Dear Diary...

Dear Diary,

How the hell are you? A little flat? Your face looks drawn and you have so many lines. Ah yes, you are a notepad. Silly me. Let me fill your pages.

I like to begin my writing with the nonsensical, the weird, the oddity. It helps when I want to write badly, but don’t know where to begin. There’s something about an odd paragraph of weirdness or just writing about the first thing that pops into your head that can get the creative juices flowing. That and a strong coffee. It gets you over a bit of that embarrassment or hesitation at publishing a post that anybody can read, which is always useful when you want to write.

Speaking of embarrassment, I used to write poetry don’t you know! Unfortunately it takes a measured, intelligent and patient mind to write prose that doesn’t read like a two year old attacked a page with a crayon after drinking a Coke. If you add a mind that runs at the speed of the Large Hadron Collider with a hand that writes as slow as a tortoise it spells the end of poetry. Blogging however is the poor writer’s salvation, somewhere in the wilderness of creative writing where nobody really cares if you stick a comma in the wrong spot. Or that you use any punctuation. Unless of course you have more than 7 regular readers and earn money from this endeavour. Then you should at least put some full stops in.

Right where was I? Sorry I blacked out for a couple of paragraphs and woke up typing and drinking coffee through an intravenous drip. Ah yes, MENTAL health. If you hadn’t cottoned on by reading previous posts of mental instability then that is what all this blogging is really about. A chance to have a good release of frustration at myself and the mother fudging world. (Yes Luke I know I can swear here, I’m just mixing it up a little you know ;))

If I haven’t said it before then I’ll say it again, writing is a useful tool for a couple of reasons. Number one it’s extremely useful for developing acceptance of your faults/foibles/nuances (you choose the word) by simply letting it all out. Secondly it outlines the things I have learnt along my journey, whether that be the benefits of regular healthy habits or just telling people no. It shows me the positive side of what I am doing, something that can often get lost in my septic tank of a mind. Don’t worry though, writing is the poo vacuum needed to clear it.

I like to think that my self awareness has improved in the last couple of years as a result of my regular habits. I’m able to see when I overthink things and can generally take a step back to the edge of the cliff without falling over. Meditation has helped me to weather feelings of anxiety, to sit with the fear and hopelessness that comes up from time to time. Knowing in the back of my head that it will pass and I will continue on is more often the thought that comes up now.

At the same time these thoughts and feelings remind me that I am still alive, that I haven’t succumbed to the darkness and because of them I can feel joy. All be it a joy that is different to before. I yearn for a challenge so that I can feel fulfilled, which is why I run marathons, why I cause myself pain, perhaps even in some twisted way why I suffered through depression. Not because I actively seek it, but because overcoming these challenges makes me feel content, for a second.

It’s easy for me to say all this now, I am in a much more stable headspace where I don’t want to throw myself off a bridge. The younger me would tell present me to get fucked if I said this to him. Back then my writing was desperate (even more so than know, fucked right?) I would have done anything to get out of my head when I was younger, when I didn’t have the tools that I have now to manage what I felt. What I am trying to say in a very long winded way is that we can all work through the shit river and come out the other side relatively unscathed, all be it stinking of what we’ve been through. Nowadays when I am feeling low I don’t think about the future, I just concentrate on working through the minute, the hour, the day. We don’t need to worry about what hasn’t occurred yet.

Following on with that last thought in a final flourish I want to reinforce the strength of simplicity. In the second edition of my book (yes shameless plug) I talk about using simple tools regularly and successfully. The old adage “you can’t run before you walk” is suitably apt. In the past I would try new habits and go full force for a short time before giving up because I find it too hard to be consistent with. Once I started focusing on less and doing a couple of things little and often I started to see success. It’s easy to keep a daily meditation of one minute going over weeks and months, where as 10 minutes a day may seem overwhelming. These “small wins” are show to improve dopamine levels in the brain and racking up a few creates a snowball effect that leads into other areas of your day and life.

My advice to you today is simple. Set no more than two new habits at a time, with at least one being enjoyable. Meditate for one minute, counting your breaths. Tick. Read one page of a fiction book per day. Tick. If you can do a habit or task under two minutes then go for it, just don’t put too much on your plate at one time.

For those that are interested in a new book that is easy to read and helps develop new habits I would highly recommend “The Power of Habit”. I just finished it in record time with my new habit of reading 15 minutes a day. It was a great read and extremely helpful for me to develop a plan of attack for changing my bad habits into new healthy ones.

Until next time diary,

Tom :)