Getting a grip on my life.

What’s worse than waking up on a rainy day when you already struggle at the thought of the day ahead. Every day is a laundry day. When the sun is out it’s so much easier to get out and take a grip in an attempt to wash away any negativity.

That said, it’s still a struggle but looking at how difficult it can be on the damp days – it certainly feels a thousand times easier.

Living with anxiety I’ve learnt that you can not control the weather cycles in your head. Like the British weather you can go to sleep thinking tomorrow will be a good day but the reality is the forecast is never truly accurate.

I’m learning to dress for the occasion. I know I might need to cover up and protect myself from the storm OR allow myself to bask in the warmth of happiness.

Either way its an impossible situation for your partner as well as yourself. Before I started taking medication to level myself out I had no idea that my wife was treading on eggshells around me. Not knowing what kind of mood I was in or how I would react in different situations. Looking back at it now I must have been a nightmare, especially as she suffers from severe depression herself. As I’ve said in previous blogs the hardest part was not admitting it but going to see a GP to do something about it. It took my wife several months after I started the medication to be able to relax completely when I was around her. What helps more than anything now is knowing when I’m having a bad day and admitting it to myself and to my wife. I can handle the day better and she can relax knowing that I am quiet for a reason and I have it under control.

It’s taken me a long time to get a grip on my life but I can now step out on a rainy day – aware that I may slip at any time but knowing that I have the strength to stop myself from falling.

What the Hoo is a Hoobaddyhoo?

Alot of people ask me “What is a Hoobaddyhoo?” I guess the easiest way is to write it all down and then send people this link.

Firstly Hoobaddyhoo is a character I created and wrote about some six or seven years ago now. I was writing for other people who had given me their characters and story lines which I had to work by. So one day I wrote for me.

Still unpublished (mainly due to not finding an illustrator) it’s my goal to introduce him to the world one day. I need however to find an illustrator that shares my vision. At the moment he’s stuck in my head.

The story is about his inner lonely existence, feeling the need to find a companion – his Hoobaddyher. He leaves his safe place and encounters new and strange sights on his long quest.

Little did I know that this story would inspire me to write blogs about men’s health, life and depression. Where’s the link I hear you say?

My own life’s experiences are very similar to the Hoobaddyhoo, not feeling I belong, experiencing things that scared me, amazed me while looking for my Hoobaddyher through life.

As my tag line says – from a Hoobaddyhoo to being you – we all travel through life in search of our own Hoobaddyher. Whether that’s a partner, spouse, a location, a career or just inner happiness. We have to experience things that scare us, make decisions and sacrifices that take us out of our comfort zone to reach our own very personal Hoobaddyher.

We might not all be lucky enough in life to find her but if we don’t at least try, we’ll never know.

Oh, and you’ll have to wait until The Hoobaddyhoo is published to find out if he finds his Hoobaddyher. ūüėČ

The Importance of Being Alone

It’s been a while since my last post, the only excuse is my mind has been kept occupied by home life. Living with a mental illness is one thing, living with someone who also has a mental illness is an extra strain on an already frazzled brain.

Although having that alone feeling inside, brought on by anxiety and depression, I find a type of comfort in physically being on my own. Only a couple of days ago I found myself in London with a few hours to kill. Living in Cornwall it was the opposite to the peace and tranquility of the Cornish life. So much hustle and bustle, even at 7 o’clock in the morning. People looking through you almost blinkered on where they were going, lost in their own little world. I found my pace had quickened, almost as if my body was trying to match the environment around me. So I slowed my speed. In doing so my eyes were able to focus on so much more. I was heading to Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea FC. I’ve been a follower for many years and had always wanted to visit the ground. I’d missed an opportunity 10 years ago when, on my 40th birthday I was given tickets to a game. Only to be thwarted by my boss at the time who refused me time off. Anyway……

As my pace had slowed I could take in the affluence of Chelsea & Kensington. A beautifully kept area where money was reflecting off the Ferraris onto the million pound apartments – another world.

Take me back 10 years to New York with my children and a surreal walk I took. New York was a dream destination for me, I’d always been attracted to the big apple and after 9/11 I wanted to pay my respects.

The children had gone off with their Grandma on a site seeing tour so I took the opportunity to explore on my own. The reports you hear coming out of America makes it sound like the wild west. It couldn’t have been further from the truth – I’d never felt so safe walking the streets. Eyes wide open I took a walk to Grand Central Station. The architecture both on the walk and inside the station was absolutely stunning.

