Stress Of Western Life

Here we are, another Christmas/New Year period over with and what will be the start of a new working year for many today. A return to normality and the routine of the western world existence – “working 9 to 5, what a way to earn a livin'”. Gosh there is another change in my attitude and behaviours – I’m quoting Dolly Parton. In fact for the first time in my life I have looked through the lyrics of the song and see that it is one of those songs that sounds bright and chirpy but has such depressing lyrics.

Sadly it is the way of corporate life where it is all about the company, profits and shareholders – many times at the expense of staff welfare. In my final years as a paid employee I worked for a multinational corporation that did hold its staff in high esteem, it had a clear focus on where it stood in the market and employed staff who became a part of the company fabric – and it was like a family. Everyone knew everyone else in the business and the focus was on providing quality customer services – as a result the company was well respected by the customer base.

But, over a relatively short period of time the company started an expansion programme that took it away from it’s core business and looked to move into higher volume and higher profit areas – it started to focus on revenue and profit rather than delivery of quality services in its traditional niche market. In order to do this a new management team was employed – people taken out of other corporations and hired at high salaries to give the company a new direction – one at odds to the traditional values of the company and the focus and attitudes of the longer term staff in the company.

So suddenly the company (family) was no longer what it was; new people were brought in, focus was changed, new skills were required, personal attachment of staff to the company was destroyed and people just ‘started coming to work 9 to 5’ rather than living for the company and its values.

Sadly, this focus on profit and pleasing shareholders is the major focus in many western cultures now and staff tend to spend most of their time stressing about meeting budgets and hoping their jobs are safe. This stress then leads onto depression in many cases. This then causes problems at home and before you know it the spiral down into the pit of despair begins.

Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’
Barely gettin’ by, it’s all takin’ and no givin’
They just use your mind and they never give you credit
It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it

So anyway – what am I getting to with this post? While PTSD is one of my key focusses in this blog, we really musn’t forget that depression and anxiety are suffered by more than just military and para-military personnel. Office workers, bureaucrats, small business owners, models, entertainers and many others also experience them, even school kids – in fact there is so much stress in today’s society that it really is amazing that anything gets done.

And then there is relationship stress, another significant issue in society today but the subject of a future post I think as that involves not just personal pressure but also pressure caused by western society’s adherence to traditional christian values.

A bit of a different post this time but I am trying to show here how my thoughts are working and trying to see from where the issues are stemming nowadays so that I can better focus the Captain Krankypants talks for different audiences. Have a great day everyone and I will be back in a day or two…

Image result for dolly parton 9 to 5

Random Thoughts

Awake again at 2:30am – not because of an active brain but active legs. For some reason my legs tonight cannot get comfortable, no matter what position I lie in they want to move to another position. My head is tired and wants to sleep – a good thing because it is usually the head activity that keeps me awake, so to have a physical issue affecting my sleep is a new experience. I took a couple of prescribed Valium before going to sleep earlier so goodness knows what quality this post will be as my brain is mush, the body (including the typing fingers) is lethargic but sleep eludes me.

But as I recommend, if you can’t sleep, get up do something to keep the mind active, have a cup of tea and then try for sleep later.

With no real theme this evening/morning I guess this post will just be an amalgam of random thoughts as they come to mind. But, if the blog is to be an accurate representation of what is going on in my lie as I move along the road to recovery, then even things like this have to be recorded – after all it might be linked.

I do have a bit of a blocked nose as I sit here so just used a few sprays of Vicks Sinex nasal spray just to clear the head a little but it smells a bit odd – I’m not sure if this is due to my head being in a strange place of or due to the use by date on the bottle being July 2013. Might be time to buy a new bottle I think.

It has been an interesting few weeks… oh look, there’s something bright and shiny to look at… my brain is finding it very difficult to focus tonight and many things are taking my attention away from the task at hand. But the last few weeks have been interesting – Christmas has come and gone, a lovely time with a traditional Australian Christmas after a big build up to Christmas in England and experiencing the cold and the traditions that so enveloped Christmas memories as a child. Then there was seeing many of the rock bands I always wanted to see from the 70’s, the new experience for me of going out to a pub with loud music on New Years Eve and the rekindling of friendships from the past and catching up with new friends.

