Competitive Spirit



Due to my illness, I now have major confidence issues, which unfortunately dictate how I live my life. As someone suffering with depression, I have to admit I’ve become a bit of a defeatist and a master of putting myself down! I can soon start to feel useless and incapable of the simplest of tasks. That’s why it’s so important to keep reminding myself that I am good at things and not to shy away from my successes. Table tennis has brought me many successes over the years and become an integral part of my life.

competitive spirit

In the past I have represented my county. In order to do this I had to be ranked in the top three players. That meant that out of over five million people living in Yorkshire, I was rated second best in my age group. I know people might say it’s no big deal, it’s only table tennis, but it takes a hell of a lot of hard work and dedication to reach that standard at any sport. I’ve been playing since I was six years old. Back then I used to find the game extremely frustrating. It took me well over ten years and a number of coaches, to get anywhere near to mastering it. To be chosen to play at that level was fantastic and I felt immense pride every time I put my team shirt on. I knew that however much I managed to fuck up the rest of my life, it’s something that no one could ever take away from me and a feat that few other people will ever accomplish.

The funny thing is I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a competitive person, the majority of games and sports I take part in, I couldn’t care less whether I win or lose, as long as I don’t stand out as being really bad. Table Tennis is the exception to this rule. Right from the first time I picked a bat up, as a six year old at a Butlins holiday camp. I’ve become addicted and devoted to being the best I can. Why this sport, as apposed to others? Well, as a child I tried to be good at numerous things but it never really bothered me if I wasn’t, I was always very laid back in that respect. I could quite easily enjoy an activity without being the best at it.

For whatever reason it wasn’t like this for me with Table Tennis. I found the game excruciating, why wasn’t the ball going where I wanted it to? Why couldn’t I keep it on the table for more than two shots? Why was my brother so much better than me! For the remainder of our stay I played every day in an attempt to improve and my parents had to endure several strops from me along the way. By the end of the week I was completely hooked and was setting my sights on becoming world champion, as you do as a six year old!

These days I don’t take it half as seriously, I mainly just play for fun in the local leagues and enjoy the social side of the game. All this aside though, I haven’t lost my competitive spirit. One thing that’s always remained the same is my hatred of losing, and I still do everything in my power to avoid this from happening. I’m not as naturally gifted as most of the top league players, but what I lack in ability I make up for in tactical nous. Over the years I have defeated many better players than myself, purely due to having a better strategy than them.

As I’ve touched upon earlier in other posts, I get on extremely well with my teammates and people from the opposing teams, but when I’m at the table, I become very single minded and determined to beat whoever’s in front of me. There’s plenty of time for pleasantries later in the pub! When I’m up against a formidable opponent, I double my efforts and tend to relish the challenge.

I hope I can adopt this same approach to other challenges in my life, such as dealing with my depression and moving on in the future. I need to view every obstacle I come up against as a new opponent and just like with an opponent; I can weigh it up and adopt the right strategy to beat it. When I put it like this, it seems relatively simple but I’m not naïve enough to believe it will be that easy.


Nerves can be a good thing. This is especially evident in competitive sports. Obviously if you’re far too nervous, you risk going into self- destruct mode and not be capable of doing anything. But on the flip side to this, if you’re not nervous at all, maybe you don’t care enough! Top sports stars use their nerves to there advantage, they have learnt to channel this energy and the adrenaline rush, to use to there advantage. A certain amount of nervous energy actually enhances there performance.

competitive spirit

A sporting great such as Roger Federer has a very interesting outlook. when interviewed after a match. However much the interviewer pushes him, asking questions or making predictions about winning the overall tournament, he says he never looks so far ahead, and I believe him. Top sports stars have several special qualities. They have to have, to play at the level they do. Single mindedness and that extra grit and determination, not to mention their undoubted talent and natural ability, are all key ingredients in their success. But I believe most important is the ability to remain in the present and focus on one thing at once. They don’t think about winning an event or even who they’re likely to meet in the next round. All they focus on is winning the next point and how they’re going to play the next shot.

