READING NOT YOUR JAM? KICK BACK, RELAX, AND LISTEN TO ME RAMBLE BELOW:
The number of those suffering from anxiety and depression continues to soar with no sign of slowing down. As a result, we'll see the number of those losing their lives to suicide scale to unimaginable heights. We're already seeing this with the iGeneration—between 2000 and 2015, there was a 31% jump in the number of 13 to 18-year-olds who lost their lives to suicide. That’s a "holy-seismic-fuck" leap if ever there was one.
The problem is universal. And what really pisses me off is that much of it is preventable. It would be difficult to argue that one of — if not — the main culprit(s) for the leap is smartphone usage and social media. And I won’t even touch on social media in this article.
A NEW ERA IS BORN:
The world has changed drastically in the last 20 years due to technology. This combined with the rise of feminism is leaving young men utterly confused and lost as they struggle to identify with their new role—whatever the fuck that is!
We now live in a world driven by purpose, and while we might be going through the messy period of an exciting shift, exuberant ambitions of making the world a better place — while noble — are causing many to fall flat on their face. Are our ambitions too grand? If history is anything to go by, then yes. As a result, we achieve less because we don’t take the pragmatic steps in the process to achieve more. We want the pot of gold without searching for the rainbow. This often results in rage when all we desire is peace.
I don't believe this problem can be resolved in my lifetime. That would be nuts. But I am hopeful that one day we can celebrate a decline in the number of victims. That still might be ambitious, but anything more ambitious would most certainly fuck me up, which ties back to our having too grand ambitions. Granted, it's probably not the best analogy, but think about it: A vegan who gets pissed off and demonizes someone for eating a cow just gets angrier with the world in general because they want everyone to see the world through their lens. You get a doubling down on rage. On the other hand, if you have a vegan who leads by example, and puts their message out there in a non-judgemental way, they are far more likely to influence diehard carnivores to turn to kale. And I'm vegan—just not a very good one! So by focussing only on that which you control, you will be in a far greater position to reclaim your life. And that's where your focus must be.
I’m going to reference waiting for people to die-off further down so feel free to call me out on my hypocrisy.
THE MESSAGE TO THOSE SUFFERING MUST BE CLEAR:
1. Change is possible.
2. The only person that can make it happen is you.
3. Yes. You can get help, and you should get help. Even if you have a penis.
LET’S WELCOME THE STIGMA TO THE CONVERSATION:
There’s no hiding—it can literally kick you in the nuts from any direction. My general advice on the stigma is simply, fuck it! Because it’s out of your control.
There’s a more deadly side to the stigma beyond those that say, “get over it, snowflake.” They certainly don't help, but while we wait for them to die off, something profoundly more dangerous is happening: those suffering are travelling in their thousands to Facebook support groups set-up by others in despair where the narrative is not one of hope nor acceptance, but one that confirms their worst nightmares: this is it, this is shit, and there’s fuck all you can do about it.
Yes. My belief is the deadliest of all stigmas is the one put out there by those suffering greatly. This fucks everything up, but it’s the effect—NOT the cause. According to the WHO, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds globally. And just like any other disease—there is a path to get there. But when it comes to mental health, society is unwilling to accept the severity of the problem and empathize with those suffering—which IS part of the cause.
HERE ARE 6 SIMPLE TIPS TO HELP TURN YOUR LIFE AROUND:
**While some of these I've mentioned before. I've never wrote an article for men before, and they're too important to not re-iterate.
Most of us can’t breathe for shit. And because the breath plays a pivotal role in controlling emotions—it wouldn’t be the worst idea to get better at it. You don’t have to be “enlightened” to meditate. And whether you’re into the hippy-dippy stuff or not—you stand to benefit greatly.
Put your smartphone to good use by downloading the app, headspace, and commit to 30 days practice. You can also download the app, momentum, to help monitor your progress and ingrain the habit.
2. CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
In my experience, the worst thing you can do when panic attacks is sit with it, allow your thoughts to become all-consuming, and self-pity to kick in. Of all the self-shit—pity is is by far the worst. Sure, you've got to investigate the cause and take pragmatic steps to overcome it, but there's a time and a place. And being terrified to the point you're convinced all vital organs will shut down is neither the time nor the place. Change your environment to break the pattern of destructive thoughts. Feeling anxious at your computer? Take a walk, do some yoga, grab lunch with friends. Whatever you need to do—do it. The "suck it up" macho man mentality only ends up making things worse. You need to take care of yourself. The more stressed you are, the less productive you’ll be, so the more you engage in that “need to do more” attitude, the less you’ll achieve and the more damage you’ll do to your health. It is the very definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy without a prophet in sight. Nobody will commend you for your efforts when you’re terrified to leave the house. So for the love of God, take care of yourself.
3. MAKE A DECISION
Sometimes not making a decision is the worst decision of all. Being indecisive is horrific for your anxiety and depression. And believe me, I have my shit also. I am not here to pretend I have it all figured out—I’ve been known to freak out at the Kentucky Fried Chicken counter. It's a two piece with fries. Every fucking time!
One decision has the power to change your life. Yes, it might not work out. If so, learn from it, and make another. You must not cling to the past or remain in the present because you fear something might not work out in the future.
A friend was dealing with anxiety and depression. In two swift moves, she was able to abolish it. What did she do? Rode in on her Unicorn, got herself a sparkly new job and kicked Prince Charming out of her bedroom. Good for her. That Unicorn might have saved her life, and all she did was action two decisions.
