Treating Agoraphobia

Welcome back to the Blog!

Another common disorder, which is essentially just Anxiety expressing itself in another form, is Agoraphobia.

I have definitely suffered from this, and continue to. I am determined to reclaim my life and normality. In relation to this blog, I do believe that HSPs (Highly Sensitive Persons) are far more likely to struggle with different forms of anxiety.

Having done some research on Agoraphobia, I understand that the best treatment is exposure therapy combined with CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). With this disorder, people fear the Outside World and often panic in unfamiliar surroundings, or in situations where anticipation can build (like standing around in a queue at the Supermarket). While it may appear to be situation-based, these fears are linked to the perception of the sufferer.

Someone may consider that 10+ miles away from home is uncomfortable, or else will perceive that big cities are the cause of their problems.

Of course, in reality, there is nothing to fear. The situations are not the real cause.

While there may be some genuine – yet small – risks in leaving our homes, we cannot possible live the rest of our lives governed by this phobia. Of course, there is a slight chance you could die while driving to work. Maybe someone is going to decide to steal from you. Hell, if you watch the news for long enough, it can make you paranoid that the chances are even likely that someone will try to kill you – for no apparent reason.

The biggest issue with Agoraphobia is overthinking and procrastinating. Once someone has developed the fear, they will continue to dread leaving their home (or ‘safe-zone’). The chances of overcoming this problem while feeding the anxiety (i.e. by listening to it and avoiding situations) are close to zero.

Of course, there is always hope with these mental distortions. Once you become aware that your mind is creating these false fears, you can choose not to listen to the negative thoughts. The biggest fear is in not being able to escape a situation. But, once again, there is nothing to escape from. You are the problem.

I say this from a place of understanding and empathy – not judgement.

This is a big challenge for me, although I know some people struggle far more intensely than myself. What I can tell you, from experience, is that it will get worse if you don’t take action. If you continue to avoid situations that make you uncomfortable, your life will hardly be worth existing for. Life is outside, not in our houses (which are really just a few walls placed together). You really need to accept that this fear is an internal issue, created by thoughts and feelings.

Come with me, and dare to venture into the unknown. Know that the fear you experience is not grounded in reality. Other people, who are in the same environments, are able to carry on as usual. I strongly believe that we can recover, and our brains (more specifically, our amygdala’s) will adapt once we stop feeding ourselves lies about how terrifying everything is.

I made a video talking about my struggles with Agoraphobia, so be sure to check that out below. I make videos about mental health, healthy living and Veganism. I also throw in the occasional music video. If you’d like to see more, be sure to subscribe.

For now, I wish you well in your recovery from this very lonely and isolated experience.

We can do this.

~ Stefan.

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Are you having fun yet?

Stefan 5

Hello and welcome to another post.

My last post on Veganism did surprisingly well, receiving many more views and shares than usual. That was nice.

I have been doing some thinking.

About what I should do with the rest of my life. I have too often given into fear and plodded along, feeling safe but dreadfully uninspired and listless – ‘going through the motions’, as they say.

Ever since I left High School at 16, I have felt lost and worked in jobs I despise. All for that small paycheck each month. After High School, I went to College and studied Business and Finance. I only picked the subject because it sounded safe and usable in the real World. Not to mention, I had no idea what else to do. I thought about doing Drama and Film Studies … that kind of thing. But the realist in me said it’d be a waste of time and would get me nowhere.

I did tremendously well in the Business & Finance course (a BTEC National Diploma), getting top grades, but I felt no sense of achievement because it was all meaningless and I was too busy worrying about my health and feeling depressed (having reacted badly to the medication, Roaccutane).

It is surprising how fast the years can go by. Let’s face it – there are things along the way that are changing and keeping you busy, so you don’t always notice what is happening and where you are headed. Suddenly it’s the start of another year, or your birthday, and you realise you are wasting time …

I have been working within Insurance for the past 3 years (working for 3 different employers). I can do it, easy enough. But the repetition, the stress, the workload … where is the pay off? What’s the sodding point?

I realised that part of the problem is feeling stagnant. I am no longer learning and I am terribly bored of it all. A job can suck all of your energy if it isn’t right for you and so I realise it is time to get my act together, before I end up trapped forever.

So, whilst I don’t have a precise plan yet – and I really should have figured all of this out sooner – I am going to learn new things. I am going to follow my heart, because I have rarely done so and it has left me a shadow, barely living.

