There is a current format recently taken on since the death of Robin Williams to talk about mental health. The format is that there is no weakness in mental health.
Well, evidently there is. There is no benefit to mental depression; it cannot help. And of course, this weakness is nothing to be ashamed of- in the same way that a man may suffer from fragile bones, another might be unable to see in bright light, whilst one more continually feeds coins into a machine of bright lights- unable to stop, perpetually about to win (if the winning actually matters to a gambling addict when compared to the thrill of the risk).
These are weaknesses. The point is that there must be no shame in having them.
Of course, you might not wish to admit having them, nor should you at all have to, but openness is always an aid to diagnosis and treatment. In most of the West anyway- I wouldn’t recommend it in The Badlands.
However, the weakness of a mental illness is not what I aim to focus on here.
I’m going to make clear, from what I have learnt through my own issues, that there is a strength that can be taken up through the momentous energy of a Panic Attack.
I have suffered from these things throughout my late-teens up till now and they have been a despicable hindrance to my fun and pride as a young man.
My own triggers for a Panic Attack centre on being unable to escape- in terms of a great distance to make or a social obligation. If I feel I have to do something, or that I feel as though my comfort is a great distance away, then I feel a sharp energy beginning to flow through me, leading on to the failure of despair.
Other sufferers might recognise the other typical triggers such as: having little option in what is about to happen, fast and manic activity out of their control, and what we might regard as normal stressful situations (E.g. An interview, a test, receiving a large responsibility, public speaking…etc.).
When a person feels unable to control what is happening, they will feel a dark sense of energy coursing through them as the aspect of their stress they are focusing on becomes increasingly tense until the reality of the situation goes completely out the window like lost luggage and we suddenly feel as though we are one or more of the following:
- Having a heart attack (which makes our hearts beat faster, which feels like a heart attack, which makes our hearts beat faster, and so on via this tortuous psychological cartwheel).
- About to vomit. This also causes fear in that we might vomit in view or earshot of people, which at the time seems totally unacceptable in your mind and so goes further to cause you to freak out. Essential we fear vomiting on our friends, family and work colleagues.
- About to faint…in front of everyone…down some stairs or into the wedding cake (again- something which causes you to feel even more stress).
- Something else odd. Such as your head swelling and the pressure on the brain killing you, whilst also being obvious to passers-by who will surely mutter to each other: “That guy’s head was throbbing. That’s unacceptable! If he needs medical care we’ll have to ignore him”. This seems crazy, and it is.
It seems crazy because it’s not reality. It’s as crazy as your bountifully-imaginative brain can conceive.
You are not having a heart attack.
You’re having a Panic Attack.
If you feel you’re about to vomit then go about it- you’ll feel grand afterwards and the tension will relieve itself.
Feeling faint? Lie down and attempt sleep. It will pass much like sleep does.
To begin with, your body is a sturdy thing (even if right now you’re telling yourself it’s not). It can, and always has, coped and in all honesty it would probably prefer it if you did pass out so that it can get back to being in control and sorting your innards out. As I said before, you are not having a heart attack. Rely on your body for the powerful and adorable little engine it is. Most chemicals and injuries unpleasantly introduced don’t stand a chance against a pissed off human body.
Most of what I listed above was a concern for your own physical health whilst, actually, the issue being fought is concerning how embarrassing this might seem in view of those around you- be they strangers you don’t know if you can rely on or old friends you don’t want to let down.
This is why talking about it helps- so that your friends know what’s happening and strangers might be familiar with what you’re going through.
If you’re not a fan of suffering from the Panic Attacks, my advice is to begin with the long-play strategy.
Diet and exercise.
For your diet, just eat healthy. You know exactly what I mean by that- we’ve all seen at least pictures of vegetables and fruit so go forth and acquire. However, the main part of this is to cut out that which actively deteriorates your wellbeing: caffeine and sugar, alcohol and tobacco.
