It's been a hard weekend.
I think I've finally realised, or maybe accepted that my hair is starting to thin. And I'm not happy.
As Danny so eloquently told us "Hairs are your aerials. They pick up signals from the cosmos, and transmit them directly into the brain. This is the reason bald-headed men are uptight."
I'm really not happy. I'm perfectly capable of being uptight with a full head of hair thanks very much.
I was told about this towards the end of last Summer, needless to say my reaction was not a good one, to say I went into a massive grump would be an understatement. It really hurt me, my confidence was in the gutter and I didn't have the resilience then to handle it very well.
Anyway, I'm 'blessed' with a good silverback gorilla style hair covering (not the back though so no comb ups) so if I ever become a premiership footballer I'll have a transplant.
But I've written this not just to bemoan my latest frustrations but to write about how what you're like on the outside can affect you on the inside and vice versa.
Your body image and what you tell yourself about what you 'should' look like and how that 'will' then affect your life does really affect your life.
Do you tell yourself that you need to be thinner or more muscular, that your bum is too big or too small, that if you hair is thicker that you'll get that job, get the girl, be more popular and that you're life will suddenly be everything you want it to be.
What's on the outside affects what's on the inside, as Shakira said the hips don't lie, but I'm not really talking about that. What you tell yourself, how positive you feel about yourself affects you enormously. It can make you anxious, it can affect your confidence.
A friend of mine from school is a hypno-psychotherapist. At school we used to call him Magic Boots because of his Army surplus store footwear and prowess on the pitch. He should probably be called Magic Mind now.
Anyway, I digress. We were talking the other day and he was explaining how useful Hypnotherapy (other therapies are available) can be to treat a multitude of things. I said he should write me a blog, so he did, and here it is. I've taken artistic licence and added the pictures in.
Bloody interesting this one. But whatever the challenge you face talking to someone can only help, so do it.
He also was and undoubtedly remains much much cleverer than me (maybe I'll have a chat with him about my self image), and really knows his stuff.
Take Care Paul
Are you a pushme or a pullyou?
The Pushmepullyou was one of the stranger animals in Doctor Doolittle’s story. Both heads had different ideas as to the best direction of travel and they were forever in conflict.
People in relationships can be a little like that too.
People who grow up safe in the knowledge that they are loved develop the ability to regulate their emotions effectively.
They feel safe in expressing their feelings, have a strong sense of self and can give and receive love freely.
This ability to give and receive love is called by some a ‘secure attachment style’. They attach themselves to other people in a calm and confident manner.
So far so good.
But what of those who didn’t grow up in such a secure environment? What of those who don’t have such a strong sense of self and self-esteem?
Well, according to attachment style theory, they have, broadly speaking, two choices.
They can dodge close relationships, shy away from others who try to love them, sabotage promising new love affairs and generally act in such a way as to avoid being happy. After all, if you don’t get too close, you don’t get hurt!
Pull away! Steer clear!
Of course, they may not realise that this is what they’re doing. Nonetheless, such a pattern emerges when the past and its relationships are investigated.
That’s the ‘avoidant attachment style’.
On the other hand they can choose, unconsciously, to adopt an ‘anxious attachment style’. To most people this is known as ‘needy’ or ‘clingy’.
How hard such people work to please. They’ll be the most attentive of partners but it’s not freely given. They do this in order to keep the loved one close. They please in order to keep. ‘If I don’t do a,b and c then she’ll leave’.
‘If I’m not loving enough he’ll ditch me’
Of course, this often ends up annoying and alienating the object of their love. Nobody likes to be smothered.
Both the avoidant and the anxious create their own nightmare: loneliness.
The anxious type hates it and is honest about it. The avoidant type tries to pretend they don’t care, that they’re better off alone. Either way, it hurts.
What a mess!
What if two people with opposing attachment styles find themselves in a relationship?
Well, this is the pushmepullyou situation.
The anxious type tries to please, to ingratiate and the avoidant type is afraid of the proximity. He or she moves away and, of course, the anxious one merely follows behind. The more he or she pushes their love towards the avoidant, the more he or she moves away.