I think my options are as follows:

  • Study part-time, selecting an Open University course. This would take six years.
  • Or – going to a University and getting a Bachelor’s degree. This would take three years.

I think I prefer the sound of Option B.

So, the next question is what would I study? It’s got to be something I actually WANT to learn and use. I am going to dig deeper, but my interests (that I think I could get a job out of at the end of it) are:

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Philosophy
  • Social Work
  • English (Writing)
  • Journalism
  • Counselling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Animal Science

I think Psychology or Philosophy are the two that stick out the most for me. I don’t really know what job I could get from Philosophy, but I am very interested in ideologies surrounding our existence and around ethics. As I have explained before, and as you may gather with me being a HSP, ethics are very important to me.

But that’s good isn’t it? …

I’m thinking now. Instead of feeling like I can’t make a decision or feeling like my only option is to do what I have always done, I am actually looking into my options. I used to hope that there was an easier path. One where I didn’t have to study. But any time I look at jobs being posted, they are all … ahem, crap.

Without a degree, I can easily get a job in retail, insurance or admin.

But life is too short to sell your soul for a paycheck. I crave meaning and I want to care about the work I do.

I want to make a difference.

If I have to study for a few years in order to secure a better future, then so be it. And I am still terrified. I can still over-think it and worry that a degree isn’t enough to find a job afterwards. Or that I’ll struggle. Or people won’t like me on the course.

But sometimes you have to tell that cynical voice to keep it down and focus on what you want. And you need to have a bit of faith in yourself.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

~ Alex.

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I’m an INFJ.

face.jpg

Hello again.

I hope you are having a nice day.

As well as being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), I am also an INFJ. If you are not familiar with the term or the Myers-Briggs personality test, I highly recommend you give it a go yourself here. I have found it to be very helpful in understanding myself.

I expect it is somewhat common among HSPs to also be INFJs but, out of the 16 personalities, this is said to be the most rare – especially for men. Also known as “The Advocate” or “The Romantic”, INFJs account for less than 1% of the population.

This might explain why I nearly always feel like the odd one out. Like I don’t fit in anywhere. Like I am different.

But maybe being different is okay – good, even.

Because is the average person happy? Does the average person drink and smoke to deal with their problems in life? Do they find fulfillment and connection or are they merely a consumer of the media and over-priced clothing and material objects, chasing status or fame?

As an INFJ, I have a very high sense of morality and am extremely idealistic. Think of Gandhi, who was thrown into this category. On the positive side, we see what is lacking and what needs to be changed – we want to make the World better. But our desires for change can be met by much resistance, as many people would prefer to do things the way they have always been done. Some people don’t think there is anything wrong with this World…

It isn’t a coincidence that I found Veganism – but I will save the talk on this topic for another, more in-depth post.

At the core of the INFJ is a desire to make a difference to this World. To spread happiness and kindness. Hostile environments make us tense and we feel the need to leave those situations so we don’t become overwhelmed with negative energy, which is hard to absorb. People beeping at each other in traffic can make us feel on edge. An argument with a spouse can leave us feeling drained of energy. We have a ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ mentality, which could be considered naive given the state of our World.

We should probably recognise that most other people aren’t born with the same set of values as us. But it can be hard to have any empathy for those who chase money and power while hurting those who stand in their way. Or for those who cheat on their partners, or manipulate them for their own gain.

Speaking from my own experience, I very much lack empathy for those who act selfishly and hurt others in order to get what they want. Relating this to being Vegan, I can feel extremely angry if I see a video of someone hurting an animal ‘for fun’. And while this is the natural reaction that many other people would share, I find it hard to let go as I want so much to see justice and retribution. I sometimes create fantasies in my mind where I catch the perpetrator and torture them in painful ways. I mean, I seriously beat the fucking shit out of those horrible bullies!

In reality, this isn’t useful as I have yet to find myself in a position where I can carry out such acts. And who is to say I would be able to in reality? But seriously – hurt an animal and I will go Liam Neeson on your ass.

INFJs are known for their creativity. The ‘I’ stands for introverted, so we spend a lot of our time turning inwards and thinking. This can be great, but if we are in the wrong environment, we can become chronically stressed and negative. Anxiety and Depression are common, because there is always a need for improvement – in ourselves and in the outer World. We are very perfectionistic and expect far too much of ourselves. We focus on what went wrong instead of what went well. Something often feels missing and so – most of the time – we feel discontent.

