The post that wonders

I’ve been watching lots of YouTube videos lately about the universe, how the universe started, the big bang, how long ago that happened, and the theories about what there was before the big bang.

They say it’s about 13.8 billion years old.

They say our universe has 2 trillion galaxies in it.

They say they can trace the universe back to a time when it was a billionth of the size of the nucleus of an atom.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that made me feel like my life was pretty damn insignificant. 13.8 billion years and we live for about 80 of them. Human beings are little more than a blip on the radar.

This got me thinking about how short our lives our. Particularly in comparison to 13.8 billion years. Now, I’ve never worried about, or been afraid of, death. But for some reason, this all really got to me. It hit a nerve or something. This idea that I am going to die and there is going to be nothing and things will continue but I will never know about them.

It’s the first time I’ve ever considered my own mortality before. I didn’t like it.

And now I am kind of afraid of death. Well, afraid of life really. I’m worried. I’m worried my life is going to be shit. Worried I will get to the end of my life and will look back and think, that was rubbish.

If this were the last night of my life, I would be deeply dissatisfied. But at the same time, I would know that I went through my life not knowing how to do some of the basics and therefore probably did the best I could with what I had.

Things like not knowing how to form meaningful relationships. That would be a big one. The more I read and watch on the subject of happiness from an emotional wellbeing, physical wellbeing, health and scientific perspective, the more I see that the studies reach the same conclusion: regardless of their other life circumstances, having strong and meaningful relationships are the single biggest influence on happiness, health and wellbeing.

So, with our teeny, tiny amount of time in this universe, what should we do with it?

It’s often said people should do what makes them happy and not worry about what others may think? It’s easier said that done a lot of the time.

But really, what would you really really do if the shackles were off and it didn’t matter what other people thought?

N x


The post that has been thinking about purpose

I have been thinking a lot about the importance of purpose in life lately. How it gives life meaning and it gives people a reason to live.

Why do we do what we do? Why do we work? Because we have to? Because we have rent or a mortgage to pay or children to feed and clothe? Fine. But what about if you paid off your mortgage? When your children grow up and leave home? Why would you work then? What would be your purpose in life then?

For a while now, I have had no purpose. I have had no goal in mind and nothing to keep me going. Nothing to help me through the days. Something that I can point to and say, “this will all be worth it when…” and I’ve noticed it with my spending habits.

I’m throwing money around frivolously because I have no plan for it. I’m earning money but I don’t know why. I’m going to work every day and I don’t know why. I look forward to the weekends after a 5-day slog and I don’t know why. I wake up on Saturday mornings and I’m glad I can relax and don’t have to go to work but within hours I find myself wandering around the house not knowing what to do with myself.

Why? I think it’s because I have no purpose. I do not know what I am doing here. I don’t know what I’m working for or if I’m working for anything at all.

A few months ago I found a new job. One that involves helping people through advice and guidance on a daily basis. I looked for this type of job because, I realise now, that I was hoping it would provide my life with purpose. How could it not, right? Surely helping other people will give me a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction, I told myself.

And yet, it hasn’t. You know, you go through life and you go for what it is that you think you need only to find that you need something else. It’s frustrating. Life’s a struggle like that.

I now have some of the things that I thought would make me happier and give me more satisfaction and a purpose and yet I still feel completely lost.

So, how do you give your life purpose? What’s the big secret? Or are most people feeling like this and just accept it?

The post that doesn’t trust itself

As I lurch from one day and week to the next, extreme thoughts appear. And doubts. Doubts appear. They appear because I have gotten it wrong so many times in the past that I just don’t trust myself to make decisions any more.

What is the difference between taking a chance and being foolish? When does the former become the latter? Should I listen to my heart? My gut? My head? What is each one telling me? How do I know which one is the right one to listen to?

I fear consequences.

On the one hand, I just want to adopt a ‘not giving a fuck’ attitude. If I pretended for a minute that there would be no negative consequences of taking the chance, then I’d take it. Or even if there were negative consequences, that they would not be insurmountable. There would always be a way back. Then I’d take the risk then too.

What will happen if I do this and fail?
What will happen if I do this and succeed?
What will happen if I don’t do this and continue to fail?
What will happen if I don’t do this and succeed?

But when I keep getting things wrong over and over again, how do I trust myself to make the right decision. I don’t want to make a stupid judgement and take a gamble. But I also want to know. I want to know what taking the gamble will be like. Could I live with it if it’s a disaster? Could I? Would I be ashamed? Embarrassed? Or would I just be relieved that now I just know and I can move on.

I just don’t trust myself.

I was sure that the most recent big decision I made was going to be the right one. It felt right. It felt natural. And yet, here I am. Two months down the line and it is already proving to be a mistake.

I am my decisions. I am the chances I take and the consequences of my actions. I feel like I need someone to tell me what to do. To show me the way. Tell me what I have been doing wrong. Enlighten me. Give me some kind of penny-dropping light bulb moment. But I don’t have anybody who can do that.

I can’t keep ending up in the same state after every time I take a punt on something.

I guess I need to look at it this way. With the aforementioned recent decision that has backfired, I need to ask myself the question: Am I still glad I took the chance?

If I am really honest with myself then the answer is yes. And the reason for that is because even though I am arguably in a worse position now than I was before I took that risk, at least I can now close the door on that particular avenue of thought. It was something that I first started thinking about 10 years ago and now I finally have an answer for it. It was not what I had hoped for and not what I thought it would be like.

Interestingly, the decision that stands before me now also first appeared roughly 10 years ago. Perhaps that’s the lesson here. If something sits in the back of your mind for such a long time and it doesn’t materialise then there’s a reason for that – it’s not for you.