What could be done?
Well, it begins with honesty. Both sides of this dynamic would need to recognise their own behaviours and resolve to work upon them. Both would need to work upon their sense of self and self-esteem. The avoidant would then begin to trust, little by little, the other with proximity and the anxious would agree to back off with the overly forceful demonstrations of love and demands for reciprocity.
The pair would then meet in the middle and find a way forwards in which both could be happy.
If you recognise yourself in the above then book yourself in for therapy. I don’t cut my own hair because I can’t see myself from all angles. People have others help them with psychological difficulties for the same reason.
Here's some words what I wrote someday (today actually). Have a good day today. Paul
Somedays I’m good
Somedays I’m not
Somedays I’m cold
Somedays I’m hot
Somedays I’ll smile
Somedays I’ll frown
Somedays I’m up
Somedays I’m down
Somedays I’m focussed
Somedays I’m confused
Somedays I’m lonely
Somedays I’m amused
Somedays I’m angry
Somedays I’m sad
Somedays I’m ungrateful
Somedays I’m glad
Somedays I’m red
Somedays I’m blue
Somedays are for me
Somedays are for you
Somedays I’m uncertain
Somedays I’m not sure
Somedays I stare out the window
Somedays I search for the door
Somedays I’m a lion
Somedays I’m a lamb
Somedays I hate myself
Somedays I love who I am
Somedays I’m a loser
Somedays I’m a fool
Somedays I’m a bore
Somedays I’m so cool
Somedays my eyes smile
Somedays my heart skips a beat
Somedays my pulse races
Somedays I move my feet
Somedays I’m a giant
Somedays I’m a flower
Somedays I’m electric
Somedays I’m all power
Somedays I’m chocolate
Somedays I’m sour
Somedays I’m the minutes
Somedays I’m the hour
Somedays I’m Aldi
Somedays I’m Waitrose
Somedays I’m a planner
Somedays I’ll see how it goes
Somedays I’m broken
Somedays I’m fixed
Somedays I’m slush puppies
Somedays I’m pic n mix
Somedays I’m the wind
Somedays I’m the waves
Somedays I’m a wedding
Somedays I’m the graves
Somedays I’m a choir
Somedays I’ll sing solos
Somedays I’m ribbons
Somedays I’m bows
Somedays I’m dancing
Somedays I’m just still
Somedays I’m a valley
Sometimes I’m a hill
Somedays I’m a poet
Somedays I can’t stop
Somedays I won’t try
Somedays I’ll take a shot
Somedays are somedays
Somedays are not
Somedays are everyday
Bring the best you’ve got
London loves The way people just fall apart - London loves The way you just don't stand a chance - london Loves The mystery of a speeding heart
Ah London, the city that never sleeps, or maybe that's New York, but I'm not spending this evening in a Travelodge in NY tonight.
I saw a good friend tonight who I haven't seen for ages.
You can see your good friends and fit right back into the friendship you have with no problems at all. That's ace.
Get back in touch with your oldest friends.
Also today I spoke to someone I'd never met before. We had a great open chat. It was good.
You can connect to old friends and new friends.
That's not really surprising I know, but I think it's easy to forget. New connections are able to be made all the time. Old connections are often still there for you even if you don't see them often.
And the best way to connect is to listen. But also to talk.
Communication is soooooo important. Whether it's in a friendship or a relationship.
Don't text - talk.
Don't talk - meet.
Our lives are being taken over by social media and typing messages to each other. Nothing replaces face to face. Face to face allows body language to be involved. It means things don't get misunderstood.
Connection is about contact, physical face to face contact.
Have real friends, have real relationships, don't hide behind a keyboard or a phone, see your friends, see those you want to be more than friends.
Stop hiding, be real, be yourself, with all your imperfections, be there, be present, in real life.
If you have great friends tell them how important they are and spend more time with them.
If you love someone tell them. You've got one life. Be confident. The pain from every day will be more than the pain of rejection.
