Author Archives: broady964

Be your best self

Anyhow, that’s enough about me…(Part 4)

Revitalisation & Rebirth – being your very best self

I have to confess I have found it hard to bring this four-part chronicle to a fitting close; I sketched out the framework with the initial blog about breakdown 3 weeks ago, last week I revisited some writing on a train but was very much not in the right  frame of mind; I hope tonight to lay it to rest so we can all move on, in a positive way of course.

My intention was to sign off with a beautifully glossy picture of how I transformed myself from a gibbering wreck to a super confident, perfectly formed, best ever self, living the dream and walking the walk, giving everyone the benefit of my experience.

But it’s not going to be that easy.

At least I now understand why. And I hope by reading this last post you too will appreciate some of the issues that contribute; so, we can all understand better how to be our very best selves.

You see, we all know that “it’s OK not to be OK” as the saying goes. In fact, it’s normal, and that is something I have learnt the hard way (but you don’t need to).

Twelve months ago, I was woefully unaware, in fact oblivious, to the forces that were ‘twisting my melon’ as they say; but not now; because now it is Monday and I am Happy.

You see on Friday I was sat on a train speeding toward London, previously a weekly occurrence, but more recently something I have found quite daunting and not done (with good reason) for exactly a year. It was not good.

The hangover, the rush to the station, the app to pay for parking, loading the card details into your phone, the changing trains at York because you get the wrong one but you needed to get it because if you went later there would have been no parking spaces left, the Costa coffee app not working because you changed passwords, the HP sauce sachet not opening, the person sat in seat 51A on Coach D because you did not get on at Thirsk; the solicitor call saying the property deal is not completing because somebody is fucking around.

Bang.

I was right back where we started a year ago – and it wasn’t even 8.15am.

I had to say to myself; “You need to be careful; stop and take a breath Broady”.

This is not a linear journey, there is no date wallchart that must be strictly adhered to; it’s one day at a time, every day, for the rest of my life.

It’s a game of snakes and ladders, with ups and inevitable downs, and as the Sleaford Mods would say, ‘we’re going down like BHS’ if we are not careful.

But Friday was different.

I had tackled the demons; I can now ride this mini-storm and I moved my top hat around the Monopoly board of life without passing go and collecting £200.

How? Because of two things that’s how –

Firstly, I now have true perspective and a timecard-stamped understanding of my recent dalliance with madness; I know what happened, how it happened and why it happened; this is important and not to be underestimated.

Rather like a treasured battered Rolex or your Mulberry Bayswater, those who know, know; and that is all that matters.

And secondly, more importantly, because of the help from others, I am equipped with the mental health kitbag that enabled me to identify and tackle the thinking styles that can and occasionally will perforate my recently hardened shell to threaten a downfall.

Catastrophising; emotional reasoning with yourself; feeling you must do something; being self-critical; comparing and despairing; mind-reading; predicting the future; only thinking in black and white; over-generalising and personalising everything to one’s own situation.

Those of you who have done some cognitive behavioral therapy will recognise these as important; all ten of them are ‘unhelpful’ thinking styles that are prevalent in everyday life for so many of us, I could write a blog post on each one of these ten beauties entertaining you with cataclysmic consequences in real life scenarios playing out for each one; another time maybe.

The point is, without some learning and help, twelve months ago I was totally unaware these voices were ‘unhelpfully’ shaping my mood and physically manifesting in my behavior in so many ways that perhaps some others could see, but I certainly couldn’t.

Not anymore.

I would say it took me a good six months from explosion, through therapy and healing to true enlightenment and my current state of renewed happiness.

As previously mentioned, many others have played a role and I thank them all again for their contribution to my rehabilitation, but I had to do the homework too; and this is where I urge anyone with issues to read up on these behaviors- you can really help yourself and avoid anything like I had by not getting there to start with.

You should not need therapy and textbooks to tell you that punching the man in seat 51A is wrong.

So that’s enough about me, let’s move forward and talk about some other people; and what I think about them.

We all need inspiring, a large part of getting better has been widening my experience to truly listen and learn from the experiences of exceptional people; these are individuals who truly open your eyes to the shallow unimportance of most of what we do.

