Monthly Archives: March 2019

Anyhow, that’s enough about me…(Part 3)

Groups & Individuals; how others can really help you

Hi there and welcome to the penultimate part of my blog story; thanks again so much for the fantastic feedback, it does mean a lot to me and your continued messages here, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Messenger are all fuelling my output, so here goes.

Having imploded a year ago as outlined in my opening post, we had a serious word with ourselves in part two and did the very best we could on our own, in short, we realised we needed help.

I needed help, and whether it’s now or at some stage in the future, you may need it too; so this week I will be reflecting on all of the important people who have helped me in the last year in the hope that my experiences will help us all; everyone deserves some help from others and by reading this, you too can help.

As humans we are programmed to believe we can identify, self-diagnose, treat and rectify any potential healthcare issues that threaten the smooth running super-efficient machine that is our body and soul; sadly, where mental health is concerned, nothing could be further from the truth.

You place a huge amount of stress on yourself, day in day out; to be 100% perfect in every way, to keep up with the pack, to possibly be something you are not, to live a life, to weave the dream, to spin the plates, to make ends meet; and sometimes you are your own worst enemy, but you don’t even know it.

That is the problem; you can’t actually trust yourself to identify there is an issue, because you are indeed part of the problem – and an important lesson I have learnt is, you cannot solve this on your own, you may not know it yet, but you will need others.

Putting your hand up is the single most important step to getting help.

Don’t feel guilty or inadequate for asking for some help; even if you think you don’t need it; you need to get it out, you need to share your story; you need to speak about it – you need other people to help you right here, right now, whatever stage you are at on the journey.

And they can only help if you cross the line and let them in. So put your hand up; you owe it to yourself, and once others see the ‘open for business’ sign on the door, they will be forming an orderly queue to play their part.

This last 12 months experience has been truly humbling for me to realise just how much people do care; so, my intention here is to share some links and experiences from both professional and amateur helpers alike; from the consultant psychologist to the complete stranger; these are the souls that have surrounded me in everyday life and helped in such big and small ways; they can help you too, if you let them.

Start with your partner, your siblings, your parents and your offspring; all is not lost if you don’t have any of these, but if you do have some of them, then make the most of them; ask three people who love you to write down 5 characteristics that you have that they admire about you. I did this and it was extremely powerful, I still treasure the texts and notes that made me realise that I was perhaps not the basket case I thought I was, it is fantastic to see real support in the form of words characterising your inner strengths – and that is just the start, your family can help you in so many ways; but they are not mind readers, they need letting in.

I know I have been very lucky to have a hugely supportive partner of thirty years who’s primary objective has always been to promote my own health and happiness; anyone who really cares for you will always put your health first, whoever that person is for you, when the mentalist bell starts ringing, you need to be honest with them, they will help you.

As will friends who have known you a long time and work colleagues who have integrity; these are the people who you can open up to, these are the people who know you and these are the people who know how to listen; it’s not about them telling you how good they are, or how they tackled some stress when they had it; they invest time in you, they drive miles to visit you, they check in on you, they send you cards, they buy you lunch, they have two ears and one mouth; they don’t judge, they just care.

And then there are ordinary people outside of your bubble that were always there but you ordinarily would never have met; you don’t need to share anything with these people, but you will want to, because unfamiliarity and anonymity brings a comfort blanket of safety, shared experiences will help you realise you are not alone, and that is a great feeling.

One thing I did quite early on was go to some group ‘Healthy Minds’ sessions run by the local NHS IAPT team, a room full of people from all walks of life suffering with similar issues getting some cognitive behavioural therapy, everyone dreading being there, but coming away thinking ‘that was all right actually’; after week six we were all hooked.

On to the professionals; those whose job it is to help; they do this for a living, when you need them, you realise they are doing this job because they are bloody good at it.

Let’s start with the doctor; from complete stranger to super-hero; I saw him every Wednesday for the first few weeks, ten times in the first 3 months and then at regular check-ins up until the half-year mark. It started with him listening, a brilliant bedside manner; some face time, a sick note and a promise to go back the next week; it became the best bromance of my life.

Then there was the clinical psychologist, after the initial few weeks we wheeled in some proper expertise; a Doctor in Psychology, specialising in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychotherapy, Depression and Anxiety Disorders. For me this was somebody who could help to get inside my head, scoop out the contents and work with me to pop them back in part by part. You may not need this lady, but I found our weekly one to one sessions, something to really look forward to, somebody willing you to tell your story, real therapy, real useful help for a better life.

Talking to a Mental Health Nurse is a wonderful thing, I found myself undergoing numerous online and telephone assessments with NHS IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) Professionals, they helped me monitor progress using GAD7 and PHQ9 tests that calibrate how your mind is doing; they will listen and they will help, you are on a journey that they understand, in fact they know every bend in the road.

These people will be available in your area and I have included some links in my reading list.

Of course, one last living being who has helped me as much as anyone is Öve the working cocker spaniel, more about him next week in my final blog.