Personally, I find it incredibly difficult to conform to rules and one-way approaches too. My current job in Car Insurance is unfulfilling to me, because it doesn’t offer me the opportunity to be creative. Everything is rigid and lacking in any personality. I don’t like to use technical jargon like ‘on a without prejudice basis’ or ‘knock for knock’. I would prefer to speak in real, animated ways. Just speak plain fucking English! Every now and then I will get a letter from a ‘third party’ solicitor and they really can talk some old bollocks.

INFJs – as well as HSPs – are prone to becoming overwhelmed and burned out, because things are rarely ‘good enough’ and so much needs to be sorted out. Being an introvert in itself can be challenging given the work-structures of nearly every company, but combined with the high expectations and over-stimulation we face in crowds or when in a situation we feel trapped by, one can sink into some very low moods. This is likely why I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which I am still very hopeful to resolve.

Despite the difficulties I face on a daily basis, this way of being has made me very spiritual and – in the good moments – I feel very connected and at one with the Universe. I must monitor my energy levels – physically, mentally and socially – so I do not become ‘that guy’ who I don’t like so much. All of this is a journey and the more we understand our needs and meet them, the happier we can be. Whatever our personality type, we need to understand ourselves as best we can so we can make the right decisions in life – whether that revolves around Career, Hobbies or Relationships.

You can read all about INFJs in more detail here.

Thank you again for taking the time out of your day to read my thoughts. Please do follow me for further posts on being a Highly Sensitive DUDEEEEEEE. Don’t forget to like the new Facebook page for updates > BOOBIES!!!

I will try to make time to record some more videos for the YouTube channel soon.

Peace.

~ Alex.

 

I have been struggling with Depression.

Never Again

Hi.

I am writing this before I head off to work.

I slept badly again. I didn’t get to sleep until around Midnight and I woke up – wide awake – at around 5am. That’s not nearly enough sleep for someone who is burned out with adrenal fatigue. If I could just get a good night’s sleep, or a few in a row, it would help massively.

While at work yesterday, I couldn’t have felt any worse. I had also got a bad night of sleep the night before. So I emailed my HR contact and basically said I can’t do the job anymore – at least not full time. I didn’t care anymore what would happen to me, because I was at breaking point. I kind of wanted them to tell me to go home and not worry about coming in again.

I started this job just 7 weeks ago and have struggled to cope with the pace. It’s ridiculously busy, with emails constantly pouring in throughout the day, the phone ringing intermittently and various files to follow up on urgently. The role is car insurance and my stress is worsened when I spend much of my time sitting on hold to other insurers (I literally can be on the phone for an hour waiting for someone to answer) and it is impossible to catch up.

Everyone else in my team is in the same position, but they care more about the job than me. They have ambition around Insurance. Some of them have studied or taken exams and want to make it a career. I am not like them.

The rest of my team seem in no rush to leave at the end of the day. When it hits 5pm, I am ready to get the fuck out of there. I am spent. The noise and the stressful environment have taken their toll, and I am weak. Throw in the lack of sleep and subsequent lack of energy and it’s a recipe for disaster. Often my colleagues stay to work over-time. I turn down the offer any time I am asked.

The stress of the job has been creating a lot of anxiety for me and is the reason I can’t rest well at night. So I needed to speak to the lady in HR.

Instead of 9-5, I will now be working 10-4 (5 days a week). While this is an improvement and will help me, I will be losing money each month and I will still have an insane workload, because the company doesn’t want to pay more money for new staff. But fuck it. I don’t care anymore. That’s their problem. If I can’t do all the work, despite pushing myself to the max, it’s not my issue.

I still need to get out of this place, because I have been doing insurance for a few years and I’m completely sick and tired of it.

No wonder my health seems at an all time low.

I walk around like a zombie, wondering why I shouldn’t just give up entirely and end my misery …

But that’s no way to think. When you die, it’s over for good. I feel inspired to do whatever I must to leave this industry. As a HSP and INFJ, I need purpose. I have a lot of passion in life – about injustice, animal welfare and fighting the bullshit we call normal and acceptable. I need to center my career around something I care about.

I was looking briefly at Open University courses, but on a part-time basis they take 6 years to complete. I would be 32 when I was done if I started the course now. I’m not sure I have the patience to wait 6 years to live my life.

So I still have no idea what I am going to do. This life can be very testing for those like myself who don’t just want to fill a spot and work for money. We spend most of our lives at work, so if we had our jobs we need to change them.

I would love to hear from you. I am sorry I haven’t posted much in the last week or so. I hope I feel stronger soon.

