Shaun’s alternative christmas message

Alternative Christmas Message

I’ve always loved christmas. It helps that I’ve got such a close knit family. As much as it’s an alien concept to some, we actually all get on with each other! It also helps that they understand my mental state and how socialising can be excruciatingly difficult for me, even around people I like.  This being said, I appreciate christmas can be a hard time for a lot of people. As all the festivities are taking place around you and everyone seems to be having so much fun, it’s almost like they’re rubbing your nose in it and you can be left feeling trapped and more lonely than ever.

The christmas period is a time for reflection on the year just gone, and contemplation about the one to come. For someone with a long term mental health illness, this can be an exceptionally daunting prospect. I can soon get overwhelmed when I think to far ahead. And when I think about what little I’ve acheived, compared to what I view as the average person, I can get on a major downer. For those people like me, I strongly advise that you try to keep in the present. It’s pointless living in the past or in the future. You can’t change what’s been, and you can never guarantee what’s still to come. The only thing you can remotely control, is the here and now. You need to be kind to yourself, stop beating yourself up and having unrealistic expectations. This of course is easier said than done and even harder when you have severe depression.

I’m still a work in progress. I still have long periods of time when it’s hard just to get out of bed and face the world. My anxiety disorder is still debilitating to say the least, but being able to talk openly about my illness and avoid bottling up my emotions, has made a huge positive difference to my life. With more and more people coming forward to seek help for their mental health, It’s important to remember what it was like for you and If you’re not a sufferer, try to imagine, and treat others as you’d wish to be treated yourself. In short we need to give them the compassion and support they need.

How many people make pointless new years resolutions that prove to be unacheivable and are usually broken with in a matter of weeks. It’s important to keep challenging yourself, but I do this by setting small managable goals, irrespective of the time of year.

I understand why people view the new year as an opportunity of a fresh start, but I would suggest not putting so much emphasis on it. Remember every morning the sun will rise on a brand new day. You can choose any time of year as a chance of a new start.

I’d like to finish my christmas message by sharing some of the good news  that has happened throughout 2017. With all the doom and gloom on the news everyday It’s easy to forget all the remarkable uplifting stories that take place. Thanks again to all those who continue to support me by reading this blog and sharing it with friends.

JANUARY

Russian firefighters saved 150 piglets from burning barn. Pigs given a new temporary home in a neighbouring farm.

 

 

A sixth grader named Jackson, shaved his head to show support for his cancer-stricken grandfather. His classmates made fun of his new look. The principle taught all the students a valuable lesson of acceptance by shaving his own head in an assembly in front of the entire school.

FEBUARY

A homeless man in Manchester has been reunited with his family. A woman known as Bev noticed the man sleeping outside in the cold.

 

She gave the owner of a near by sandwich shop 15 pounds to provide the man with breakfast and warm drinks for the week.

The cafe shared the act of kindness on their facebook page and the story went viral. within days he was reunited with his family.

 

MARCH

Fearless diver Joshua Eccles helps injured shark. Joshua was diving in the ocean when the shark approached him and kept nudging into him. This was unusual behaviour and the shark was in obvious discomfort. He managed to remove a large hook from it’s belly and the shark stayed swimming around him for some time afterwards, almost as if showing gratitude to his new friend.

Formerly abused rescue dog Peanut, saves 3 year old girl she found naked and shivering in a ditch. Peanut began crazy barking and yelping to alert her owners.

April

London marathon runner gives up on his own race less than a mile from the finish, in order to help exhausted athlete to cross the line.

In America, stranger drives past and notices a women struggling to support her amputee husband up the steps to their home. Not only did he stop and help the couple, but he also returned the following day with some friends and built a disabled ramp right up to the front door.

MAY

7 year old Elly Neville raised £100,000 for the cancer ward at Withnybush hospital, after they had saved her dads life. She origionally intended on £500 which is still a large sum to a 7 year old. Her remarkable fundraising still continues.

33 circus lions return home to Africa after 18 month rescue effort after spending their entire lives being misstreated and abused by their owners. They get to spend the rest of their days living in peace at Emoya Big cat sanctuary.

 

 

 

 

JUNE

5 year old saves his 3 year old brother from choking on a meatball. He uses techniques he learnt from a first aid lesson at school.

JULY

80 beach-goers form human chain to rescue family caught in rip current off Panama city beach. The family were fighting to stay afloat and this self-less act which showed human nature at it’s best, almost certainly saved their lives.

AUGUST

Former royal marine Matthew Goodman, who served in the Iraq war, sells war medals to help pay for a little girls cancer treatment.

Paralised woman Riona Kelly from west yorkshire, found love with the personal trainer who helped her to walk again.

SEPTEMBER

8 year old boy rescues people from the sea in New Quay Wales. Stefan Williams noticed the 3 tourists stuck on a rock. Fetched his rubber dingy and then towed them back to shore! He’s hoping one day to follow in his dads footsteps and join the sea rescue team.

