Those that have followed us for a while know that this is a topic very close to my heart, so I wanted to kick off Mental Health Awareness Week with a little blog post. Just a word of warning, this is very "bloke" orientated. I apologise to any female followers that we have out there in advance.
I want to start by asking you two questions. Answer them honestly to yourself:
1) Are you ok?
2) No seriously, are you ok?
It's a question that we often fail to ask ourselves but it's a question we should be asking. Suicide and depression is the biggest killer of men under the age of 40. That's not a made up statistic, that's an actual fact. The bloke who comments on our tips all of the time, the postman who delivers your main every day, the lad who works behind the counter at the co-op, it could affect absolutely anybody and nobody knows what people are going through.
It's not easy being a bloke. Feeling like you've got to provide and protect and bear the weight of your problems without talking about them. For generations men have been taught by their fathers to hide their emotions, "be a man", "suck it up". The time for that is over lads. If you answered either of the questions above with "Yea, I suppose so" or "No" then SPEAK UP!
The current situation that we all find ourselves in is unprecedented. I've been guilty of snapping at the mrs for random things, snapping at the kids, missing my parents, missing my mates. It's enough to make anyone feel anxious. And for those doctors, nurses, shop workers, anyone who is a key worker, the added responsibility of a nation on your shoulders must, at times, feel unbearable. But that's fine ya know? It's bad enough if you feel shit, but feeling shit about feeling shit is where the cycle gets out of control.
I'll share with you something I've never really shared with anyone before, but I've been close myself a few times to falling down that black hole. As you may have seen me mention in my previous posts, I lost my job back in February but the months before that were absolute turmoil. I was in a job I didn't enjoy with a boss who was a bellend, working all of the hours under the sun to provide for a family who I was never there for because I was working all of the time. Every day was a challenge to get up and motivate myself to do something positive and to stop myself doing something stupid. I felt like everything I did was wrong and I'll be honest, I felt like a failure.
I'm not going to give you the whole "and then I turned my life around and now I'm happy" because that's not true. As anyone who has had mental health problems will tell you, that's not how it works. You don't all of a sudden feel better about everything and that's it, you're cured. But what you can do is put positive steps into your day and give yourself a break from time to time. We all have our down days lads, it's just part of life. Accept that, embrace it.
Let me share with you a few things that I've put into my day:
- Kick off the day by messaging your mates. Every morning I send a "good morning lads. have a good one" into our whatsapp group. It helps remind me that I've got people there who care about me, and it lets them know that I'm there too
- Also, your mates are your crutch. Mates won't judge you for stuff. If you're having a shit day, I'm telling you now, just posting "having a shit day" into a group conversation can change everything. It might not be your mates, it could be your family, your partner, whoever makes you feel like it's not all bad
- Keep busy! If you're anything like me, sitting there doing nothing is when your mind runs wild. For me, digging into some random Turkmenistan football is what keeps me sane. For you it could be anything, take up a hobby, learn guitar or piano, play darts, exercise. If you're feeling down then doing something to take your mind off it will distract you for a while.
- Remind yourself, it's ok. Even if you've got a perfect little little with a partner and kids and a lovely house, it doesn't mean your immune. Don't feel guilty and tell yourself you shouldn't be feeling this way. You feel how you feel, and sometimes it might not be great. So just give yourself a break lads and rather than snapping at those around you, just explain to them that you're feeling a bit shit today and they will understand.
Life isn't always going to smell of roses and there will be times that it gets to you, but when it does, accept it and talk about it. We are ALWAYS available on DM if you want to chat to someone impartial about what's going on in your life. It's ok to feel down, it's ok to feel anxious, it's ok not to be ok.
Much love and massive respect to all of you out there who are dealing with the immense pressure of keeping our country running.