Today is World Mental Health Day. I think it’s one of the better awareness days as mental health is still something which we don’t talk about and which a lot of folks don’t understand.
I’ve always felt that education on mental health would be a great thing to role out in schools. It would help people understand what people are going through and help lessen the stigma so that people are more comfortable asking for help.
Asking for help is a major problem, especially for men, thanks to the ingrained macho ideas of not showing vulnerability or expressing emotions. I’m 31 and while I can admit to crying I still find it embarrassing because if the whole “boys don’t cry” idea.
I wish this was different. I wish that a guy I know who killed himself had been able to talk about it with someone, maybe he might have gotten the help before he reached the stage where he felt like he had no options left. Less dramatically, it might have helped several others from suffering alone.
It would have helped me.
During my second year at uni I hit a major funk, one that lasted two to three months. I felt down and lost. I felt I was wasting my time and that after uni that I would never amount anything or do anything. I sank further into this pit of self loathing. I hated the way I looked, the way I acted, my course, my prospects, I was sure I would never get a girlfriend and that my friends were laughing at me, not with me.
I stopped going to some lectures, my work fell off. I spent hours in my room just moping or wasting time online.
None of my friends would have known about this. I covered it up well, getting louder. I was the loud mouthed clown anyway, so I played up to it. I already drank a lot, but now I drank more, getting hammered three/four times a week, throwing myself out socially and wearing my mask of fun party guy.
I hung out with my mates and cracked jokes, I could briefly feel better, forget about what was bothering me. But when I got to my room at night it was there waiting for me.
It was there every hungover morning or quiet afternoon. It was there during lectures, gnawing away in the back of my mind.
There was no big moment of relief, no dramatic event that snapped me back. It just passed, like a storm. And I found that this would be the pattern in the future. The funk would appear before me and I’d slip down into it. I can make it pass quicker by focusing on certain things, by getting out and by keeping busy, but I can’t magic it away. I have to wait for it to pass.
When the first one passed I’d failed my second year. I had to fight to resit and to convince my Dad to let me go back, and finally over that summer it all came out and I talked about it for the first time. Luckily I have parents who care and know about mental health, enough that they keep an eye out for me.
My Dad was the first one to use the word “depression”, but I guess I’ve always felt uncomfortable calling it that. My own funks are fortunately infrequent, I’ve had three or four since the first one, most lasting around a month, and they pass then. I feel like saying I have depression is an insult to those who deal with it every day, or for long, unbroken periods.
When I was working a job I was growing to hate, they asked how I was doing and listened to my rants. That release valve helped, as did knowing there was support for me. Tired and frustrated as a nursing student, my Dad asked if I was okay and reassured me that he and my mum were always the other end of the phone for me.
I’ve had those downs since. But I’ve never hit bottom. I’ve always joked that I’m too shallow to get properly depressed. That a song, film or book is enough for me to turn it around. It’s not that easy, but I am lucky. My dark, low ebbs have never been as dark or low as what others have to face, but they can still leave me reeling.
I have people to talk to, my parents and MWF the major ones, people who support and care for me, and are willing to let me vent without judgement.
Coping strategies I use to reshoot my focus and I always try and do the things that keep me up,and away from the dips. Like writing. I’ve realised that my own fear
I hope if anyone out there reading this goes into a dark patch they have people to talk to. It’s amazing how just getting to express yourself helps. We need to stop worrying about embarrassment and bothering people, and open up. Our friends and family should be willing to listen, and hopefully understand our difficulties. But if you don’t have them there’s always the Samaritans, a great charity that gives people the chance to talk about anything that is troubling them.
I’ve mainly discussed depression, because that’s what I’ve had experience of, but for other mental health issues it’s worth looking into Mind a charity which provides help and support for a variety of problems.
Be well and take care of yourself. And celebrate when you do well, or practice some self care.
This comes fresh from the “Well, that’s depressing” files.
