How to Live with an Anxious Mind

A Guide

Lately I have been suffering with the worse anxiety I have ever had. After a crisis I am left mentally exhausted and unfit for work. Instead of wallowing in self pity I wanted to write a list for my anxious self to follow; so I did. You can have it too, as and when you need it.

1. Listen to other people. Be observant and take notice of the good things people say about you. If different people are telling you the same things, particularly good things or things to work on, the opinion tends to be fact. People are ultimately good, and so are you despite your tendency to overthink and second guess. Just take stock of what has been said, and work on believing it. It is an incredibly difficult process and may take a lifetime, but it is the most necessary part of coping.

2. It is okay not to be okay, but it is also okay to be okay. It is important to realise that being okay and not okay are two different states of being you are entirely capable of. Do not, however, get sucked into being okay as a life norm. A lot of anxiety sufferers are empaths as well as overthinkers, so feeling someone else’s pain is as real as feeling your own. Make sure you put your own thoughts first as leeching others is toxic. You must realise you cannot be there for everyone, and saying no is better than saying yes.

3. Following from the above, cut the toxic relationships that assist with feeling not okay from your life. From family and friends down to relationships of a romantic nature, cut them if they are causing anxiety in a negative way. Anxiety, in relationships, is the norm. Overthinking can be present, but a good relationship is one where reassurance is provided when you need it. If the other party is not providing such or creating a constant source of doubt, then there is no harm in letting go but no harm if you don’t. Realise your worth, if people are getting to you, tell them. If they appear truthful or honest in response, sit down and work out ways you can improve your communication and lessen your own overthinking. If the response appears wholly negative and leaves you feeling worse – consider this. Use your worth to think if the relationship is one that provides with contentment and joy or not.

4. Say what is on your mind. If it is to a specific person, about a specific thing – say it. Thoughts can be all consuming and are better out of your head than in it. The response then becomes easier to digest and discuss than letting the potential outcomes eat away at you. The worst that could happen is exactly that.

5. The present is your friend. You cannot change the past; the future is uncertain and can eat away at you with its lack of concrete grounding. The past has happened. It can be hard to make peace with it, but trying to do so helps you quell its perturbing nature. If it leaves you with scars, find positive ways of healing them. Yoga, meditation, exercise, reading, writing, find a hobby. Deal with the past in expressive ways. Inasmuch, the future’s uncertainty is enough to freak anyone out. But living each day in the present informs the future you of your intentions. Uncertainty breeds overthinking. Ground yourself in the present and battle this.

6. Have a strategy. If you find yourself overthinking to the point of spiral and panic, you need a strategy . Having one reliable person in your place of work, teaching, school or whatever group you are in is a great technique of immediate short term assistance. With one codeword or sign that communicates that you are in need of help, you can seek immediate comfort. Give your signal and remove yourself from the situation to calm yourself, regroup and rebuild. If you are alone, seek a happy place or song. Even a memory locked away in your mind can do the same. Control your breathing and focus on you. Scan your body and surroundings. Above all, tell yourself you’re going to be okay. The anxious mind feeds off irrational and illogical thoughts. Focus, worry about them, if need be, informed by the context. Look at the wider picture. WHY are you worrying about them. WHAT NOW should I be focussing on instead. Baby steps. One at a time. You’ll be fine.

7. Seek help. Perhaps the most important. If your quality of life is at rock bottom or feeling unimportant to the world, now is your time to fight. Heading to your GP or hospital, talking with a close one, phoning a helpline or even 999 us better than talking and thinking yourself into a black hole. Confronting these thoughts are terrifying but wholly necessary. I know it is scary to talk about these thoughts, but if you want to feel more self worth and stifle the anxiety, you simply are going to have too. That is life. Besides, there is no judgement. Human beings are capable of great deals of empathy and love if they are close to you. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with taking medication, although you may not want to wander down that lane. It can be highly beneficial. Outside of the NHS and private healthcare, there are a myriad of services designed to sit you down and talk about YOU. They are a call or google away.

8. The best version of you is your current you. Ignore what social media and its idealistic, unrealistic bias shows you. Sometimes all you can do is have a day. Have one day. That is sometimes your greatest achievement. Getting out of bed and having a day is the best thing you can ever do. On those days, read this list. Everything is temporary; it will pass. Someone told me not to exclude myself from the belief that every person can be great and are capable of amazing things. They are right. Your self worth is important, so on the days you do not want to move, breathe or even live, look at your list of what people say about you and seek the truth in it.

The best version of you, is you.

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Social Media

Close your eyes. 

The inescapable all encompassing medium of technological communication is deeply embedded in modern culture. I am can say for almost 100% of the westernised world, that you or at least someone you know has a form of social media. How are you reading this, after all?

To say it is wholly bad or wholly good would be incorrect. We have access to unprecedented levels and volumes of data in highly digestible quantities at the print of a finger. Why is this?

