I was on holiday last week and when on holiday I got a chance to read, which doesn't happen very often.
My book of choice, picked up in the buy one get one half price section of WH Smiths was this.
Now whether you like Mr Brand or not doesn't really matter because I want to talk about addiction, and more accurately what a revelation reading this book was for me.
I have decided or concluded that I am an addict.
And like Robert Palmer I am addicted to love.
I feel a bit of a prat saying this, but there are worse things to be addicted to, but being addicted to anything is not good. Just ask Mr Creosote about his Wafer Thin Mint habit....
Russell has struggled with a variety of addictions, many of which it seems from his musings have their roots in low self esteem and using something (sex, drugs, overuse of long words) to distract himself from how he actually feels.
This was a good book. Did I mention that? It's based on the 12 steps that Alcoholics Anonymous use but can be used for any addiction.
I did some googling to understand more about love addiction and this is what it told me.
Well I don't have all of those, but a good few of them ring true. But I'm not a stalker.
I wondered why I have this and did some more googling.
So what to do I thought.
Well after quickly discounting the £5000 option of a week in the Priory I decided that I've probably done the most important thing in recognising what anxiety and low self esteem does, or did to me. Recognition and acceptance that you either have flaws or had them is important. It helps rationalise why you were how you were or why you are how you are. And also recognise that everyone has their challenges and you're not actually that bad.
At the core of this is me needing validation from others, and it's not just in relationships, it's in general life. If I send you a birthday card or gift I struggle to be content that what I've done is ok or good and can easily take offence if the recipient doesn't notice. It's daft really. I know I'm generally a good guy so why do I need others to tell me that I am, why can't I just know that and have that inner strength and confidence within me.
I've given social media a holiday recently because I was becoming more aware how much I checked each hilarious thing I shared to see who liked it, or if certain people liked it. And if I thought it was hilarious, isn't that enough? Do I really need others to validate me?
People pleasing is the other manifestation of the need to feel validated. It can be hard to know who you are, what you like or even what you think if you are always trying to think about the other person's opinions or feelings. It's exhausting too, because every time you feel like you've upset someone or you have even disagreed with them you can have a massive feeling of guilt and shame and fear of rejection or abandonment (but I've already blogged about my Catholic upbringing).
I will be seeking less validation and will empathise with myself more. I will be not 'having' to tell people how i'm hurt, what i've achieved or how i've helped them. What I feel is what I feel. But I do need to feel more of the positivity about what I do and give myself a break, give myself some credit and accept and realise that just because someone hasn't told me they love me for a long time doesn't mean I am unloved or unlovable.
Others don't define me.
"I am who I am.
I am my own special creation
So come take a look
Give me the hook or the ovation"
My gremlin is in full power mode at the moment, he’s been soaked in water, seen too much sunlight and also whatever the other thing was that makes him turn bad.
When he gets like that he eats away at my insides until he finds a button to keep pressing, one attached to my stomach churning, my mind over thinking and my general sense of dread.
I think a lot about the future. It doesn’t look very positive for me. I’m filtering out all the good possibilities, love, pride, laughter, friendship, achievement, worth and replacing them all with their opposites.
It’s a bit like two face in Batman I suppose. A constant battle. You can supress the gremlins for so long, but you just know they’ll get wet again.
It scares and worries me how much little I like myself. How hard it is I find it to look at that man in the mirror and be happy, or even accepting of who looks back.
Negative self image is horrible. It’s like a loose connection. Unfortunately re wiring takes a long time and a lot of effort, and I like many of my friends who are suffering feel like I’ve lost my mojo.
The only place I’m really honest is when i write on here, it’s somehow ok to share here and be ok with it. I think maybe I have a stigma against mental health myself, which is why it makes it hard to talk about it sometimes. I apologise to people because I think I’ve bored them with my mental health chat before. I stop myself pushing as far as I’d like because I’m worried I’m going to be branded as interfering.
But it’s not. And even if it is then it’s good to do. Because this stuff is real. It’s real thoughts, feelings and emotions running round my head now. It was real at 3am this morning when I was awake for an hour thinking about my relationship with my best friend.
I wish I could find the off switch.
This weekend there were a number of Pride events happening. LGBT events, Black pride events.
These events are excellent, people celebrate who they are, people support those celebrating who they are, people are proud.
These events help break down stigmas, allow people to celebrate and also raise awareness and educate others. Looking at how far the LGBT understanding, awareness, acceptance has come over the last 10 years is incredible.
It got me thinking about whether we are also proud of who we are mentally and celebrate this?
A quick google search of 'Mental Health Work of Pride' found some results from Australia, but that was about it.
I have a ribbon on my work lanyard about mental health. I've 'even' got a sticker on my laptop (but i'm still a bit worried about being told off about that), I blog here and bore whoever I meet by talking about it.
But do I have pride in who I am? Do you?
How would I feel about walking down a street with a banner? How would you feel?
Would people 'understand' what I was walking for?
Would a MH Pride event get the interest / coverage?
I think it's a good idea and something to think about.
What do you think?
Take care - be proud of who you are, whoever you are
I'm doing a 26 mile walk on Saturday for MacMillan.
If you've ever got anything from my blogs and you can spare a fiver would you be able to sponsor me
I've already raised enough to pay for a MacMillan Nurse for a week which is amazing, but I'd love to raise a little more.
I was thinking yesterday that we are very good at managing exposure to certain health & safety risks, but more often than not these are the physical ones, like for example when people use vibrating hand tools at work (I'm not being rude here but it did make me laugh), or drive for a long time.
How do we get our exposure to the contributors to mental health conditions noticed, recorded and acknowledged in the same way?
I've spoken to a lot of people recently who sound like they are close to burn out, under enormous pressure and clearly stressed and suffering - do we spot this, do we know it, how can we prevent it.
If we are doing some work with a vibrating tool and need to finish it by the end of the day but have reached safe exposure levels we stop. If we need to get something somewhere in a truck but we've reached safe driving time we stop.
Do we do the same with our minds?
Answers on a postcard please
Take Care, have a good day, sending you positive vibes
Mr Paul Wyse