A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) detailed a study recently conducted in Glasgow where they decided to look into the best ways to get expectant mothers to give up cigarettes.
Here’s the thing, it’s 2015, by now all of us should know that smoking in general is bad for you, and that it’s clearly going to be bad for the baby growing in your belly, so if you get knocked up you should probably knock it on it’s head.
Seeing a pregnant woman smoking is one of those things that really annoys me and makes me want to go all Rowdy Roddy Piper on them.
You wanna smoke, go nuts. But you’re putting another life at risk, and that’s not cool.
So, what would inspire them quit?
The 600 women were split into two groups, half given the normal NHS treatment of smoking cessation advice and the other half essentially bribed with vouchers.
It broke down like this, the paid group had the same process but got £50 for their first appointment, £50 if a breath test showed that they’d not smoked with a further 100 if they’d made it to 12 weeks and finally £200 if a breath test at 34-38 weeks showed they still hadn’t smoked.
The statistics showed that only 9% of those given normal support quit, compared to 20% who were offered the vouchers. And that a year later 15% of them had kept off the fags.
Of course, this test proves nothing, other than that people are far more willing to do something given the correct motivation. You could argue that having a healthy child should be motivation enough, but sadly it would appear that it’s not.
I appreciate that giving up smoking can be difficult, nicotine is highly addictive and I know lots of people who have struggled to kick the habit, some taking several attempts to finally quit, but I’d have thought pregnancy would serve to strengthen their resolve.
The study doesn’t prove much, and won’t change the way we approach helping smoking cessation here in the UK. The NHS simply can’t stretch to giving every smoking mother £400 to get them off cigarettes, and I doubt high street retailers are going to provide the vouchers free of charge.
Bribery as an incentive for healthy living is a murky area to get into, and kinda depressing too. Should we really have to bribe people to try and be healthier?
I would argue that we need more education on the danger of smoking to unborn babies, but as I’ve said, surely by 2015 we all know that it’s bad for you, and sheer will power can be enough to quit. My dad smoked from a very young age, but a few years ago he managed to stop dead, and despite being a bit crabby for a short time he managed just fine, and I know others who have quit the same way.
The NHS should provide some help and guidance in quitting smoking, but at the end of the day the responsibility lies with the individual and it’s a shame that so many pregnant women appear to not give a damn, even though there’s a built in financial incentive to quitting smoking in the fact you’ll save a ton of cash from not needing to buy cigarettes anymore.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
So a little before Christmas I was sat in a rather boring lecture and trying to distract myself so I didn’t nod off. I’d doodled, people watched and drank my water, so I was out and wound up biting my nails and looking at my hand.
I was looking at the mole I have on the back of my left hand.
Has it always been that shape?
I’ve had the mole for years, at least since comprehensive school (so at least 13 years) and after a while I’ve just sort of taken it as part of me. The expression “I know it like the back of my hand” in my case means, I know what’s there, but I don’t pay attention to the details.
It’s a bit of a weird colour, my mole, and a few years back my Mum took me to see the doc about it, but I got the all clear. I think part of the reason it’s a weird colour is cos I stabbed it with a pencil back in school.
Whatever, I couldn’t be certain because I hadn’t paid attention, and it’s not like I’d snapped a bunch of closeup shots of it for future reference, but the more I looked at it the more convinced I became that it was a different shape. Surely it was a much smoother oval shape before?
I’m not a hypochondriac, honest, but the more I stared at it the more I started to worry.
I don’t know much about skin cancer (as the deleted verse of “Wonderful World” goes), but I know moles changing colour and/or shape is one of the warning signs. But isn’t skin cancer mainly to do with over exposure to the Sun? I’m Welsh, until I was five all I knew about the Sun was that it tried to get me to buy margarine.
I would have Googled it, but as any fool knows, if you search for anything vaguely health related you’ll quickly become convinced that the Grim Reaper is entering your address into his Sat Nav.