There have been a number of people (whom I would not want to embarrass here) who have truly inspired me and helped me move forward; friends; family, colleagues and strangers alike; and some whom I had become estranged from over the years, you know who you are; however there is one person I do want to mention who I never met but has played a significant part, who I will be going to see again this week.

On the 10th of April last year I was sat at the back of the church in East Witton, Wensleydale sobbing while learning about Pte Arthur Poulter, the only Dalesman ever to have been awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest honour for courage in the face of the enemy. Here I was, in his home village surrounded by the family and regimental comrades of this incredible man, exactly 100 years to the day after his astonishing actions in the great war.

Pte Poulter was a stretcher-bearer with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and earned his VC during one of the German Army’s final attempts to beat the Allies. Stormtroopers broke through the front lines and Private Poulter’s battalion was moved up in support at the northern French village of Erquinghem-Lys. Instructed to hold a railway line, the 150 Yorkshire soldiers sustained heavy casualties from German machine guns. Only one officer and ten men returned from the action, leaving behind many severely wounded. His citation read;

“On 10 occasions Pte Poulter carried badly wounded men on his back to a safer locality, through a particularly heavy artillery and machine-gun barrage. Two of these were hit a second time whilst on his back. Again, after a withdrawal over the river had been ordered, Pte Poulter returned in full view of the enemy who were advancing and carried back another man who had been left behind wounded. He bandaged up over 40 men under fire, and his conduct throughout the whole day was a magnificent example.”

His Great Granddaughter was present with his Victoria Cross that afternoon and after the church service, the band played while we stood in the mud and rain as his magnificent plaque was unveiled commemorating his actions.

Now here was somebody doing something important, somebody who inspired me, somebody who gave me some perspective; somebody who led by example.

Somebody worth getting piss wet through for.

Spurred on by Pte Poulter VC. I set off on a crusade to lead a better life. This Wednesday, a year on, I am going to see him with some flowers, to say thank-you.

You see, once I got better and realised what was important in life, I started to move forward. Armed with the mental health kit-bag, some real-life perspective and a dose of inspiration from Pte Poulter VC; I could do anything.

I did some things I would never ever have done in my busy old corporate world;

I got the bus to Leeds and over lunch renewed a friendship with a primary school classmate from over 40 years ago.

I went to self-help groups, church meetings, village initiatives, table tennis club, running clubs, Park-run, any club that would have me as a member to meet normal people from outside my old world.

I joined Slimming World and shot the breeze with some lovely ladies in Masham Town Hall every Monday for two months; losing a few kilos along the way.

Having been cut off for so long, I had extracted myself from my old networks and so I very slowly rebuilt a smaller web of trusted people purely on my terms.

I walked around seven miles a day, every day for the entire year, Öve the working cocker was egging me on every day; he probably did 14 but was never found wanting.

I got my camera out and started reading and writing so much more; building the petals of my life that had shrunk to become almost non-existent.

I spent more time with my beautiful wife and kids, helping them where I could, actually listening to what they had to say, rather than looking at my phone and nodding.

After a few months, I realised I did not want to go back to my old job, ever.

After dialogue concluded with my old employer, six months from meltdown I was free to do anything I wanted; after well over 30 years never of having to, I applied for a job.

OK, Project 55 wasn’t ever really about retiring; it was about having a purpose; something I believed in – it was about finding my ‘Why’ (I’m sure you are all too familiar with ‘Start with Why’; Simon Sinek; 2011, UK; Penguin; a book I foolishly forgot to include in my reading list)

And for me, my purpose, or at least a great inspiration and motivation of recent times has been a four-legged friend who has brought me so much fun and adventure at a time of great personal challenge; yes, I am talking about a dog; a working cocker spaniel aged one to be exact.

So why not follow my dream? Why not apply for a job that is something to do with dogs; something that is in Yorkshire, that is sustainable and environmentally responsible; something that is privately owned, ethically sound and wholesomely growing in a dynamic market where you are actually making something?

No boardroom, no cross-selling, no mergers, no politics, no PowerPoint, no budget reforecast, no quiet words, no executive washroom; no none of that.

This is far more important.

Driving the van, picking product in a walk-in freezer, packing crates or clearing the warehouse, stacking the products, cleaning down the equipment; making the tea; bringing in the cakes; making the finest raw dog food there is, and it is brilliant.

This is real work

So now I am working with some fantastic people who love their jobs, love their lives and have fun; they have helped me so much in the last few months I don’t know where to start.