The next experience for me is to finally get to use my membership to the Melbourne Cricket Club. 27 years I was on the waiting list to join this club and I have only used it once to see a game of Australian Football about four years ago with my daughter… I have wanted to get to Melbourne a few times over the past few years to use the membership but have never got there – with my new attitude of doing things I like to do, I will make the 10 hour trek down there in a week and finally go and see cricket being played at the MCG from the members’ stand.

While down there it might be nice to reconnect with some friends from the past but I have lost track of who is actually down in Melbourne now – if you are reading this, old friends, drop me a Facebook message and let’s ‘do coffee’ in town. I do like Melbourne, it is one of my favourite cities.

While mentioning Facebook, as some of you would now from my previous life, I used to be an avid poster of my opinions on all things onto Facebook – controversial comments designed to elicit a response and encouraging discussion. Many of these posts were complaining about how society was going or political views or, even just on stupidity that seems to be running rampant in the world today. I have received comments from friends recently that they miss these posts as they were generally stimulating – humorous, controversial, observant but never really offensive to anyone of mature sensibility… well,, sensible as far as I was concerned. Many of these posts added to the persona of the old Captain Krankypants and where the impetus for the initial development of this website as one for whinging and bitching about things in life and society – no longer something I do because I no longer watch, read or listen to the news.

I am, however, starting to respond to other people’s posts a little more than I have over the past six months – purely out of a sense of fun and naughtiness – I am trying not to offend anyone’s sensitivities but occasionally might stretch the boundaries a little. I find it interesting that I am again doing this, I think it shows another step forward to getting back to normality but I must be careful not to start to fall back into the trap of constant negativity. A positive mind begats a positive life – see that there???? A biblical term – must be the Christmas spirit still in me, or it might be that yesterday’s Aldi catalogue had a double page spread on how to eat your Hot Cross Buns at Easter.

So, as we move out of this twilight zone of Christmas and New Year, days will once again have some meaning. We will actually know what day it is – this seems to be the first year that days have had no relevance over the period – to me it was just dates, the actual day meant nothing. But now we will get back to the working week and the weekend (not that the self employed, unemployed, chronically injured or retired ever really experience this) with some firmer structure to our existence.

At least next week it will once again be possible to contact people to discuss opportunities for talks on this journey we are going though.

Weird and Wonderful Things

Well here I am, practicing what I preach. Went to bed around 10:30pm last night and woke up at 1:10 after a few hours of uncomfortable and disjointed sleep. I then lay there for 15 minutes trying to get back to sleep but found my mind racing and wanting to go off and do its own thing. So now I find myself sitting at my computer in my underpants writing a blog…

“Why in your underpants?”, I hear you ask. Well it seems that when I went to bed I took off my dressing gown (robe) and laid it over my feet area . When I got into bed and drifted off to sleep, it appears Mr Bigglesworth (the cat) had decided that the dressing gown was the most comfortable thing on the bed and wanted to lay on it. Despite the “hard bastard” exterior that brought about the name “Captain Krankypants, I am a softie inside and couldn’t bear to disturb the sleeping Mr Bigglesworth. So cup of tea and blogging in my undies it is… there will be no photographs and the video intro will be recorded later.

It has been an interesting couple of days – in the post Christmas/New Year ‘time-free zone’ (What day is it? What time is it? Are there Easter eggs out yet?) I have found myself eating so much rubbish food I am feeling decidedly unwell – chocolate, sweets, shortbread biscuits, chocolate coated almonds, chocolate coated peanuts, ‘tucky duck (KFC) and associated high sugar soft drinks. For someone who gave up eating high sugar and processed food so many years ago, this has been a terrible affront to my body. I was surprised to see when I jumped on the scales yesterday morning that I had only put on an extra half a kilo (1lb and a bit).

I shall be getting back to ‘real food’ again now because I found that my mood has been deteriorating and yesterday morning I started to slip back down towards depression. I decided not to blog while I was in the negative place but instead to take my own advice again and get out and do something I liked; to try to turn the mood around. So I packed up my book, a bottle of water and a towel and went down to the beach for some quiet time reading and enjoying the scenery.