These might seem to make you feel better; calmer. These things are addictive poisons only to be had when in a sound sense of mind and body. If you’re having a bad series of Panic Attacks, which can happen, then you should drink alcohol to the same degree as a patient with liver damage.
Exercising is a tremendous bit of medicine for the mind and body. Get your heart and lungs to hump each other and your skin to sweat you wet and you’ll feel the warm rush of endorphins throughout your body all the way down to your toes. Why do I mention toes? Because they’re a great distraction from a Panic Attack. Focus upon and give sensation to the toes (you’re welcome) and time will pass in your favour.
With a regular exercise routine of cardio and weight-lifting (particularly the buttocks- also very distracting to behold and get involved with and not just on other people) you will develop a much greater control of your emotions and what you do with them.
During exercise, you might feel a tad dizzy, breathless, as though your heart is jumping out the window and that body parts suddenly feel very light. That’s because this is normal. The only advice is this: remember that this is what happens to everybody during a workout and so you might as well try to enjoy it.
That brings us very nicely to the end of the long-term strategy (although a quick workout might help relieve some building tension in the short-term as well) and bring us to our immediate remedies for a Panic Attack.
Before I go into detail of the life-changing methods of ruling your world, here are some quick aids I have come by before arriving at where I am now:
- Remember what this is- a Panic Attack. Don’t deny it- accept it. Now we can actually deal with it.
- Study your reflection and remind yourself that this situation is actually fine and that it will end.
- A sudden sharp slap to both facial cheeks. Do it to yourself to regain self-control.
- Cold water applied to the hands, feet, face and (most effective of all) the back of the neck. Feels great too.
Going about the last two is a method of bringing you back to a sensible reality. As well as this, getting cold water and achieving a jolly slap will distract you from what unpleasantness you feel is happening.
Now here we are- the methods of dealing with a Panic Attack that will make your life a little better if you let them.
As it turns out, the key to your happiness is good body posture…
Sure- sitting up straight is just swell and all, but there are some other postures that we associate with some happy victory, which will win the day for us here.
First of all- smile!
Smiling is not only the result of happiness, but as you will discover by experimenting with yourself, it can be the cause of happiness too.
By smiling, our facial muscles are triggering nerves which release endorphins into our bloodstream, much as exercise does only a great deal faster.
Sit where you are now, and flash your pearly-whites for us (in other words…smile) and don’t continue to read or do anything else until you have about 60 seconds of hard, constant smiling under your belt. See you in a minute. Go.
Not only are you feeling happy, but you are finding things genuinely funny. I’ll bet the first thing you laughed at was the thought of yourself sitting there with a silly smile all over your face, right?
That’s what I always laugh at first anyway.
So we have this- already a great help in treating a Panic Attack and a bringer of ‘immediate happy’. You can’t even get this in bottles it’s so good. It only comes in brains…
The next piece of treatment I learnt from watching a truly fantastic TED talk by the inspirational Amy Cuddy.
In her talk (which I’ve linked at the end of this article) she speaks of the various poses our species, and other apes, take part in when going through certain emotions.
For example, when stressed and nervous we literally try to make ourselves appear as small as possible via hunched shoulders and lowered heads (sound familiar?). This is a ‘weak’ pose.
When indulging involuntarily in moments of joy and pride (say for example: winning the race, getting the job or “SHE SAID YES!!!!”) we throw our arms up as though we were the ‘Y’ in the ‘YMCA’. Not as though you were a construction worker or a Native American of course…or even a bad boy biker. This is a ‘power’ pose.
Amy Cuddy put people through trials in which those in a ‘weak’ pose and those in a ‘power’ pose were asked to hold these positions for roughly two minutes and to then have fluid samples taken.
The results showed that those in a ‘weak’ pose had an increase in the chemical known as ‘cortisol’- essentially: ‘fluid stress’.