And I hope I have helped them; time will tell on the next phase of the journey.

Of course, work can only be part of the story; I hope I have impressed how important it is to cherish what’s important; especially the people you love; I now have that perspective between work and family that was so missing before.

To be my very best self now I live by simple rules; I don’t do anything I don’t want to; life is simply too short. I look after my head and my body in equal measure. I have a structure; work is only a part of it; everyone should have a purpose, even if it is part-time, for me it’s fun and flexible, it fits my life rather than runs it.

I very much want to help others; that has been something I have always tried to do, none more so than in the last six months; I would urge you to do things where your experience can help build something amazing; it will help your mental health, then you too will truly feel great!

So, this has turned into a longer post; from my perspective, this is the wrap-up, the final part of breakdown, self-help, accepting help and re-launching as your very best better self.

I hope it has been a help to anyone who has read it, especially those who don’t know me; I know I am very lucky; you may not have the luxury of time and support that I have had, you may not be able to answer those questions that I put to myself with the clarity that I was forced to summon up; but you must keep trying and asking for help, and I wish you the very best.

This blog was never intended to be a self-indulgent look at me LinkedIn story; I hope it has not come over like that. The thing is, I needed to do this; it’s the truth warts and all, my objective being to help others who may be struggling with mental health issues; selfishly, if nothing else, it has really helped me.

Rather unbelievably in recent weeks I have been asked to both join committees and speak at conferences within the UK advertising sector; it’s not going to happen.

Likewise, you will be pleased to know I’m not renewing my LinkedIn platinum subscription, writing a book or signing you up for a series of self-help seminars.

No, I will be the real me.

Making some dog food, driving a van and walking my working cocker spaniel in the glorious North Yorkshire countryside. Smiling like the Chris Broadbent 2.0 I really am.

But that’s enough about me, let’s talk about you – what do you think about me?     

Some things I read in the last 12 months

Happy Monday everyone!
Below is a long-overdue part complete bibliography of things I have read and found useful in the mental health department over the last 12 months.

I have grouped resources together under the headings of self-help, bedtime reading, and dog-related reading; I will explain more in my final blog update this week. It’s not complete by any stretch, I can’t locate some things but I am sure it will help those looking for some inspiration; happy reading!

Self Help & Mental Health Reading

Prof Mark WILLIAMS & Dr Danny PENMAN; Mindfulness: A Practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world. 2011. London, UK; Little, Brown Book Group.

Dr Chris WILLIAMS; Overcoming depression and low mood, a five areas approach. 2014. London, UK; CRC Press.

Ryan HOLIDAY; Ego is the Enemy. 7th July 2016. London, UK: Profile Books.

Ruby WAX; How to be Human; the Manual. 25th January 2018, London, UK; Penguin Books.

Ryan HOLIDAY; Trust me I’m lying. 19th July 2012. London, UK: Penguin Books.

Eckhart TOLLE; The Power of Now. 2004. Novato, California; New World Library.

Ernie J. ZELINSKI: The joy of not working: A book for the Retired, Unemployed and Overworked. 2003. USA; Ten Speed Press.

Jonny BENJAMIN; The Stranger on the Bridge. 2018. London, UK; Bluebird Pan Macmillan.

Dr Russ HARRIS; The Happiness Trap; Stop Struggling, Start Living. 2007. NSW, Australia; Exisle Publishing Ltd.

Dr Russ HARRIS; The Confidence Gap: A guide to overcoming fear and self-doubt. 13th September 2011. NSW, Australia; Shambhala Publications.

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust; 2016.  IAPT Services – Self Help Guide ‘Depression & Low Mood’  Online link here

Bedtime Reading
Ian LESLIE; Born Liars. 2011. London, UK; Quercus Books.

Adam KAY; This is going to hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor. 7th September 2017. London, UK; Pan Macmillan.

Antoine LAURAIN; The Presidents Hat. March 2013. Paris, France; Gallic Books.

Ian LESLIE; Curious. 2014. London, UK; Quercus Books.

Jonathan FRANZEN; The Corrections. 2007. London, UK; Harper Perennial.

David SEDARIS; Dress your family in corduroy and denim. 2004. London, UK; Abacus Little, Brown Book Group.