There was not much scenery to be enjoyed because the beach was not as it normally was – usually I am there with half a dozen other people at most and it ends up being windy from the onshore wind. Due to it being holidays there were hundreds of people but that wasn’t the issue… the beach I go to is so big that a short walk either north or south quickly finds solitude… the issue was that there was so much sea spray coming of the ocean that visibility was down to about 50 metres. As I walked along the beach it was like walking into a horror movie (was it The Fog?) and before I knew it I was out of sight of any other person there… there may have been people around but I couldn’t see them… it was actually very enjoyable to ‘lose’ myself in the mist.

So I found a spot on the side of the dunes and started reading, occasionally stopping to look up and check if I could see the water yet, or to see if any other daring souls had decided to venture into the mist… it was about 45 minutes before the mist started to clear and the crowds up the beach could be seen. It was so eerily peaceful, even with the sound of the waves, that my drop into depression ceased and I started to feel a little positive again.

Today I am reconnecting with some friends from the past – another of my own suggestions from previous blog posts. One of the entertainers I took to the Middle East in 2008 I found out lives fairly close to me so we are doing coffee at 10:30 – I am hoping I can get some sleep before I have to go…

Another thing that happened recently was New Year’s Eve. Normally my NYE is spent at home in front of the tele watching some dreadful lead up show to the midnight fireworks. I didn’t like to go out anywhere because that meant having to deal with crowds and lots of noise. This time though, I found myself out at the local pub to have dinner and then a few drinks (non-alcoholic of course) before going home because there was going to be a band and it was going to be loud and crowded. A nightmare for me…

But I decided to hang around and, purely for research purposes, see how I would react in such a daunting environment. I was surprised – the room where the band was playing was pretty full when we got there after dinner but we found a table in the middle somewhere – a disaster, couldn’t get a back to the wall, couldn’t clearly see all the entrances but I knew there was one out to the smoking room behind me and a main entrance up to my left… the other entrance was across the dance floor and about four rows of tables full of people away.

As I walked past the band gear set up at one end of the room, I cast an eye over the set up – very neat, good banner, nice merchandise set up and decent equipment. “This might not be too bad” I thought and decided to stay and see what the band was like… and they were very good. If you like your pub rock with a bit of a Southern Rock feel about it then go and see “Dirty Byrd” (Google: Dirty Byrd band Nowra) – a few sad moments though when they did some songs that were made famous by a friend of mine who we did a show with on NYE in Katoomba (Australia) about six years ago – but everything else was great and I ended up staying until after midnight. Now for those of you who have been close to me over the past ten years will know that this is unheard of – Trace Dann at a pub full of people with loud music and deciding to stay rather then sneak away. Granted I did not really move from my seat all night but I stayed, I spoke to people I hadn’t met before and rather enjoyed the experience… I actually surprised myself. Another step forward I think.

Now I think it is time to go to sleep – sitting here in the glow of just my computer screen, in just my underpants might seem a bit weird if any of the neighbours can see me through the window… oh yes, and I just felt a rather large spider crawl over my foot in the darkness under my desk.

The camera doesn’t do the spookiness any justice.
People who know me well, will know just how odd it is that I stayed here.

’twas the Day Before Christmas

Well here I sit, back in Australia, the day before Christmas. A Christmas different to most others – this one will see me in a new situation where the anger, frustration and stresses of previous years and hiding my condition no longer exist. Yes, the condition is still there being managed but no longer under the surface. I can get out and be myself and enjoy the time with family.

The last few weeks in England has also given me greater perspective on what Christmas is all about – not anything religious (although that is the historical reason for it) but about community, family and a positive atmosphere (emotion). It’s about a state of mind where other pressures and stresses can be forgotten and we can all enjoy a little down time. What really brought this home to me was hearing the carols and pop songs played everywhere when in the UK, seeing the trees lit up, houses with lights and people smiling and dashing about in the cold and the rain. But most of all – what really showed me how much fun Christmas is, was going through security at Heathrow airport and seeing one of the bearded security guys wearing a Santa suit.

This was joy enough but as a got closer I noticed that under the hood of the suit the guy was wearing a turban. As far as I am concerned this chap has been the greatest influence on me of how there is hope for our society as long as diversity and inclusion go both ways. He will never know the effect he has had on me but I thank him so much for what he did.