I decided to go to the GP, just to check and stop myself from disappearing into paranoid cancer fantasies.
The first appointment I could get was a week later.
This led to a week of me forgetting about it and going around all carefree before remembering about the appointment and starting to plan out my funeral playlist (“Come on Eileen”, “Just a few things that I ain’t” and Rich performing “Dust in the Wind”).
The appointment was uneventful. Doc had a look at it, said it was probably nothing but he’d refer me to the dermatology department.
Christmas came along and I barely thought about it as I tried to consume my own body weight in chocolates, cider and mince pies.
Last week I went to the dermatology clinic and my skin doctor, a nice enough bloke, had a look of it and then described it with the word “atypical”.
Atypical? As in not normal?! I thought. Come on, doc, give it to me straight, how long have I got left?
He said I’d have to come back the following week and have it removed but first would I mind having my mole photographed for teaching purposes (calling to mind the old Steve Martin gag “First the doctor told me the good news: I was going to have a disease named after me”)
I walked up and saw he’d written a scientific phrase on my slip of paper “Lichenoid Keratosis”. That sounded heavy.
I broke my health Google rule. Luckily half the results seemed to include the word “benign” which set my mind slightly at rest.
The photo shoot was weird. I had to pose my hand on a board and have two women snap photos while talking to each other and ignoring me aside from my hand. I imagine this is how non-famous partners/friends of celebrities feel, having to stand around while everyone pays attention to them.
So, today I went back to have the mole cut out.
It was pretty cool, and I watched some of the process, which was just surreal. I could see the guy cutting a chunk out of my hand and yet felt completely fine, and then watched him stitch me up. All I felt was a slight pulling as he tightened the stitches. Apparently I’m gonna have a little scar on the back of my hand, which I hope will look stigmata-like.
Anyway, I was going to post a picture of the stitches, but I have to keep my dressing on for 48 hours, so here’s my bandaged hand, with my rather messy sink in the background.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
Angelina Jolie is a gift to showbiz journalists, over the years she’s been involved in various celebrity stories which have taken up lots of column inches and has a nice line in unusual behaviour which proves great fodder for journalists. It doesn’t hurt that she’s a very attractive woman and in a Hollywood dream couple with Brad Pitt.
This week she’s been grabbing the headlines online because she revealed that she’d had a preventative double mastectomy because she has a genetic trait which makes her more likely to develop breast cancer and ovarian cancer. In a piece she wrote for the New York Times Jolie revealed that doctors had informed her that she was an 87% chance of developing breast cancer and a 50% chance of ovarian cancer. Those are some grim odds, especially as breast cancer is the most common cause of terminal cancer in women.
I gotta say I have a lot of respect for Jolie for undergoing the procedure, which must have been daunting and something many may not have done out of fear. For example, if I was aware that I was at higher risk of testicular cancer I’m not sure I’d have them removed, I’d probably just bury my head in the sand and hope to beat the odds.
I’ve read in the past that mastectomy’s can have a emotional impact on the women who have them, with many feeling self conscious or “less of a woman” because of the removal of breast tissue, which is rather sad. I think the NHS does offer cosmetic surgery to women who undergo the procedure, and if they don’t they definitely should, as it could be a massive part of improving the quality of life of the cancer survivors.
Of course, not all feel this way and some may choose to not have anything done afterwards, with some even regarding it as a kind of badge of honour. A while back Facebook came under fire for deleting pictures of a cancer survivor’s pictures of her chest tattoo which she’d had done after her mastectomy, however, later they saw common sense and changed their policy. Another cancer survivor, Kelly Donovan posted pictures which received thousands of likes and which she describes as a metaphor for her external transformation (more on Davidson here).
Jolie’s piece raises an important point about genetic testing, which was something I must admit I don’t know much about. In the US the test for the genes that increase the risks costs $3000, which is frankly disgusting. A lot of people just aren’t going to be able to afford that test, and one can only imagine that the chance of getting tested in other parts of the world is even tougher. I’m assume that here in the UK it’s free on the NHS and you can request a referral from your GP.
