Exercise

How exercise saves my life

Exercise is great. It does great many things for one’s physical health. What is often unrealised by many, however, is how great it is for your mental health.

When I first started getting depressed, way back younger, I used to do one of two things. On the one hand, I binge ate and got super fat. Like unhealthy fat. Real plain old, ridiculously overweight. Once I realised this, I basically starved myself into being thinner. And yeah that worked for my body. I mean I was pathetically weak and lethargic, living off a diet of slices of bread and coffee. So not only was I starving myself, I was getting no vital nutrients or minerals, and a cycle of self hate began.

In order to combat this, I went to the doctor for advice. Exercise they said.

Let’s face it, being depressed makes you unable to get out of bed somedays. Trust me. I know. So for the doctor to say that to me was like telling someone with no arms to go and tie up their shoelaces. It fell on deaf ears.

The thing is, I realised quite quickly with the help of a psychotherapist and Prozac, that I could eat more without my body hating me. The key was eating without feeling guilty, and without feeling like I was getting fat with every mouthful.

It’s true what they say, 70% of how your body gains and loses weight is down to eating. The other 30% is indeed exercise. So as the help began to take effect after a period of about a year, I then started eating better. Not just shit, like healthy food, balanced meals. But I still hated myself.

The key was in exercise. When you exercise, you change the way you think about yourself. Whether it be weights or cardio, each rep, each step forces your demons to lose their grip on your mind. The difference from changing the way you eat to changing how much you exercise is that you can feel the difference. You can feel your muscles working, changing, your heart pumping faster. It is a good, positive feeling that induces many chemical reactions in your body that prevents your serotonin levels from dropping too low. It maintains them.

Look if you’re depressed, the first thing I’d say is go get help, no shame in it. With that, start changing your diet, then finally, add in some exercise. Trust me it takes time. It has been 6 years since I was diagnosed and I still don’t take my own advice.

The thing is, balance is good and necessary. Don’t overdo the exercise; rest is important. Make sure you’re sleeping. Eat well on rest days, but allow yourself to eat like a possessed rat on others. Go and have a drink on some days, but just water, green tea and the odd coffee on others. The balance is important for Buddhists and something I wholly advocate. Live neither wholly good nor bad, find a balance, live half of each. I find that since being one of those vegetarian types I’ve branched out my eating, looking at meat alternatives and eating a tonne more fruit and veg in each meal and cooking from scratch. But whatever works for you.

Personally, I find cardio releases more of these ‘endorphins’ (I’m no doctor, I don’t know what happens) than weight training, but weight training in general makes me feel better about my body in the long run, so I incorporate the two. Before weights, I tend to take on a cardio HIIT to start the release and energise the body. I then head into weights, pumped and eager. Finally, I’ll finish by either jogging home from the gym, or a 10/15 minute medium paced jog. That way I get the best of both worlds.

The most vital part about exercise though is the music playlist. I tend to listen to some real heavy, intense music that pumps you enough to lift as heavy/as many reps as you can (if that is what you’re going for) or running as hard as you can. Blocking out the rest of the world/your demons/the pain of exercise is exceptionally important, and the best thing for that is the perfect playlist that does not need skipping. I wholly recommend never giving up and even a brisk walk is better than never doing anything. Trust me, exercise will help no end.

Here’s my playlist. I don’t need to hit that shuffle button.

Letlive – ‘Banshee (Ghost Fame)’, ’27 Club’, ‘Le Prologue/Sick, Sick 6.8 Billion’

Microwave – ‘Vomit’

Tyler, The Creator – ‘Yonkers’

Palm Reader – ‘I watch the Fire Chase My Tongue’, ‘Sing out, Survivor’

Dillinger Escape Plan – ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’, ‘Farewell Mona Lisa’

Heck – ‘Powerboat Disaster’, ‘Whorepaedo’

Balance and Composure – ‘Reflection’

Basement – ‘Spoiled’

Architects – ‘Naysayer’, ‘Gravedigger’, ‘Gone with the Wind’, ‘These Colours Don’t Run’, ‘Early Grave’

Parkway Drive – ‘Leviathan I’, ‘Dead Man’s Chest’

Drenge – ‘Running Wild’

Night Verses – ‘Antidepressants’

Sleep Talk – ‘Sorry’

Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes – ‘Juggernaut’, ‘Devil Inside Me’, ‘I Hate You’

Enter Shikari – ‘Solidarity’, ‘Sorry You’re Not a Winner’, ‘Gandhi Mate, Gandhi’, ‘Redshift’, ‘The Last Garrison’

Slaves – ‘The Hunter’, ‘Cheer Up London’

(Guilty pleasure) Shaka Ft. JME – ‘Say Nada [Remix]’

 

Homelessness

Homelessness should not exist

How often do you walk past someone in the street, sat there in grubby clothes, weather beaten and looking down. Normally with a means of collecting a small amount of change laid out in front of them.