Gail HONEYMAN; Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine. 18th May 2017. Audible edition, narrated by Cathleen McCARRON. UK, Harper Collins.

Sally ROONEY; Normal People. 28th August 2018. London, UK; Faber and Faber.

Sally ROONEY; Conversations with friends. 25th May 2017. London, UK; Faber and Faber.

Dog Related Reading

Joe IRVING; Training Spaniels. 1993. London, UK, Swan Hill Press.

Linda WHITMAN; The Cocker Spaniel Handbook. 2016. UK; CreateSpace Publishing.

Jonathan WITTENBERG; Things my dog taught me (About being a better human). 2017. UK; Hodder & Stoughton.

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?

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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?

Le Mans 2017

OK so this was my 9th trip to Le Mans in 11 years – and what a belter Le Mans 2017 turned out to be!

Same campsite, same format, many of the same great bunch of people – why change a winning formula?

The pictures always tell the story, the journey down, the campsite sports car show, the crazy noisy circuit and the incredible racing itself – so let the cars do the talking…

This is the place

This is the place whete today we are running the Manchester 10k with thousands of others. From Portland Street to Deansgate and everything in between.

This is the place.

This is the place


MediaCityUK looks amazing with the light installations glowing outside the appartment and everyone out enjoying a drink or a concert, the Courteeners concert drifting over from the cricket ground.

Goodwood Revival

Goodwood Revival

Last September we went to the Goodwood Revival. I won’t forget it in a hurry.

Goodwood Revival brings out all the best people

Goodwood Revival brings out all the best people

These images give you a flavour of the most interesting people you will find there.

Even if you don’t like old cars and racing, it’s hard to not get swept along in total escapism. I will be back there this year, rain or shine.

Bamburgh Castle

 

I love Bamburgh Castle.

The village of Bamburgh itself is always a great place to stop off, have a cuppa and do some exploring; this is a beautiful corner of England, best explored with a rangefinder camera and a waterproof coat (or a surf board and a wet suit)

Bamburgh Castle

A walk up the drive to Bamburgh Castle is the best place to stop and take stock; this is a fantastic castle and an important site. Not many places in the UK can match this, if you close your eyes and listen to the sea, you can hear history unfolding in your head.

Banburgh Beach goes on and on and on

Bamburgh Beach goes on and on and on

The beach walk to Seahouses

These dunes go on forever and ever.

Some Wikipedia history on the castle itself

Built on a dolerite outcrop, the location was previously home to a fort of the native Britons known as Din Guarie and may have been the capital of the British kingdom of the region (see Gododdin, Bryneich and Hen Ogledd)[2] from the realm’s foundation in c.420 until 547, the year of the first written reference to the castle. In that year the citadel was captured by the Anglo-Saxon ruler Ida of Bernicia (Beornice) and became Ida’s seat. It was briefly retaken by the Britons from his son Hussa during the war of 590 before being relieved later the same year.

His grandson Æðelfriþ passed it on to his wife Bebba, from whom the early name Bebbanburgh was derived. The Vikings destroyed the original fortification in 993.

The Normans built a new castle on the site, which forms the core of the present one. William II unsuccessfully besieged it in 1095 during a revolt supported by its owner, Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria. After Robert was captured, his wife continued the defence until coerced to surrender by the king’s threat to blind her husband.

Bamburgh then became the property of the reigning English monarch. Henry II probably built the keep. As an important English outpost, the castle was the target of occasional raids from Scotland.[citation needed] During the civil wars at the end of King John’s reign, it was under the control of Philip of Oldcoates.[3] In 1464 during the Wars of the Roses, it became the first castle in England to be defeated by artillery, at the end of a nine-month siege by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.

The Forster family of Northumberland[4] provided the Crown with twelve successive governors of the castle for some 400 years until the Crown granted ownership to Sir John Forster. The family retained ownership until Sir William Forster (d. 1700) was posthumously declared bankrupt, and his estates, including the castle, were sold to Lord Crew, Bishop of Durham (husband of his sister Dorothy) under an Act of Parliament to settle the debts.

The castle deteriorated but was restored by various owners during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was finally bought by the Victorian industrialist William Armstrong, who completed the restoration.

In 1944, during the Second World War, the Royal Navy corvette HMS Bamborough Castle was named after it.