Thank FUCK it’s Friday!

For those who haven’t achieved anything…

I, too, have got into the mindset where I feel I have done nothing of value with my life.

That if I died tomorrow, I would die without having anything to show for it.

And maybe that’s because we idolize Film Stars and Musicians, who have a a host of glamorized achievements under their belt. Or maybe we see inventors like Steve Jobs, or authors like J.K Rowling and we just cannot live up that level of success and contribution.

And, of course it is extremely unlikely than anyone can! Let’s be real for a minute.

But just because you haven’t walked down the red carpet to screaming fans, or got a number 1 record, doesn’t mean your life is meaningless. It doesn’t mean you never achieved anything.

For example, you might drive a car. That’s impressive – even though some driver’s make me wonder if the test is still too easy. But really, something as simple as passing a driving test shows what can be achieved with practice and dedication. I passed my test on my forth attempt. That sounds bad, and I used to get really nervous because I don’t do well in situations where I am being observed closely, but I have never had an accident in the almost 7 years I have been driving. And hey, I could have quit after 3 fails – But I got there in my own time.

Some people might pass their test first time round, but then rush into a sense of immortality and invincibility. And then they have an accident or, worse yet, die.

This has gotten a little dark, as is usual for me.

But let’s think about something else you might have achieved. How about passing your exams in School? Sure, maybe you weren’t a straight A student. But if you tried your best and didn’t end up unemployable afterwards, that’s worthy of a pat on the back.

And maybe you think your job is a bit shit. Maybe it’s dull, or a monkey could do it. Maybe you are right. But, in time, you can get where you want to be.

Also, we don’t need to see success in the same way we always have. Maybe success is being a good person who does good things selflessly. Maybe someone who looks after the sick and vulnerable is the real success. Maybe that’s what should be valued, instead of good looking people on the TV.

Because there are a lot of rich and famous people in the World who are fucking assholes. They have betrayed people, or maybe exploited people/animals to get where they are now. Like, there are a lot of rich farmers. And Steve Jobs is responsible, in part, for slavery and human rights violations. Think of all the overworked people in China, getting paid fuck all so Apple can reap ridiculous amounts of profit. And I might be a hypocrite for saying that, because (like most people) I own an iPhone. Though I didn’t actually buy it. It was a hand-me-down.

But maybe we should look beneath the surface instead of focusing on the iceberg (or Success) that we usually zone in on.. Maybe some people’s success is a veneer of shit, decorated in some shiny glitter. Maybe all that money is the product of blood, sweat and tears.

And, ultimately, whether you die a Millionaire or a struggling single Mum on benefits, you still die. Your body still gets buried in a hole or burnt to ash (pretty nice thought, isn’t it?).

So, if you want to achieve more, be reasonable. Life gets in the way and we are all trying the best we can (well, not everyone is, but those reading this Blog are the one’s who are in touch with their desires). If you want something bad enough, I believe you can get it. Refuse to quit and don’t give up when success doesn’t come quickly.

But also remember to take a chill pill and lay off the pressure sometimes.

~ Alex.

P.S. I set up a Facebook page, so give it a LIKE 😉

 

You ALWAYS have a choice …

Crossroads

Do you ever get stuck feeling like everything is helpless and there is nothing you can do about it?

Sometimes we are restricted in our abilities to change a situation, but we always have a choice.

Let’s give a couple examples to get across what I am wanting to say …

On the way to work, I go a quick way even though I am not supposed to. Y’know, because I’m naughty and so very rebellious. But really, there is a lane I am supposed to only use after 9:30am. Before then, only cyclists and bus drivers can use it. But compared to some of the other crimes in life, I recon I’ll be spared an eternity in Hell for this. Today though, as I was going through, I spotted a bus coming from the opposite direction. The road is narrow, so I pulled over to allow the bus driver to come past. He looked at me and he knew I wasn’t supposed to be there.

He shook his head at me and I audibly laughed after. But now I feel a bit nervous. Up until today, I’d not been ‘told off’ for my naughty behaviour … I’d gotten away with it. But I might see the bus driver again. It made me a little anxious, thinking ‘Shit. I don’t want to keep bumping into this guy. What if he steps it up a gear? Maybe gives me the middle finger … maybe honks his horn at me while waving his arms in outrage … Maybe blocks the road and pulls out a machine gun and f*cking shoots me!!!’ Okay – that last one seems unlikely.

