Don’t be the Frog Blog

No we’ve all probably heard the Frog parable right? If not you are in for a gem 🙂

Now I don’t know who did this to find it out, but I’m sure they got a big kick up the arse from Karma for doing so. Anyway…

If you put a frog in a pan of boiling water, it will jump out right away. (“really Dave, thanks for that, I reckon everyone knows that” I hear you say, just bear with me).

BUT…if you put a frog in a pan of cold water and then gradually heat the water up, it won’t notice the slow rise in water temperature and will boil to death. Urghhh, what an odd story. But as always, I’ll come back to this point.

Suicide is the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK!

I’m not going to apologise but I’m going to repeat this…

Suicide is the SINGLE BIGGEST KILLER of MEN under 45 in the UK!

I don’t know what you think, but I for one think this is a shocking statistic.

75% of all suicides in the UK are by MEN.

It is as important as ever for us to look after our mental health. You may be feeling some symptoms of bad mental health, but it depends on how you answer this next question.

Are you happy? Now I’m not asking are you in a good mood right now, right this second, as you read this. I am asking, are you TRULY happy with your mental health?

My personal answer to this question, even as early as a couple of months ago, was no.

I had reached a point that my normal day consisted of feeling low and down. I found it more and more difficult to concentrate, be it with work or talking to my family. I would often feel overwhelming guilt when I hadn’t even done anything wrong. Almost as if I was waiting for something wrong to happen! I would feel fear and worry for all sorts of things, from financial things like work and the mortgage, to personal things like relationships with my family and friends. I had problems sleeping, it took me hours to get to sleep as I reran social interactions from the day in my head, over and over. I often woke in the early hours, worrying about things and couldn’t get back to sleep. I also started to find it hard relating to people in my life, leading me to have feelings of loneliness. I had no passion for the things I used to love doing, like music and football.

Having all these things going on made me exhausted! I mean so down and tired that I literally didn’t want to do anything. The real danger here is that these kind of things, left untreated, will slowly creep up on you and get bigger and bigger until you reach crisis point. I’m telling you this from experience. You do not want to go down this road and if you are already on it, you need to act now to take a diversion off it.

For me this was simply pure pain and darkness. I could still remember how I used to feel, but that person felt like a different me. Like someone I used to know.

These feelings were stopping me being the person I wanted to be. The thing you need to realise is that when this is happening, it’s not just affecting you. It could be affecting your wife, husband or partner. It could be affecting your friends or work collegues.

If you carry on down this route, you could end up with serious mental health conditions, such as depression and or anxiety. You may already have them, like me.

Here’s an interesting angle. Did you know, studies have shown that serious mental health issues, left untreated, can actually cause damage to your brain. Take a moment to let that sink in. It can damage your brain. There are sadly people out there that still don’t believe mental health issues to be clinical. “It’s just a load of people that need to pull themselves together and grow a pair!” Well to be blunt, I think these people who refuse to educate themselves on this subject are, the C word! Yes I went there, they are cretins 🙂

3d art illustration of male active brain

These studies show brain inflammation, which in turn can lead to brain shrinkage. Oxygen restriction can occur along with structural and connective changes. I’ll be honest with you I’m not 100% sure what this actually means but I know it’s something I don’t want. Do you?

Now, is improving your mental health something that you’ve tried before but couldn’t maintain? Is it something you’ve put off because you don’t want to admit your feelings or issues? Do you think you can just deal with it yourself? You’re to embarrassed? You don’t want to appear weak? Or you simply feel you don’t have anyone to talk to.

I am and was all of the above. What I mean by that is I still struggle with some of these, but the key point to make is I’m making a change with them. If I can, trust me you can too.

Let’s be honest and open for a second. You may still be reluctant to take some action, but the fact of the matter is you, are putting yourself at risk. You are also preventing yourself from living your best life. Think about that.

Question time. What is your biggest fear once you decide to take action and improve your mental health? Please take a couple of minutes to think about this, then carry on reading.

I’m serious, for those of you that have just read on 🙂 take a minute to seriously think about this.

I had a few, but one of my biggest fears was what people will think. Turns out I cared more about what others think of me than I thought, or probably wanted to admit. Would they think I was weak or crazy?

So what are your options?

Well you could do nothing. That’s an easy one. Carry on as you are. Believe me as someone talking from experience. If you do nothing it will only get worse. Plus, if like me, and your fear is looking weak. Think about whether it takes strength or weakness to do nothing.