Like a colony of ants people were again, like in London blinkered on route to their destinations. As I watched them though they avoided each other, no bumping or knocking into each other. Too busy for me but my eyes allowed me to slow down their pace and breath in my surroundings.

All this was possible by simply being alone. The only distraction being yourself but if you allow yourself to close your mind to those distractions and feed your eyes with your surroundings you can enrich your soul.

Being alone physically can help the loneliness you feel through anxiety and depression. A simple stimulus that is free and liberating.

My Black Dog

Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read”

Groucho Marks

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It’s so easy to write when you’re having a good day and nothing will bring you down or break your spirit. So today I thought I’d try writing on a day when I’m not feeling great.

After years of being called grumpy or miserable I finally took the plunge and visited the quack last week to find out why. I thought I had the odd day a month when I was feeling quiet and low in mood but I’ve since been told its more of a weekly occurrence. So gone is the excuse of ‘my time of the month’ after being diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

It explains a lot about how I have felt over the years and makes me wish I’d gone to see someone earlier in my life but it never crossed my mind that I could have depression. Why should it? For the past 28 years I’ve had my beautiful children in my life, always had a fairly good job and lifestyle. But it doesn’t work like that!

PODGE – My black dog

Let’s face it, you have friends and family but they have their own lives and troubles to deal with. They can’t always be there for you, as much as they may like to be. You’re left with the darkness in your head and you can’t seem to find the light switch to brighten your view of life. I guess it’s easier knowing exactly what’s wrong with you rather than thinking you’re a grumpy old man. I don’t want to be that person.

To add to my diagnosis news, the following day I found out I was being made redundant. With the power of three I’m waiting anxiously for number three.

The sun is out and I live in arguably the most beautiful part of the country. I need to try and take the positives out of my life and embrace each new day. Accept the bad days and look forward to the better ones.

Goodbye to you from your Hoobaddyhoo.

A Weight Off ….

…the expectations of society, governments and the W.H.O.

 

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What are the triggers for mental health issues?  Well there are many, but one area I want to hit upon is body image.  A subject that many women would agree on and a lot of men secretly harbour the fear of expectation.

 

Society

 

Along with social media exploding over the past ten years we are increasingly being bombarded by images of the ‘perfect’ body image.¬† Retailers are planting the images in our heads through television or social media advertising. This¬†causes us to not just¬†look at ourselves, but our family, friends and even Joe Bloggs that walks past us in the street.¬† An unrealistic image that can¬†hit our self-confidence, leading to anxiety and depression issues.

Even the makers of mobile phones are guilty.¬† Filters allowing the photos we take to enhance our look or crop out¬†the bits we don’t like.¬† “I know,¬†I’ll convert to black and white so you can’t see my¬†blemishes.”¬† I saw an advertisement on social media the other day for an app you can download which can give me a six pack and hair to cover my ever decreasing hair line.¬† 30 years ago this could have been a bit of harmless fun on a Fuzzy Felt board (showing my age) but with pressure to conform to peer pressure it’s no longer funny and a real component to increasing mental health issues.¬† There will come a time when we won’t recognise¬†our social media friends if we met them on the street.

 

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This mannequin at a sports outlet clearly shows how ‘NIKE’ expect us to look if¬†you want to wear their merchandise.¬† “You too can have a body like this Dummy“.

 

 

 

Government/WHO

 

“People in the UK are around 20% less active now than in the 1960’s.¬† If current trends continue , we will be 35% less active by 2030” – Public Health England

Okay yes, we are as a nation getting less active.¬† You don’t need to read a government report to know this.¬†¬†It’s¬†current trends that make us this way, with technology making life ‘easier’ but making us lazier.¬† I’m as guilty as the next person.¬† Only the other night the remote for the television stopped working and I had to get up to change the channel, then the volume, making me realise just how dependant we are on technology.

The government regularly tells us what we can eat and drink, what is healthy and what is not.¬† What is a SUPERFRUIT anyway?¬† Do you have to peel off it’s cape before consuming?¬† One day red meat and a glass of red wine is good for you and then within six months it’s not, recommending instead¬†white meat and a glass of¬†pomegranate juice. Then there is body image again and what our ideal weight should be.¬†¬†Who dreams up these figures?¬† A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that 28.1% of adults¬†in the UK are recognised as clinically obese.¬† 62% of adults were classified as overweight and more than two thirds of men are overweight or obese.¬†As mush as I understand that we do not perhaps eat¬†as healthily as we once did or exercise as much, the expectations and ‘ideal’ weights published by the government and WHO¬†are all together unrealistic, unachievable (to most) and puts an extreme pressure on our mental health.