Necessary it is not. Useful it is. You can reach someone the other end of the globe in less time taken to boil a kettle. Keeping in contact with loved ones is easier than ever, but the catch comes with the following: you are exposed to layers of falsehood and fakery along with it. You can see what anyone is doing at any time. This is bad.

Constant comparisons, yearning for change in the self and newfound self loathing and, dare I say it, jealousy, follow suit.

I see it like this: In A Clockwork Orange, Alex’s eyes are prized open as he is forced to watch all of the things he loves (albeit violence, anger and debauchery) played before him on loop. For hours. Social media is forcing this to happen to us, to you, to society.

The eye is not to be open for longer than it needs to blink. With our eyes now perma-open, social media forces all we love and hate through our retinas with no remorse. I encourage you – blink. Delete these applications. I’m just as guilty as you are. Whilst I have somewhat succeeded in deleting this technological hell from my phone, I still regularly use arguably the worst of them all, Instagram.  I still torture myself into believing a better life is out there than the one I am currently living. That may be, but I need to blink more often. Sometimes I need to close my eyes altogether and rest them.

The escape from the clenches of social media’s simulacra is vital to a healthy mind. Embrace what you have not what you have not. Close your eyes and imagine your own world to be as populated with everything you see on social media and perhaps yearn for in your life. Now open them and notice all these things actually there in front of you.

Lunchtime Thoughts

The Philosophy of Maths

The everyday world can only approximate an ultimate, unchanging reality. A reality is constructed in the human mind and is important and always relevant. Mathematics is an implication of a reality; a thought.

As such thought can be written as an equation: thought a + thought b = thought c; this is both true and untrue. Thought a is a congregation of beliefs and edicts, as are thoughts b and c. They can stand alone or be manipulated, like a fraction. Thought is never a constant but paradoxically holds truth or relevance. 1+1 = 2 is true because the mind has constructed it to be so.

Thus, can a mathematician believe in God? Does maths make us godly, or is it discovered? Is it created? Maths neither proves nor disproves God but explains the implications of such godliness through logic or reason.

Maths can explain the human condition through this constructed thought. A mathematician sees the world geometrically through logical process and rigor. Humans construct laws and thought that make sense of their world in as much the same way a creative type can allegorise it to make sense of their own. Put a creative and a mathematically minded person in one room to analyse a Jackson Pollock, and I am sure that the rhetoric of discussion will differ starkly from each, from the ‘meaning’ of the art to the angles, vectors and lines of throw of paint. It is meaning from being that is constructed.

Being itself is the relation of oneness within a group. A  human who is being is a human numbered ‘1’, in which we use to relate to the other ‘1’s who are also being out there. The ‘1’ occupies a space in which other ‘1’s do. We make assumptions in relation to these ‘1’s that in life their is capacity for the conjoining of two ‘1’s to make a ‘2’. Being is merely mathematical loneliness dictated by probability; an abstract thought rooted in the notion that maths constructs and implies Truth in all.

Suicide

Mental health is applicable to everyone. Everyone has mental health. Poor mental health is indiscriminatory to colour/race/ethnicity/gender/profession/sexuality. Depression happens. Anxiety occurs.

Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade are exemplary of that. Mental health effects those even at the top of their respective food chains. Is it a creative/critical problem; Hemmingway remarked hed never met an intelligent happy person. These people who are critiqued daily, who express themselves critically I argue are most succeptible to poor mental health as they are their own worst critics. Two incredibly talented, world leading people that fell foul to stigma and the universal problem that is poor mental health.

Please, reach out to those you love and whom you are close to. A simple ‘are you okay’ will suffice. Letting one know you are there. Sometimes you need to be asked, sometimes you need to feel comfortable in reaching out.

Sometimes, suicide seems a viable option. It is not a cowardly or selfish act; asking someone to live for something they don’t want to live for is. It enforced guilt and paradoxically provides less of an emphasis to live. When the weight of your world rests on thin ice, sometimes it’s okay to let it break.

What you can do is provide reasons why living is worth it:

I relate to this on a level where I have been taught to read and write critically of others work and my own, enforcing a view of nothing ever being good enough; I am the eternal pessimist of my own world. Ive seen the states, Canada and some of the most beautiful places the eye could meet. But does that give me a sense of happiness? No. it makes me wonder if there is anything ill miss.

Food, drink, smells, sights, sounds, places, people. Will I miss them? That’s what keeps me going. I live for the day, not for my life. I want to know if ill eat the best dauphinoise potato ill ever have at somepoint, or wash my car, if there’s a book I won’t read, or laugh with my sister again. I don’t want those to be the last times.

If the perks of being a wallflower has taught me anything, its that you cant save anyone, but everyone is worth saving. Another paradox. People can only save themselves, and asking someone to live for the benefit of anyone other than themselves is selfish, but helping them realise they mean a great deal to a lot of people and there is a horizon beyond their great unknown worth walking towards is something to consider. At that point you realise that you are worth saving, and something can be done. Matt Haig was right; you need reasons to stay alive. When they are gone, leaving this world for the realm of blissful ignorance may be the greatest/only release from pain and torture you can receive. Asking someone to live for anything other than self is selfish, but the most selfless acts derive from helping one realise they are worth living.