For British readers the Cancer Research UK website has a page devoted to the genetic links to cancer as well as advice on who should get tested and how it all works.
Jolie draws attention to the injustice of the prohibitive cost of the tests and hopefully this situation will change in the future.
Jolie’s actions and writing about the experience are important, I feel, because they raise awareness about a procedure that many may not have known about and also brings the subject into public discussion, and this may make it easier for women in a similar situation.
Women may get the test because of Jolie’s example and this will be a great help to many as it will either calm their fears or enable them to take steps to reduce the risks like Jolie has, or at least be extra vigilant for the warning signs of the cancer. And nobody can argue that this isn’t a good thing.
So I have a new respect for Jolie as a result of this revelation and think she has handled it all rather well.
Remember folks, keep checking yourself and if in doubt, always go to the doctor. It might be scary and I know that it might seem easier to live on in blissful ignorance, but if you’re ill you’re going to be ill whether the doctor tells you about it or not, and at least if you know what you’ve got you can start fighting against it.
Sorry, if today’s post was a little bit heavy, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it over the last couple of days and I don’t want any of you good people getting ill. And that’s only partly because I don’t want my views to fall any lower.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
Today marks exactly one year since I started jogging. It was after a fortnight of extreme gluttony that I finally pulled on my trainers, listened to the first Couch to 5k and went for the first run.
It turned out to be the best way of doing it, with the podcasts slowly easing me into it and building up my stamina, within the 9 weeks I was already feeling the health benefits and discovering that I was actually enjoying doing it.
Once the course was up I kept going, increasing the length of my runs over time until I’ve reached the current stage where I run for a full hour.
Running for an hour is still a challenge, I’m always tired by the end, but its a tiredness I’ve come to enjoy, a feeling that you’ve put in a decent effort and that the tiredness has been earned. Its also a tiredness that passes quicker and quicker after the runs, leaving me riding an endorphin high and feeling good.
This time last year I couldn’t see myself running for that long, but now its something I can do fairly easily 3-4 times a week. I’m surprised by the changes in myself and also quite proud of myself for sticking with it.
There have been times when its been rough, and times when I’ve let Lazy Chris take over, but for the most part running has become a part of my life, if I don’t run I fell guilty and a bit fed up, getting out there and pounding the pavement clears my head, gives me a chance to think things through and makes me feel good.
I’ve lost at least 2 stone since I started running, which means I’m now the healthiest I’ve been in years. I’m more confident in myself and I feel more comfortable and happy with my body, in a way I haven’t for years. I know there’s still work to be done, but I’m definitely much more positive about it now, even if we’re still a long, long way away from me being comfortable going swimming or topless on the beach.
So, my advice to anyone out there who wants to lose a bit of weight is to check out the Couch to 5K podcasts and give them a whirl. I know at times it’ll be difficult, it’ll be cold or raining outside, or you’ll be tired, but push on through and you get some pretty good things out of it. The satisfaction and pride I got when I did the Sport Relief 3 mile run earlier this year was one of the best feelings I’ve experienced, and next year I hope to have it again when I run a 10K.
So give it a go, let me know how it works out and if you don’t enjoy it, maybe look into other exercises and find one that suits you best.
I didn’t run today, it being one of my days off from running (I ran yesterday) and now I’m sitting here wondering how I should mark/celebrate this event, having a cake or treating myself to something similar kind of feels like going against the whole point of it, but at the same time I kind of want to celebrate it somehow. Any ideas?
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
P.S. Here’s a link to the Couch to 5K stuff
Okay, its the customary apology/ass covering time. I realize that breast cancer and cancer in general is a sensitive subject and I don’t intend to cause any upset or offence with what I’ve written and I apologize if any is caused.