I also stop and think a little nowadays about the people who wont enjoy their Christmas because of their personal circumstances or as a result of some trauma they have experienced around this time. All I can say to those people is to remember that depression, anxiety and PTSD are a state of mind – while it is natural to mourn of be wary after a trauma it is important to sometimes refocus your mind and enjoy things for what they are.

Those of you who have been to one of my talks will remember the example I gave about flashbacks, this also applies to memories of bad events, no matter how much you think about them, you cannot change the past- The past is stuck there forever unchangeable but you can affect your future and how you relate to the past. It comes down to how you take control of your brain and make it do what you consciously want it to do rather than what it subconsciously wants to do.

Take the time to mourn or remember the event – allocate a time to do that – then file it away as best you can, get on with the tasks of the day and enjoy your down time.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Wizzard to Oz

2:20 am with a cup of tea and I reflect on recent events. So much has happened in such a short period of time. I have now completed all the work I had planned for this tour of the UK and am resting before going to the last concert on my wish list tonight – Roy Wood (See My Baby Jive). I am trying so hard not to expect to be disappointed but it is difficult when you have looked forward to something so much and remember past disappointments.

This tour has been sensational – so much more than I expected. I have made some new friends and reconnected with some old ones – there is so much interest in my story and there are so many opportunities popping up for talks next year – it’s just a matter of finding the right times and dates and scheduling them in.

It is so rewarding to hear how this blog and my talks are helping people understand things a little better. I am particularly getting thanks from partners of sufferers who now say they understand better what their loved one is going through and recognise the character traits when I mention them.

The second live show of the tour, in Newark, was to a full house again, made up of a few ex-military but mainly other interested parties, partners and civilian sufferers. A diverse group that is making me reconsider the structure of the show for the future – a little less time spent on the reasons for, and symptoms of, PTSD, Anxiety and Depression with a greater emphasis on how I handled the symptoms myself. The sustenance required to help the sufferers – it’s a fine balance and each group will be different.

I have now had informal advice from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs that they will be accepting liability for my conditions and that they see the Captain Krankypants project as a great thing to do as a part of my rehabilitation program. Yes I still have a long way to go on the road to recovery – the road that you guys are on with me – but I find it so rewarding to be getting out and about and raising awareness and understanding of the subject not just to fellow sufferers but also to the general public.

There has also been so many offers of assistance and support from people who have come to the shows, also the flood of new information, reports, statistics, treatments, etc from experts. I need to go through all this in the coming weeks and work out what fits into the show and what could be the basis for a second series of shows. I have to keep reminding myself that the focus of the talks is to reflect the content of these blog posts, that is, to tell my story in an effort to let others see what they are going through is not unique or, it is what they can expect to experience as they progress towards recovery. It will be a fine balance…

I need to take time to thank everyone who has helped me get this tour organised. Again I will not name them individually for fear of forgetting someone, or thanking someone for the wrong thing. But I believe I have chatted to all of them individually now and they know how thankful I am for all their support – one day soon I will look to set up a web page that identifies each of these people and gives them the public recognition they deserve.

So today is a day for packing the bags, tidying the notes, grabbing a little bit of Christmas shopping, enjoying the festival feeling and tonight rocking out to songs from The Move, Wizzard and Roy Wood then on the plane tomorrow back to Australia. It is such an lovely experience being in England in the lead up to Christmas – cold, cheery, carols in cafes, Christmas pop songs in the stores. Yes… I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday.

Strength Returns

After two days of being down and hanging over the pit of despair, I have found the strength to lift myself once more from its darkness. Being busy once again did the job – the need to focus on a goal in order to make the brain do what I want it to do. Rather than sit around, I got out and about with making sure I had everything needed for Tuesday’s show in Newark, I had a meeting with a social media guru, had lunch with some good friends, picked up some essential equipment for the show, went to a club on Saturday night and met some lovely people, did a 40 minute radio appearance on Newark Radio and then went to another club to see a new band “Cliff and the Shadz”.

A very busy two days – no alcohol and no drugs (apart from the prescribed ones) and I broke the cycle; the spiral down to depression that I used to experience stopped and I was able to lift myself back up and out. I now know there will be good days and bad days but, unlike in the past, the good days now outweigh the bad significantly.

