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FIRST PERSON: A Brave New Year

“There’s no such thing as addiction, there’s only things that you enjoy doing more than life”

The New Year always brings a certain sobriety no matter how welcome or not it actually is. Once Christmas has worn off you are suddenly faced with the reality of the winter still upon you, the bills, the responsibilities and whatever else is thrown your way. I always hear that this time of the year brings with it a rise in calls to mental health helplines along with more people requiring treatment and, to be honest, it is not surprising.

I included the quote above not necessarily to encourage people to regard it as the gospel truth, but simply because I heard it the other day and I was struck by its unapologetic honesty.  Like many other people I find myself at a crossroads in my life for several reasons and, like the credit card statement that comes in after the festive period, I feel obliged to take in the realisty of now and work out a long term way of securing myself in the world.

Addiction comes into this in the way that I have held myself back or through my unwillingness to move on in the world. As someone who finally plucked up the courage to receive counselling for deep rooted anxiety related issues back in 2012, the success of coming through it has encouraged me to finally be very honest as to how I see the world and the reasons as why I behave the way I do. Many people have been, or currently are, dependant on some form of escapism to get them through life. I remember a time two years ago when I was dependant or, to be brutally frank, addicted, where I would find myself chuckling nihilistically about the fact that my particular dependency was in fact superb, because it was greater than the day to day monotony most of us endure, and that I enjoyed the emotions it brought. In line with the opening quote, I was bored of the world and had found an unethical shortcut to getting round it.

Like any sort of addiction, you reach a tipping point, or indeed a nadir, where the grim reality of what you have been doing stares at you in the mirror and there is no place to hide. The potted version of my story was that i reached rock bottom, made a decision that things had to change and then went cold turkey (it suited me but maybe doesn’t work for others). The experience I want to share was how I needed to understand the psychological side of what I was doing and why I felt that way. It went against the grain for me as a man to do so, especially the need to express emotions, but only by doing that was I finally able to fully comprehend why I had reached a point where I had become so disillusioned with the world but still insisted on living the fallacy, to all those around and myself, that everything was rosy.

When I see terms like the ‘Crisis of Man’, it signifies that inability to share or express the sorrow from past events that never came to fruition or ended inexplicably badly. That warped view that men don’t cry or admit to being scared also blinkered my view. I’m adamant now that many people feel so stifled or unable to express themselves adequately due to the percieved consequences, that the mixture of positive or negative emotions don’t get fully shared. In my case they just fester and grow, and ultimately cause you to make some misjudged life decisions.

Through the benefit of counselling and being encouraged to draw out and describe the pain that I felt, it has become much easier for me to make sense of the world and understand why I reached that point of despair in the first place. Communication and access to the people who are able to help is the only way forward and I look back now and wish I had approacehd them so much sooner. Problems will always present themselves, but the ability to deal with them effectively seems a lot easier through recent experience.

A huge number people find themselves in uncertain situations for differing reasons and hopefully this wall of silence, along with isolation, can begin to disappear. I can only speak positively of what has happened to me even it if has unearthed things I would rather not acknowledge. In doing so I am able to piece together what caused me to want to escape the world I lived in, and why I feel anxious or despondent at times. This ability to express, understand or even comprehend my own emotions has been a massive lifeline for me.  I would have been bound to make the same mistakes for a long time had I had not fully faced up to my problems. If a time can exist where people have the opportunity to fully express the feelings that besiege them then let it be now and may that support continue. Please, talk, share, cry on one another’s shoulder and break the illusion we are alone in this world. I have learnt that amazing things can happen once you break through the prison of silence that holds you back.

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