Assess your value. I bet it's huge. And believe your value.
And if you're imperfect, and who isn't, embrace it. You're you, you're amazing. Accepting your vulnerability allows you to be you.
At the end of 2017 I took part in a mental health webinar at work, to tell some of my (cue coldplay music) 'journey'...
I thought I'd share it on here. Hope it's interesting / useful / not a terrible read.
Take Care & Talk
But before I say more I’m starting with an apology, which I’m fully aware is an anxious trait but I’m doing it anyway….
If you know me, I’m so so sorry for what I’ve been like
I’m so sorry how my past negativity, sadness, ability to bring things down, extremes of mood and oversensitivity has affected you or affected how we get on.
Please believe me, I never wanted it to. But I know it has and that makes me sad, full of regret and wishing I could turn back time.
The good news is I’m learning to control it now. I’m getting better now. I’m getting help. I’m rediscovering who I am. I’m joking and laughing again. My smile is back. And I’m not going to be those things anymore. I’m going to be a positive in my life and other peoples. I’m certain of that.
You can read about my anxiety and depression in my blog. But today I want to talk more positively about what I’ve done to change, how talking is so important, how I’m getting better now and what other people can do.
Earlier this year the pressure was too much for me and the doctor prescribed anti depressants.
I also got to go on an 11 week cognitive behavioural therapy course with a group. It’s been really good, life changing in fact.
Work let me have the CBT as a medical appointment after ticking a box on a form to declare myself disabled in order for the right policy to apply.
I doubt I would have had to tick a box to have treatment for a bad back and we’ve still got a way to go before mental health is viewed as a mainstream illness and better understood. I'm not criticising my employer here and am grateful for their support, but there is still work to be done.
I view my anti depressants as a pair of armbands or a rubber ring, they’re role is to help keep me afloat whilst I get better. If that analogy doesn’t work, if you broke your leg would you expect it to mend without a plaster cast?
Friends are so important when you're struggling.
My best friend was the reason and the drive behind me finally getting professional help.
They encouraged, supported, listened and cared until I finally took that huge step.
I really hope everyone has a best friend like them. They’re a truly remarkable and amazing person.
They saved me.
I can never thank them enough. They helped me get back to being me
A friend was recently told by their manager that they should have managed their wellbeing and stress better because of their grade. That made me really angry and is so wrong. This needs to change, mental health, like physical pays no respect to grade or seniority. Would we tell someone they should have managed their cancer better?
Is it any wonder that people don’t feel comfortable opening up about mental health….
Until reasonably recently I haven’t seen many examples of blokes speaking out about how they feel, or more accurately how they think.
So I kept it all in. I was a pressure cooker. And it wasn’t good for me
One reason it’s hard to open up is the public perception of mental health, and the approach the mainstream media apply has often been misinformed and the illustration of it been focussed on the high profile cases where people have had to be admitted somewhere for intensive therapy.
I’ve often felt that puts all mental health into the category of being mad, or mental, or bonkers.
I didn’t tell people I was ill, or how I was feeling, I didn’t even admit it to myself because I didn’t want to be ‘mental, mad or bonkers’ but I now know that most mental health isn’t really about those words
If you’re depressed you’re not going to necessarily going to get to crisis point and be locked up or try and hurt yourself, the same way that if you are short of breath one day it doesn’t means you have lung disease.
So we need to start focussing more on preventative measures and building or sustaining good mental health and understanding. Making sure we don’t reach crisis point – spotting the signs – and making sure it doesn’t need someone to commit suicide to properly talk about this.
The traditional manly image is to be the strong, silent type. So if you speak up, are you not strong, not brave, less of a man?
I’m 6ft 2 and 17 stone of potential rippling muscle. I’m physically pretty strong, but mentally I have my weaknesses.
Would you prefer to be:
You understand yourself better, are more self aware, can show more empathy.
This is my first blog from over a year ago.
It took a lot of strength to press the publish button, and I sought reassurance from some trusted friends and colleagues before I did. There’s a friends theme running though his huh.