I have also found that while keeping busy and aiming for a goal helps, it is necessary to manage the effort applied and ensure I don’t get too intense in the chasing of the goal. By getting too intense, the stress levels rise and everything starts to become a chore rather than a step to the desired solution. I end up getting frustrated and angry and then the threat of falling into depression increases. So a relatively slow and controlled approach is needed to ensure a steady forward momentum rather than charging ‘up the guts with all guns blazing”.

A long discussion with another friend about the need to fix things all the time also helped me realise another trait I had.  Whenever someone comes to me with a problem it is my immediate desire to fix the problem – I could never just be a sounding board and listen to someone vent their frustration – I need to fix the problem. Sometimes that ‘fixing’ was to just throw everything out that was part of the problem and start again, other times it was to physically do something to make things better. It’s my nature I am afraid and very difficult to get away from. I shall now have to try to work on that.

So what was this challenging and demanding goal I set for the weekend to get away from the pit of despair? It had to be measurable, achievable, timely, realistic and specific – it was “Re-engage with at least two old friends and meet some new people”.

Two old friends were met with that included lunch with one and a relatively quiet drink with another. And two new people were met – one of whom was a breast cancer survivor – my problems really aren’t that bad when put in perspective of what others have been through…

Onwards and upwards…

Hanging On To the Edge

I have promised an honest blog and I guess that needs to include the negative events as well as the positive so here we go.

The past two days have not been as positive as they could have been – I don’t know if it was a result of coming down after the high of the first talk in Devon, or forgetting to take my pills in the morning, a drop in sugar levels because of being hungry, the bitter and biting cold of the day or some other influences that I cannot identify.

Around midday yesterday I felt myself slipping back into the pit of despair – it was a feeling I cannot describe very well but it was as if all my positive energy was being drained down my body and out through my feet. It was weird, maybe feeling like a tyre going down – maybe that’s why they say you feel deflated when you get sad…

I knew it was happening but there was not much I could do about. I told the people around me that it was happening and that I need to take a little bit of time out – to be away from people and sit quietly alone and let the process do its thing. But first I took my pills and loaded up on roast beef and potatoes with a hot cup of tea.

I sat quietly alone, eyes closed, stomach full and depression hitting me from all sides. After about 45 minutes, the pills took effect and the food re-energised me. I was again able to function – I felt okay so went about planning for next week’s show and trying to work out some of the social media stuff I needed to do.

I then headed of to a concert to see T-Rextasy and due to a number of factors I found myself running late for the show which started at 7:30. I have always prided myself on never being late for anything but as it got later and later and I was still not at the theatre, I found my stress levels rising again and deep down the old anger that I used to feel when things didn’t go right.

The difference this time was that the anger didn’t come to the surface – I managed to keep it suppressed within me but I felt dreadful. My heart was racing, my head throbbing… I could feel my eyes sinking back into my skull as more small delays kept happening – it’s always the way when you are in a rush – other things happen that slow you down more – or they seem to.

Eventually I got to the concert and after some mistakes by the door staff finally got to my seat where I sat and stewed for 15 minutes trying to control my emotions – I couldn’t enjoy the first half of the show as my mind was angry at myself for not getting there on time – luckily enough, most of the songs I loved were in the second half. And once “Ride a White Swan” was performed (one my favourites) my mood swung around and I was back to feeling positive and could enjoy the second half.

This morning I awoke to what was going to be a long day – the first thing I wanted to do was write a short blog about yesterday but, in true form, I had a problem with database synchronisation that took up all my morning trying to get it sorted. Eventually I gave up and headed off to my meetings. But all day I could feel the depression bubbling beneath the surface – the meetings went well and I think there will be a lot of positivity come from them.

The feelings are strange now – I don’t remember them like this when I was at the bottom of the pit – I feel like I am hanging on by one hand, I look down and see the darkness and know I don’t quite have the strength to pull myself up and out – but I do feel capable of holding on and am confident I will not fall in again. Now I need to find some positivity to give me the strength to grab on with my other hand and then climb out. It might take a few days but I know it will happen.

