Category Archives: Health

Turmoil and Nothingness – A window into a troubled soul

Paul S Allen 21 July 2021 

Trigger warning: This post talks about anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. 

How can I describe what is going on inside my brain at the moment?

(I am not going into details of what caused my mental health issues here)

I feel numb, empty and alone (lonely), at the same time my heart races, my breathing is shallow as I overthink absolutely everything, and if I can’t control it I will go into a full on anxiety attack, with full on self criticism and abuse. 

I feel everything and nothing simultaneously and can fluctuate between them instantaneously. 

I am both highly productive as a songwriter at the moment while having no motivation to even pick up a guitar. 

I want to run, I want to hide, I want to close my eyes, hide my face, seek reassurance from others and run away from them at the same time. 

I want to sleep, I am so tired, my brain is weary, but mind mind races as soon as it hits the pillow and I wake up often through the night, then early in the morning my brain starts all over again firing on all cylinders.

Now I am starting to recognise some of my anxiety triggers, but I still get caught off guard by them and other out-of-the-blue events which can leave me in a state of blinding anxiety where I can start to yell at myself with all the expletives I can muster to say how utterly worthless and foolish I am.  (Please know that I know these thought are a lie but at the time they “feel” very real.)

From this I can go to a place of nothingness, not just empty or lacking in activity, but just a void or a vacuum where there is nothing to give, nothing to see. It is not just a void of positive thoughts, it is a void of any thoughts or emotion. Complete and utter emptiness. 

My brain seems to switch from screaming to silence and back. 

To the outside world it might seem that I smile and joke, sing and laugh, make conversation, and can even talk about anxiety and depression (as I am doing right now). 

Recently I launched a new album at a gig, I had a great crowd, supported by friends and other fantastic musicians. Many lovely and supportive things were said about me and I am blessed and honoured by them. Logically I know that everything they said was good and genuine, but I feel that were talking about someone else. (Sorry friends, I do love you and really appreciate you love and support) 

The positive is just not getting through, very little is getting through be it happy or sad. 

What does cut deep is the negative thoughts and self-criticism, where I am my own worst enemy. 

The overthinking and deep sense of loneliness, does cause problems where I tend to obsess about things or situations. I know this is not good or healthy but I am working on strategies to overcome this.

Now to the subject of the “S” word.

Suicide, have I thought of it?  Yes, and that terrifies me! 

Before I continue here are some things you must know…

I want to live!

I want to be well!

I recognise that I am unwell and not my usual self.

I am getting help. 

If I am totally honest through my life there have been a number of times when these thoughts have been in my mind. I have fortunately never acted on them. Only recently have I opened up to others about this (including my Doctor, counsellor and close trusted friends).
I am now on medication and have a good support system including friends that are keeping an eye out for me. 

So what am I doing to get through?

I reached out for help… first to a trusted friend, then to my wonderful and supportive wife, then to my Doctor then a counsellor

Yoga – I have started yoga for grounding, breathing, and getting to know my own body. Also physical fitness is good and so is meeting new people through the classes. 

Friends – My friends are so dear to me and I love them so much for who they are and especially for there support through this rough patch.  I have one friend in another town who has been checking in on me daily online calling himself my “Wellness Stalker”.
To my friends – THANK YOU SO MUCH. 

Music – music and creativity is my life, I have gone to gigs, performed, written new songs, collaborated with others, it all has been helping. 

Time – I am trying to take back control of my life through good time management, my workplace is encouraging in this regard too with a good strategy in my return to work. 

Medication and counselling – I strongly recommend seeking professional help!

Focusing on me – now this is hard I feel completely selfish doing this as I am usually so other focused

Why am I sharing this?

It is because I want you to know you are not alone with your battles. 

We all may battle in our own way, we will be triggered by different things, we will react and respond differently, but you are not alone.
There is support out there so please reach out.

I want you to live also!

I want you to be well. 

I want you to get the support you need.

Paul Allen – Singer songwriter

New Zealand Support Contacts

  • 1737, free 24/7 phone and text number
  • Healthline: 0800 611-116
  • Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800 543-354
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828-865 
  • Samaritans: 0800 726-666
  • General mental health inquiries: 0800 443-366
  • The Depression Helpline: 0800 111-757

for NZ music industry people
Check out MusicHelps

Mental Health – my current journey

I am back at work now after having a few weeks on medical leave for anxiety and depression. I am working short weeks for a while and have made other arrangements to support my re-integration back to work.

Firstly, and just so you all know, I am receiving good medical care and medication is starting to kick in, and also I am receiving counselling and other support. Most importantly I am safe.

I still am battling through, which is not easy at times and is tiring, and certainly have my moments when I need to take a break.

Some of the people and things that are good and are helping me get through are, my very loving and supportive wife, some very good friends, music (writing, performing, and collaborating), and MusicHelps .
Anxiety has been great for writing songs and I have written 14 songs in the last 6 weeks, while depression makes me not want to even pick up my guitar. Anxiety and depression are a very strange combination.

Why am I being open?
As kiwis and as blokes (generalisation), we are terrible about seeking help and support when we need it.

I thought that as I have always been an advocate for people with mental illness that it is good for me to be up front and open that I am now one of the many people who also have a mental illness.

I have sought out help from my GP and a counsellor for what I am dealing with and it does help.
Hopefully this will encourage others to get help too.