Merkez restaurant in a small turkish town, invite those in need to eat free of charge.

OCTOBER

Having seen a homeless man trying to sleep on a bench, 3 teenagers bring him aid in the form of a blanket and tuck him in.

Anti poaching brigade are saving elephants in Mali. Since setting up at the start of the year not a single elephant has been lost to poachers.

NOVEMBER

Iranian weightlifting champion Kianoush Rostami, sells olympic gold medal to raise money for earthquake victoms in western Iran.

 

DECEMBER

In Las Vegas, a homeless man called Anival Angula, rescued 2 young children (a ten month old boy and 3 year old girl) from a burning building.

 

 

All over the place!

Mixed Emotions

It’s funny how excitement and intrigue can quickly turn into terror and shear panic. How you can go from really looking forward to something, to literally wishing you were anywhere else. I was looking forward to the Tipton tournament and had prepared well for it, going the night before so I had a chance to check out the venue, find all my possible escape routes and nearest toilets! I know that following this precise routine helps aleviate the anxiety I’m bound to be feeling on the day. On the day I turned up early to the venue, with my friend in tow. I was hoping to beat the crowd of people. This is something we had done at previous events. If the room is more or less empty on arrival and then gradually fills, It seems much more manageable. Unfortunately on this occasion it did’nt work out that way. It seemed everyone had the same idea! This resulted in a big queue waiting to sign themselves in. For whatever reason queues are a nightmare to me. I think It’s the feeling of coming to an abrupt halt, being able to see your destination, but not being able to get there immediately. The thought that you’re a sitting duck, people crowding behind and in front of you, and you trapped and suffocating somewhere in the middle.

Anyway needless to say, I was in a fragile state. The queue was half in and half out of the main entrance to the sports hall, which wasn’t helping. It meant that even people not attached to it appeared to be coming at me from all directions. I was left feeling extremely small and out of my depth.

Soon, as my chest began tightening and the walls of the room started coming in on me, I had to hastily leave the building. And so whilst the other competitors were on the table warming up- I was in the corner of the car park gasping for air! Although I’m very familiar with this sensation, it does’nt make it any less frightening, I was having a panic attack.

Afterwards whilst feeling sick and embarassed, I now had the difficult decision of whether or not to pull out of the event. I already felt completely exhausted but My friend had given up his day to take me, so in the end I felt obliged to give it a go. The day became more about survival than enjoyment. I ended up winning some and losing some of my matches, but this was inconsequential, as I never felt remotely comfortable in that environment.

Playing table tennis is one of the only activities where I usually feel completely safe, somewhere I can be in a group of people and not be awkward in anyway. It helps that I’m not bad at the sport, so if I stand out, It’s for possitive rather than negative reasons. In this respect It’s normally a perfect escape for me.

I’ve spoken before about how my anxiety and depression tend to go hand in hand. If I’m struggling with one, chances are I’ll be effected by both. This was evident on the day of the tournament. The more anxious I became, the more I got down on myself. Any self-belief I previously may have had, soon went out of the window.

I got to the point where I forgot that I was any good at the sport and just felt completely inadequate. A complete loser at this, a complete loser in life! Time again for my self-loathing side to take over! And It’s not just a case of feeling sorry for myself, It goes much deeper than that. The truth is in these moments (which are thankfully fewer and farther between now) all I want to do is hurt myself, I want to cause myself pain. I can’t inflict physical pain on myself cause I’m far to much of a wuss for that! So my method of self-harm is mental. So for the next few weeks I inwardly beat myself up and isolated myself from the rest of the world, All because I’d had one panic attack, doing an activity that’s supposed to be fun!

Table tennis tournaments can be a bit like buses. You wait ages for one to come up and then two arrive at once. I’d played in this one mid-november and had entered a second one in York two weeks later. Now obviously if I’d have realised the problems I was to have in Tipton, I’d have never entered this one, but I had entered and figured it might do me good to challenge myself and face my demons. That being said a big part of me was dreading the prospect. I went with the attitude of having a good day out with my mum and best friend. The table tennis side of things was almost an after- thought. Whether I won or lost wasn’t important, all that mattered was having a bit of fun.

Remarkably this seemed to work, I felt happy and relaxed and was even able to laugh and joke with fellow competitors. I ended up having a really good day. The Shaun of a fortnight a go became a distant memory.  And because I was more relaxed I was able to perform better and managed to reach two finals.

This week at a league match I was reminded by someone that table tennis players are a bit like an extended family. Like all families not everyone always gets on! But the majority do and you get used to each other. You’re seeing the same faces year in year out and for me, there’s something strangely comforting about that. I know that not everyone gets my illness but I thank my table tennis family for the support they’ve given me.