This continued pressure from government on body image is having an adverse effect on¬†the health of the nation.¬† It’s little wonder that¬†overall mental health funding is up ¬£1.4 billion in real terms compared to three years ago.¬† Figures show that by the end of 2018/19 an additional 200,000 people will receive psychological therapies alone.

Perhaps the government should concentrate on the causes of mental health and look at ways of prevention and early support.  Ban false image advertising and fund projects that encourage self confidence.  Mental health is not to blame for the increased spending in the NHS, the government is.

 

Goodbye to you from your Hoobaddyhoo.

 

 

 

What do I know?

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Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”

CONFUCIUS

What do I know about depression and grief I hear some of you ask. Although having a diploma in Health and Social care – which only briefly covers mental health and grief – I believe that no matter how much studying you do, there is no substitute to life experience and actually living through the conditions.

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I have stressed the importance of men being able to talk and not hide from the stigma attached to mental health issues. So I will get the ball rolling and talk openly.

 

GRIEF

 

I take you back to my earlier post Four Weddings and a Funeral and the experience of losing my father. I was 18, had a good job and an even better circle of friends. Life was good – I was exploring the early stages of adulthood and all the benefits that came with it. My father had always had Crohn’s disease from as far back as I could remember and Spondylitis, but he lived a good life and was the best dad. He loved his garden – shared passion – playing cricket¬†at the beach on family holidays to North Devon and was a devout Christian. Our family life and upbringing was based around the church, Sunday school then youth club as we grew older. It was then that I started to question my faith and what I truly believed. My father passed in July 1987.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t talk about his passing, I didn’t want to. My mother tried to be there for us all as well as trying to manage her own grief. My younger sister had just had to sit her GCSE’s whilst watching our father’s health deteriorate. My older brother who I saw was trying to take on the role¬†as head of the family, looking out for our mother. Commendable at the time but something I despised over the years as I saw it to be controlling. We were and still are very different people. It was 12 months later I left home and moved in with my friend and his wife. It wasn’t ideal sleeping on the sofa, but it gave me the escape I needed to run away from my grief. It was while living there I met my first wife and we started a life together. I transfigured my grief into trying to emulate my father and within the year we were married and had the first of our three children, Jon before¬†Tabbi and Jay soon came along thereafter.¬†Through the next 10 years I never really talked about losing my father. I talked about him, but not the experience of losing him.¬† After that marriage broke down it wasn’t for a few more years¬†until I finally opened up. Unfortunately it was with a bottle in my hand in a tempestuous second marriage, laced with alcohol. ¬†I would NOT advise that it was the best way, but for me it seemed to open my mind and made it easier to talk openly –¬†after putting¬†the bottle down. Talking though still helped. I never returned to the faith that I had at an early age but do still find myself talking to my dad – whether he can hear I guess I’ll find out when it’s my time.

 

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DEPRESSION

 

I was going to start by saying that I didn’t have depression, but that in itself is denial and exactly what I’m trying to quash from the minds of those searching for help. Depression comes in different forms –

  • Major Depression – if you feel depressed most of the time for most days of the week.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder – a term used to describe two conditions previously known as dysthymia (low -grade persistent depression) and chronic major depression.
  • Bipolar Disorder – mood episodes that range from extremes of high energy with an ‘up’ mood to low ‘depressive’ periods.
  • Psychotic Depression – the symptoms of major depression along with ‘psychotic’ symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.

There are many other forms of depression. So where would I put myself? Major depression can be called a number of other names, one simply being depression which would be what I went through.

So what was the cause? You would think that losing my father would be credible but not¬†in this case. The cause was the breakdown in my third marriage and my¬†wife leaving me. I thought at the time life was perfect, we had a beautiful little boy and only 17 months earlier had had the dream wedding in Central Park NY. It wasn’t so much my wife leaving me, it was that she was taking our son with her. I’m not getting into a blame game, we are friends now and that part of our history is over. And yes, I see him regularly and she has never prevented me from seeing him. For me it was the fact that I wouldn’t see him every day, I would miss birthday mornings, Christmas mornings, the little things that we sometimes take for granted when we are in a happy family environment. I cried, a lot. Living on my own, which I’d never done before was a sobering experience. I used to drown myself in music. I’m a great believer in music therapy but on those occasions it was the wrong type of music. I used to cycle three miles to work, 6 days a week. At the start of my journey was a long steep hill , adjacent to it was a busy dual-carriageway. Both roads curved to the right as you neared the bottom – I will admit that on a few occasions I contemplated carrying on and hitting the barrier separating the two roads. That was when I was at my lowest. There were two things that stopped me. My children were the first reason – they were the rock that I then built my life upon – especially my daughter. The second reason was a silly one but I was going that fast down the hill by the time I’d thought about it I’d already turned the corner. The first couple of years were hard but I came though it. I still get low times, especially after fun days and then having to take him home afterwards but nowhere near to the same extreme.