My god, why has life come to this?

How is it in this modern world that has given us so much, has also taken so much from so many?

How can you walk past someone without a home literally begging for money for food and drink?

If everyone that walked past donated this person just 50p or whatever small change they have, surely that would make all the difference?

Why are they homeless?

We are fed lies about addiction, violence and vagrancy. That’s what these people turn to because of the way the system works.

You see, if the government strip affordable housing away from those that need it, or even raise rent prices, or price up land so the private housing sector can justify affording it, then these people are less likely to be able to afford to live there.

So then, these same people are were denied a rightful education in an underfunded school in an underfunded area, how are they able to afford a house with no job prospects in order to pay for it?

I mean these people might get the dole, but how can that afford a house?

Meanwhile the cheap housing gets snapped up by the wealthy. I mean, in order to make money, you need to make more money. So all the houses that are out of reach by those in need get bought by those that don’t.

So we got less social housing, less affordable housing for those in need.

As the government are stripping funding from social housing and allowing the members of parliament (across most parties, it isn’t a one party thing), to buy up cheap property from councils, they turn it into private housing for profit.

Which prices the poor out the market.

The ‘Right to Buy’ scheme resulted in desolation of affordable housing in the early 80’s. A 2013 survey showed around one third of Right to Buy houses were now owned by private landlords whilst the son of Thatcher’s housing minister Ian Gow owned some 40 houses. What was left is in ‘less desirable’ areas that are areas of disrepair, underfunded and forgotten. Houses are unkempt and no one wants to live there.

So people have no choice. They get priced out of having anywhere to live.

So the next time you see a homeless person. Think of how they’ve been screwed by our own government yeah? And victimised for it, endlessly.

Give them a quid, maybe even have a chat.

But don’t judge them.

Why Depression is not cool.

It is time to acknowledge that Depression should not be a social media fad.

As much as one in four people experience a mental health problem each year. There is no doubt that it is becoming more common. Indeed, one in six people report anxiety and depression in any given week. Of course, as population increases and ages, this figure is likely to increase. But why? Interestingly, the rise of social media is at the end of such finger pointing. It’s vast audiences and various blogs have come to make a breed of role models who justify mental health problems as ‘cool.’

There’s no doubt about it, anxiety and depression are on the up. In the last 25 years, it has increased 70% amongst teenagers. This propagation amongst an age group is vast, and appears to turn in on itself in a rather vicious cycle. Feeling unable to talk to parents to avoid personal indictment, teens turn to social media in order to air their views, where it is more acceptable to talk about. On the one hand, this is great. A platform to air views unabated by peers and friends, encouraged by lessening of the stigma promoted by Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax and the like.

But this is WHERE the problem lies. Sites such as Tumblr and Twitter are full of blogs and users who are frank in their problems, but carry an underlying persona of a certain air of higher intelligence, mystery, even sexual side to their issues. As the hits on the site increase, the more this age group are exposed to the implication that mental health is ‘in’, and therefore the cycle begins. This is a new problem. And as a sufferer of depression, something I am ashamed of doing a few times myself, particularly if drunk. These pages, blogs and sites are where mental health issues are seen to thrive. Everyone wants to be like their idols, right? And if your idol is falsifying the pretences of mental illness, then you can too.

The problem also lies with the generation above. The ‘stiff upper lip’ mantra of not talking about mental health is still used by Piers Morgan, who’s tweets can be just as damaging as the blogs. Artists such as Drake promote a certain ‘image’, a so-called ‘sad boy’ doctrine that justifies how either pretending you are depressed, or making mental health issues part of your image can damage a generation to the point that their rebellion becomes a complete antithesis. It’s also amazing how down you become about what other people are doing. Is it F.O.M.O? Is it not being content with yourself and your own life? To be honest it’s not that simple, but definitely phasing out social media, or certainly reducing your time spent on it can help.

What has been great about social media sites, however,is the platform for views to be aired unabated is that it has helped drop the stigmas and taboos of mental health. It can be discussed. What is deeply worrying, however, is the lack of people who listen and are willing to support. Social media has clouded dropping the stigma with creating an image and, worryingly, has provided a melting pot where no one seems to listen. I urge you, if you have something that is really worrying you and playing on your mind, tell someone close. Furthermore, if you THINK someone may have an underlying issue, please ask. You are exactly the kind of people this world needs.

Please do not suffer in silence, but do not be misled by the internet. Don’t be frightened to talk, but choose someone who you think will listen.

If you ARE struggling with a mental health problem, please see the provided links.

http://www.nhs.uk/nhs-direct/Pages/NHS-Direct-legacy-enquiries.aspx

http://www.samaritans.org/

https://www.mind.org.uk

http://www.italk.org.uk/self-referral/

Sleep

 I can’t sleep.

