Anxiety

Power of Words: Writing As Therapy

Different people deal with managing stress or other feelings by writing down their thoughts and feelings. I myself keep a personal journal about what I feel and have done through each day. It’s nothing fancy, and I’ll write something whether I’ve had a busy day or a quiet one.

The main reason for this is that I find writing relaxing. It’s very similar to speaking with someone in the sense of expressing your thoughts. The obvious difference in writing is that the pages won’t respond with words! No advice is given back but you can keep it as a reflection that will remain written down unless you dispose it. It is a personal action and can be very healthy for you no matter how small your problem or issue is.

If I have felt in low mood or been anxious, jotting things down has made me feel a lot better. It makes my head feel lighter as if some irritating anchor has been removed. Last night I felt really anxious in a club in Cardiff. It was hot and rammed with people, all of which were having a blast. I found myself looking around all the time as if everyone was watching me. I found it very difficult to let go and dance. After all this is what the social setting is about right? Well I practiced mindfulness at the time and asked myself to look at the situation and evaluate what I felt. Again I felt really conscious of how I looked which I knew at the time was daft. I didn’t break out of it however, but my friends and I eventually left and as soon as we did I felt better as if nothing had happened. It’s a strange thing to happen to yourself.

Now as I write this, I feel piece of mind knowing I can express myself through the power of my words which don’t lie. I hope others who read this can relate and take something positive away. I believe we learn more about ourselves through self-reflective entries. We realise how we managed an event in our lives and what we took away. In my case, I realise I felt very uncomfortable in the club. It’s still a tough battle in these instances. I think I have a long way to go to conquer these illogical thoughts and fears. However I will continue to put myself back in similar situations like this because it is the only way I will see real progress being made.

If I didn’t write about this I wouldn’t have been as aware. Sometimes you need to take a step back and really think about your situation. That way it will get unravelled and become much simpler to dissect the obstacles.

Here’s to moving forward folks…

Robert Jones.

Message from Mike: Check out The Spotlight Effect. A cognitive bias where we feel we feel others are paying us lots of attention, when they probably aren’t. I myself have fallen for this many times. It’s a very normal occurrence.

Copyright MEN HEAL 2015

Turning Point

One thing I hear quite often when it comes to anxiety and depression with men is the stigma attached to suffering from this. A lot of guys believe they are weak in admitting they have these issues and this somehow makes them appear inferior. Now when I was in my teens I used to worry over this. I would be very tight and wouldn’t express exactly what I was feeling even if I wanted to. I’m 23 now and I’m much better than I was mainly due to the fact I’m much more aware of being anxious and the effect it has on me.

Let me tell you something now, if you suffer from anxiety or depression no matter how severe it may be you are NOT weak! It is hard to realise this at first but from my experience I can tell you this is the truth. Very often we build issues up in our mind and the thought of happiness is placed high on a pedestal. I have done this for a few years and it’s only been this year where I decided to make major changes in my life.

There is nothing wrong with admitting your weakness because by doing so you are making a strong move. All you are doing is being honest with yourself and honesty is a quality every person will admire and respect. I myself am very open about issues I have and I’m perfectly happy to discuss this with anyone. I have nothing to hide anymore. By being honest about your weakness makes you come across as authentic which will help you connect with another person that much more. It’s about stripping away the ‘fat’ and being real.

I myself have recently joined MEN HEAL and it has been like a revelation. I have never been pushed as much as I have this year to make changes in order to live a fulfilling life, something I haven’t felt I have done since returning home from Derby University almost two years ago. My first meeting with the group was yesterday and I had a hell of a time. I left feeling very happy and confident because I knew this group stood for something positive and true. I would very much recommend it to others out there which may be in the same boat. After all, every long journey starts with a small step.

The other morning I came across a very interesting article which I think explains why people feel weak about exploring any issues. I think the main reason for this is that we focus too much on the negatives and what could go wrong. I’ll paraphrase the article now.

‘Thoughts of fear, anxiety, self doubt, criticism, judgement, anger and worthlessness does not focus on what we want. Instead they are directed at what we don’t want and this sometimes can be the only thing we see. If this happens we can be left blind in choosing the right steps to avoid this.’

‘The secret to any type of success is to focus on what we want. By doing so we are more in sync with new possibilities and we generate more ideas than normal. It doesn’t matter on how long it may take or the temporary obstacles in the way. Everyone can overcome it in their own time if they say this is what I want to happen.’

This is exactly what I have done recently. Was it easy? The answer is no, it rarely is but that’s the point. I was out of my comfort zone on the way to the group yesterday but I still went. That’s why the experience was so rewarding. I have never had as much clarity as I do right now. Will I feel anxiety again? Yes probably but that’s ok because I know what changes I want to make.

That’s the advice I would like to leave you with today because I feel I have reached a turning point and I know I’m on the cusp of a major transition. Please feel like you can talk to people and seek help. Ironically I have found that it’s people you don’t know very well which influence you more to make a positive change than your own family. There are a lot of kind people out there, I should know I met four yesterday at the group.

Robert Jones.

Copyright MEN HEAL 2015.

Selfish Anxiety

I don’t consider myself to have a mental health condition as such but I have always been quite anxious deep down.  My anxiety doesn’t control my life but it does make certain everyday situations more uncomfortable than they should be. Like in the series Dexter, he states he has a ‘dark passenger’, my anxiety could be described as my back seat driver that wants to call the shots.

