To The Future, Not The Past.

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‘However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.’ 

One of the greatest lights to ever grace the universe with its presence, has been blown out. Professor Stephen Hawking, born on January 8th, 1942, the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death, has died on March 14th, 2018, the anniversary of Einstein’s birth. Time really is magnificent.

Professor Hawking was diagnosed with rare and extremely aggressive form of motor neuron disease (also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) when he was 21. Doctors gave him a prognosis of two years. So… only wrong by 53 years, then. He really was a remarkable human being. Always wanting to remain fiercely independent, he regarded himself as a scientist first, and a popular scientific writer second. Unsurprisingly, he wanted to be acknowledged as a normal human being, with the same desires, dreams and ambitions as the next person. This emphasises that just because someone has an ailment, does not mean they are any different. If anything, when someone with a disability remains able to achieve astonishing things, they will always be infinitely more remarkable.

It’s important to remember this, however… we’re all the same. We all feel similar emotions. We all go through comparable life experiences. Regardless of where we grew up, or now currently reside. I think we can sometimes lose sight of this fact. As unfortunate and saddening as it is, I hope the death of someone so iconic and highly recognised can help stimulate us to realise that yes, time is not infinite. We will all die. Why then do we promote hostility towards each other to potentially speed up this process? Do we not all want to enjoy life to its fullest? Stephen did this. After all, when he was younger, he was notorious for the wildness of his wheelchair driving. If that isn’t living life to its maximal capacity, I cannot think of anything that is.

A man with a crippling disability has become one of most recognisable individuals in our lifetime. If you need motivating to achieve greatness, Professor Hawking should be your inspiration. If you yourself are disabled, I think this quote from the man himself is a perfect summation of his life, and his work ethic…

My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.

If you’re worried about your potential for greatness, please keep in mind that he was never the top of his class in school. He has openly admitted this. Being able to memorise lots of words in a textbook doesn’t prepare you for the complexities of life. Not everyone needs a degree to be successful. Besides, a large population of people with brilliant school grades and a respectable degree can still be unhappy, or unfulfilled. I have been in this situation before. In fact, I have only really just gotten out of it. The reason behind it? Change.

Changing your own personal surrounding and situation could be the catalyst for happiness, greatness, or both. For me, I want to leave the UK, and work internationally. That is my target, this is my goal, and I am 100% committed to it. Perhaps it’s time we all look within ourselves and try to decipher if we are truly happy and content.

If anyone remains doubtful about their future, and believe that they are ‘destined to fail’ and that there is ‘no point’ in continuing on your life trajectory, please keep in mind this final quote from Professor Hawking.

I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.

I think the death of someone so influential can sometimes highlight an inevitability – our lifespan is infinitesimal. In fact, in terms of time, the human race is entirely insignificant. Yet, ironically, a large proportion of us believe that humans are the most significant thing to ever exist; that we vastly outweigh and surpass anything that has come previously. Let us put this into context. The big bang likely occurred around 13 billion years ago. In comparison, Homo Sapiens have lived for about 315,000 years. If we convert the big bang into a 24-hour day, humans have existed for approximately 1.26 seconds of that day. As a species, we are anything but special when scaled to the universal clock. So perhaps it’s time we treat everything with dignity, love and respect.

I thought I would end with a rather remarkable thought. Every atom in the body of every single living organism has come from a star in the universe that exploded. It’s rather poetic. Essentially, we are all made up of stardust, from the nuclear furnaces within stars. So perhaps, we are all equally as special as one another.

Self Injury, Self Harm.

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This is a controversial topic to write about. Yet, it is something that is absolutely necessary. When we think about the self-harming process, the usual progression of thought leads to the cutting of a wrist – a temporary relief system for someone who is suffering. Inflicting physical pain on oneself can provide an escape from persistent psychological pain. I’m talking from experience. I’ve been down this path, and yes, it did provide a small escape. Some intermittent relief. Well, that was until I felt unavoidable shame regarding my actions. It resulted in further grief and emotional suffering. A year went past before I began to realise that the process of self-harm was a causative factor in my long-term emotional overloading. It was triggering a negative cycle of events, which inevitably prolonged my recovery process. Continue reading “Self Injury, Self Harm.”

New Beginnings (Vlog)

With 2018 well underway, I decided to put a vlog together. It has been over a month since my last post, primarily due to some personal battles. We all have things we have to fight through, and now I have successfully battled through to the other side of mine, I decided to create this.

I hope everyone is enjoying their 2018 so far, and thank you for your continued reading.

 

To care is to be vulnerable.

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Do you care about anything? Looking back into human history, even the most putrid of individuals cared about something. Caring is an indirect confirmation of vulnerability. It may be highlighted through an achievement, or a particularly difficult loss. Family, work, hobbies, health…we are all vulnerable in some manner. Yes, guys, that means us, too. Pretending that we are about as emotional as a lump of sedimentary rock is restrictive, fictitious, and downright hazardous to our personal wellbeing. Continue reading “To care is to be vulnerable.”

Freedom: the core component of anxiety.

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Anxiety is simply a subdivision of fear; primarily of the future, or simply arising as a reaction to current events. However, would this fear be diminished if our freedom was somewhat removed? When I take a retrospective look at anxious moments in my life, most of these are intercalated with the freedom of choice. Going to University, studying abroad, travelling alone; all of these initially filled me with dread, despite the obvious fact that I didn’t have to go through with any of them. Conversely, in situations that I have absolutely no control over, anxiety tends to remain minimal. For example, the past. No matter how much an individual begins to dwell on past mistakes, they cannot be altered. Getting old is also a good example. Of course, the natural exception associated with age is our inevitable death. The anxiety that arises from this (for me, anyway) is associated with whether I manage to enjoy a happy, successful, and fulfilling life. The aging process itself though, and the experiences that are associated with it, fill me with interest. I am curious to see where the path leads. Continue reading “Freedom: the core component of anxiety.”