This is a great mentality to have and one you can take into other aspects of life, when undertaking any given task. Last week my friend and I started doing some gardening work for an elderly neighbor. At first glance we were both shocked by what we saw, the task appeared overwhelming and even insurmountable. we couldn’t believe what we’d let ourselves in for! The area between too garages had clearly been used as a dumping ground for rubbish and judging by the amount, this had been going on for a long long time. We’d have to clear this before we even got to the garden. To say the garden was overgrown was a massive understatement, In fact the jungle that confronted us was inexplicable. It reminded me a bit of the fairy tale sleeping beauty and the endless thorn bushes surrounding the castle. I now knew what the prince must have felt like trying to get to the princess!  Instead of freaking out,we broke the task down into manageable segments and before we knew it we’d cleared the rubbish and was making a start on the garden. We haven’t finished yet but by taking it one small step at a time and bottling up all our competitive spirit, it won’t be long before we’ve achieved what first appeared to be an impossible job.


Questions and Answers

Six week Nightmare (summer holidays)

Summer Holidays

I hate summer

I don’t like summer, I know this might seem strange as it’s most peoples favorite time of year, but it’s my least favorite by far. The problem being I like to keep covered up, and it’s too hot to do this (good job I don’t live in Jamaica!). Wearing short sleeved tops makes me feel uncomfortable and extremely self-conscious, as I’m forced to show off my hideous arms! There’s much more walkers about, meaning the usual countryside spots I like to visit are no longer secluded, and therefore much less appealing to me.

When I was a kid and being hassled at high school, there was nothing better than the six weeks summer holidays and a period of respite from the bullies, In fact I yearned for it to come round. Right now though, I can’t imagine anything worse! In fact my world, kind of comes to a standstill. Don’t get me wrong, I still go out with my family and friends, but not nearly as often. They have to make more allowances for me and we have to be much more selective in where we go. During these six weeks, I hardly ever venture out on my own.

supermarket hell!

This year I’ve been making some good progress, in terms of my anxiety. In the months leading up to the summer holidays, I’ve been managing a short walk around the local neighbourhood, following a set route and gradually becoming more confident in my ability to do this unsupported. It’s still a significant challenge for me but I know my capabilities and felt to be making positive steps in the right direction. However any progress I was making has now reached an abrupt halt due to, yes you guessed it, the dreaded summer holidays. Sadly this is not a new thing for me, the exact same thing happened last year and is likely to happen for years to come. The problem is, for anyone with a mental health illness, such a prolonged period of isolation is very damaging and for me it will take time to regain my confidence.

It’s frustrating that I can become so distressed over a bunch of kids and for the majority of people such an abnormality, must be difficult to understand. I mean what harm could children possibly cause me? Believe me I constantly ask myself this same question and I’m frustrated by what I can only describe as irrational anxiety

It all stems back to my time in high school. A painful time when I discovered some children to be extremely cruel and vindictive. The school bullies would take high delight in ridiculing me in front of as many people as possible, which lead to me hiding away from large groups of students. Back to the present time, in the summer holidays you get groups of kids hanging around everywhere. It’s ridiculous, I know, The rational side of me knows there’s absolutely no threat to me, but for some reason I’m transported back to being a child again, and unless it’s a matter of life or death, I still refuse to walk past them!

I’m an adult and supposed to be a much stronger person now. Difficult childhood memories can still have a profound effect over us, even all these years later. I know this to be true, but It doesn’t stop it being any less embarrassing, and it’s truly exasperating when I consider I’m losing six weeks out of every year like this.

A spiritual Connection

Like I alluded to earlier, before the summer holidays I’ve been doing alright and managing a short walk most days. I call this my Tom walk as I pass my best mates house on route. I also pass a bench were we scattered my dads ashes. The local bowling club was one of his favourite haunts and the bench is situated overlooking it. It’s a beautiful spot with a fantastic view of the whole valley. It’s also the halfway point of my walk and a great place for a pit stop!

About a month a go whilst on my Tom walk, I was sat on my dads bench. The sun was shining and I was having a good day. Feeling more relaxed than I had for a long while. The one thing I haven’t mentioned about this spot is that it’s only a short distance away from my old high school. This is never an issue for me as I always choose a time when every ones still in school. On this particular day I was a little later than normal but I still had at least half an hour before school finished, so had nothing to concern me. I’d just have five minutes and then be on my way.