The castle still belongs to the Armstrong family, and is opened to the public. It also hosts weddings and corporate events. It has been used as a film location since the 1920s, featuring in films such as Ivanhoe (1982), El Cid (1961), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), Elizabeth (1998) and both the 1971 and 2015 adaptions of Macbeth.

Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Saltburn-by-the-Sea

A fantastic beach with not a lot happening
Saltburn-by-the-Sea

In addition to below, back in January, we had another trip to Saltburn-by-the-sea with some old mates yesterday.

Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Saltburn-by-the-Sea

I didn’t have my Leica with me, but could not resist updating this blog post with some snaps images from my iPhone, because whichever way you look at it, Saltburn-by-the-sea is a crazy old North East seaside town, I just love it.

Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Saltburn-by-the-Sea

The old cliff tram lift; Saltburn-by-the-Sea

We had a trip out to the seaside today, to Saltburn-by-the-Sea. What a charming little spot in the middle of nowhere, just the sea, a pier, and the best fish and chips you could ever hope for.

Last days of 2016

Now we are counting down the last days of 2016. So I went out with my camera in daylight and at night to catch the beauty that is all around us in North Yorkshire.

Frost crunching underfoot and gripping the trees

Thousands of stars in the sky

Crisp cold air and freezing breath

Its all here, and it will still be here in 3 days time when it’s 2017.

 

Stag of North Stainley

I love the Stag of North Stainley; a sculpture constructed entirely of bicycle parts, creating our village symbol, the Stag of North Stainley and the Staveley family; made by local folk to celebrate the Tour de France passing through the village in 2014.

The Stag of North Stainley comes alive at Christmas time with a red nose and the village Christmas tree lit up in close proximity.

Stag of North Stainley

Thought you may like some snaps I took of the Stag of North Stainley today.

 

 

Light of the world

Today I love you iPhone 6s

Today I love you
iPhone 6s

Vibrant scenes and interesting art installations at MediaCityUK coupled to a tour of local festive lights in my own village this weekend highlighted to me that we sometimes miss the real meaning of Christmas, when it’s right there under our noses.

Leica M 240 Summilux-M 1:1.4/28 ASPH 24sec, f4.0 ISO 200

Leica M 240
Summilux-M 1:1.4/28 ASPH
24sec, f4.0 ISO 200

I was wondering around and about my village in the cold cold dark evening and it struck me that some of my neighbours have the most amazing Christmas light shows, lighting up their houses like beacons of celebration at this festive time.

Light of the world, Leica M 240 Summilux-M 1:1.4/28 ASPH 24sec, f4.0 ISO 200

Light of the world
Leica M 240
Summilux-M 1:1.4/28 ASPH
24sec, f4.0 ISO 200

The same can’t be said for the church, standing all forlorn and unlit in the sodium glow of the streetlights as the occasional car whispers past through the cold night.

Surely it should be the church that is lit up at this important time for Christians?

Light of the world Leica M 240 Summilux-M 1:1.4/28 ASPH 16 seconds, f4.0 ISO 200

Light of the world
Leica M 240
Summilux-M 1:1.4/28 ASPH
16 seconds, f4.0 ISO 200

Light of the World

(Greek: φώς τοῦ κόσμου Phṓs tou kósmou) is a phrase Jesus used to describe himself and his disciples in the New Testament.[1] The phrase is recorded in the Gospel of John and again in the Gospel of Matthew. It is closely related to the parables of Salt and Light and Lamp under a bushel.

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Didn’t mean to be too philosophical on a Monday morning, but it seems to me that the actual meaning of Christmas gets lost amidst the constant rush for consumers to consume anything and everything in a frenzied rush against a corporate calendar leading to a peak of bloated exhaustion.

Light Installations, MediaCityUK

Light Installations, MediaCityUK
iPhone 6s

This holiday season, I want to be happy and healthy and spend time with my family; three things that I have not always achieved individually or collectively at various points over the last 12 months.

So let there be light in the world, lets get back to the meaning of Christmas and let’s follow the star as it shines in the East.

The star that shines in the East Leica M 240 Summilux-M 1:1.4/28 ASPH 24sec, f4.0 ISO 200

The star that shines in the East
Leica M 240
Summilux-M 1:1.4/28 ASPH
24sec, f4.0 ISO 200

Let’s go to Positano

Let’s go to Positano.