Recently sleep has become more and more of a problem for me. It just doesn’t happen. If it actually does, I normally get nightmares.

You ever had sleep paralysis? That kind of awake but dreaming purgatory that puts your body to rest but keeps your mind alive? I get that a lot. It’s not pleasant. I guess if I could explain it, it would be like having your dreams, complete with sound and vision, projected onto the room around you, as your eyes are open. But your body is numb. You can breathe, you can see, but that’s about it. Imagine having a panic attack but genuinely being unable to move.

If it happens though, panicking is the opposite of what you need to do. If someone is there, the first instinct is to call for help. But hey, your whole body is paralysed, so it comes out like you’re choking on marbles in this mumbled, muffled screech from the back of your throat. Just try and breathe deep, controlled, measured breaths and wait until it passes.

This normally happens on waking up from a particularly vivid or unpleasant dream. But my mind likes fucking with me, so I get it before I fall asleep too. Which makes it hard for me to want to sleep. So I don’t.

I close my eyes to attempt a sleep, and all hell breaks loose, my imagination running rampant like a horse escaping a wildfire. It FUCKING sucks, and that wildfire is essentially my brain. The horse is me. Except I am awake, the horse is on fire, and everything is on fire because I am my brain.

If I do fall asleep though, I tend to a good old fashioned nightmare. So if I do sleep, it’s not going to be nice. I had a dream last night that was like an episode of Stranger Things. It went like this:

I was in a lighthouse, real big, real old and derelict. Everything was metallic, poorly lit and dully coloured. For some reason, a group of my friends (who had no faces) I were tasked with ‘house sitting’ it. All was chill, I was wandering around this big old place having a look around. Alas, my curious nature got the better of me and I stumble across a door. The door was locked, appeared to be off of a walkway and made entirely of coarse wood planks. So for whatever reason I grab the nearest thing and throw it at it. This crimson looking cushion flew towards the door and of course nothing happened as it hit it and fell uselessly to the floor. So i turn to leave and something grabs my shoulder and I turned around a little scared. I could feel it on my body. It was not happy. Out of nowhere this huge wooden stick smashes the floor repeatedly, suspended in the air at one end. I could hear it through my body. The sound is ungodly. Naturally I run for the staircase to head to the top to seek comfort in the others. Following me is a whole host of objects smashing around the spiral staircase. I make it to the top, I am not alone but I don’t appear to exist as the others ignore me. I fall to the floor in the foetal position at the top of the building, ready to face death. So I’m screaming in my dream, and wake up doing exactly that. I twisted my ankle not long ago, and as I woke I could feel the pain from running up those stairs in my dream throughout my leg. I could feel it.

This was all scarily vivid, so I wrote a short instrumental guitar piece to kind of explain how I feel after I’ve been stewing on it all day. Link below.

Thanks.

Sonnet #1: Coffee 

The morning would be harsh without it,

Oh wonder of the modern world 

Come save me from the bottomless pit

The decaffeinated underworld

Energise my frame just keep it moving 

Alert my senses, hold my eyelids 

No sleep no rest there’s no improving 

My dreary state but it forbids 

To let my tired body be beat

By the day the tasks ahead

Living with it is no mean feat 

But without it a day I dread

So appreciate the caffeine high

Without my coffee I just might die.

Odyssey

I wrote a thing in the style of Joyce. You know that part of Ulysses that everyone hates? The pages and pages of unpunctuated, non-grammared train of thought. Yeah I wrote something in the style of that. Here it is.

on leaving the house i encounter immediate heat and an existential crisis but i walk on fumbling down the long path it is straight my steps resonate through my body my face moves at the thought of today it does an upturned smile and frowns at the seems like brown paper does when its creased the walk is long but not arduous just long monotony especially through the suburbs i dont really think about much at all just reaching my destination which is closer now the heat burns into my scalp and the wind freshens my skin but im hot too hot when i reach the main road i walk out drowned in sound the headphones project and i stride out as though nothing was coming screech screech said the tyres and now i look upon the giant steeple of the medieval church yet modern i always thought of hanging myself off the spire it was high and id close my eyes just gone over into the blackest sleep and endless dreams ah the feeling of calm would envelop my soul but what is a soul is it connected to my brain and my body is it my body i havent really thought about it that much but i know i really want to feel a sense of calm today in the infinite blackness i really want to know if anyone else has ever thought about their mortality everyone just rattles and hums walking down the street eyes open making noise buzzing like household appliances oblivious to the blinding fact that theyre degenerating slowly oh so slowly living to work i cant go to work in this mindset im useless but sometimes thats hope there is hope in people that there is oneness in the blackness everyone is together