On the flip side, isn’t it a bit defeatist and not necessarily logical or wise to be put off just because one 10-year question did not turn out to be the answer I was looking for?

These are the questions and conundrums and dilemmas that I battle with constantly in my head. All the time. And let me tell you something. It is exhausting. And it ends in paralysis. Paralysed by fear and indecision, I do nothing. And when I do finally manage to make a decision about something, I am not rewarded.

So what is the lesson here? Is accepted stagnation worse than trying and failing? Is it?

Take the chance and if I’m left disappointed, face the consequences and console myself with ‘at least now I know’ platitudes?

Or be sensible, grit my teeth, try to scrounge myself out of the current mire and hope I can improve things?

The post that’s a stream of consciousness

Well, I don’t have a lot of hope.

And I don’t know when it’s going to get better.

I really don’t know when there’s going be light at the end of the tunnel.

And I don’t know what I am going to do next or how I can change things.

Over the past 12 months, I have been trying different ways of doing things, taking risks, taking chances in the hope that by doing something different I will get a different result.

Life’s a struggle.

I’m back where I am because whatever I do, I am the constant.

It’s difficult to know what to do next.

I feel overwhelmed by this world. I can’t keep up with it. So I retreat. I say no when I could say yes.

I don’t reply to the message. I ignore the phone call. I say I can’t come to the party.

Further and further inwards I go. Don’t talk to me. The worthless feelings increase with every corner turned and barrier subsequently met. I only have so much energy.

People exhaust me. Smiling is tiring. Continually trying to improve and do the right things only to find myself right back where I started is too draining.

I don’t want Christmas. I don’t want to see anyone. I don’t want to be around people. I want to close myself away and shut myself down.

As I said, I don’t have a lot of hope and I don’t know when things will get better.

Thankfully, you always have a choice.

Tonight, most people will be welcomed home by jumping dogs and squealing kids. Their spouses will ask about their day and tonight they’ll sleep. And in one of those homes in a corner of London, the lights will go out in an empty room a little earlier than the rest. That’ll be my day ending. One. More. Time.

The post that wants to talk about mental health

Last time I posted was in October 2016 following a blogging silence of 5 months. Now it’s May 2017 so this post comes to you after a silence of more than 6 months. I make no apologies for that. I’m not even entirely sure why I’m pointing it out.

I was partially prompted to write that October post after someone wrote to me asking for an update. Somebody else (thank you, reader) has done the same thing recently and it feels like the right time to come back. To come back and say something.

Today in the UK, a news story broke about a professional footballer being detained under the Mental Health Act. Amongst the outpourings of love and sympathy towards the footballer were the unfortunately all to predictable lines from people who have a gross and fundamental misunderstanding of mental health.

“He’s a millionaire, what’s he got to be sad about?!”

“Have you seen his Mrs? Can’t believe he’s depressed!”

“Ungrateful little shit. A mansion, 6 cars and millions in the bank. F**king footballers.”

In 2017, it’s a shame (and almost unbelievable) that opinions like these are still commonplace. Let’s be clear. The amount of money people earn, number of cars they own, size of their house, their profession or the aesthetics of their spouse have absolutely no impact whatsoever on a person’s ability to evade a mental illness.

Having a million pounds in the bank won’t stop you from breaking your leg and it won’t stop you suffering from depression.

And actually, if I were to pick a candidate potentially more susceptible to mental illness then maybe, just maybe, I would pick the guy who is in the public eye. The guy who can’t avoid the spotlight. The guy who has been brought up in a macho environment where sharing feelings is discouraged. Where getting angry is acceptable but showing sadness is forbidden. Where revealing emotions is completely unheard of. Where talking about what you’re going through in any kind of ‘beneath the surface’ level would only succeed in turning you into a figure of fun.

Everyone can be a victim of the grasp of mental illness just as they can physical and I’m going to tell you something.

I am one of them.

Over the past several months, through various channels and life events, I came to the realisation that I needed to talk to someone. That I would benefit from talking to someone about myself. My feelings. My emotions. My past. And my present.

I mentioned something to somebody who happened to be in the mental health profession and that person took me to one side and said, look, I would recommend you speak to a professional therapist about this.

I was dumbfounded. At first.

You see, I don’t like to think of myself as vulnerable, needy or dependent on anyone else. I like to think of myself as bulletproof. Strong minded and strong willed. And it’s so important to me that others see me that way as well. Believe me, I can wear that mask well. I can fool people into thinking that mask is the real me.

So the idea of talking to a mental health professional was quite scary and made me kind of nervous. However, I am not someone who has ever needed convincing of the benefits that can be gained from talking to a counsellor or therapist or whoever. I believe in it, I know it can work and I understand it, and the process behind it, actually very well.

I had just never considered myself as a candidate for it. I had never considered that I could be someone who could benefit from it.

It could be the ‘male, manly, pull your socks up, get on with it, don’t be a wimp’ factor that has played a part in this. But also, the thing I mentioned that sparked the recommendation to talk to a therapist is not something I had ever talked about before – so no one has ever had the opportunity to suggest talking it over with a professional.

When I think about it now, I’m more than sure that had I dealt with certain things years ago, I would have felt the benefits. Instead, my solution was to ignore certain events, virtually not even acknowledge their existence. Because by doing that I would not have to acknowledge the accompanying emotions that they evoked and the subsequent pain.

There’s a school of thought everyone, yes everyone, would benefit from seeing someone like a counsellor from time to time. Just in the same way as you take your car for an MOT and a service once a year. Mental health is easy to ignore or be unaware of. Until something breaks and then the cost of the damage can be very high.

So there you have it.

Whatever you think of someone, and however someone may seem to you on the outside, you don’t know what is going on for them on the inside and what things are like in their world.

Peace and love.

N x