I’ve noticed certain social situations bring the feeling on more than others. I sense the anxiousness is coming then it arrives. This then makes me feel frustrated and eventually annoyed with myself for feeling like this. It’s like a vicious circle. Clubbing for example is a big one. I went to Derby University which was the best three years of my life to date, however being exposed to that environment of partying made me feel very uncomfortable. I would be left paralysed in fear whilst everyone else in the building was dancing, drinking have having fun. I remember thinking I should be doing that. When I felt the most anxious I would shut down completely and think and think until my head felt tired.

I’ve been home nearly two years now and I’ve grown since then. I am much more aware of it and I can deal with it better. I’m currently having counselling for it which has made me feel better so far. I hope to use techniques such as CBT and mindfulness to combat negative thoughts that intrude on my life.

What annoys me at times is when people who don’t understand say things like, “cheer up you miserable sod or chill out” etc. Do you think I would if I could?! They don’t understand unless you sit them down and delve into it for an age which is not always what you want to do. I recently had this when I went camping with friends at Carmarthen. It stuck with me for a while and I had a whole lot of negativity that sunk into me. It was an awful feeling which led me to over analyse things in general and over analyse myself. It didn’t last long, when I wake up the following morning it’s gone naturally until it happens again.

Very often we find comfort reading certain lyrics of songs we like that hold unique meanings for ourselves. I’m a diehard fan of metal music and have listened to a lot of Metallica lately. One song by the band that describes anxiety and self doubt is ‘The Unnamed Feeling’ off their 2003 album ‘St Anger.’  The chorus definitely makes me feel connected;

“Then the unnamed feeling, it comes alive, then the unnamed feeling treats me this way, then I wait for this train, toes over the line, then the unnamed feeling takes me away.”

For me this song feels very real because it has taken something that is very dark and expressed it in a positive manner.

I am really looking forward to joining this group to relate and help others who know what it’s like to feel frustrated because of our own feelings. I have decided to turn my issues around now because I have had a lot on this past year in terms of work and a current relationship. I have never been pushed by external factors as I have now. It’s really liberating to be able to express this to everyone and I hope to write and express myself further.

My sincere thanks for reading; I just wanted to give you an insight into my background and how generally anxiety makes me feel.

Robert Jones.

Copyright 2015.

Desensitisation of Violence and Suffering Due to Media (And How it Relates to Anxiety)

Anxiety of Being Attacked

Having had debilitating depression and anxiety for many years, as a matter of survival I had had to become more aware about what affected my mood.

A few years running up to 2004, I had had a huge anxiety about being attacked. For a couple of years I had even been training in martial arts due to my fear of being attacked. I was tall and had a shaved head, and so this might have surprised people at the time had I told them. However I was genuinely in fear when I ventured in to town or I was in a crowded place like a party. I thought anyone might pull a knife on me, or just attack me. It was a constant state of heightened anxiety which made me very tired and on edge.

What to Do?

I needed to get to the bottom of this fear. I eventually realised that my estimation of how dangerous any given situation was, was way off the mark. Where did this fear of being attacked come from. After quite a lot of exploration I realised that the media might have something to do with it. The media tends to show all the negative and dangerous happenings in the world, this can make one overestimate the dangers in the world. (Indeed most people are surprised that violence in the world has been going down for over a thousand years, Check out Stephen Pinker talking about this on TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence?language=en#)

One particular behaviour I was experimenting with back in 2004 was the avoidance of any form of media, including news on the television, newspapers, and I guess the internet (although I can’t remember how much I browsed the news online back then).

After a few months of avoiding the media; the world, or rather my place in it, seemed like a far less dangerous place.

Desensitisation to Violence and Suffering

Lessons learned from this self-imposed media blackout came to a head on 26th December 2004 (The day of the Tsnuami  when I visited my friend for Boxing Day celebrations. On this day I had spoke to noone else and had had no exposure to the media. I knocked on my friend’s door.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa (Painting)

He made me a cup of tea, and said he was really worried about his friend in Thailand. I asked him why. He asked me if I had seen the news, and I explained I had not. He told me about the tsunami and how lots of people had been killed. I was shocked, it really hit me. There were two reasons for this:

  1. I had become re-sensitised to distressing things (so hearing the news was more potent)
  2. A friend telling me the news firsthand, with his own personal story attached, and not hearing the news from a reporter on television was more hard hitting

He switched on this television and it was all over the channels. It was devastating, and I felt shocked.

Related Research

Desensitization to media violence over a short period of time (go to research article)

This study investigated the desensitization to violence over a short period of time. Participants watched nine violent movie scenes and nine comedy scenes, and reported whether they enjoyed the violent or comedy scenes and whether they felt sympathetic toward the victim of violence.

Results:

As a result, viewers tended to feel less sympathetic toward the victims of violence and actually enjoy more the violence portrayed in the media.

Conclusions / Lessons Learned

  • Try avoiding the media for a bit to see if it helps (obviously hard for people who work in the media)
  • Don’t feel pressure to watch lots of news based on a desire to ‘know what’s going on in the world’.
  • If you can’t change something or learn from it, is it truly worth knowing about?
  • Being over-connected to tragedy via the media makes can make us care less or feel worse
  • I’ve known friends feel really depressed about the world and humanity. When I show them the Stephen Pinker video that violence has gone down over a thousand years, they often show surprise and feel better
  • We can learn really important news off friends, family and those we meet

 Copyright MEN HEAL 2015.

Offering Donation-Based Mindfulness Training – One on One – 1 Hour Sessions

Hi Everyone!

I am now offering donation-based mindfulness training (1 hour sessions). Mindfulness has been proven to help with anxiety and depression. It compliments CBT and other forms of therapy very well.

Contact me here if you are interested: http://mindlifecoaching.co.uk/contact/

I’m currently based in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire.

Look forward to hearing from you

Mike