I then tweeted a link to it, and went home and worried.
It was one of the best things I have ever done. Being open.
People liked what I said. They told me, either openly, or more commonly with a whisper in a corridor or a private mail.
People started to understand me better. Someone said they simply got why I was like I was. And that helped build relationships, rebuild relationships and strengthen them.
I’ve written and shared about 30 blogs now about my mental health journey and have recently asked colleagues to be guest bloggers. This happened after we had open conversations about mental health in the office. They are amazed and delighted and reassured by the response too.
People don’t judge. They often empathise or sympathise. They appreciate the openness.
Thousands of people have read my blog now. Sometimes it just helps to know that you’re not alone, you’re not the only one suffering.
We need to make time for these conversations and particularly make men make time for them. We need to stop manning up.
The first step is talking.
Don’t keep it all in. Find that trusted person. They might be a friend, partner, family member, doctor, counsellor, manager anyone. You can talk to me if you want.
Second be kind to yourself. Even if you want to be a manly man you can’t be and do all those things you think society expects you to if you’re not well.
It’s important to be kind to your friends or family if they are suffering, and I’ve been really lucky in that sense. It can be hard to understand why anxious or depressed people think like they do, they probably don’t want to be down or upset you or affect relationships, in fact it’s probably the last thing they want to do. I know I didn’t want to but I know I have, and it makes me feel shit, and that’s tough when you’re already anxious.
Leaders also need to step up and share about mental health and normalise it further. In a recent meeting with about 16 directors the check in included where we were on the well to ill scale. I was at the ill end and the summariser said someone being physically unwell. I blurted out that it was mental. I think I got the point across, and sent them all my blog.
We need people to understand that it’s normal, that you can get help, that you can change, that you can progress, that you can have great relationships.
We need to look out for each other more, not accept ‘I’m fine’ answers, make time for conversations, look out for friends, family and colleagues.
Get the professional help. They’re professionals.
My doctor was excellent. He didn’t judge. He wasn’t embarrassed. He didn’t make me feel embarrassed. He told me I had made a massive step coming to see him. And I had. And if or when you do if you’re struggling you will be too.
Accepting who you are physically and mentally is empowering. You’re you. Just try and be the best version of you that you can be, and get professional help if you need some, as early as possible.
I told my parents about my anti-depressants. I’m not sure they really understood, despite being on all manner of tablets themselves for physical needs that they haven’t chosen to suffer from.
My mum said ‘you’ll soon be back to your normal self then’.
I said I wasn’t sure what my normal self was anymore.
Last weekend she told me she had a chat about mental health, or more accurately my mental health with her best friend who she talks to about everything, apart from probably things like this.
Her friend then told her she had been on anti depressants for years. My mum suddenly got it. It is normal. People just struggle to talk about it.
Don’t be one of those people. Don’t let your friends or family or colleagues be those people.
It might only be a 5 minute conversation.
But that 5 minutes could change your life or someone elses.
You might even save their life.
Find something to give your brain a break and give those you rely on a break, because they need it too.
It’s tough being the shoulder to cry on, just ask my best friend.
I’ve recently found painting. It’s amazing, the process, not the pictures as you can see.
I also laugh at myself more. That’s important.
I’m trying pottery next.
Thanks for listening, take care of yourself and others and please make sure you talk.
I don't care if Monday's blue Tuesday's grey and Wednesday too Thursday I don't care about you It's Friday I'm in love
If you love somebody you don't need to wait for Valentines Day. You don't need to only tell them on their birthday or your anniversary.
Tell them tomorrow, tell them on a random tuesday in May, buy them flowers for no reason but just because they are who they are and because of what they mean to you.
Call them. Send them a card. Leave a note in their lunchbox. Top up the antifreeze on their car if that's what they need.
Just tell them. In fact don't just tell them, show them. But don't just tell or show them on a day.
A pancake day post, that isn’t about pancakes, but it is about flipping.
Flipping men to talk more about their mental health.