My point in summary is this; you are not alone; to improve your mental healthiness and wellbeing you need these people to help you – one of them, some of them, or even all of them.

And help you they will; but only if you let them.

A year ago, I was suffering serious psychological impairment that was diagnosed as being likely to improve with the passage of time. That time has passed, and I would like to thank every single person who has helped me and continues to help me with that journey.

Anyhow that’s enough about me, let’s talk about you; what do you think about me?

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Reading list will follow – I promise this weekend!

Anyhow, that’s enough about me…(Part 2)

Self-help & therapy – how to help yourself

Firstly, thanks so much for your comments, messages and feedback to this blog; it means a lot to me that so many people care; you have inspired me with further content; so please connect up and keep it coming via whatever channel suits you.

This instalment is all about how you can really help yourself to a better state of mental health; yes YOU, sat over there saying ‘that’s not me’ well it is you, believe me.

You see, 12 months ago today I had an epiphany.

Well, I probably didn’t have that moment of sudden and great realisation for a few weeks after the breakdown, but let’s just roll with it for now, because the good news is that you can avoid getting to that stage with simple earlier diagnosis and being more honesty with yourself.

For me, it was Wednesday 21st March 2018, I had not slept, I was totally wired about work and I could not face the day ahead. I rang the doctor and got a cancellation appointment for 20 minutes later. I jumped in the car, drove there without even having a shower, and the rest is history.

No 7.10am train on platform 2 at Thirsk, no Manchester, no Leeds, no London, no nothing.

My body, especially my head, was screaming STOP right there Mr. B.

I had to really be honest to myself and say I could not carry on as I was, I had to change something and start helping myself, I had to take responsibility – and that is the point of this second helping of blog.

It starts and ends with you – you can change things, it is not them, it is you that holds all the cards.

So this part of the story is about helping yourself; in the penultimate part I will talk about how others of course are needed and play important roles around you, but for here we are looking at self-administered practical insights that helped me in the first 6 months after the crash; I really hope they can help you, because these are all things that I should probably have been doing anyway, and you could be doing right now.

Take one day at a time.

The first thing the doctor said, and the most relevant still. Getting to tomorrow is a result, getting past the worst point is a result, thinking about the future is a result; it will take time, but eventually you will be back and winning at life!

Whatever age you are, you have a lot of living to do, so don’t put pressure on yourself to sort this by lunchtime on day 2, you may not know it but you got here over quite a period of time; there will be ups and downs, but taking one day at a time will literally help you build for the future in simple blocks of achievement.

Go cold turkey and cut yourself off from any incoming shit.

By this I mean most communication via personal screens, text, email, laptops, everyone else in this world telling you how well they are doing by the medium of nonsense. You don’t need it.

OK I know this sounds totally unrealistic, but it isn’t; if your loved ones know that you are safe and well, then it’s OK to go off the grid for everyone else – It’s how well you are doing that is important – and you don’t need a single device to evaluate that, just some peace and quiet; so get some perspective – trust me; your mental health trumps keeping up with all the issues that got you into this state.

In my case I came back from the doctors and on his instruction, photographed and emailed my sicknote to my boss and then turned my work phone off.

I never turned it on again.

Start a journal

Check in on yourself regularly, write it down, you will feel better – keep it by the bedside and always take time to think out load and scribble, make time to talk to yourself to articulate what the issues are, however stupid that may sound, if you can list whatever is on your mind, it will help you evaluate, prioritise and eventually address the issues once they have been identified. You may never share the contents, it does not matter, it is better out of your head than spinning around in it.

Sometime each day, just sit and do nothing, really nothing.

If you can, then truly rest, cease all activity.

In the early days and weeks, it is what you need to do more than anything – I remember sitting in the garden and listening to the birds, the wind in the trees and the distant propeller hum from training flights looping the loop at RAF Leeming.

This morning, 12 months on, I have been doing exactly the same; the sounds are the same but my head is in a much better place to hear them; I don’t need to sit like this for hours now, but I still want to, because it always does you good to do nothing now and again.

Look after yourself

I know its common sense, but physical wellbeing was not really something I was seriously making any time for; now there was no excuse for me!

What is more important than your physical and mental health?

I soon improved my quality of sleep and wellbeing by building a schedule that was all about me and not everybody else, less drink, Monday Mindfulness, Wednesday walks, Friday Yoga class, Saturday Parkrun, in busy careers it’s not easy to make time I know, but you don’t need me to tell you how important it is.

Exercise your mind

It’s not just your body, it’s your mind as well; of course, it still works, it may be misfiring or be running below optimum efficiency; but learning more about how it works will in turn enable you (as owner and trainer) to eventually re-programme and re-fettle this amazing component; exercising and nurturing it back to full fitness is a joy, and it is something only you can do.

I am sure everyone has recommended reading matter on this; I will publish a reading list and links to various modules and online tests that have really helped me onto my blog this week.

Do the things that really matter

When you do properly reflect on what is important, it is truly liberating to sweep away all of the things that are of no importance. Of course, for me realisation came too late, this again being my motivation to share in the hope that you too are not labouring under the same misapprehension – most of what we do does not matter.