You could pass the buck. Blame it on someone else or something else. Try and see if you can get someone else to change to make your life better or easier. Get someone else to solve your problems. Thinking back to my fear again, does this take strength and courage?

Orrrrr, you can decide to take action. You can take the proverbial bull by the horns and start to take positive steps. Now I know this can seem daunting. You don’t know where to start of even if you’ve got any fight in you. Or that fear that you have is too strong. Let me be clear with you. You start by taking small steps. You complete these steps. You start making small positive changes. Next thing you know you start feeling good about yourself, remember how that felt? Then when you are comfortable, you step it up a gear and take some small to medium steps. I won’t go on, you get the idea. But only you can initiate this. There’s tonnes of help and support out there, including me. But you need to be the catalyst for that change.

Going back what we talked about above. About what can happen if you don’t start looking after your mental health. Don’t let your life lead to crisis point before doing something about it like I did.

Remember that suicide is the biggest single killer of men aged under 45. This is heartbreaking to me. With this in mind, is whatever fear that is stopping you make a change in your life really worth it? Lets forget for a moment that the fear you have is more than likely a made up illusion created by our mind. I’m only speaking for myself here. The answer is NO! When it comes to my life and my wellbeing, fear of people thinking I’m weak doesn’t matter! It really doesn’t matter.

When I started to reach out, I realised that the people I spoke to never judged me. They never told me to pull myself together for being weak. If you don’t think you have someone you want to talk to at this stage, call a confidential phone line like the Samaritans. Reaching out will be one of the best things you will ever do, trust me.

There’s a saying that goes, “don’t listen to the views of someone that you wouldn’t ask for advice.” Or something like that. So don’t reach out to someone that you wouldn’t normally ask for advice. You wouldn’t normally ask them for advice because you don’t respect their views right?

I have texts and emails, facebook posts, from people I know and some I don’t. They are telling me I am brave, strong and courageous for speaking out about mental health. I’m not telling you this for some kind of vanity trip. I’m telling you this because this is the exact opposite to what that little voice in my head was telling me. This illusion I have created myself. I wonder what illusions you have created for yourself?

It takes guts to admit there is something not quite right. It takes guts to take action. But remember you are not alone on this journey. You are not alone.

Once you start to realise these things, you can take control back. Step out of the illusions you have created and focus on being the best you. On living your best life.

Stop your unconsciousness sabotaging your life. Your potential is limitless. As you start to make the positive changes, you will find doors start to open. Opportunities arise that you would never be able to see before. How great does that sound?

Another positive from my journey, is that I have improved my relationships with the ones I love. They have learnt from my journey and I’m now closer than ever with my wife, my family and my friends. What a bonus that is.

There are other men that feel the same as you. This doesn’t invalidate your feelings in any way, like they’re common and are not important. Of course your feelings are important, but you are not alone. These men, like you are sick of feeling down and tired. I know this because I’m one of them. And don’t you think that if there is one other person feeling like you, it’s reasonable to assume there is another? That makes three of us. And so on and so on.

I ignored my feelings and it nearly cost me everything. I can’t ask you enough to reach out and make that first step. If you don’t feel quite ready yet, then make sure you keep a good eye on how you do feel, because it is a dangerous situation to be in.

Stay safe, take care of yourself, and for judgement free advice for a start, contact me if you think that could help.

OK then, what about that poor frog in the pan.

Frogs are programmed to react to drastic changes in their environment. Much like we humans are when it comes to fight or flight.

We need to train ourselves and be aware of the slow gradual changes in our feeling and environment, so that we don’t end up boiling in the metaphorical pan. But we take action before things get hot. Get ourselves out of that environment and start living our best lives, being who we were meant to be.

Remember to leave me some comments, I’d love to hear from you and share share share. Oh and sign up to the site for some exiting things in the pipeline.

Take good care of yourselves.

2 Replies to “Don’t be the Frog Blog”

  1. Hi Dave. Fantastic piece on such a difficult and still stigmatised subject. I can’t agree more with the importance of speaking to people. The way I’ve experienced anxiety is like a balloon constantly inflating in my head. When you’re able to speak to someone who you know won’t judge you, the balloon deflates and gives you such peace of mind. Keep these going – they’re going to help so many people. Take it easy.

    1. Thanks for your comment Dan and for sharing about your anxiety, I know that takes guts. I like your analogy of the balloon! Thanks for your support, look after yourself. Dave

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