Flipping women to talk more about their mental health.
Just flipping flipping them (do you remember when flipping used to be a swear word).
I think we’re at tipping point now. I really believe that. I told my counsellor that in today’s session. More and more people are recognising the need to talk. More and more people are opening up and seeing the benefits that it can bring.
Accepting your authentic self is critical. Being that person, with all your imperfections is critical. You’ve got to love yourself first, you’ve got to accept yourself first, totally accept yourself.
Once you do that you start to feel that ember inside you that your self esteem and self confidence has become start burning a bit brighter.
And you can start adding fuel to that fire by talking. Just talking. It’s not hard to talk, it’s hard to be brave to talk, but you have to be brave to start to accept yourself.
Find that person to talk to. Sign up to that counsellor.
As the Bee Gees said (kind of) "It's only words, And words are all you have, to mend your head today"
Do it now. Reach out.
Lean on a friend / partner. If they’re a proper friend / partner they’ll be there for you.
Just one step.
And on this Valentines Day make sure you keep some love for yourself too, I'm sending myself this card, sorry about the swear.
Ah t.A.T.u. whatever happened to them.
Ok, here is the convenient segue..... I visited a tattoo parlour (wonder why it's called a parlour) recently. It hurt a bit, not much. I had my arm shaved by a man with a beard, it didn't cost any extra for that.
I'd been thinking about it for years (not the arm shaving), but had never 'plucked up the courage' to do it. Not because I was scared of it hurting, I was scared of what people would think. I was actually worried about it so much that I never did something that I wanted to do for myself. That's weird.
There's an interesting article about worrying about what other people think here written by a doctor who swears....
Anyway, I decided a little while ago that now was the time. I'm in my forties so clearly it's time to buy a sports car (can't afford it), do a tough mudder (can't run) or get inked (as the cool kids call it).
I read something about tattoos being linked to low self esteem. I'm not sure I agree.
I actually had to love myself more in order to do this. Getting it done was a demonstration of the confidence I have in myself to make decisions and live with them and be more present, more in the moment. I love myself a bit more now because of having done it. It helps separate me from the past and not worry so much about the future.
Anyway that's that really, I'm not showing it to you because I don't need your approval, because it was for me.
This article is also interesting if you fancy a read
Do what you want, for yourself
Wyse words indeed, but not mine, they're from a song I like. I think they're spot on....
It's funny isn't it, how you can associate with a song, how you can feel like it could have been written for you or by you, how you can read into it whatever you want to in order to suit your circumstances and needs.
I think this is about taking chances, about changing, about being who you want to be and not who you're expected to be by society, by parents, by friends, by anyone else.
I've spent a lot of my life trying to be perfect, trying to be what others expect me to be. Actually that's not true, I've been trying to be what I think other people expect me to be, I've never really asked, I've just assumed.
I think the important people in my life would want me to be happy, rather than be unhappy or less happy because i'm trying to please them and be a perceived version of perfect, a perfect son, a perfect friend, a perfect 'insert word here'.
The person who wrote this song has written many others I associate with - that's him above, this one is good....
Last year I became very insecure and emotionally sensitive. I think i've always had that within me but last year it was like I'd had a super strain of it, like in those zombie films.
I don't like being insecure and emotionally sensitive, so I have chosen to be(come) confident and emotionally strong.
It's not easy, to change how you think, but then again it's not easy to go and run 10 miles, but anyone could, with practice.
But practice does not in my view make perfect, because if you think perfection is actually the goal then you will fail.
If you can dream it you can do it, well that's not true either.
These statements have confidence and belief in yourself at the heart of them, believe in yourself and what you want to do / be and go and try to do / be it.
If you've made mistakes or have regrets, and like Sinatra i've made a few, they get made, they can be learnt from, they can often be fixed.
If you have a bad day (today is one for me) just remember it's a day and tomorrow is another day (that one actually is true).
Be brave and strong enough to accept your own imperfections, coz we all have them, and work on the things you don't like or have affected you or those you love.
Mr Paul Wyse