Category Archives: People

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

Black Lives Matter – Dunedin NZ 14 June 2020

Vogel Street Party 2019 – Dunedin Icons

Here is a collection of images and a video montage of the fantastic Vogel Street Party 2019 – Dunedin Icons event held in Dunedin NZ, 12 October 2019

Vogel Street Party 2019 - Dunedin Icons

 

Time changes everything

Captivated

Lesson: Remember leaders are human too.

Over the years I have seen many things come and go. Many people come and go. Many ideologies come and go.

People in leadership whom I have held with great respect in the past I now see, not with bitterness, as fallen, fallible or in some cases fake.

I have learned that all leaders are human and not entirely pure in motive, while some are, without a doubt, wolves in sheep’s clothing and dangerous.

Yes, have respect for the office that people hold, but do not hold the people in those positions as something other than an ordinary person with a job to do.

I have also learned not to be swayed or manipulated by the fame or popularity of any individual, the glitterati are human too.

Paul S Allen
singer/songwriter, acoustic guitarist, performer, photographer, and poet.
Facebook Page Paul S Allen Singer/Songwriter & Photographer
Listen to music Paul S Allen on Spotify
Website: www.thewaterside.co.nz
Twitter: twitter.com/paulusthebrit

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