Whilst sat taking in my surroundings, I noticed a small bird sat on a telephone wire, overlooking the hillside. I soon became preoccupied by other things and and didn’t give the bird much more thought. But 10 minutes later when I glanced up it was still there. It was at this point I decided to set myself a silly challenge. I wouldn’t allow myself to move from this bench until my new little friend flew away. I should be fine with this, after all what sort of bird stayed in the same position for so long? Evidently this sort! 10 minutes passed and it was still there. I started to panic. 5 more minutes and the road would be filled with kids and the bird still showed no sign of moving. Come on little bird, please fly away. Come on you’ve been there long enough now. Are you super-glued to the spot or something! I could just stand up and leave anyway, nobody need know about the stupid challenge. The problem is I knew, and the competitive side of me wasn’t prepared to fail! So as excruciating as it would be, I decided to sit it out.

To cut a long story short, I kept to my side of the bargain and although I felt uncomfortable, I soon realized I had nothing to worry about. Out of the hundreds of kids that passed, only a handful even glanced in my direction. The others were far to preoccupied to even notice me. I felt huge relief, followed by foolishness that I’d made such a big deal out of it in the first place! You’d think then that I’d now be able to put my other issue, of walking past groups, into some kind of perspective. Sadly you’d think wrong! I’ve still spent the majority of the summer holidays, in the safety of my own home. However, it’s still a small step forward. On the day, the anticipation was much worse than the actual event, and I need to keep that in mind moving forward. I’m not a deeply religious person, but I do believe that the little bird was stuck to that phone wire for a reason. Maybe I was supposed to have this personal experience, to prove something to myself and help me to start overcoming some of my anxiety. Or maybe the whole thing was a coincidence, Who knows!


Questions and Answers

Lets Talk Benefits!

The benefit system is confusing to say the least. Sadly you get large quantities of genuine cases still slipping through the net, people who are clearly not fit to work but somehow still fail their medicals. In today’s post I’m going to look at the reasons for this and the flip side, where people get what they don’t deserve, simply because they know how to work the system. I’m also going to share what it’s like having to live with a long term health illness, having to rely on benefits and how you are perceived by others, whilst you’re doing this. How much of this is a fair judgement and how much is completely unreasonable.

The Dreaded Medical

lets talk benefits

There can be numerous reasons why genuinely ill people can fail their medicals. Obviously nerves on the day can have a huge influence, You’re already in a highly sensitive state and having to rely on one person deciding your fate like this, is extremely daunting to say the least. I know lots of people who have life altering disabilities and most of them are very positive in nature, as they try there best to get on with things, despite their circumstances. They refuse to moan about their limitations or any discomfort they may be feeling. My dad was one of these people.

The whole process starts with a lengthy form to fill in, with hundreds of tedious questions, most of which are completely irrelevant to you and your condition! It’s hardly surprising to us that my dad didn’t lay it on thick enough with the answers he gave, and his claim was declined. We encouraged him to appeal the decision, as did his doctor. In 2010 my dad passed away. A few days after his death he received a letter saying that his appeal had failed and in their expert opinion he was fit for work. I won’t go into detail about his condition or how the family reacted to this letter, but needless to say he had been nowhere near fit to work and we were angry and bemused by the decision.

My dad is one of many cases just like this, not to mention those who have committed suicide, shortly after their benefits have been stopped or they have had a sanction issued. It’s a hard thing to prove either way, so I don’t have any accurate statistics on this. However I have read some alarming stories on line from families of deceased, who are convinced that a benefit decision has lead to their loved ones taking their life. A friend of mine works at a local food bank and she tells me that the number of people coming in, who have been sanctioned by the job centre, is getting out of hand. She describes these people as being in a desperate state, feeling completely degraded and often in floods of tears by the time they arrive.


I’m sat for what seems like hours, I glance down at my watch and I’m alarmed to see it’s not even been ten minutes yet! Welcome to the job centre, the place where time truly does stand still.
Now imagine the person you’d least like to meet down a dark alley. Built like a brick outhouse, heavily tattooed, crazy looking eyes and looks like he could crush you with his little finger!


He’s sat directly across from me, giving me what I can only describe as a death stare. I’m desperately trying to avoid glancing in his direction.


You get used to seeing all the usual crowds, to my left is the single mums club, all congregated together with their army of prams. Normally they’re discussing having more babies and getting their benefits increased. A baby is an excellent prop to have with you in the job centre, as you can get away with so much more. Lets just say you’ve been a bit slack and not managed to apply for your allocated number of jobs, what are the chances of someone getting mad with you whilst your cradling an infant. If that infant happens to start crying, that’s a big bonus cause you’ll likely get seen and sent away much quicker!