Give yourself space to catch up with old friends and people that really matter, engage in face time and plan for your adventures, however big or small.

Finally, clear the calendar

For me this was enforced and policed by my amazingly supportive partner; if you have got serious depression or anxiety issues then you are ill; you may not know it but you don’t need the added stress of putting yourself in situations that make you feel awful; seeing people, going to events, being exposed to invasive questions, until you have taken stock and identified your specific issues, then some of these things will not help you in the short term.

As I said at the start, it’s all about you; these insights are in no particular order of importance, I hope they prove useful for anyone wo has taken the time to read – a year ago today I was asking myself “how did I get here” –

I think I know now; I certainly have a much clearer view than I did back then.

For me it took 6 months to really get some perspective and although I am still having some therapy, I would hope that many people could avoid the worst of those weeks and months and steer clear of the wreckage with an ongoing programme of self-help and potentially some help and support from others.

Which brings us to the wrap-up; next time I will look at how other individuals and groups can really help you on your journey with some further observations and insight from the last year, before returning to revitalisation and rebirth and launching Chris Broadbent 2.0 as my very best self in my fourth and final blog post.

Anyhow; that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think about me?

He Understands

Anyhow…that’s enough about me, let’s talk about you; what do you think about me? (Part 1)

Breakdown & Realisation – when the penny drops

Anyone who knows me will recognize my favorite joke in that headline.

So, while this is a story about me, it is really about you – all about you, because the most important thing I have learned is that time spent worrying about what other people think about you is time wasted, what is important is what you think about you.

And that is my motivation here; as the anniversary of my sudden departure from a former life hurtles towards me, I feel I need to get this down on paper to lay it to rest, in the hope that by telling the story of my last 12 months I can help others who stand where I have been; if I can provide comfort or reassurance to just one person, then everyone is a winner (as they say) hence the first installment of my journey from breakdown to rebirth.

So, what do you think about you?

Why are you really? What is your motivation for life right now? What makes you happy? What do you really want to be doing? What are the things you want to do? How do you think things are going? As Ryland would say, are you ‘winning at life?’

I don’t expect you have all the answers, these are big questions and you only read this far perhaps on a whim; but believe me, time spent thinking about these questions is time very well spent; until you can answer these questions honestly, you are not helping yourself to be your very best self; and you (of all people) really should be, believe me.

So, that’s enough about you, let’s talk about me; to give you some pointers to look out for.

I thought I was winning, I wasn’t.

I was highly invested in my job, to most people I knew it was 90% of me and placed a huge strain on every other part of my life; I carried great responsibility for many others, in a very large organisation. At my age I knew that the clock was ticking, I made the mistake of talking about an age-based programme that was to calmly transport me from Head of Everything to much loved retired gardener; I helped others progress, I openly spoke the truth that I did not intend to be around forever. I called it Project 55.

It didn’t happen.

A meeting, an email, a discussion, the details are irrelevant, the outcome is the same.
The beautifully choreographed 3-year colour-coded flowchart descended into a crumpled catastrophe at the flick of a switch, 33 years in the advertising world became 30 minutes in the doctor’s surgery.

And I learned more about myself in that 30 minutes than I ever thought possible. The doctor knew it had to stop right there and then – for the good of my mental health, and he started me on a trajectory that was to give perspective and context that had been sadly lacking for a prolonged period that only hindsight now enables me to appreciate.

Crash bang wallop, there is was – the end of that chapter, unscheduled, immediate and clearly life-changing; breakdown. What was to follow would be a realisation, self-help, therapy, group-treatment and revitalisation all over a 12-month period to lead to the rebirth of Chris Broadbent 2.0.

OK, the good news is you can avoid this, ongoing self-diagnosis and avoidance strategies will facilitate course-changing progress well before any potential crash for those willing to invest the time. For me, the signs were there, and I had driven right past them – you don’t need to make the same mistake.

You see, by the time I got there, I couldn’t even tell the doctor what I did for a job, I was a gibbering wreck, I had made the mistake of thinking it was important; I look back now and see that trajectories were not aligned, there was going to be a crash, the proverbial penny was going to drop, I was running around trying to deliver for everyone but myself, what was best for me never entered the equation.

Funny to look back, far from funny at the time.

A year on, the outcome as I see it now is amazing, better than anything I could have ever imagined last March, but the way I got here – well that was not so pretty, and that is where I hope others can learn and avoid the more treacherous parts of the path.

Writing this Blog this morning has made me realise how important it is to share, to help others struggling with mental health issues and offer support for anyone who may need it.

I intend to cover the following four areas over the month of March 2019
• Breakdown & realisation – when the penny drops
• Self-help & therapy – how to help yourself
• Groups & treatment – letting others really help you
• Revitalisation & rebirth – being your very best self

I hope reading this and future installments prove a positive thing and help anyone struggling with what life is throwing their way. I welcome any feedback to my blog, please comment away!

Anyhow; that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about you……..what do you think about me?