Every day I weigh up the good and bad, and whether my life is worth living, and im still not convninced it is. But those potatos aren’t going to eat themselves. Be content enough to accept the eternal occurrence of your life, and live it a thousand times. Remember at any point you can pick the infinite number of occurrences and live it; you can make that change.

Make sure you look someone you love, romantically or otherwise, in their eyes next time you see them. I guarantee they’ll brighten at the sight of you. You’re someones photograph they look at and smile, the memory of a night in a city that made you feel worth something, words written inspired by you, someones world or universe.

Simply, you are worth something to someone, so you must be worth something to this world.

The quest for Truth

I was naive

I’ve been seeing a counsellor recently, just to make sense of why I feel the way I feel sometimes. It’s true that trauma from your past breeds poor mental health, but rather naively I thought seeing a counsellor would make me happy.

I was wrong, but I’m glad about it. Seeing a counsellor has helped me become a more reflective person, not a happier one.

You see, people who lack direction, hope or any kind of sense of being often, like I do, feel a great sense of worry and nothingness. Therefore we seek negative and toxic relationships/friendships/outlets that are easy and allow us to feel something other than nothing.

This is all too common amongst the youth of today who resort to social media, which is poison, to try and seek a collective culture of people who feel similar to them. Social media is emblazoned with enough images of war, poverty, corruption and outright negativity and hate to last a lifetime. Coupled with being in an environment with inflation rocketing and wages stagnating, of course young people are going to be sad. But I digress.

Seeing my counsellor has made me think about things differently in the quest for my own ‘Truth’ to give purpose and direction, as well as providing a productive outlet and a bit of impartial guidance. We delved deep into my past and a lot of things started to make sense. I was using toxicity to feel as it was what I was used too.

I’m not saying that going to a therapist is the key to making you happy. I’m an optimistic nihilist and I can confirm that is not what a therapist or counsellor does. I’m talking through different reflective exercises, you learn that happiness is most felt upon reflection. You are able to connect little dots that provide a sort of contemplation of how you felt in that time or stage of your life.

I can confirm the last time I was truly a bit more content was after my first year of uni in the summer break. After that I used different mechanisms in order to feel something other than nothing. But I don’t regret anything; I am a more reflective, considerate person as a result. Hopefully dear old Plato would approve in these efforts to reach some kind of transcendence.

In order to improve your state of living, working out your Being in relation to the spaces you frequent (relationships/work life/places you go) and trying to point towards different ‘Truths’ (points of meaning) in your life is a good reflective practice to start and end each day.

Try this: write down all the things, good or bad, that happened during the day and how they made you feel. Once that’s done, cross out the bad points and write opposite feelings and how, rationally in that situation, they could be achieved.

You may not achieve ultimate happiness, but eventually you just may master your own feelings.

Architects

Why the mean so much to me

Last night I watched a career defining moment for a band, if not British music.

Architects, a metal band from the south, headlined in front of 10,000 people at Alexandra Palace.

To see 10,000 people screaming some quite incredible music back to a band who could only have ever dreamed of this even two years ago was incredible. I guess it’s testament to the way music brings people together.

Just over two years ago, when Tom, their chief song writer, friend and brother passed, things looked like they’d have to be wrapped up. But with the addition of Sylosis guitarist Josh, and a togetherness and unity amongst fan base and artist, they pushed on. They released a new single, played Reading and Leeds, and fought emotion to deliver a quite incredible resurgence in the face of adversity.

Using the emotion and channelling it into power, love, unity and music, they have moved from headlining 4000 capacity venues, to 10,000 capacity venues in two years.

They’ve used music as a platform to battle racism, sexism, homophobia and hate. They’ve promoted the fantastic charity ‘Sea Shepherd’. They’ve earned admirers, none less than Jeremy Corbyn who extended his admiration before their performance last night.

Dan, Tom’s twin, could have decided to give everything up after his passing. But he didn’t. He got married, is expecting a child and above all, is carrying on flying the flag for his fallen brother.

But don’t take this gushing of admiration for fighting for change and uniting in love from just me. Last night, I was in a room of 10,000 people who agreed.

Sponsored Walk

an update

Okay, so Charlie and I FINALLY have a date. The 17th of March is when we shall be undertaking our epic little journey in the name of charity. Without breaks, it would take us 17 hours and 23 minutes. Heck.

Chances are we will take numerous breaks, so I am hoping we will make it in 18 hours. London to Brighton is roughly 52 miles along the quickest walking route (according to Google Maps, haha).

In metric, that’s damned near 84Km. Ouch.

We’ll be starting from Trafalgar at 6am, until midnight the same day. Saturday, 17th March. Charlie is as fit as a flea, and myself less so, so I’m counting on him to march onward and inspire me to do the same. It’s going to be hard, but for a very good cause.

Please follow the link here and be generous ❤ https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ben-hammond20

That’s all folks.

 

Much love xo