Fear does not stop death, it stops life.

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Fear, at its worst, only deals in absolutes. An entirely crippling entity, its very nature can annihilate any previous confidence going into an activity or situation. Yet, it never directly alters what you’re scared of. Think about that for a second. Sure, in a job interview or a college exam, fear plays its part in the nerve-wracking tension that ultimately tends to boil over as you fiddle, pace and overthink. This, of course, is normal for everyone. It’s the extended period of fear, alongside concurrent personal scaremongering which can have the least favourable consequences. Continue reading “Fear does not stop death, it stops life.”

The art of creating problems that do not exist.

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Overthinking. We all do it. We all try our best to stay positive and remain optimistic. Occasionally however, we fall through a trapdoor infested with negativity that all too frequently emerges beneath our feet. That persistent obsession to worry about, and over-analyse past experiences – experiences, by the way, that we can’t just miraculously eradicate from existence. Current stresses on the other hand, we CAN adapt for. Nevertheless, we still read into things that just aren’t there. If you often find yourself doing this, psychologists refer to you as a ruminator, or overthinker. My defining example of this would be the stereotypical ‘first date’ scenario – and due to its relevance, I will use myself as an example. Continue reading “The art of creating problems that do not exist.”

Silence can be our greatest or poorest response.

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In my last article (entitled ‘Maybe it’s all in your head), I went into detail surrounding common naïve statements and ‘advice’ that are often provided from friends, colleagues and family members of those who suffer from a psychiatric disease. These diseases can range from unipolar and bipolar depression, to schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Complications can arise immediately due to many of us not being fully aware of what could be considered insensitive – I think we have all probably made this mistake at least once in our lifetime. Because of this, our intended support can be misconstrued, resulting in the worsening of the situation. Providing support and showing compassion, kindness, and empathy all depends on your ability to SHOW rather than TELL. Thus here, I want to discuss different techniques we can all employ to help provide support to our loved ones.

“Is there something that I can do for you?” 

This removes the imposing approach out of the equation. You are showing genuine care without being invasive. Your empathy and concern will be seen clearly, despite the likelihood that you will receive a ‘no’ in response. However, never register this as an automatic negative. From first hand experience, when someone has asked me this question, it helped me more than I initially realized. I was able to re-evaluate. I began to understand that people do indeed care about me. However, if he/she asks you to sit through the new Transformers movie, or file a tax return… my apologies.   

“What do you think could help you feel better?” 

This may not be obvious, but upon self-reflection, they may identify something they really want to do. Whether that is to go for a meal or to travel. I appreciate the former may be far more acquirable than the latter. However, this can link in with the previous point. It may not be initially obvious to someone suffering that a person can be of assistance. Subtle suggestions regarding healthy eating and exercise, alongside sufficient sleep can be helpful, but avoid pushiness. If you can highlight what they enjoy, or what could be of benefit, that is how you may be able to contribute.

Talk and share

If someone initially doesn’t open up to you, perhaps begin by opening up to them. Firstly, this shows that you clearly care enough to talk about your own personal issues. Further, it may help highlight that they are not alone when it comes to emotional difficulties. The majority of us would have had a skeleton in the closet at some time or another. Being able to open yourself up may be the initial catalyst that they need to start doing the same. The first time I spoke to a friend about my depression, it was primarily down to the fact they opened up to me about a failed relationship, and their sense of worthlessness. We both leaned onto one another, supporting and hoisting each other up during one of the most difficult times in our respective lives.

Listen

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to say nothing. Yes, silence is uncomfortable. We always want to fill potentially awkward silences with conversation, even if it’s about the weather. But saying nothing, and just listening… that can be the best response you can provide, and sometimes… the most appropriate. It can be the best way to connect with someone that we love. Just providing someone with our utmost attention. It is basic, and yet so powerful. Just take it all in. Care about it. Most of the time caring about it is far more important than understanding it.

In the end, if you are not supporting the people around you, then what are you doing? Leave the advice to the experts, but be there for those you love. I used to think that by masking my struggles with silence, that they might miraculously disappear. For me, suffering with a psychiatric illness… it’s like drowning. Except, whilst you suffocate, you can see everyone else around you still breathing.

Silence is our worst and greatest response. The silence of someone suffering is the most powerful of screams. However, the silence of a friend, who provides their care and attention with the utmost sincerity and authenticity; this may just be the best thing you can do to help.

 

Maybe it’s all in your head.

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Just because you cannot see something, does not necessarily mean that its not there. I am not a religious man, but let us use God as an example. Billions of people who populate this planet believe in the existence of some form of God, despite no previous physical interaction with such an entity. There is this extended belief that ‘something’ exists, without any apparent observation. Thus, can we not make this applicable to mental health disorders and psychiatric disease?  Continue reading “Maybe it’s all in your head.”

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

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It’s kind of a rule of thumb for me to self-doubt going into any kind of project. I always think that I shouldn’t be doing it and I don’t know how to do it and I’m going to fail and that I fooled them. I always try to find a way out.’ – Heath Ledger.

Self-doubt is debilitating, and it effects everyone. From Oscar winning actors to promising young students. It is one of the major obstacles that inhibits us from living the life we truly deserve. An unbearable weight to bear; soul destroying, and ambition denying.

Our emotional growth, then, appears to be retrograde: shrivelling as we age. Let us put this into perspective for a second. As children, whilst learning how to walk, whether we fell 10, 100 or 1000 times, self-doubt never crept into our minds. Why then, do we now consistently believe we are trying to be something that we are not destined to be? Continue reading “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”