Over Thinking

This is not something that I have done all of my life but I have not been able to pin point exactly when it was that I started doing it. I am sure there must have been some sort of trigger that caused me to start over thinking and ever since then, it has been the bane of my life. It affects relationships, ruins your day and makes you feel like you are the most annoying, pathetic piece of shit on the planet.

 

I might over think about the food I have left until pay-day. I might over think about a party that I am supposed to be attending and the people who will be there (although I think that may tie in a little better with social anxiety, it still involves over thinking).  I might over think when somebody I care about doesn’t reply to my messages; or worse, changes the way they speak to me. There are many things that might cause my brain to go into an endless, obsessive cycle of over thinking and it is very difficult to drag myself out of that cycle. It usually needs to be somebody else who pulls me out.

 

One of the most annoying things about my over thinking is that I am a very logical and pragmatic person. This means that, when I am over thinking, I can see how stupid I am being but I can’t stop myself. It makes me feel weak, needy and (probably most frustrating) like I am attention seeking. Of course, none of these things are true about me and I can see that when I have a clear head; however, when my head isn’t clear and all I can see is that one thing which is making me over think, I am all of these things. This can ruin relationships quicker than almost anything else. If I need somebody else to pull me out of the vicious cycle, more often than not, it will come in the form of reassurance. Reassurance that I’m not being an idiot, reassurance that everything is fine and you’re not annoyed with me, reassurance that nobody at the party will start anything with you, reassurance that I haven’t just said something to upset you, etc., etc. When somebody needs constant reassurance, they can become a burden. They can become somebody who everybody else wants to avoid. They can go from being someone you once loved and admired to being someone who is a chore and a drain on your energy. That is a tough thing to handle and I know it. Before I started struggling with anxiety and over thinking, I had friends who were exactly like this and I handled it. I handled it very well. I made sure that I was there for them and I made sure that they knew I understood (even though I had no idea that I couldn’t possibly fully understand until I had actually experienced it myself). I think one of the reasons I get so anxious about my over thinking is because I know what it is like to deal with somebody like that. I put myself in other people’s shoes and worry that they will see me as a burden. Of course, that just adds to the anxiety and makes me over think even more. The vicious cycle.

 

Over thinking may be an extension of anxiety, which means that the tried and tested grounding techniques that I have come to know should help bring myself out of my own head. I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried it before so I will keep it in mind and hopefully remember them the next time my brain goes off on one. In the meantime, I guess I will just keep looking for pragmatic ways to reduce the amount of time that I spend over thinking. I suppose I may benefit from hindsight, looking back on previous times and analysing the situations, looking for things in those situations that I could learn from and that could help me to reassure myself; or maybe analysing the situations will just make me feel worse. I won’t know until I try.

 

Love and Peace.

The Bus Chronicles: Wrong Turn

I was not happy about having to be in work today in the first place (there is a whole other story that I may delve into at some point); however, what happened with my bus this morning just put me into an even worse mood and I cannot wait to get home.

The Women’s Great Scottish Run took place today (it may even still be taking place as I write this and I can see it from the office if I look out of the window). I forgot about this and assumed that I would have my usual, easy journey to work. I didn’t want to be in work but I had settled into the fact that I had to just deal with it and I was up for a chilled bus journey to the office. Needless to say, this did not happen. You know that feeling you get when you’re on a bus and the driver takes a wrong turn? The feeling of confusion and panic, as you watch your destination fade into the distance and behind buildings? The moment that you realise not will you not make it to work on time but you have no idea where you might end up? Has the bus driver lost it and just decided to do whatever the hell he wants? Yeah, those feelings all happen. Sometimes one by one and sometimes all at once, simultaneously. It was not a good feeling.