So the important take away from what I am going through at the moment is this…

Do not be ashamed or embarrassed to seek help if you are struggling – use the 1737 help number if you need to, make use of the EAP services, counselling, or other support services that are available, talk to your close trusted friends, discuss it with your doctor.

Check out for your friends, ask them if they are OK and genuinely support them if they need it.

Know that you are not alone in the dark, and there is hope even if it doesn’t feel like it now (note: even as I write this I have to remind myself of this. )


New Zealand Support Contacts

  • 1737, free 24/7 phone and text number
  • Healthline: 0800 611-116
  • Lifeline Aotearoa: 0800 543-354
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828-865 
  • Samaritans: 0800 726-666
  • General mental health inquiries: 0800 443-366
  • The Depression Helpline: 0800 111-757

for NZ music industry people
Check out MusicHelps

Miscarriage – Time to say goodbye

28 May 2006 – This is a day that changed us forever.

I wrote the song “Time to say goodbye” four years after my wife miscarried as a way of expressing my deep sadness and a letting go of the hopes and dreams we had of having children. It was to acknowledge the child that we will never hold in our arms, but who will also never know the troubles of this world.

It has taken me eight years to write this blog.

This is the first time I have shared this publicly.

Paul S Allen

Time to say goodbye – Written and arranged by Paul S Allen (aka Paulusthebrit)
Words and music © Paul S Allen 2010 (All rights reserved)
Video and image © Paul S Allen 2014 (All rights reserved)
http://www.thewaterside.co.nz

Paul S Allen___   ___   ___

If you need help, get it now, don’t wait!

Please check out the following supports sites.

The Miscarriage Support website has a lot of very useful and practical information for women and men. It also has contacts for support networks across the country.

If you are needing immediate medical assistance or you have concern for the physical or mental health of yourself, your partner or someone close by, get help straight away.

  • Emergency Services call 111 (in New Zealand)

Other support services

  • Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
  • Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else) – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
  • Healthline – 0800 611 116
  • Samaritans – 0800 726 666 (for callers from the Lower North Island, Christchurch and West Coast) or  (04) 473 9739 (for callers from all other regions)
  • Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz

 

Verbal Sticks and Stones

Photo by Rich Johnson

Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can also harm you.

Be careful with words, the scars they cause may not be visible but they are real, words can cause real damage.

People may appear strong and able to cope, but what is going on beneath the surface may not be apparent, and you do not know what demons people are struggling with.

Being told to “get over it” or “harden up” are not helpful statements especially if you have been brave enough to reveal a problem. Yes, we need a reminder from time to time it doesn’t matter what others think about you (or me); but, if you are struggling, you need support and encouragement, at times even professional assistance.

We all can struggle with self-esteem or self-worth issues at some point in life, some people are more obvious with letting it be known, and others just hide it away. The trigger points are different for everyone and you may not understand what your own triggers are.

Words can have permanent consequences for people. You never know how close to the edge someone is, or what they are going through. so be very careful.

Let your words build up and not destroy.

Paul S Allen

I am not a stranger to being bullied, as a child, teenager and as an adult. It has been in the form of words and insults, intimidation, threats and physical attacks.  Coming to a new country as a child with a different accent, just not being the same as others, or being quiet and shy or for no apparent reason at all. What ever the reason given, there is no valid reason to bully anyone, ever.


New Zealand support services

Youthline: 0800 376 633

Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 – 24 hour service

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

For an emergency if you or someone else is at risk, call 111


Powerful photos illustrate real damage done verbal abuse

Petapixel.com

The image above is one of a few photos that are a great visual representation on the power that words can have.

Be aware some of the images, although staged, may cause a reaction in you and may not be suitable for sensitive people or children.

 


 Stand up together –  Stop Bullying – Pink Shirt Day this Friday – 23 May 2014 http://www.pinkshirtday.org.nz


Apparition in Chingford Park 2

To love the unlovely

How the unlovely, the broken and the disadvantaged are treated is the measure of society.

If you go behind all our masks, behind the tattoos, the makeup, the hair, the gender, the orientation, the religion or non-religion, you will meet a human. Someone who breathes the air, has blood in their veins, eats, rests, and generally lives from one routine to another.

We are all human.

My eyes were opened one day when a feared gang member stopped outside a food shop to buy his lunch. What I saw that day was a person, who probably ordered and paid for his favourite sandwich, and looked forward to eating it.

A man with a hunger, a need, a desire for something, normal, satisfying.

I got to know this man in a small way over a few years, I knew him as a person who looked out for his friends, he was a caring man, he tried to protect youth when needed. He shared with me his concerns about children playing in a derelict building site. He had a desire to improve his circumstances and of those around him.

He was also a gang member, he wore a patch, I am sure he had earned it in a way I did not want to know about. He was an outcast from “normal” society.

What I mainly saw was the man, a human.

A desire to change from someone with a less than “normal” past, whether that be criminal or other anti-social background  (mental health especially has a stigma that people need to overcome) requires us to change our attitude, it requires us to get out of our comfort zone to reach out to the one wanting to change.

It means taking a risk.

Unless we are prepared to take a risk to reach out to others who are different from us how can we ever expect to improve our community.

To ostracize the unlovely, the broken and the disadvantaged is an indictment on the society we live in.

We need to be a community where forgiveness is a norm, where there is acceptance of the different, and where those wishing to and needing to change can find a place to do so and people who can help.

To love the unlovely is to love your fellow human. Something we are all called to do.

Paul S Allen

(aka paulusthebrit – twitter)
Caution

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