That was the talk over breakfast.

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Not again.

It may only be a 20 minute eight euro boat trip around the corner – but it may as well be another world away.

The sight of beautiful Amalfi slipping away in your wake can only give you something to long to return to later…

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Now I know we are tourists, not natives; travellers from another country. But we like to pretend otherwise, we like to sneak around the edges and sit round with the locals – well not in Positano; oh no.

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Let’s go to Positano?

Oh no not for me thanks – no port, no commerce, no locals, no lemons, no fishing boats, nothing in fact but tourists.

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Still, nice to take some snaps and mess around up hill and down dale; take a good look around as you won’t be seeing it again here.

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Positano?

Who dear, me dear? No dear.

 

Amalfi in Monochrome

Amalfi in Monochrome.

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I keep adding images as the week progresses – tempted as I am to use colour, I want this post to be all about Monochrome.

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It  goes dark here so quickly, round about 6.15pm just as it’s time for an early evening drink.

So here is to the Hotel La Bussola – scene of a honeymoon 27 years ago; it’s still standing, and so is the hotel, out on the front, overlooking the harbour with our white Fiat 500 just parked outside.

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All these years on and the Amalfi coast is as beautiful as I remember; in fact more so; here are some images taken in monochrome this week; I hope you like them.

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Wensleydale day out

The sun was shining and the wind was blowing, Masham sheep fair had been ticked off and it was a Sunday; it was time for a Wensleydale day out.

Bolton Castle always offers some amazing photographic opportunities; so this time we ventured into the castle as well as out and about walking between Aysgarth falls, Redmire and the surrounding lower Wensleydale rolling dale.

Looking towards Pen Hill, Lower Wensleydale from Bolton Castle

Looking towards Pen Hill, Lower Wensleydale from Bolton Castle

What a great place to visit, if you live round the corner like us, or you are coming from farther afield – Wensleydale is absolutely beautiful, unspoilt and full of interesting history.

Bolton Castle, Wensleydale

Bolton Castle, the perfect place to start a Wensleydale day out.

It’s not the first time I have featured Castle Bolton, bit on a sunny day like this, there is no better place to be with my Leica.

I hope you like my pictures.

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A Proper London Day Out

It was always going to be a long day; so much to see and so much to do, we needed to plan carefully and with military precision.

We promised ourselves a proper London day out; and we definitely got one!

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A proper London day out!

The early morning train, tube ride and coffee stops on the way out East to the O2 Arena, Emirates airline to (nowhere really) and amazing views back towards the city and Canary wharf.

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The Emirates Air-Line is a pretty nifty cable car, it certainly gives you some height, rising straight up to 90m and a wonderful view of London.

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Looking down onto the river we had a change of plan and the Thames river clipper service was a great last minute idea, taking time to swoop around between piers.

We gained a real tourist’s eye view of London as we chugged from the O2, past the Isle of Dogs, to Canary Wharf, Royal Naval college at Greenwich and the the Cutty Sark and under Tower Bridge before getting off at a busy Tate Modern pier.

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After pizza and posing in Paternoster Square (Dinner Date), a walk around St Paul’s Cathedral and back over Blackfriars bridge,  the fun continued with a stroll along the embankment, past the OXO tower and sand sculptures of Kevin Spacey to the South Bank, National Theatre, skate-parks and eventually the London Eye amidst the thronging crowds and street performers.

A proper London Day Out

A proper London Day Out

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The London Eye never fails to impress – it’s at least ten years since I have been on this amazing cartwheel, and it’s as good now as it ever was.

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That’s enough for one day!

Onto the tube, up to Kings Cross, a drink or two and a train home, phew!

Ripley Show gets better every year

Last year we went to Ripley Show for the first time, it was fantastic and we made a date for the calendar to be there again in 2016.

Ripley Show gets better every year.

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Well that date arrived, faster than you can say ‘organic produce’ so we packed up our picnic and made the most of another beautiful Yorkshire day; and I am proud to report that Ripley Show gets better every year.

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There’s something for everyone at Ripley Show

The cattle this year were amazing, this beautiful Aberdeen Angus was my favourite beast of the whole show, majestic and absolutely huge!

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The animals are great, especially the pigs and sheep, but the tractors and assorted old machinery are also well worth a look including the carriage driving and vintage cars.