Think about how your inability to make decisions contributes to your anxiety. Now ask yourself, what decision can I make today that will help tame the bastard or kick it the curb completely? And... ACTION. Take your time with this. There is no need to rush or overwhelm yourself. Break your goals down into manageable steps to ensure you arrive safely at your destination.
4. STOP SEEKING APPROVAL
A) I come across this time and again: You do not need your parent’s approval when deciding what to do with your life. Or anybody else’s for that matter. Yes, it’s great if they support you, but don’t expect them to understand the context and complexities of what drives your decisions and values. Microwaves were all the rage when they grew up. They haven’t a notion what it is like to grow up in this day and age. Technology has made sure of it. I have no doubt they love you and want what’s best for you, and have plenty of wisdom to impart, but that doesn’t mean they know what’s best for you. Sometimes you’ve got to be a little bold and trust your own intuition.
B) Running around telling people your purpose is to be the best man you possibly can, to pursue your passion, live a life of purpose, and be of service to others is essentially approval seeking behaviour. And also, bullshit. 90% of the time anyway. Do X, Y, and Z to be the best possible man you can be. Give me a break. Do whatever, but first and foremost—do it for you. Just don't be a dick. You can absolutely have a purpose, but it should be what drives you, not something you aspire to tell others. Most of us want to help others regardless, so as long as you're moving forward in a direction YOU are happy with—all should be sweet. I see guys (and girls) struggle to control their erection because they're so excited to tell the person opposite them how awesome they are because of what they do. I'm not sure if that makes me sound like a dick, but I'll run with it because I think it's dangerous to tie your identity so closely to that which you do. The irony isn't lost that you're reading this from a site with my name and a dot com after it!
Everyone who sells you on pursuing your passion or purpose as a career omits one fact: it's really fucking hard. I'm not saying don't pursue something more meaningful or to find passion and purpose in what you do if you're miserable. I'm saying be careful you're not being fed bullshit to make you miserable so you have to pursue something more meaningful. If work is causing you considerable distress you absolutely should do something about it, but keep your expectations in check and your bullshit radar alert. This pursuit of purpose, I’m convinced, more often than not doesn’t work, and actually leaves people more fucked up as a result. God has been replaced by The Universe, and for some reason—people really trust him. I knew of a guy who believed The Universe had his back—all he had to do was trust him. What does that even mean? He also believed he could live off air alone. He died. The Universe doesn’t give a fuck about you. But if you believe it does and it helps you out—good for you. That’s just my prejudice.
C) I said I wouldn’t discuss social media in this article.
5. TALK TO SOMEONE
You'd be surprised just how much better you can feel after one conversation when you put your ego aside for a minute. I’m shocked at the number of men who keep their anxiety or depression a secret from everybody they love. And at the same time I get it because most people don’t know how to deal with it, and therefore, say all the wrong things. Your recovery can be private. It doesn't have to play out like a reality TV show. But you should tell someone. The good news is that we've all got our shit. Just don’t announce it to the boys at the stripper joint, and you might be pleasantly surprised to know you’re not alone in your struggles.
And stay away from any support group with thousands of people in it.
I feel like an asshole just writing this because it sounds all cats and the cradle...but it might just drive the message home for someone which would make it worthwhile. While I can't say with certainty—if I never asked for help, I doubt i'd even be here. Who knows. "What if" is something I've never contemplated before, but I'm positive the same applies to millions around the world. My life is sweet now. Talk to someone. Seriously. You're life will be so much better for it.
6. EMBRACE YOUR INDIVIDUALITY
So much energy is wasted trying to look good for others—to have the perfect career, partner, car, house, body, etc. Or making sure your Instagram account is one of envy. What use is a filter to cover up misery?
Living a conceptual life is a horrifying reality to so many. You can observe the stress of this all around you. By embracing your individuality, you open yourself up to a world of people that will accept and appreciate you—for you. Now that's worth celebrating.
Ask yourself what you value? Your core values? Get clear on them. And live by them. When they change—evolve with them. And don’t ever apologize for it. Don’t opt to be miserable for the sake of others. Remove the word "cool" from your vocabulary and think for a minute what is it you want from your time here because there's nothing “cool” about any of this.
You don't have to pretend to be great all the time. You also don’t have to tell everybody you meet your problems or promote them to the world. Neither will help. The world doesn’t need to know your business. Facebook and all other social media platforms certainly want you to think like that, but look at the results. Social Media is anxiety, depression, cancer, and addiction rolled into one. And it has us all!
ON A FINAL NOTE:
If you're hoping for a miracle and your problems to just disappear—try pissing up Niagara Falls. Acceptance and patience play a pivotal role. A friend sent me some beautiful poetry i’d love to share with you.
"Miracles are stupid fairytales told to naive fucking children."
Needless to say she was hungover. And didn’t want to be! I'd also like to apologise for her language.
Nobody’s opinion should carry the weight of your mental health. It's time for you to call the shots because only you can. It might not be easy, but tiny little tweaks to your lifestyle can make a significant difference to your health. You don’t have to be fucking perfect. It’s not all in or bust. There’s a middle ground that ain’t that bad—and you have to get there before you can go any further so don't look past it because you'll needlessly overwhelm yourself and come up with excuses to not move at all. You’ve got one life. It can be amazing, but it's a choice you have to make, and motherfucker, I'd highly recommend it.