When I managed to calm my brain down and think rationally (it didn’t take long; it’s surprising how quickly the human brain can cycle through thoughts and emotions), I thought to myself “maybe he’s taking a diversion, I didn’t pay enough attention to see any diversion signs on the road“. I waited and watched the route the driver was taking, paying close attention to any signs that he might end up back on the normal route… nope. That didn’t happen. By the time I realised I wasn’t going anywhere near the office, I was in Govan, at the bus station. The driver saw me in his rear view mirror and beckoned for me to come over. I grabbed my bag and sidled up to the front, asking as I drew nearer “has there been a diversion today, mate?” The driver replied: “Aye mate, it’s the Great Scottish Run, the road along the river has been closed.” Okay. That’s fine. I felt a little better knowing that he wasn’t just having a rebellious moment and throwing caution to the wind. “You can get the next bus going back into town and get off at the squinty bridge.” Right, I had a plan to get back into town and get to work. I got off the bus and called the office, telling them exactly what had happened and that I would be late but I didn’t know exactly how late. This was fine.

I waited for the next bus, which only took a few minutes. As I got on the bus, I showed my ticket to the driver and said: “I need to get off at the squinty bridge, can you let me know when we’re at the right stop, y’know, because of the diversion?“….I got a confused look from this driver and wondered if he maybe wasn’t sure which stop I meant. I went to explain myself further, when he stopped me and made my mood even worse… “It’s alright, buddy, I’m going the normal route. The run doesn’t start ’til half 10.” This should have been a saving grace, at a time when I thought I was going to be late for work and was now going to make it by the skin of my teeth. No. It wasn’t a saving grace in my head. In my head, it was just confirmation that the previous driver had absolutely no need to take the diversion and I should have already been walking up to the front foor of the office and counting down the hours until I could go home… but no. Instead, I had been led on a wild adventure through Glasgow for no bloody reason at all. You can imagine I wasn’t happy.

Since then, I have been laughing about it with my colleagues but the rage is still there somewhere. I just want to go home and chill out with my music and eat food.

Finding Fulfilment

I am quite scared of this post coming across as a cliché, as I realised when thinking about the topic that it is pretty cheesy and probably over done, to an extent. Well, especially when it comes to motivational speeches and finding your fulfilment in life.

The truth is, I was never really a fan of motivational speeches, articles or books. I can’t really put my finger on the reason why, looking back on it. There was just something about them that made my brain shut down. I guess we all have those things that we tend to avoid. Although, if I were to hazard a guess as to the reason I wasn’t fond of them, it may be that I never thought I would have any use for them. Here we go: my naivety shining through again. It makes me cringe how naive I used to be, while at the same time thinking I was so right and so down to earth. Just like my naive thoughts that I would never have issues with mental health. I would go back and slap myself if I had a time machine.

I watched a lot of motivational videos whenever I felt lost during spells of depression. They came from a lot of different sources but the majority of the speeches in the videos were by one Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. You may have heard of him, given the controversy that recently surrounded his YouTube videos and TV interviews; however, the videos I am referring to were recorded before all of that and most of them were excerpts from his psychology lectures at the University of Toronto. It makes sense that he should know about mental illness and how to combat it and cope with it psychologically. A lot of the things he said made sense, including “get your life in order“.

If you’ve read my earlier posts, you’ll know that it was bringing order to my life that really helped me to begin to cope with my mental health issues. As part of this process of finding and bringing order to my life, I realised very quickly that my job was not helping me at all. I was and still am completely miserable at my job. I needed to find another one, another career path. Not just any other but one which would bring me fulfilment and make me happy. Well, I’ve known call centre work and customer service all of my adult life; what else was there for me to do? It seemed like such a daunting task, to come up with something that I could do instead of my current job. Most other things that I thought of were in some way linked, be they office jobs or other retail or customer service jobs. No, no, no, that’s not what I wanted. I thought I had hit a brick wall, when it suddenly hit me: I had been training staff a few months prior, in a classroom environment, where I had creative control over how each lesson/module would be taught and I was very happy during this time. Of course, the happiness was short lived, as I was only doing it for 6 weeks and I got barely so much as a thank you when I finished. I think the fact that it ended on such a sudden and negative note is what made me forget about it when considering a new career but there it was. There was the answer: I should become a teacher. It was so obvious that I was practically kicking myself when I figured it out.