I’ve been wanting to right about breast cancer awareness for a while now, because I saw something a few weeks back that I thought was worthy of mentioning, however, other stuff has distracted me and it was only when another breast cancer story came along that I decided I’d actually sit down to write this.
Here’s the thing, I get that breast cancer is a terrible disease to get. I can only imagine the severe distress being diagnosed with it must bring and the trials of the treatment which will follow. I appreciate that for many women its a condition that is awkward or embarrassing to discuss, and that there can often be an urge to bury their head in the sand, in a “what I don’t know can’t hurt me” kind of way.
Firstly, let me just say don’t do this, ladies. I get that no one wants to have their bits prodded by a stranger, but if it was me, I’d want to know, I think the constant doubts and worries would mess with my head a whole lot more than the actual condition in some ways. I know that it must be embarrassing to have to show your breasts to someone you don’t know well (believe me, I keep my mannaries under wraps as much as possible) but these are medical professionals, and their first priority and thought will be about your health and not “what a cracking pair!”
I also understand that there must be a great fear in women of the possible consequences and a concern about losing something which is so intrinsically linked to femininity, in the same way that I think all men fear that losing a testicle will somehow make them less of a man. It won’t. Liking Twilight definitely does though.
And this brings me to my dilemma regarding breast cancer awareness.
Of course I can see the benefits to it and am a massive supporter of it, because, as the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed. Women, and men, but more on that later, should know what to look out for and that at the same time further knowledge of the condition might lead to a reduction in embarrassment in seeking treatment. It’ll never go away completely because of the way breasts have been sexualised in our society, but hopefully it can be lessened and help more women receive treatment sooner.
And just for good measure, here’s a guide of how to check yourself out:
However, I can’t help feeling that in the awareness stakes breast cancer is pretty well known compared to other forms of the disease. I realize it effects large numbers of women every year, but perhaps the focus should be spread out more towards the other forms too.
For example, when I was at uni they had breast cancer nights, where you got a pound of entry if you wore an item of pink clothing and money was raised for breast cancer charities. It was a good idea, and one of several charities that benefited from my drinking. However, as far as I can remember breast cancer was the only cancer that regularly had its own nights.
I also remember that they put cherry Lambrini on offer for one of them because it was pink and it proved that nobody can drink that stuff in a masculine fashion. I also drunkenly discussed the self examination with a female friend and offered, in probably a sleazier way than I care to remember, to assist her in checking if she was okay.
But that’s just me.
Anyway, the reason I wanted to write originally was because while reading a comic the other week I stumbled across Marvel’s full page advert to raise awareness of male breast cancer. The story features two of Earth’s mightiest heroes, Captain America and Iron Man discussing the fact that Tony Stark has been distracted due to his concerns regarding his recent tests for breast cancer. Its a fairly basic one page ad but I think Marvel should be applauded for their efforts in raising awareness of the fact it occurs in men.
Being a guy who gets cancer must be quite tough, as it is something usually connected with women (of the 50,000 people diagnosed every year in the UK less than 400 are men, although you have to wonder how many guys don’t even bother checking themselves) and there’s still a high level of ignorance regarding male breast cancer, I mean, if Tony Stark doesn’t know about your average Joe probably doesn’t either.
As a man who has quite an impressive set of mannaries I can appreciate that you don’t want to draw any more attention to them and that they do make you feel a bit less manly. But that’s just me and my insecurities. I think people need to realize that breast cancer is nothing to do with gender and just a form of cancer that develops in the tissues that make up male and female chests. The thing is, in a way, while the term “breast” is anatomically correct it does bring with it connotations of women.
Marvel’s stance on breast cancer extends to female sufferers too, and they joined with DC in launching a campaign that encouraged self checking and featured four characters performing self checks, including She Hulk:
She Hulk was joined by Storm, Wonder Woman and Catwoman.
Now, I appreciate that breast cancer is unrelated to breast size, but surely if you’re going to use superheroines you’d, ahem, break out the big guns and go with Power Girl?