Looking to my right I see the hoodie brigade, some sat, and some stood up, mainly consisting of young lads wearing ridiculously baggy pants that hang down showing half their boxer shorts or worse, sometimes their arse crack! Their faces are part covered, in an attempt to look as menacing as they can. Their conversations consist of bragging about crimes committed and time spent in prison or young offenders institutions. Two of them are comparing their ankle tags and discussing when their curfews are up. As well as this, they’re all ogling the girls at the other side of the room. It feels like a scene from a high school disco!
Also grouped together in the corner is the so called none English speakers. These people are very interesting, whilst in the waiting area their English is perfect and they appear to have a larger vocabulary than I do, but as soon as they’re sat with one of the advisers, something magically happens to them and all of a sudden they can’t speak two words of it. Another successful tactic implored at the job centre.

Much of the people attending are playing a game of warfare. Those who know the system inside out and know exactly what they can and can’t get away with. They choose to manipulate and deceive their way through the whole process, in an attempt to avoid work for as long as they possibly can. I know this because I’ve heard them discussing tactics in the waiting area!
Then you’ve got the security guards who I’ll politely describe as a total joke. There are several signs up throughout the building, saying no food and drink and no use of mobile phones. It’s no exaggeration to say, every other person has a chocolate bar or sandwich in one hand, and their mobile in the other. In the middle of all this you have the security, who are blatantly ignoring it all and going round hugging and high-fiving people that they know.

On the other side of the desks you have the job advisers, who funnily enough never seem to give any advice! I’m reluctant to badmouth them too much because they do have a lot of spiky characters to deal with on a daily basis. They have a tough job to do, in having to filter them all out. So I cant really blame them for coming across miserable and unenthusiastic. What I can’t forgive is them tarring everyone with the same brush, which is exactly what most of them do.
They see a young person and make an immediate assumption that you’re trying to cheat the system and you’re not putting any effort what so ever into your job searches. This annoys me because as well as all the types of people I’ve described to you, there are also many genuine ones who are trying there best to get a job. They don’t deserve to be talked down too, like they’re the scum of the earth!

What I used to hate most of all was the inconsistency of it all. One week I had to face a complete interrogation and however much evidence I produced, it was never enough to satisfy them. They always managed to find fault with something. The next time, I went even more prepared. I took a bag full of evidence showing all of my job applications and confirmations going back several months. I see a younger adviser who doesn’t ask me a single job related question. All he asks is “is it still raining out” and then sends me on my way.

It’s these complete polar opposites that used to make going to the job centre such an unsettling experience. The fact that you could be greeted like a long lost friend one week, and then like their worst enemy two weeks later was truly mystifying and quite frankly laughable.
Also laughable was the amount of jobs you were expected to apply for. A minimum of ten jobs per fortnight, if you didn’t manage this you’d risk having your benefit stopped.
You may be reading this thinking, that’s fair enough, people should be expected to apply for plenty of jobs, and they should be punished if they don’t. The problem was it was rare you’d be able to find ten suitable jobs. So everyone ended up applying for things they had no qualifications for and had no chance of ever getting. They did this just to avoid the wrath of the advisers.
It’s a big relief that I don’t have to attend the job centre anymore. I honestly don’t know how I’d cope with the pressure, whilst in my current mental state, so I am grateful for that small mercy.


When I went for my medical, as well as being a nervous wreck, I was angry and disturbed by what I heard in the waiting area. It was just like being back in the job centre. People were bragging about how easy it was to play the system and plotting ways in which they could further deceive the mental health nurse. I know there are benefit cheats out there, I’m not completely naive! But I tend to see the good in people and was still shocked by what I saw. It’s people like that, that make it so difficult for those of us who are truly deserving of the support. It’s already hard enough having to go into detail about your illness, having to prove yourself to a complete stranger, it brings everything to the surface and makes you feel extremely vulnerable. I’m dreading having to go through another medical and know that i’ll be summoned again shortly. What makes it worse is that I don’t know the exact date and I’m constantly living on edge whilst I wait for the dreaded brown envelope to arrive!

lets talk benefits

When You’re on benefits it feels like you’re under constant scrutiny, like everything you do has a hidden agenda and you have to justify your every move. When your illness genuinely prevents you from working, the only opinion that truly counts is that of the medical professionals who have diagnosed you in the first place. However, I can’t help being influenced by other peoples opinions, I hate the idea of not being believed. With mental health it’s so much worse as your symptoms are often only obvious to fellow sufferers. It’s very hard to explain an illness you can’t see.