Since I found the answer, I have been working my new goal of teaching into my daily routine. I very quickly decided that I didn’t want to be a school teacher, which actually makes my goal a lot easier to reach. To be a college lecturer, I would only need the qualification that I would be teaching and I happen to have an HND. Perfect. My dad is a college lecturer so I made some time so that we could sit together and work on my CV. Everything seemed to be falling together pretty nicely. That pretty much brings us up to the present day and it’s actually getting to be quite scary. I’m almost at a point where I can start applying for lecturing jobs and jobs within colleges. It’s okay, though, as it’s an amazing kind of scary. One which is driving me to do the best that I can for myself. I know that I will be able to handle each step along the way. I have faith in myself and it has been a long time since I’ve been able to say that honestly.

I have found my path. If you haven’t already, you should go out and find yours. You will find your answer somewhere, I promise. But to find it, you need to look for it. Very few people in this world stumble into their dream career so don’t wait for that to happen and hope for the best. Get your life in order and find whatever makes you feel fulfilled and happy. I haven’t finished my journey to getting my dream career but I’ll tell you this: I’m almost there and I already feel happier than I have been in a long time.

Love and Peace.

Order from Chaos

I hope to use this blog not only as a journal or a catalogue of my own experiences but also as a kind of reference for anybody else out there who may be going through similar experiences. Mental health is incredibly important, especially today, when more and more people are being diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. If you can relate to anything in this or future posts, please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you.

When I recently went through another low point in my life (mentally), I got through it with help from my good friends. They lifted me up like nothing else could and I am forever grateful. I realised, however, that I would need to change something in my life so that I could cope with my depression and anxiety a lot better on my own. That’s when I started taking control and bringing order and meaning to my life.

One day, when I hit the lowest point of my depression, I reached out to my friends. They spoke to me and lifted me up, as I explained at the beginning of this entry. Now, I do not believe that there is much else in this world which could be an effective substitute for talking to somebody when it comes to depression; however, what I did next was so simple and yet so effective. It made me feel a million times better; so much so that I’ve kept it going, in one form or another: I brought structure to my life, where there had previously been none. Before, I would just go to work, come home, eat (if I could be bothered) and veg out whilst watching YouTube, before going to sleep and then getting up and doing it all again. I didn’t realise how much worse this way of living was actually making me feel. This chaos. That is until I organised my life and introduced order.

It was my turn, that weekend, to clean the flat. Now, any time I had done this before, I had just arbitrarily started cleaning and stopped whenever I thought I was done. This time, though, it was very different. I got some post it notes and wrote each job on a single post it:

  1. DISHES
  2. KITCHEN
  3. HOOVERING
  4. MOPPING
  5. BATHROOM

I stuck them all on the door frame and stuck some ska music on my Spotify (it was actually someone very special to me who had put me in the mood for ska and I feel that this only added to my positive mood even more). I got to work and each time I finished a job I took the Sharpie and scored it out on the post it. Once I had finished all of the jobs on my list and scored them out, I grabbed each post it, crumpled them all up into a big ball and threw them in the bin. I mean, I could have done it individually, as each task was completed; however, saving it all to the end was far more satisfying and it helped me feel like I had accomplished something greater. I sat down and realised: this was the most content and fulfilled I had felt in a very long time. I was awestruck with how much better I felt and I was so proud of myself. From that moment on, I made a promise to myself that I would do this as often as I could. Organise my life, that is, not clean the flat. I really am not a neat freak…. and so far, I have kept that promise. I have organised my life into things that need to be done by writing myself lists. I have a static list of things that I must do, such as making my bed in the morning and getting out my front door. Then I have a list of extras, which are things that are not as important but it would be nice if I could get them done. The way I see it, if all I can manage on any given day is the “must” list, that’s fine. I’ve taken care of myself and that’s what matters. If I manage a few more things or even just one other thing from the “extras” list, I count that as an achievement and I give myself a pat on the back. This way, I’m organising and prioritising my life but at the same time limiting the risk of over stressing myself and allowing myself to fall into another low point.