Those grinning volunteers in the ‘power’ pose were also tested and were revealed to have a significant decrease in their cortisol rate and a distinct increase in their testosterone levels- also known as liquid balls for the brain.
Testosterone, as you likely know, is a chemical that gives your body, brain and personality such ‘Oooomph’ that it has been regulated by sporting promotions and has even be known to do that thing that it does to teenage boys.
In smaller doses however, such as in the quantity granted by the ‘Y’ without the ‘MCA’, will bring about a sense of confidence and optimism- basically as good as you’re naturally meant to feel without enjoying the latter stages of a hefty bout of sex you can be proud of.
You feel good.
I know this not only from Amy’s marvellous talk, but from trying it for myself.
It works. You feel slowly filled with a subtle confidence and optimism that you can do as you please with.
And, once more, let’s do for ourselves some experimental self-treatment.
Stand, with your legs straight and your arms outstretched high as though forming a ‘Y’ with your body. Hold this for two minutes, and focus on something pleasing- like a Labrador or 70’s fashion.
Do this now.
See you in two minutes- I think I’ll take part too.
How social of me.
As I said in my article on the feeling following skydiving… “I feel goooooooooooooooooooood”.
Now this might not feel quite the same rush as a 12,000 foot drop at 130 miles per hour. But I know I feel swell.
And so do you. You feel a little more ready to take up a challenge and to win, though losing is no loss. You feel like you got what it takes and that you could take it anywhere.
You’re in control and you feel goooooooooooooooooooood.
Amy Cuddy recommends that, when feeling the need before as stressful situation, you should spend two minutes doing this- wherever you feel most comfortable- and then reap the benefits.
My suggestion is that you do this ‘Y’, with a big old-fashioned grin, when enduring a Panic Attack.
These measures will go some distance in either helping you through it, or using that natural energy your brain sees fit to give you to do whatever you want with. Remember, you are in control and you feel goooooooooooooooooooood.
As I always say: “Mingle”.
Only now, rather than panic, use this natural energy of yours to distract yourself from the dire and inject yourself into what’s happening with a gusto that will make people either want to avoid you or try to meet you.
Talk to people and be involved in anything that is happening. Be interested in many things and you shall become what is interesting about many things.
And this is why I say that whatever psychological reason causes us to have a Panic Attack is no weakness- it is a strength. Within you there is an obvious power of energy that permits you to enjoy yourself via only a few very simple means of control…smiling and ‘Y’ing.
Smiling and ‘Y’-ing.
My final suggestion to you is that you no longer refer to these bouts of energy as ‘Panic Attacks’. Rather- do as I do, and know these cases now as ‘Power Attacks’.
In any case- however you choose to take my advice- be sure to talk to people and do not forget that the option to turn your ‘Panic’ into your ‘Power’ is entirely yours.
Congratulations on all that power.
Have a blast.
Smiling and ‘Y’-ing…
For Amy Cuddy’s brilliant talk, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWZluriQUzE
To begin with, I am sad.
I am three days over 25 and realised, as Robin died on my birthday, that I am getting to an age where people I grew up with, staples of the world I regard as being ‘daily’ to me, are leaving us by various means. Robin left by his own means, which I feel is fair enough, whereas I do simply wish that we had one more chance to say ‘thank you’. The final choice however was always his own- that is not the issue.
We may feel that owing to his last moments undoubtedly being ones of true despair, this is how we should remember him. But it needn’t be thought that his life was ruined accordingly. Nor should it be when we remember him.
He was sixty three years old. By far not long enough a time for treasuring time with those we love, but other than this; how many more years do you need? I think that 50 would do me nicely, and sixty would be great- thanks for the time, particularly in consideration for getting things done, and this is the point: Robin Williams got things done.
From a very young age he excelled, through the natural ‘different-class’ and speed of his comedic wit and persona but most essentially through the hard work that made the people we remember worth remembering. He was a young comedian at Richard Pryor’s comedy roast. You don’t think of him as having come from that era, let alone to be so highly regarded even back then, but he was. Don’t forget this whilst we also easily recall his later stand-up specials and, of course, his acting.