Anyway, I don’t mean to trivialize the issue although that is what a breast cancer ad campaign in Chile is being accused of doing. Its recent video, “Por Amos a las Tetas” (roughly translated as “for the love of boobs”) has come under fire, here’s the vid:
Some people have said that the video is sexist and pointless and despite its message to men of “if we like them so much we should take care of them” its been dismissed by many, saying that while men might, um, “enjoy” the video they’re unlikely to give any further thought to breast cancer. Which might be a fair point but at the same time, the video has got people talking about it and might work on some men as it might make them raise the issue with their partner.
So, while its an odd tactic to use I think its different and it has already raised awareness. And no, I’m not just supporting it because I quite liked watching it.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
I’m writing this post from my sickbed. Nothing’s seriously wrong with me, I’ve just had a cold for about a week and its now morphed into a throat infection. Which sucks as it means I can’t run today and I’m feeling like crap, it probably hasn’t helped that I’ve worked the last three nights as it means my body hasn’t had a chance to bounce back properly.
This means that for most of this morning I lay in bed groaning and feeling hella rough.
But I’ve decided to not mope anymore, so having hit the shop for a supply run (Lemsip, Lucozade, cough sweets and curries) I’m going to hole up in my room and have a movie marathon thanks to LoveFilm, in the hope that after a good night’s sleep tonight I’ll be on the mend.
Anyway, in other news at the weekend I had my third weigh-in of the year. It was meant to be at the end of September but was a little delayed due to the fact I don’t have my own scales and use my Mum’s.
I was a little apprehensive because of Lazy Chris’ run of form earlier and feared this would be my lowest weight loss so far. Which it was, but I still managed to shed 4kg, which works out 8.8lbs, over half a stone since June.
This brings my full weight loss for 2012 so far to 13.2kg, which works out as 29lbs which is over 2 stone. I’m hoping to have a big push before my last weigh in before Christmas and I’d be quite chuffed if I could hit 2.5 stone by the end of the year.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
So, I realize I’ve made fitness manifestos before, and fallen short, but after a poor showing in the last couple of months I’m eager to get back into my groove.
I’ve rediscovered my love of running and over the last fortnight or so I’ve managed to stick to running roughly every other day. I’m not going to lie, they’ve been pretty tough runs. Usually by the last 10 minutes I’m feeling pretty drained and the end is a relief, but I’m bouncing back quickly and usually by the time I walk through the front door I’m almost back to normal, just a bit thirstier and stinkier than normal.
The thirst thing is the worst, I’m definitely going to have to get a proper running bottle or one of those pack things, especially if I intend to push past the hour mark.
The only consolation is the satisfaction at the end and the fact that in each of my last 6 runs I’ve got above what my best was back in August and I’ve been averaging around the 8.7k mark, which I’m pretty chuffed about. I’m hoping that another 2 weeks of hour long runs will make them feel a bit easier and hopefully mean I’m ready to go to 65 minutes then, if not I’ll start the 65 min runs in November.
I’ve also decided that to help with the weight loss and general fitness I’m going to start going to the gym more often.
About the gym, I guess its confession time- I haven’t been for ages. I feel pretty bad and would feel worse if this meant I was losing money, but as I didn’t set up a standing order so its just been a massive embarrassment.
One of my coworkers asks me from time to time and I fob her off with some vague statement and change the subject, the thing is I really do want to go more. I’m going to rejoin and set up a standing order, which will push me to try and get my money’s worth. I always feel a little self conscious there but I can get past that, just as I’m no longer quite as neurotic when running as I used to be. I think it’ll help if I keep this in mind:
So my plan is to really go for it in the next month. I’m going to try and hit 15 runs, which works out as around 1 every 2 days and try and sort the gym out tomorrow, and try to go there at least twice a week. I’m also going to start doing some weight training while I’m there so I can shift my bingo wings.