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No excuse for many similar pictures to last year!

– all in a all great day out, Ripley Show gets better every year!

Ripley Show gets better every year

Ripley Show gets better every year

Well done to all the organisers, exhibitors and competitors.

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2017 is already in the diary.

Flam is for tourists

Flam is for tourists, of that there is no doubt.

Anywhere that has a train that stops in a tunnel so you can get out, take pictures of a waterfall and be serenaded by some character dressed as a mythical legend with piped music has got to have tourism nailed right…….

But before the tourists, there were the locals, and you have to have some sympathy for them, because if I lived here, I would not want massive cruise ships coming up my Fjord.

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Flam is for tourists

I wouldn’t want to be living here with this load of invaders; certainly Flam is for tourists, and it shouldn’t be!

Let’s start by leaving Bergen on a train…..

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Actually, you feel pretty relaxed after a lovely local train trundle from Bergen up through Voss and climbing over the mountains to the railway station and junction of the regional mainline at Myrdal; unaware of the tourism honeytrap you are about to encounter.

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Opened in 1908 this little station is where it all happens (at 866 metres above sea level). Looking back at our visit to the amazing Jungfrau railway in August 2013, makes me realise that this is really nothing compared to that 3,454m station – Transfer from the regional red train to the tourist green one – and off you go!

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From here, the famous Flåm Railway winds its way down to the tourism mecca of the fjord below.

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It’s hard not to get caught up in the tourist shots; ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ seems to be designed for the sort of traveller who wants to see the entire country in 24 hours while in a sprawling queue behind an iPad waving umbrella holding tour guide, helping them from ship to shore, to train to hotel to plane. Not for me thanks.

Norway in a Nutshell…..No thanks!

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You see; it could be a nice place without the tourists. But with a major travel interchange big enough to welcome the QE2 and load them on a big train, then sadly the only way to enjoy the area is to get on a boat and out of town, up the Fjord.

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Now we are getting somewhere!

taking a regular ferry up the fjord with a cup of coffee and your camera is the way to really take in the scene for a few hours; so after we packed up and stored our bags away, it was time for the highlight of the week so far –  the fjord tour and cheese making…

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Fjordcruise Nærøyfjorden

We start off with a little bus through amazing tunnels to Gudvangen; this was only built 20 years ago and until then this part of the world was cut off by road and only accessible by boat!

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From Gudvangen we jumped on to the 10.30 ferry/boat out up the Fjord and were soon sailing past Styvi and Dyrdal, getting to Undredal after an hour and a half; a very pleasant cruise.

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We hopped of in Undredal and were met by a guide; a super local chap.

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He took us on a tour of village and the highlight was a look inside the amazing church.

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Undredal Stave Church (Norwegian: Undredal stavkyrkje) is a stave church in Aurland Municipality in Sogn og Fjordane county, on the shore of the Aurlandsfjorden.

The church is part of the Undredal parish in the Indre Sogn deanery in the Diocese of Bjørgvin.[1][2]

The church is only 12 by 4 metres (39 by 13 ft) and has only 40 seats, making it the smallest stave church still in use in all of Scandinavia. The parish only includes one small, rather isolated valley, with only 116 parishioners, making it the second smallest parish in the Diocese of Bjørgvin.[3]

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Ostesmaking (cheese tasting and explanation) was all very good in the village, I can see why they were happy to be cut off until 1989 when the tunnel and road was built!

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Soon it was time to be back on the bus to Flam. (Sadly) And after a look in the railway museum, pick up our bags, have a coffee and then get back on the Flam Express to connect for Oslo train later.

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While waiting to board it was good to chat with some elderly American fellow travellers, on a three week Scandinavian mini tour they have also taken in St Petersburg (jealous now)!

The scenery on this late afternoon trip was superb from our reserved seats on the Myrdal -Oslo leg – a 4.5 hour spectacular over the mountains and down to our final destination.

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Itmay not be Switzerland but i don’t think I have been on a more stunning (regular) train ride in such comfort at such altitude.

Even better, unlike Northern Rail, the hotel emailed a menu through and we ordered some snacks and beer for our 10.30pm Oslo arrival – now that is pretty cool!

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All in all, a pretty good couple of days – despite the tourists!

Tip for next time – avoid at all costs and take to the hills!

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next stop….Oslo.