I know most of you will be wanting to respond to this with positive messages of love and support to try to help me get the strength – while I appreciate your sentiment this post is not looking for sympathy, it is a record of my journey and this negative element is part of that journey – I am hoping we can learn from it. So please guys, no sending love, positive energy, payers or amens.  I know you care and are interested or you wouldn’t be reading this. Stay with me on the journey and we can all eventually get to where we are going.

More soon….

First Show Thoughts

Well ladies and gentlemen, the first Captain Krankypants Live show has been completed and packed away. It is an interesting experience standing up in front of a group of strangers and some friends spilling my guts about mental conditions I am living with. The group was more than expected with a number of additions who walked in off the street.

The place was full with a diverse audience of people from different jobs including military, police and medical professions. There was also a number of partners who came along to support their loved one and to maybe hear ideas on how to best care for them.

During the first half of the show I found myself easily falling into the performance character I have employed many times in the past. The talk flowed, the Powerpoint slides worked and the audience was listening… Or were they???  There was little engagement or visual feedback coming back to me from them – there was little mirth shown from my witty quips and there were lots of stares.  They were probably wondering who this idiot in the pink trousers was in front of them. Nevertheless I persevered through to the short break. I expected many of them not to return after the break…

To my surprise everybody returned and took their seats quickly and I continued looking at methodologies I used to get over the issues. There was a little extra response in the second half but still not what I was used to from the old days of presenting. But at the end of the show the Q and A session was magnificent – a multitude of questions about things specific to the questioner. I promised myself before the show that any questions would be answered honestly. And that was the case…

And when it was asked “So, how many of these shows have you done now?” my response was “This is the first.” There was an audible gasp from the audience and spontaneous applause – I think they might have thought I had been doing this for ages. That, I think, proves the point of how I could put on a positive and confident facade despite all the goings on inside my head – while I wasn’t nervous about the show, I was concerned about how people would react, how the show would flow, maybe I was biting off more than I could chew – yes ladies and gentlemen, the ever confident Captain Krankypants had been struck by a bout of self doubt.

Once Q and A had finished, people left and most thanked me as they walked out. Some went home, some went to the bar for a drink where we overheard them talking about how they enjoyed the show.  While packing up, an audience member came back from the bar to talk about how her life had been changed by he condition but she now felt more at ease with it and was back at work – it was lovely that she spent the time to come back and tell me.

The show worked very well from an admin perspective as well. Mark Dewer has been a friend for a long time now and he pulled this event together from nothing – he put out posters, he spoke to people, he went tot he media and he made me dinner before the show – the weirdest tasting tuna pasta in history. I want to thank Mark for everything he did for the show and hope we can do it again one day.

But once again I failed to do the most important thing… to get pictures and video I could use on promotional material – Despite my confident nature I really am crap at personal promotion.

And here is the only photo from the night – once again thanks to Mark…

Image may contain: Trace Dann, standing

 

Superficiality and Desertion

Another slightly controversial post, this time on my perception of people’s reactions once they heard I had PTSD and depression and was out talking about it.

A person spends many years meeting people, associating with people and in some cases becoming friends with selected people. This is especially true when you run a business or are a key person in another company. “Friends” abound as you have something they want or need but once your usefulness has passed they are quick to forget about you and move on.

Oh yes, there are those people who say, “If you ever need someone to talk to, give me a call” but then disappear never to be heard from again.

I was actually surprised by who really seemed to care – it wasn’t the people I thought I was closer to, it was the people who were more on the edge of the associates list – people I dealt with on a business level rather than on a personal one – in many cases people who generally were not spoken of very favourably by the more inner circle of associates.

I was also surprised by the number of people I knew from longer than 15 years ago who did take the time to contact me and see how I was getting on – including some who I barely knew but our paths crossed numerous times all those years ago.  These people interact on here and on my Facebook pages or in private messages and it means so much to me.

And there are those people who I worked with closely more than 20 years ago, who have reconnected and are interested in what I am doing now and wanting to know how they can help. And the people I worked with as a consultant over different periods who have all moved away to other locations but have kept in touch as sparring partners or fellow jokers on Facebook. I would love to name them but I fear I would forget someone and then they would be upset at being left out – it is strange how such a seemingly minor slip can cause such hurt in people, so it’s best not to name anyone.