It’s so easy to tar people on benefits with the same brush and make inaccurate assumptions.  I’m ashamed to say I’ve done it myself. In the past, long before I had a mental health illness, I would regularly sit in the pub with the lads moaning about all those people on benefits, spending our tax payers money whilst living a life of leisure. Television documentaries such as benefits Britain and life on the dole, Don’t help. Let me categorically say, we’re not all like those people!




Questions and Answers

It’s question and answers Tuesday again. Please keep your questions coming, whether you’re suffering with your own mental health and need advice or your just interested in the subject, I will do my best to answer your questions or pass you on to someone who can! Here are some of the most popular topics this week.

How do you deal with depression without support from friends?

Friend or Foe

friend or foe

Alcohol has played a significant role in my life. To be honest even though I say I like a drink, I’ve never really enjoyed the taste of it that much. I do like the way it affects me though (Most of the time!). I know it’s said to be a depressant but the truth is some of my happiest and funniest memories spent with friends have involved alcohol. On the flip side of this, when I think back to my saddest, most despondent moments in life, I tend to have a drink in my hand.

Without alcohol in my life I doubt if I’d have ever had a girl friend. I can be extremely shy, especially around the opposite sex and I would never have had the confidence to approach someone and tell them that I liked them, without the help of a few drinks, or nerve settlers as I call them. I genuinely believe that when I’ve had a few drinks I’m a more interesting person, as I become more outgoing and much less self-conscious. When I look in the mirror I don’t notice all my flaws, I actually see myself as not that bad looking at all! When I’m in a group I feel much less out of place, It’s easier to contribute to the conversation and I feel like I have as much right to be there as everyone else.

When I lived on my own I drank more frequently, every night to be precise. It quickly became part of my routine. I wasn’t used to being on my own and even though it had a number of positives, I also felt vulnerable at times. Having a few drinks on an evening helped me to relax and feel safe.

At the time I had an emotionally demanding job. There’s nothing worse than bringing your work home with you, but I had great trouble switching off at the end of my shifts. Alcohol helped me to de-stress and guaranteed me getting at least a little sleep. The trouble is it was never what you’d call a satisfying sleep. Often I’d wake up in the morning feeling very groggy and even more tired than when I went to bed.

friend or foe

At what stage does this become an issue? Over time the three cans of lager that used to be sufficient was having little to no effect. So soon three became four, and then four became five. Before I knew it I was having six strong beers a night, followed by a whisky nightcap. Often I didn’t make it up to bed, I would find myself comatosed on the sofa. I never woke up feeling refreshed, I never felt at all well! During the day I’d find myself going through all the motions but I’d be like a walking zombie and would struggle to concentrate on anything. It would really affect my mood too, leaving me feeling very withdrawn and thinking about nothing other than getting home to have my next drink.

At this time I was working for a charity, running drop in sessions for people with mental health issues. One young man who was a regular to the group, worked as a hospital porter. He claimed that the only way he could switch off on an evening was to have four pints before going to bed. He said that this was his way of getting to sleep. He asked me once if I considered him to be an alcoholic. I can’t remember exactly what my response was, but how could I possibly give him any constructive advice, when I was doing the exact same thing!

The definition of alcoholism is a condition in which dependence on alcohol harms a person’s health and everyday life. I had definitely become dependent on it and it was having a detrimental effect on my life. I recognized this and worked hard to do something about it.

The trouble with having an addictive personality is it’s far too easy to fall back into bad habits. I always have to be careful and guard against this happening. It’s the same for people who enjoy an occasional bet at the bookies or on the slot machines. This, like the alcohol can quickly get out of hand, as you begin to spend money you can’t afford to lose, it becomes an unhealthy addiction as you crave that adrenaline rush of winning, that sadly rarely comes. You start to genuinely believe that that law of averages have to swing in your favor, ‘Just one more bet can’t harm’ ‘Just one more drink’  but when does just one more become one too many?

I still like a drink but have to be disciplined and enjoy it in moderation. I’m not going to lie to you, I do slip up occasionally but I mostly stick to my strict ground rules. When I’m having a drink at home I never have more than three beers and I never drink two nights consecutively. If I’m feeling sad, I accept that drinking will only make me feel worse. But rightly or wrongly if I’m nervous about something, having a few drinks the night before, does seem to help, and if I’m out in company it helps me feel good about myself and interact better with people. Anything that does this can’t be that bad, can it?

