise a mundane existence that required us to make a lot of money for a large corporation – sometimes at the price of personal anguish. People never knew what to expect – What will he wear today? What will he say today? What is he going to do to make us laugh? How does he get away with it? Yes it was fun and kept me sane – well not really, it was my bit on insanity that I would inflict on others in an effort to release some of the pressure from the turmoil going on in my head.

People only got to see the facade – they never saw the crap that was going on in my head. Sometimes it would surface as this angry guy in the corner – the guy with little patience, was pissed off with the world, hated disorganisation, was a stickler for being on time, couldn’t understand why people couldn’t follow his logic and wondered why people got stressed about small and insignificant things.

Eventually though, the inner turmoil surfaced and while standing at my desk working. One morning I had a dull ache in my left shoulder – much like that when you sleep with your arm in an awkward position. I rubbed it and moved my arm around but the ache stayed and started to spread to my chest. A tight feeling, like a pulled muscle. It started to worry me that I must have picked something up wrongly and hurt myself at some stage that morning. Then the left side of my jaw started to go numb – now I thought there was something serious going on so I said to my work colleagues that I was going out for awhile. I jumped in my car and started to drive to the hospital to be checked out – as I pulled out of the car park, an ambulance drove by so I followed it to the emergency service headquarters around the corner.

As the ambulance pulled over I came alongside and asked the driver if there were any paramedics around as I was having some odd pains in my chest… before I knew it there were paramedics, ambulances and all sorts of things going on and I found myself in the cardiac ward of the local hospital attached to all sorts of devices being treated for a heart attack – a mild one but this was an eye opener.

But even here I was stilled focused on others – not ringing to tell family or friends what had happened until I was sure that I was going to be alright – I didn’t need those close to me to worry about what might or might not happen. It appears this was not the right thing to do.

This was the start of opening my eyes to worry more about myself than others. Suddenly I was mortal, I realised I could die at any time. At the time of the incident I was eating healthily, had given up sugar, low salt intake, low fat food, lots of fruit and vegetables, a bit of exercise (including standing at my desk rather than sitting), no alcohol, no smoking, no family history of heart disease – there was no medical reason for it just an artery in the heart got blocked.

So anyway – what is the point of this??? The point is that it doesn’t matter what you do in life to be healthy, one day your body is going to decide it is time to go and something will fail. It is, therefore, important to do what you need to do in life, enjoy yourself, find a way to do the things you like to do and, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, do whatever you bloody well want to. There is no time for sitting around feeling sorry for yourself, nor being anxious about what might or might not happen. If it doesn’t affect you or the ones you care for then it isn’t important – get off your backside and get out and enjoy the beauty of the world, see the concerts or movies you like, sit on a beach for a day, start to write a book or paint, write poetry, appreciate nature and all it has to offer – just get up and away from the routine that you let rule your life… even if it just walking outside to the garden, or the local park/common and looking at the trees, the texture of the trunk, the leaves, any animals or birds living there.

The world is a beautiful place when you remove all the crap imposed upon us -specifically by the media – get out and enjoy it in whatever way you can.

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