I am not a medical professional. I am not an authority on mental health by any measure. I have been classified by a doctor of psychology as a trauma survivor. The symptoms which alert to this categorisation are in layman’s terms… a busted internal chemical factory. Mild brain damage. Circuits which control the release of stress/bliss chemicals is a bit busted.
So here I am writing my first article for Blank which stands as a platform for a growing awareness of mental health. The invisible emotional currents which constantly run and the accompanying spiritual attitudes which govern personal and community well-being.
In the days leading up to the writing of this article I have endured a rollercoaster between levels of manic/hyperactive mostly enjoyable moods to physically crushing lows of depression and choking anxiety.
Just before hiding away in my room with this laptop to commence writing I was experiencing the heavy physical throws which come with the onset of anxiety. No specific circumstantial trigger or particularly upsetting thought is responsible. Just a neural knot which keeps the blast of discomfort charging for no particular reason. Stress or anxiety which is created out of thin air by a distorted frontal cortex. This is not medical fact. Just a layman’s expression of what I have come to understand whilst urgently seeking ways to mend and heal a tangled internal circuitry of emotional programming.
Knowing that this discomfort shall pass is my greatest tool in overcoming the glitches which can rule over my daily mood. Knowing when it will be alleviated is like trying to forecast next week’s weather by looking out the window now. Trying to escape the discomfort can sometimes paradoxically create further stress and discomfort. The highly desired Vodka-valium-latte only ever a temporary crutch in a long term strategy for seeking long term peace of mind.
For men particularly… discussing pain which has been caused by an emotionally loaded circumstance/event opposed to that of a physical nature is about as comfortable as chewing aluminium foil whilst rubbing your fingernails down a chalkboard. Trails are being blazed by a handful of brave role models but the social acceptability is in a teething stage. I’m not sure how many bosses would empathise with you calling in sick with depression/stress/anxiety flare ups. Or even taking a week. It requires a lot of trust. Like the man with the bad back who suffers excruciating invisible pain. When the mind takes a turn and the mechanisms which regulate stressful/blissful moods are corroded like a knee joint void of healthy cartilage. It is a genuinely immobilising experience.
At least as we move into 2015… the suggestion that those who suffer symptoms of mental unrest simply “suck it up” is now fading. Most people know someone who struggles with mental health issues. Awareness campaigns run on major network television. Events are held regularly throughout our communities. Is the approaching year the first of many in a transformative era which encourages those who struggle to step forward confidently and ask for help? Is it in your new year’s resolution to tell those nearest and dearest that you have chosen to move forward with therapy/counselling? Or that you wish to quit your current career path because it doesn’t feel right? Or maybe to declare openly from one bloke to another that you are dangerously dissatisfied with your life and that you have come as far as contemplating suicide?
I am truly excited about the future of the Gold Coast community and the willingness of the majority to seek understanding of the invisible psychological abyss which churns under our skin… adding a bottomless depth to the human experience. The highs and lows. The bright and the dark.
I look forward to exploring the services on offer for those experiencing difficulty. The stories of battles overcome. And the shifting social narrative which for so long insisted that being a man means being ignorant of your emotional needs. Tough they use to say. Perhaps vulnerability and gentleness may claim prestige status yet. Peace
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Need to talk to someone? Try Lifeline 13 11 14 or MensLine 1300 789 978.