You might consider my reliance on it to be a concern, but there’s a lot more people than me, that use alcohol as a crutch like this. How is having a glass of wine with your evening meal any different?

As for the question of Friend or Foe? I think the jury’s still out on that one. One thing I do accept is it can quickly get out of hand and I have to remain extremely careful.

Questions and Answers

It’s OK To Be Different


Who cares if you don’t conform to societies expectations, the only opinion that truly counts is your own. What’s wrong with being a little bit different anyway? We’re all unique and we’re all special in our own way. At the same time though, to counteract that statement, we’re all equally insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Hundreds of years from now people aren’t likely to remember what you did in your lifetime. Whether you do good or bad, you’re successful or not, it’s not really important as memories of you will evaporate over time. So with all that in mind why on earth do we put so much pressure on ourselves?  It makes me laugh when we’re described as the superior species on the planet.

Its ok to be differentThis Zebra is able to walk within 20 minutes of being born and is running within it’s first hour! On the other hand, a human baby would take 14 to 15 months to accomplish the same fete.


Its ok to be differentThese ants can lift up to 50 times their own body weight and drag objects 30 times heavier than them. Remarkable creatures when you consider the equivalent would mean an average human being able to lift an Asian Elephant or a large transit van!


I love watching nature programs and discovering interesting facts such as these. They remind me that we’re all just animals after all and we all have the same right to live on this planet as anything else does, no more or no less. We are a tiny part of something much greater than we’ll ever fully understand. For the deep thinkers amongst us it’s pointless trying to over complicate things, you can spend your whole life searching for answers and end up regretting the time you’ve wasted! Life is far to short and far to precious to do this.

It’s OK To Be Different

On a Saturday night I love nothing more than sitting in front of the tele with a lager in my hand, watching ‘match of the day’, normally whilst shouting abuse at the referee and cursing my team for not scoring enough goals. Some might call this laddish behavior but I won’t, as I don’t want to be accused of sexism! Earlier in the evening I’d watch a romantic comedy staring Jenifer Aniston, I have to admit I do like a good rom-com. I’d follow this by watching my favorite couples on ‘strictly come dancing’ (hardly the most masculine of programs!)

I like watching ‘top gear’ but I’m also a big fan of ‘the great British bakeoff’. I enjoy watching the soaps such as ‘Coronation Street’ but also like series such as ‘the walking dead’- a bloodthirsty program about flesh eating zombies.

I think of this as being unusual but maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just unusual that I admit to having such random taste. I’m sure there’s lots of closet fans out there who secretly watch ‘X factor’ on a Saturday night and then tell their friends that they’d never watch such rubbish!

I am a sensitive, giving person but equally at times I can come across as resolute and unyielding. You could describe some of my traits, as being masculine but it’s also fair to say I have a number of feminine qualities. In the past I’ve enjoyed a night out with the lads, drinking pints and propping up the bar, but I’ve had just as much fun being out with the girls drinking cocktails and dancing the night away. I’m sorry if this is coming across as stereotyping, it just happens to be how it is for me with my friends. The truth is I’m able to contribute well to both sets of groups but don’t find myself a perfect match to either.

The happiest people in life are those who couldn’t care less what others think of them. Having their own unique identity and never being ashamed of who they are. This is the sort of person I’m striving to be and even though I’m becoming less self-conscious all the time, I still have a long way to go.

Who’d of thought this menacing looking guy would be into decorating fairy cakes and flower arranging! before anyone comments I know he’s a cartoon character, but you get the gist!


   The sad reality is that I know people like this, who would hide such guilty pleasures in an attempt to keep up their macho persona. Who are so terrified of other peoples judgement, they keep secret the things that they love to do. Going back to our menacing looking friend above, why would he be so reluctant to share his passions. There’s nothing there to be ashamed of after all and it would only be a narrow-minded person who thought any differently. The fact that he has these hidden depths makes him so much more intriguing. I play table tennis in the local league, I’m ashamed to say I kept this fact from past girlfriends as I presumed they’d laugh at me. One in particular I didn’t tell for 6 months! I even invented a night school college course, to explain where I was every Wednesday night. Looking back now, I can’t believe what lengths I went too.