The fact that he straddled such a broad range of characters and genres is partly why we remember him so well. He was Mrs Doubtfire and the Genie whilst we were children, and as we grew we recognised him for his roles in the inspirational films of ‘Dead Poets Society’ and ‘Good Will Hunting’: films espousing finding your own path and celebrating life for how you live it. All whilst being painfully hilarious- giving us a chance to work out that guttural noise of hilarity that we so often yearn to yield and so rarely able to.
And this is what matters to me here- he was a man of tremendous success and acclaim and although I am aware that this acclaim is like dust on bone to a man suffering depression- it does mean that in between the worse bouts of the disease: he was happier than he might have been.
What I’m saying is that compared to others that share the disease of depression, although that cruel despair experienced is equal for all that suffer it, the times between bouts are not.
In between the sadness- Robin had his own happiness, his wife and child with whom things were no different from any other family’s love for one another. He had his career and his success which, though being no matter of consequence to his (here) fatal disease, it would have made things better between the worst of the tempests of depression. In the lighter moments, the knowledge that he was providing for his family well would have been of tremendous power, if only in the times of natural happiness.
Aged 63, loving wife and children, successful entertainment career, a long life of acclaim and interest. Robin Williams lived life, despite his condition, with a passion brought from appreciating what life is- at times joyous and always fleeting. I think it is an admirable way to live and though we all wish he was still here, had not died as he chose to and had simply not been alone on that darkest evening (for which fault can go to no one); his life was not one of woe. Often, like all of us, he was happy and he was content, at times obviously ecstatic and joyous- with the aspects of life we all hope for, though having a life-long disease.
What I’m trying to say is, although it pains us so badly to know that his last moments were of despair- that is not all his life was, and we should feel no despair because of this. There will be grief, and an unending sadness for his departure, but we there must also be acceptance in the knowledge that we’re all going to die, no matter our success, stature or condition. So let us live much as Robin did; to the full despite what tries to bring us down.
As far as I can see- Robin Williams was victorious in battling his disease owing to living the life he had. Our final moments are not all we are. I will choose to remember Robin Williams, not only as that unparalleled comedic tour-de-force and that distinguished actor (speaking of which, how much does that academy award pale in comparison to the distinction of how incompetent we are in explaining just how much he made us laugh? Apart from this description, which I feel is actually pretty on the nose. Nosed it!). I will remember him for having made for himself, amid those seas of misery, large islands of happy hope and love for life with family. I envy these islands.
Robin Williams- a sad death and a happy life. We could never understand the mind’s darkest hours, but we must think of those bright moments of his life. For us, we might assume his success was the best. In fact, I am certain that thoughts of wife and family were the successes he achieved that we should all hope to look back on some day.
And here, more than in any other medium, I say “Bravo Mr Williams”.
For living life as we all should. Remember this.
This reminds me of Stephen Fry addressing the death of Peter Cook and the media’s response to his demise, purely as it reminds me that we should remember them for their own personal happiness. The link to the Youtube video is as follows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQrTnhkQo5k
Also included is a link to Robin performing, and killing, at the great Richard Pryor’s comedy roast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCVpJ6DFqao
To begin with- come from the countryside.
If you’re not from the countryside, then you’ll be town-folk, and that’s being negative. Stop it.
City-dwellers have this whole ‘about to be stabbed by a neighbour’ deal which just doesn’t pay off.
This sums up town-folk- people that do not know their neighbour and therefore have to assume that “they’re” probably going to mutilate “me” first. That’s why I’m cooler than you…my stabbing likelihood.
Then, because of this, we build ourselves up into these towers of incredibility via the mere foundations of: “Hey man, I’m from the city…my neighbour will probably stab me first so fuck you. You wouldn’t understand because your neighbours are probably all courteous and lending you sugar and such. Fuck you again”
Don’t be this- move back to the countryside with me and we’ll lend each other sugar. Having a tree nearby has always helped me.
