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Firstly, thanks so much for your comments, messages and feedback to this blog; it means a lot to me that so many people care; you have inspired me with further content; so please connect up and keep it coming via whatever channel suits you.
This instalment is all about how you can really help yourself to a better state of mental health; yes YOU, sat over there saying ‘that’s not me’ well it is you, believe me.
You see, 12 months ago today I had an epiphany.
Well, I probably didn’t have that moment of sudden and great realisation for a few weeks after the breakdown, but let’s just roll with it for now, because the good news is that you can avoid getting to that stage with simple earlier diagnosis and being more honesty with yourself.
For me, it was Wednesday 21st March 2018, I had not slept, I was totally wired about work and I could not face the day ahead. I rang the doctor and got a cancellation appointment for 20 minutes later. I jumped in the car, drove there without even having a shower, and the rest is history.
No 7.10am train on platform 2 at Thirsk, no Manchester, no Leeds, no London, no nothing.
My body, especially my head, was screaming STOP right there Mr. B.
I had to really be honest to myself and say I could not carry on as I was, I had to change something and start helping myself, I had to take responsibility – and that is the point of this second helping of blog.
It starts and ends with you – you can change things, it is not them, it is you that holds all the cards.
So this part of the story is about helping yourself; in the penultimate part I will talk about how others of course are needed and play important roles around you, but for here we are looking at self-administered practical insights that helped me in the first 6 months after the crash; I really hope they can help you, because these are all things that I should probably have been doing anyway, and you could be doing right now.
Take one day at a time.
The first thing the doctor said, and the most relevant still. Getting to tomorrow is a result, getting past the worst point is a result, thinking about the future is a result; it will take time, but eventually you will be back and winning at life!
Whatever age you are, you have a lot of living to do, so don’t put pressure on yourself to sort this by lunchtime on day 2, you may not know it but you got here over quite a period of time; there will be ups and downs, but taking one day at a time will literally help you build for the future in simple blocks of achievement.
Go cold turkey and cut yourself off from any incoming shit.
By this I mean most communication via personal screens, text, email, laptops, everyone else in this world telling you how well they are doing by the medium of nonsense. You don’t need it.
OK I know this sounds totally unrealistic, but it isn’t; if your loved ones know that you are safe and well, then it’s OK to go off the grid for everyone else – It’s how well you are doing that is important – and you don’t need a single device to evaluate that, just some peace and quiet; so get some perspective – trust me; your mental health trumps keeping up with all the issues that got you into this state.
In my case I came back from the doctors and on his instruction, photographed and emailed my sicknote to my boss and then turned my work phone off.
I never turned it on again.
Start a journal
Check in on yourself regularly, write it down, you will feel better – keep it by the bedside and always take time to think out load and scribble, make time to talk to yourself to articulate what the issues are, however stupid that may sound, if you can list whatever is on your mind, it will help you evaluate, prioritise and eventually address the issues once they have been identified. You may never share the contents, it does not matter, it is better out of your head than spinning around in it.
Sometime each day, just sit and do nothing, really nothing.
If you can, then truly rest, cease all activity.
In the early days and weeks, it is what you need to do more than anything – I remember sitting in the garden and listening to the birds, the wind in the trees and the distant propeller hum from training flights looping the loop at RAF Leeming.
This morning, 12 months on, I have been doing exactly the same; the sounds are the same but my head is in a much better place to hear them; I don’t need to sit like this for hours now, but I still want to, because it always does you good to do nothing now and again.
Look after yourself
I know its common sense, but physical wellbeing was not really something I was seriously making any time for; now there was no excuse for me!
What is more important than your physical and mental health?
I soon improved my quality of sleep and wellbeing by building a schedule that was all about me and not everybody else, less drink, Monday Mindfulness, Wednesday walks, Friday Yoga class, Saturday Parkrun, in busy careers it’s not easy to make time I know, but you don’t need me to tell you how important it is.
Exercise your mind
It’s not just your body, it’s your mind as well; of course, it still works, it may be misfiring or be running below optimum efficiency; but learning more about how it works will in turn enable you (as owner and trainer) to eventually re-programme and re-fettle this amazing component; exercising and nurturing it back to full fitness is a joy, and it is something only you can do.
I am sure everyone has recommended reading matter on this; I will publish a reading list and links to various modules and online tests that have really helped me onto my blog this week.
Do the things that really matter
When you do properly reflect on what is important, it is truly liberating to sweep away all of the things that are of no importance. Of course, for me realisation came too late, this again being my motivation to share in the hope that you too are not labouring under the same misapprehension – most of what we do does not matter.
Give yourself space to catch up with old friends and people that really matter, engage in face time and plan for your adventures, however big or small.
Finally, clear the calendar
For me this was enforced and policed by my amazingly supportive partner; if you have got serious depression or anxiety issues then you are ill; you may not know it but you don’t need the added stress of putting yourself in situations that make you feel awful; seeing people, going to events, being exposed to invasive questions, until you have taken stock and identified your specific issues, then some of these things will not help you in the short term.
As I said at the start, it’s all about you; these insights are in no particular order of importance, I hope they prove useful for anyone wo has taken the time to read – a year ago today I was asking myself “how did I get here” –
I think I know now; I certainly have a much clearer view than I did back then.
For me it took 6 months to really get some perspective and although I am still having some therapy, I would hope that many people could avoid the worst of those weeks and months and steer clear of the wreckage with an ongoing programme of self-help and potentially some help and support from others.
Which brings us to the wrap-up; next time I will look at how other individuals and groups can really help you on your journey with some further observations and insight from the last year, before returning to revitalisation and rebirth and launching Chris Broadbent 2.0 as my very best self in my fourth and final blog post.
Anyhow; that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think about me?