I’m feeling pretty excited and confident about this, the fact my recent runs have all been quite good helps and I’m really keen to make up for Lazy Chris’ reign of terror and get back on track. I’m going to try and eat healthier too, and completely abstain from chocolate and desserts, because I’ve been backsliding towards my fat bastard ways of late. Yep, its gonna be lots of fruit, veg and salad over the next 31 days.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
Its been just over 3 months since I went straight edge, and reading back on the first post I wrote about it I think I should probably go into more detail about some stuff I was a little uncomfortable about discussing last time.
Its been a fairly easy 3 months, as I haven’t had any nights out (my social life is pathetic, down to my inability to make plans with friends and also work stuff) and I was never a massive drinking at home kind of guy. I mean, now and then I’d have a can or two watching TV or after a particularly tough day, but I guess I was pretty much a social drinker.
First of all, I just want to make it clear that I don’t have a problem with other people drinking, my attitude is that as long as its not causing problems for you or those around you, go for it. I drank semi-regularly for close to a decade, and I’d say for most of that time my drinking was fine. The reason I decided to quit was increasingly when I got incredibly drunk things got weird.
Back in 2008 I went out to watch the FA Cup final with one of my best friends, Rich. The night was an utter disaster, we wound up going to a pretty dodgy, rough bar and somewhere along the way I got spiked. I can clearly remember talking to Rich and speaking utter bollocks, rambling lies because I was feeling on edge. I can remember looking out of myself and hearing the words I was saying and thinking, “What the hell am I talking about? And I sound weird.” That’s all I remember until waking up on Rich’s couch the next day, my dad asleep in the other chair.
It turned out that I’d gone weird- I’d rambled on about the CIA being after me (at the time I was really into the show Chuck and had recently rewatched one of the Bourne movies), I’d made some kind of obscene comment to a barmaid, tried to glass a bloke I’d never met before and punched Rich.
It scared the shit out of me. Nothing has ever come back from that night, not even little flashes of memory. I lost a few hours of my life during which time I acted like a nutbar. It terrified me and for about 8 weeks I didn’t drink, terrified that as soon as I got drunk I’d have some kind of flashback or relapse to that condition.
I did start drinking again, but I was wary, but after months of nothing happening kind of pushed it to the back of my mind, telling myself it was due to the spiking.
I’d still get drunk and I’d make stupid decisions- I’d waste money, I’d stay out longer than I should have, I’d make terrible, cringe inducing passes at women and occasionally I’d slip into bad drunk vibes- brooding, moping, getting angry. Which was weird, I’ve always been a largely happy drunk, sure there have been a few weepy moments and one Halloween where I drank gallons of cider and puked up all night because I realized the girl I liked was interested in someone else (it turned out I’d misread the signs and she wasn’t interested in this bloke, but neither was she interested in me, ah well, c’est la vie). But for the most part I’d get drunk, goof around, throw myself about on the dancefloor and go to bed feeling good.
But the hangovers were kicking my arse, I’d lose the next day entirely. And then there was my last drinking session. I got weird again. There was a bit of conspiracy talk and I left a message for a girl I thought was kind of cool. The message must’ve been weird, I haven’t heard back and the fact I saved her on my phone under a code name doesn’t bode well. I’d gone weird again, and there was no drug this time.
Here’s the thing I didn’t mention in the last post about going straight edge, there’s some history of mental health issues in my family. Nothing serious, there’s no Norman Bates or Michael Myers in my family tree but its there. This terrified me, the line of work I’m in has taught me that alcohol and drug abuse can play a major part in exacerbating these things (its a massive issue and I don’t want to go into the whole “do drugs cause mental illness” argument, so here’s my opinion quickly- I don’t think drugs makes people go nuts, however, I do think that for those who may have dormant conditions it can awaken them and make them worse. The problem is, that those people who have these issues are often drawn to drink and drugs as a way of coping with what’s going on in their head. Millions of people can drink or have the occasional joint with no long term damage, but for some it is a risk).