The countryside used to be the wild darkness between the bright lights of civilised cities, a murkiness of strange noises, suspicious meat and probably too much incest (just a tad too much) that was to be traversed till you got to the nearest monastery where you could hear in the distance that same incest making those strange noises and suspicious meats a reality. In my opinion, incest leads to noise pollution and foul cooking at the least, as well as too many toes and not enough noses.
Unbeknownst to many of us know, the cities were not a helpful thing to happen as they in turn took on all of the previously listed reasons that the countryside was to be avoided.
Not that we should reclaim incest as a past-time or anything like that. Let’s leave that box of frogs be; before swaying in rocking chairs, playing the banjo and squinting becomes all that we’re good at. Let’s not limit ourselves to squinting and sibling-humping. I doubt it would help.
You want a city? Why? Why would you want to do that? Inconsiderate.
Because of the lights? Well, fine, I can’t deny that the city certainly has more lights.
I guess you’ve got me there.
Still, it merely means that when you’re being annihilated by the neighbour you never knew- you’ll be well lit. Probably making it easier for your neighbour there. Good for you- enjoy your new hole. I won’t.
Instead of this- be from the countryside- make the city a place you visit every now and then to remind yourself what the ‘masses’ look like and to see a musical.
I can see that the countryside might not be the most attractive of places out of the two lurid possibilities so…make where you’re from worth your time.
I, for one, feel that this is a good reason to have a tradition.
Not the sour traditions that go on and on because the elders fear change they can’t control, but the traditions of carrying around flaming barrels of mead because it’s fun. It also scares the shit of the townsfolk.
Get yourself a tradition and, with it, fuck those that are not local with it. Consider it initiations for letting someone in your club house/tree house. Like setting fire to your shoes, running for the river, having a truly-necessary paddle and then get aggressive with the guest for not joining in. THAT’s a tradition. It’s also mental. Good.
‘Mental and good’.
You can quote me on that.
Make the countryside scary for the urbanites= Make where you’re from a place worth being from.
Everything we come to fear as naturally bred blokes and femmes is born from the country: ‘Jaws’ (as I’m counting beaches), chewing sounds emanating from the woods and bales of hay falling on us from an unnatural height for hay.
If hay could speak one word, then it should be “What?”
And it would be the height of humour from then on, every time it heard its name, a…”What?”…, would follow and then you’d have to get on with your day.
This would also be a fine way to intimidate townsfolk. It might not be a good old fashioned city-bred knife in the ear, but it has a tad deal more panache owing to the normally-passive and typically stationary object falling on you, temporarily flattening your obese-urban-wise-bundle-of-bones and then ‘replying’: “WHAT?”
If a bale of hay collides downwardly with a townsperson, does it make a sound? If we have our way- yes. How will we achieve this? I presume it would revolve around breeding the noisiest of the hay-species, though this might be a matter of a rogue gust misleading our hay-breeders as they hear the ‘swish swash’ of hay in the breeze and then making it fuck.
Let’s try again.
So, as far as I see it…we’re the ones with all the stuff.
Maybe not quite as many street-lights or dentists, but other than that…most of the important stuff. Like beef.
What if we kept it?
What if we said to the casual urbanite: “Hey. See this mutton? Well keep watching, because that’s all you’ll ever get to do with it”?
Or, just hand them a sheep and a pair of scissors and tell them to go about providing themselves with a delicious Sunday roast and a rather fetching woollen jumper. Those two things you’ll want to keep fairly separate- you don’t want to find that your jumper’s moulding or that your dinner is a size 40 inch chest size, and itchy.
Great- we’ll keep the mutton.
What else do we have?
The bees! “You bitches, it’s all for honey” and all that buzz (HA!).