It is these people who have been the backbone of my recovery and, in many cases, the catalyst for me getting out and about talking about this stuff. They have given me the drive to want to help people who need, and will appreciate, whatever help they can get. It has also got me into meeting new people who are focussed on helping others – they see that what I am doing is beneficial and they want to do whatever they can to help me do my new thing.

I now find it fascinating to see names appear as people I might like to make as a friend on Facebook – “oh I thought they already were… this must be a cloned profile… let me check… hmmm they seem to have dropped off the friend list somewhere – how very odd”.  Well at least one person did call me and say they had unfriended me.

Sadly, it seems that there is still a stigma in society surrounding mental disorders – this keeps many people hiding away and not seeking help from professionals. As a result, they spiral down to the bottom of the pit of despair and never get out of it – or they get out the only way they see available to them..

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

You Are What You Wear

There is always so much talk about positive thinking and how that can be a tool to overcoming depression – well I guess that is true to an extent. However, I have found that it isn’t positive thinking that makes things happen, it is a positive attitude and attitude is more than just thinking. Attitude is how you approach life and how you behave, how you present yourself and how you feel about things. Positive thinking is just thinking about it.

I have found that how you dress is a part of the attitude thing- if you dress like a slob that reflects in how you feel and how you behave. I know that when I was badly depressed I stopped caring about my appearance, my hair grew long, I didn’t shave, I dressed in track pants and dirty t-shirts. I was a slob – if I sat down outside a supermarket people would have probably dropped money in front of me. I also found that I couldn’t function normally dressed like this – my mind remained in a negative mode and everything was too difficult, I couldn’t be bothered; near enough was good enough.

If I got up in the morning and decided to have a decent shower, shave, and shampoo then dressed in relatively decent clothes I found that my entire attitude to the day changed – yes I was still depressed and had crap going on in my mind but my approach to tasks changed – I was more creative, more productive and more able to focus on the tasks at hand. I was able to get things done. It was as if the “clothes maketh the man” was in full flight. It really makes no sense logically but for me it seems to be a thing that works.

I suppose it all comes down to marketing versus reality – we all hear stories about minor stars who start to believe their own publicity then become obnoxious and up themselves. When I used to look after performance artists, we always ensured they remained firmly with their feet on the ground despite what the publicity machine was saying. In some cases it was even necessary to get them to feel like a star and behave in a certain way because that is what the fans would expect – it is a fine line between confidence and arrogance – much the same as it is a fine line between sadness and happiness – well it is a fine line when you go from happiness to sadness but it seems to be a massive canyon when trying to get from sadness to happiness.

Another amazing way the mind works – we can go about our day as happy as a pig in poo then the smallest thing can happen that switches our mood around and suddenly we are sad or depressed but, conversely, if we are sad or depressed it takes a major shift in mind set and a lot of time to get out of the sadness. If only it were possible to flick the switch the other way – a bit like at night you can flick a switch on the wall and make it light but during the day it takes a lot more effort to make it dark. If only we could invent a switch to make it easier.

Ok this next bit is a bit like mum and dad telling you what to wear and how to behave but trust me, it works for me and it could for you…

So anyway, what I am saying here is that it is important to give your brain the best opportunity to think that it is in a good place – go out and buy yourself a good colourful shirt and some cool trousers or jeans, even get some decent underwear and funky jacket – package yourself up so you look good and I promise you, your attitude will change and you will start to feel more positive about yourself.

The next thing you need to do is start to think about your posture. Stand up straight (it doesn’t matter if you are tall or short), pull your stomach in (yes we are all expanding around there as we get older) and, most importantly, lift your head up – not so high you look like you have crap under your nose but just high enough to to let you look straight ahead out of your eyes not rolling the eyeballs up to look ahead – stop looking at the ground when you walk around – look around you see what is going on, watch other people, cars, read shop signs, look at the trees, the birds, animals; not just the pavement. Once again you will start to feel different about yourself – more positive, happier and more confident – yes you might occasionally step in some shit or chewing gum but, honestly it is worth it.

Just give it a go guys and send me feedback on how it works for you – use the feedback option below or share on the CKP Facebook page.

October 2018
December 2018 with a change of clothes