I am still fighting my depression and anxiety on a daily basis, such is the nature of chaos; however, now that I have introduced order to my life, I feel that I am far better equipped to cope with it than I ever have been before.

“Life is suffering, but I got this.”

Love and peace.

The Bus Chronicles: The Front of the Bus, He Cannae Look

Well, I’m on my usual bus to work and to be quite honest I initially thought there was nothing about which I could write. Everyone on the bus seems normal and they’re all minding their own business. Except me, of course. People watching like fuck.

People watching. We all do it, even if we tell others that we don’t. It’s natural. It’s part of the human condition. During my people watching on this particular journey, I spotted a gentleman who was doing the very same. Except he was in quite an awkward position. He had chosen to sit at the front of the bus, in one if those seats that face the back. He was facing every other passenger.

Watching him people watch was absolutely fascinating (or maybe it really wasn’t and it was just a case of me needing anything to make this journey less boring). I would catch him looking at other passengers, watching them as they drink a can of juice or as they type on their phone. Then he would evidently feel awkward and his eyes would dart towards the window and his expression would change to one of “oh what a lovely view”. Seeing the awkwardness in his face, combined with an expression that suggested he didn’t know where to look, was priceless. I’m free to look around and not make eye contact with anybody. Yet here he is, eyes darting around the bus because he’s scared he’ll lock eyes with somebody for too long. I feel you, bruh. Wouldn’t want to be in your seat.

Hopefully something funnier will happen on the next journey.

My First Post

Well, here it is. I have decided to start a blog and this is my first post. Exciting, eh?

I suppose the tagline for my page may seem a little pessimistic and negative at first glance so I figured that I would use my first post to go into it in a little more detail and clarify what I mean by it.

Life is suffering. I know a few people who might vehemently disagree with that statement, claiming that I am being far too negative. Most people might think the same. I am, in fact, viewing life in a very positive manner when I use the statement and I know that many of you may find this to be very strange. I’ll tell you what, I found it to be strange when I first stumbled across it, as I had an incredibly positive outlook on life and took everything in my stride. I am pretty sure that I scoffed at the notion of life merely being about suffering and just said to myself “I’m not suffering. I love my life and I want to live it to the fullest.” Oh, how naive was I? As it turns out, very.

Around 2 years ago, I had my first experience with severe depression and anxiety. This was a terrifying experience, as I suddenly went from being a very laid back and positive guy to being a twisted, pessimistic and anxious human being. It was alien to me. At first, I did not know how to deal with it but luckily I had very good friends who supported me and helped me pull myself back up. It has been an ongoing and constant struggle over the last 2 years, fighting my depression and anxiety every single day. Of course, different things have happened in my life, which have contributed to my low moods so these can’t be attributed solely to depression. Such is the chaos of life. These unexpected events, I feel, only contribute to the notion that life is suffering and this is where the lightbulb moment came and changed my perspective. Here is my view on life at this moment:

Life is suffering. Pure and simple. The majority of the things that happen in your life are quite negative; however, this is by no means an implication that you should just accept reality and wallow in your suffering. Well, that wouldn’t be a good life at all, would it? No. It is just a starting point. Once you realise that life is suffering, it is then understanding that finding your own ways of dealing with the suffering that gives life its meaning. If you approach your life with the understanding that negative things will regularly happen and you build on your ability to deal with these negative things, you put yourself in a better poition to appreciate the positive things that will inevitably happen. It will put you in a better position to notice the positive things.

The sentiment that comes along with “life is suffering” is not merely “life’s a bitch and then you die”. It is “life’s a bitch but you got this”.

Love and Peace.