Twice now these little paranoid fantasies had come out, I’m not saying I think I’m mentally ill, I just think that I’m someone who thinks about things and due to my love of sci-fi, thrillers and comic books its all rattling around in my subconscious, being brought to the surface by booze. However, I didn’t want to push things and as I’m fairly normal the rest of the time I decided it was time to knock the drinking on the head.
I didn’t like who I was when I drank, I didn’t like how I couldn’t stop when I reached the fun, party mode. I’d always push it too far. Clearly my self control isn’t the best, so it would be better to stop outright.
Its been easy, like I said, there have been no nights out and I didn’t have much booze in the house (there’s a small, full bottle of whiskey in my bedroom which remains untouched). I can honestly say I haven’t missed it, when I go out for meals I’ll have a soft drink and when I’ve had a rough day I’ll just crank up some angry rock music on my iPod and air guitar my troubles away.
The toughest part in a way has been talking about it with people. People talk about getting drunk and I’ll share stories and say what drinks I like, but I never feel comfortable saying “but I don’t drink anymore”. I think I’d find it hard to explain why I stopped, I know someone who stopped because they were a full blown alcoholic and that makes sense, you can just say you were an alcoholic, but I clearly wasn’t.
I don’t want to go into the mental health thing with a lot of people I know, especially as some of them I don’t really know that well. I know its weird that I can write about it here but I can’t talk about it in person, but I’ve always found it easier to express myself at the keyboard than in person, and if anything I’m often too honest in my posts.
The other thing is, and this is going to sound lame, I’ve always kind of associated drinking with masculinity and coolness in a way. I think boozing is part of British culture and especially in South Wales being able to handle your booze and drink a lot is seen as something to be praised. I still do it myself, I was watching Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents and watching one of the teenagers, Sophie, pounding down the shots I just thought “what a legend”.
Boozing is tied up in my whole idea of what’s cool. Look at my heroes- Lemmy, Keith Richards, Hunter S Thompson. I even have a T-shirt with a cartoon of George Best on and his quote “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.” I realized at the time it was a kind of tragic statement from a man who’s life and talent would disappear into a bottle, but it kind of tied in with the whole “live fast, die young”, boozing, brawling and bedding lifestyle I’ve always admired and wanted.
I’ve had to redress my whole opinion on the booze issue. Like I said, for most its something they can do with little or no permanent consequences but for me things have changed. It wasn’t good for me, so I decided to quit. And as I move on with my running and stuff, hopefully I can find a different way of looking at the world and how I want to live.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
So earlier this week I wrote of my return to running after a period of laziness, and knowing I’m away next week I threw myself back into the running. Wednesday’s run had been rough, but it had reignited my passion for it and I managed to run for the next three consecutive days (I only didn’t run today because I overslept).
4 runs in 4 days is a new personal record for me.
I usually run once every other day but I decided to try and knuckle down, my shifts at work allowing me to run a bit more this week and I’m planning to try and get 3 runs in before I go away on Thursday.
Over the next three runs I built back up until I ran for a full hour yesterday and at the end I felt pretty jazzed (I probably could’ve managed an hour on Friday, but due to the damsel in distress I wrote about yesterday I had to stop early). I have a new Nike+ sensor on the way, which means starting from Tuesday I can hopefully start tracking my distance and pace again. I’m a bit curious to see if I’ve lost that much speed due to Lazy Chris’ time at the helm.
The running everyday was also a good sign that my fitness level hasn’t dropped that badly and I reckon I’m still pretty much on course for the unofficial plan I’ve set for myself.
Next year I’m planning a few big changes in my life and I’m thinking that these changes might allow me to run every day, so I’m quite chuffed that I managed this recent streak of running, because once I’m into a more settled routine I’d quite like to run an hour every day.
Lazy Chris has been vanquished and I plan to really get cracking and start hitting the gym more often so that by the year’s end I can have shifted even more weight and be healthier.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.