I’ve spent the majority of my life attempting to fit in with certain groups of people. You could say I’ve failed miserably at this, or you could say that it’s took me until now to realize that it’s perfectly ok to be different, in fact it’s great to be an individual. If everyone was the same the world would be an exceedingly dull place. Sometimes the best thing you can do is accept that you’re unique and stop trying so hard to be something you’re not. This is a brave thing to do and people will envy you for it, they might even wish they were more like you themselves.






Questions and Answers

Here is some of this weeks questions and my responses to them.

What should you do if you are depressed?

You’re going to get lots of people answering this question by saying exercise regularly or do any kind of physical activity. Keeping yourself busy and your mind occupied is also good advice. Using mindfulness to help you to live in the present and not think too far into the future is important too.

All this is great advice but I think the best thing you can try to do is to continue to live your life. I know this is much easier said than done. You’re going to have bad days, in my experience some really bad ones! This you need to try to accept, but you also need to make the most of your good days. When your feeling terrible always remember, tomorrow the suns going to rise on a brand new day. It’s important not to give up, by living your life and embracing the moments, in effect you’re putting two fingers up to your depression ( figuratively speaking!)

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will.

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill.

When the funds are low and the debts are high.

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.

When care is pressing you down a bit.

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Success is failure turned inside out.

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt

And you never can tell how close you are.

It may be near when it seems so far.

So, stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit.

It’s when things go wrong that you mustn’t quit.

I think my girlfriend might have depression, but doesn’t want to get help. How can I convince her, or help her?
Edit: I know some of the problems that she had in her past, and I think there’s a connection between her depression and her problems. She keeps saying that she doesn’t want to live a long life or want to be happy.

Seeing someone you love struggling like this and refusing to get help must be extremely tough, I have never been in this position. But I am battling my own depression and accepting it took me along time. In my opinion, Pushing her into getting the help will not work, it will only result in alienating you. Yes gently reminding her that there’s lots of help out there is not a bad thing, but don’t over do it. She needs to make this decision herself. You therefore need to be patient and empathetic towards her, try to offer her reassurance and remind her what a great person she is and why you love her as much as you do. Also when she’s having a day where she’s feeling less down, try to encourage her to have some fun, a gentle reminder to her that life’s not all bad. At the same time remember about your own health. There are support groups out there for you too, with like minded people who will be able to advise you better than I can. Sometimes taking a step back might sound cruel but it can be healthy for both of you. Try to include more people if you can, such as friends and family.

If it ever gets to a stage where you are concerned about her immediate state of mind and that she might be a danger to herself, then there are crisis numbers you can phone, you will find these on any of the big mental health websites such as Mind. I hope you don’t need these and your girlfriend accepts the help in her own time. Remember to be patient. The acceptance post on my blog may be of some use to both of you.

How can I overcome nervousness?

For as long as I can remember I’ve always suffered greatly from nerves, long before I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Its the fear of the unknown that leads to my nervousness, not to mention that inner self doubting voice that we all have. Repetition and familiar routine are what work best for me. If you do something enough it becomes second nature and you’re able to switch onto auto pilot. This can even work when facing up to your fears, as you become comfortable and self-assured in what you’re doing, you soon start to wonder what it was you were worried about in the first place.

So providing I know what’s expected of me and I have the capabilities to accomplish the task in hand, I have succeeded in overcoming my nerves, haven’t I? Sadly as you know life doesn’t work like this. For me, extensive planning works to a point, in limiting the number of surprises, but it doesn’t eliminate them all together. Its impossible to plan for every eventuality and for times when you can’t do this, you need some other coping strategies.

Breathing your way to success! Controlling your breathing by taking deep breathes in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focusing on your chest rhythmically rising and falling, Concentrating on this alone and trying to slow everything else down and remain in that present moment.

Using positive reminders, such as a mantra that you use on a daily basis. Words such as “I am calm and assured and in total control” Repeating a statement like this over and over in your head, until eventually you start to believe it. Having positive messages written down and reading them before I leave the house also works for me. Some of these things may sound simple but you’ll be surprised how beneficial they can be.

When should we accept our weaknesses and when not to?

We’re all only human, nobody is perfect. Its important to accept you have certain limitations, if you don’t, life could cause you much distress. But it’s also important to remember to keep challenging yourself and that it’s possible to overcome some of our weaknesses and even turn them into strengths. Finding a happy medium is what’s the key, and not giving yourself too hard a time. Also not viewing every failed attempt as a weakness.

Thomas Edison wrote ‘We haven’t failed. We now know a thousand things that won’t work, so we’re that much closer to finding what will.’