I will cover living with someone who has depression another time.  There is a list of  UK helpline numbers on  What lies beneath.. for anyone suffering from depression.  You are not alone.  Alternatively you can message me on hoobaddyhoolife@gmail.com I am not qualified to give advise but will help you find someone in your area that can.

#thumbsup

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Goodbye to you from your Hoobaddyhoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

What lies beneath….

……. the truth behind bullying, male domestic abuse and depression.

HAPPY NEW SCHOOL YEAR

A new school year is well underway and children are happy to be reunited with their friends, while parents can take a sigh of relief and welcome back normality and routine. While most children are returning to the school they know there are those that are starting a new school. Those that are moving from infant to junior will find the transition fairly easy, those moving up to high school could find it harder to adjust. From what I can remember that adjustment went okay for me, it wasn’t until I had to move from one high school to another that I found it hard. New surroundings and a lot of new faces. Being the new kid is always challenging. With Eric starting high school this year I was nervous for him, more nervous than he was. My biggest worry was bullying. He has a soft soul and as much as I hope high school builds his confidence I still worry it could have a reverse effect if bullying was to occur. For now he is loving his new school and the challenges it presents. I hope it stays that way.

BULLYING

Let’s return to bullying. Unfortunately bullying is rife in every day life too, we don’t leave it in the playground after graduation. We all experience some form of bullying as adults at some point in our life, whether we witness it or we are the victim ourselves. In a recent survey more than half of UK workers have experienced some form of bullying and half of girls in the UK are regularly bullied on some form of social media. The subject I want to hit upon though is men being bullied by their spouse or partner. A subject not given enough media coverage and often considered a taboo subject. Bullying is abuse – not just physical but also emotional, psychological, coercive control and isolation. A lot of men don’t believe or feel they are a victim until sometime after they no longer have control of their life and have become isolated. The stigma attached to male domestic abuse makes it incredibly difficult for men to initially approach the subject, let alone admit they are a victim.

Domestic abuse affects an estimated 1.9 million adults aged 16-59 every year in the UK. 700,000 of those are thought to be male. Men are less likely to be victims of domestic abuse but they are sadly even less likely to talk about it. In 2016 to 2017 , 13 men tragically died at the hands of their partner. Male victims are over three times as likely as women to keep their abuse a secret or refuse to tell the police or medical professional.

ASK FOR HELP

  • Samaritans 116 123
  • CALM (for men) 0800 58 58 58
  • Domestic Abuse Hotline 0808 802 3333
  • ManKind Initiative 01823 334 244

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DEPRESSION IN MEN

Abuse often leads to the feeling of isolation and inevitably, depression. According to the World Health Organization more than 300 million people suffer from depression and that number has risen by 18% between 2005 and 2015. What’s more, nearly half of those people don’t get treatment , largely due to the stigma attached with mental illness.

This is especially true for men, because they tend to show symptoms that aren’t typically what you would associate with depression. While you might think that the primary symptom is just a general feeling of sadness, it’s far from the only one. Without treatment depression can hamper your ability to live a normal healthy life. Your sadness becomes more severe, because it’s combined with and can set off other crippling symptoms.

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Physical pain
  • Weight loss or gain

A lot of men see the symptoms of depression as signs of weakness and feel like they lose their masculinity. However, it requires real strength to be able to say “I’m not doing well and I need some help.”

Sadly too often lately we read of celebrities who we ‘think’ have it all and live a happy life. That false smile that hides unseen demons inside. Robin Williams, Chester Bennington and the late, great Chris Cornell – that’s three men in as many years.¬† Chris Cornell even talked about his depression¬†in¬†¬†Men’s Health¬†¬†years before he took his own life.¬† As front man¬†of Soundgarden the lyrics to Black Hole Sun¬†can be translated into the struggle that he was already having fighting his depression.

The hardest part is accepting you need help –

  • Samaritans 116 123
  • CALM (for men) 0800 58 58 58
  • Papyrus (under 35) 0800 068 41 41
  • The Silver Line (for mature males) 0800 4 70 80 90
  • MindInfoLine 0300 123 3393
  • Aware 08451 202 961

 

THUMBS UP – You’re not on your own.

 

I’ll leave you with this happy chappie on his first day in his new school.