Now I would recommend to you all that we do one of two things with the bees…
One. Keep them and their delicious produce to ourselves. I’m sure we could learn from them and though I have experienced such a thing as ‘too much honey’- I’d rather have too much than not enough.
Two. Sick them on the enemy. People will hear their hum and start to fear the countryside once more. Picture a bee in a leash. I hope you enjoyed that.
All we’d have to do is ensure the balance between keeping the bees complacent and getting them appropriately pissed off, like beating them with the flower we’re feeding them. Or we could do that little dance of theirs and convince them to gather ‘pollen’. Yes…‘pollen’…
Actually, I don’t know if I’d prefer to have bees collect pollen more than the alternative method by which flowers USE me.
The flowers, normally the fluffy ones, ejaculate onto me and my shoes (with all their flower-sperm hugging nooks and crannies) and then ‘let me go’ without as much as a kiss farewell or £50 on the bedside table. Then, as I walk away from the male bastard-flower, I meander into the female district of the garden where the female posies lie back and spread open their ducts (easy now) as though uttering a moan of: “Oh KICK me Sam! KICK ME!”
Which I do. With my flower-spunk laden footwear.
I’m being helpful.
Actually, here’s an interesting method of making the countryside a little spookier once more…
When urban guests visit, perhaps we could involve them in our procreation: just say “It’s the way we do it round here”.
That way the guys could spunk into the urbanite’s pocket and ask them to visit our most bestest girl, where and with whom they would be asked to expel their creamy pocket contents and say who sent them. With a bouquet of flowers obviously- we must maintain the romance of the situation. I guess this would be a ‘spunk-o-gram’ and please feel free to patent the idea. Imitate the flowers.
I know that’d intimidate me if a country man ejaculated into my pocket and then sent me away.
But why make where we’re from a place intimidating? Why be scary?
Entirely, because it’s attractive and that would be the start of respect, and then being jolly would follow soon afterwards. The countryside is a place of sunny people and this is largely to do with sheer character- let’s flaunt that, but let’s flaunt that after putting ourselves on the map first.
And why put ourselves on the map?
You’re bored- that’s why, and igniting your shoes and running to the river will liven up your day no end.
You’re just bored, and you have to take caution with not wasting the minutes that are yours by being either in a city with various foreign objects being thrust into you (in a bad way) or from the countryside and lonely.
I play golf with fresh fruit.
It’s tremendously refreshing, is fair exercise, spreads seeds, feeds the birds, makes things a little stickier and has an explosive spread of fruit-innards.
City-folk I’ve introduced this to have either loved it or hated it, and the ones that loved it have always come back for more.
This is tourism.
A little crazy, commanding a bit of respect, and the people come.
And then, with them and with the dispersal of fresh fruit, I am no longer lonely.
So, WELCOME TO THE COUNTRYSIDE, the true jungle- not a concrete zoo. Make yourself at home whilst we dance with our bees and no longer fuck our siblings. There’s a river over yonder for one’s flaming footwear, and make sure you keep your pockets covered at all times.
That tradition about the guys procreating into your pocket might be a problem as time goes by.
Speaking of avoiding loneliness- talk to your neighbour- they’re right there.
It’s my birthday and I just found out that Robin Williams died last night.
Mental health- we’ve got mental health and must keep ourselves healthy through the exercise of natural instincts such as dialogue. Though some of us will have an illness, such as depression, talking will help. People might not ‘get it’, but they might understand that they don’t ‘get it’ and will becomes that necessary ear for you.
Don’t be lonely.
Find a person and talk to them.
And for all the love that is out there, if someone starts talking to you…talk back.
There’s really not much else that matters. We’re a communication species, so let us luxuriate in the delicious medicine that it can be to talk with another.
My life, nor I doubt yours, would be the same if Robin Williams hadn’t talked with us as he chose to. I’m glad he did.
Make yourself and where you’re from the tourism that our species is good at.
In there lies a little hope for us.