Over the next few months I attempted to put in place a structure to my daily life based on what I had learned about myself in the preceding few months. My life became a routine of getting out of bed at a reasonable time, going to the gym, eating healthy food regularly, playing my guitar, meditation, one on one counselling sessions, carving wood and generally focusing on aspects of my life that I enjoyed. Again, I would love to say that it was all straight forwards from there, but that would not be the truth. Anxiety, my old friend, would still come to visit, but in the end I knew that it would again dissolve into the background of my life within a few hours/days. I was now better equipped to deal with the anxiety and negative thinking than I ever was in the past. I had tools to help me through those moments of despair and funnily enough, those tools turned out to be the exact things that I enjoyed doing with my time. Looking back now on the past 2 years of my life, I can see many reasons for the tough time I had. Changing jobs, moving house, changing my circle of friends and relationships, all contributed to the spiral of insomnia / anxiety and depression I found myself in. With the help of counselling, I became aware of the many things in my past I had not reconciled. Those subjects are a little personal and intense for me to discuss on here, but lets just say they ranged in topics from growing up to the loss of my friend/cousin. At the time I didn’t have the tools I have now to deal with those emotions and I think that I boxed them up and put them away. Counselling gave me the safe space to openly talk about them, mindfulness/meditation gave me the strength to sit with the emotion and my friend/family support network gave me strength to continue with the process. That combination of factors, mixed with a determination on my behalf provided me with the healing needed to move on knowing that those topics had been dealt with properly (for now anyway).
I think counselling remains a very taboo subject in Ireland. I mention it to folks here and the reaction has been varied to say the least. When I speak to people in New Zealand or friends from the US or Canada, the reaction has been very different. I think that everyone should go to speak to someone at least once a year. Why bother I may hear you ask? Well, for your own mental health. There is something empowering about having someone listen to your every word, and try to place in context the meaning of those words in a way that you can understand. The way I saw it was simple – If I had a leaky tap I would ring a plumber, I had a leaky brain that required a shrink. I, suddenly, had to drop stigma attached to the situation I found myself in, and part of that was the idea that I was ‘weak’ for ‘having to go speak to someone’. My viewpoint now is a lot different as you can read. That’s because I see that those of us whom have the strength to stand up and admit that they are suffering are some of the lions in the world, not the sheep. It takes bravery to be vulnerable, and true strength to carry on when you want to switch off the light and hide under the covers.
With the help of counselling, my standpoint on anxiety and depression has also changed. Initially, I would have done anything to get rid of the feelings and emotions associated with those words. I hated the fact that I felt that way. I hated feeling the way I did and I just wanted to go back to the way I was before any of this ever happened. But, with help, I can see that anxiety has played a very important role in my life. It is an extremely useful motivator, an honesty gauge, and a problem solver. Without it, I would not have ever had the courage to face the issues of my past. I would have chosen to box more stuff up and not address those also. I would not have had the strength to write a blog in order to reach out to others, had I not put my ‘demons to bed’. I would not have found the ability to create peace of mind through breathing, eating and walking mindfully. And, I most certainly would not have had the self love I now have. I see a person who has been through the wringer and come out the other side, and for probably the first time in his life, is content with who he is. I’ve no idea where I’m going, but that doesn’t scare me either! For now, I am content to let life unfold the way it is meant to, and just be me.
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