THUMBS UP

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Goodbye to you from your Hoobaddyhoo

Siesta & orange justice

I just wanted to share this photo of Archie with you after yesterday’s blog. Siesta on the decking in sunny Falmouth today.

The cats are out and about on their adventures and I’ll be off to pick Eric up in a little while. Eric being my dabbing, orange justice youngest son.

Goodbye to you from your Hoobaddyhoo.

A dog’s life….. or maybe a cat’s?

 

 

It’s not a home without fur-kids.

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The Queen

 

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Welcome to the family, the four legged type that is or in this case only three.  Meet Archie, our three legged Springer cross.  Hit by a car when she was only six months old and now an old girl she really is an inspirational member of the family.  Nowadays happy to have an amble on the green outside our home or lay in the Autumn sun on the decking.

 

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If Archie is the old girl then this handsome chap is the old man of our fur-kids.¬† Chutney – or chut to his friends –¬†is ¬†14 and the only one that demands a certain amount of respect, but rarely gets it.¬† He reminds me of myself a lot, some aching bones, eyesight not what it was and occasionally a little grumpy _ or so I’ve been told.¬†¬†Another sun worshipper like Archie, content with the easy life.¬† Gone are his days of hunting leaving that to his younger proteges.

 

_20180606_180640.JPG¬†Meet Marley, an adopted Pomeranian from up country.¬† His owner – very sensibly – realised that he had no quality time and needed more love and attention.¬† Having small dog syndrome though, there’s not enough love in this world for him.¬† Loyal though and would do more damage to an intruder than any Rottweiler or Alsatian.¬† I’ll admit that I’ve always had bigger dogs and have always said that if you’re going to have a dog you have a dog, not a long haired rat.¬† This long haired rat though has grown on me and will often sit down by my feet while I’m chilling outside or writing.¬† Yeah, kinda love him now.

 

_20180906_115830.JPG¬†Tippy toes¬†–¬† Tippy to his friends – a Bengal cross.¬† My step-daughter’s cat but secretly, my boy.¬†The only one that gives Chut the respect he deserves.¬† Whether that’s because he knows he’ll be the one to take over rule of the feline clan¬†one day or¬†because the ‘boys’ need to stick together in a house dominated by females.¬† Guess that could be why¬†we are¬†close too.¬† The Bengal in him¬†comes out in his stalking and play fighting with the other felines and loves cardboard boxes.¬† Even trying to squeeze himself inside a cereal box usually failing miserably.¬† ¬†As I write this he jumps up on my lap and flops himself down on me, definitely¬†my boy!

 

 

This is the youngest of the fur-kids, Moomin.¬† I know,¬†Moomins¬† are white but in a multi -cultural world, why not!¬† Moomin was also an affectionate name of my grand-daughter when she was yo_20180906_144737.JPGunger, Millie Moomin.¬† Back to this feline delinquent.¬† Daughter of Queenie she is the wild child.¬† Stalker and hunter gatherer of all the felines.¬† Her father, a delinquent himself from a few doors down.¬† Find it hard to warm to her like I do the others but just occasionally she’ll cuddle up as if giving me permission to love her.¬† To be fair she doesn’t hassle me for food like the others do, she knows the time and place to be when dinner is served.¬† An independent spirit who will look good sat outside any one’s house on All Hallow’s Eve.

 

 

Last but not least, Queenie – and doesn’t she just know it.¬† A silvery/grey Maine Coon who will only drinDSC_2254.JPGk running water and actually cry¬†and literally show you the way to the bathroom for you to turn the tap on.¬† Bought originally as a therapy cat for my wife she is a proper little madam and a little floosy. Pregnant before we had time to have her neutered¬†and then, being so young I guess, struggled to feed and nurture¬†her young.¬† A little bit of coaxing helped her but I think it put her off for life – or would have done if we hadn’t had her neutered.¬† Oh, and she is the smelliest of all the fur-kids.¬† Bottom burps that could strip paint.¬† Don’t be fooled by those angel eyes on her.¬† In all seriousness she’s a little darling really.

 

For someone who, when I first met my wife was a dog NOT a cat lover, I think I have adapted very well to the feline invasion over the past three years.  Am I a cat lover now?  No, always a dog lover first and foremost but I have softened in my approach to the feline species.  It probably helps that I have that bond with Tippy,  the similarities I have with the old man Chut and the fact that I am the one that primarily feeds them all that has swayed me a little.  I have to admit that coming home and being greeted by them is pretty heart warming, even if it is tea time for them all!

 

Goodbye to you from your Hoobaddyhoo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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