But I have a choice, don’t I? I can either carry on going down the ‘illegal’ route, and risk being shouted at, while feeling like I’m sticking it to the man. Or I can be a good little man-child and add another 10 minutes to my journey.

Let’s think of another example – also from today.

I was sitting on a bench by a river on my lunch break at work. I was there for 5 minutes, enjoying my hummus and falafel sandwich, watching the swans and geese. Then, a couple of middle aged ladies came up to me and asked, “Is it okay if we join you? There aren’t any benches left.”

In my head, I said “No. I would rather be left to read in peace without feeling like I’m eavesdropping on your conversation and feeling like my personal space is being invaded”.

Out loud, I said “Sure. Have a seat”.

After a few moments, I shifted my eyes to the right and saw – quite clearly – a solitary bench, with nobody sitting on it. I thought, ‘I could just go and walk over there and have my own space again … but these ladies will probably think I’m rude and antisocial’.

I debated it for a few minutes and then I realised … I have a choice. Thinking about it isn’t going to change anything. What am I going to do? Do I want to spend the rest of my lunch sat with these gossiping women and not being able to concentrate on my book? Not really, no. So I just walked off and sat on another bench. Maybe they thought I was rude. But does it matter? Of course not. I enjoyed reading my Kindle, without feeling like I was being watched (something us introverts cannot avoid feeling).

So, what I am trying to put across to you is that you cannot always help the things that happen to you. Often, we are just a passenger on this roller-coaster ride and have little influence on what will come about. But we can change our reactions and we have a choice in how we handle situations.

Should you take that medication? Who knows… but it’s up to you if you decide to or not.

Should you go out tonight with your friends? Or should you stay at home and read like you want to?

Should you quit your job? Maybe not if you have nothing else lined up, but nobody is going to stop you.

Next time you feel yourself feeling trapped, realise that you can change your response. Sometimes, in my day-job, I get down and start wondering what I am doing with my life. I want to be making YouTube videos, or writing, or seeing the World. I want to be creating music. But I also want to be able to eat and have a roof over my head. You can’t always have it both ways, but acknowledge that you are choosing what you do with your life.

I hope this helps you. Give it some thought the next time you are feeling like things are out of your control.

If you’re a newbie, be sure to Follow me (not in a ‘I’m outside your window’ kind of way) and Subscribe to the YouTube channel for future videos on life as a Highly Sensitive Dude.

Peace and Love,

~ Alex.

Feeling Depressed :( *Trigger Warning*

Depressed

Hi.

I feel really, really, REALLY bad.

I’m going to be very transparent in this post. Like a freaking window.

I set up this Blog out of pure desperation. I am so desperate to escape my current lifestyle of working in a busy office and dealing with what feels like constant stress. And I needed to be able to express myself to people who don’t know me in real life. I feel thin-skinned and after a while of facing the bombardment of noise and bright visuals, I want to hide away. I start getting really anxious and don’t want to be around people.

I can’t look anyone in the eye, because my self-esteem has died. I start to feel paranoid that people are judging me or whispering about me.

I start to question everything.

Why is this World so cruel? What if there is no such thing as Karma? What if the people who do bad things just get away with it? Why do the bad guys so often succeed and will our World always feel so hopeless and upside-down? How can I escape this? Maybe I should just live in a cave away from civilization. Will I always feel this unhappy? What if there is no such thing as long-term happiness? Maybe the odd moment is all you get. And then you just die. Holy shit – What if this is as good as it gets? I just want to feel peaceful. I just want a bit of space and quiet. I don’t fit into this way of life …

I have been working in the wrong jobs for years but, realistically, I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do to get my life on track. It’s hard as a creative person.

I want to be a writer, or do music, or help animals.

But there are too many people in this World and they are better than me. They don’t all have adrenal fatigue or anxiety & depression. I have these obstacles. I have no confidence in myself. I feel like a lone wolf when I go about my daily life. I feel SO alone. I feel like I have nobody to connect to when I’m at work. I feel like nobody understands me. Maybe I am just a freak.

Surely it isn’t supposed to be this hard. I have read SO MANY self-help books and where have they got me? What change have they helped to create? Nowhere. Nothing.

Where do I begin? I am struggling to pull myself out of bed to face what will be another exhausting day. I just want to stay inside, away from the madness. I just want to read books and watch TV.

Due to the stress I have experienced, over such a long period of time, I am gaining weight around my stomach (AKA Visceral Fat). This can kill you in the long run, and though I still appear skinny to anyone who would glance my way, I feel uncomfortable sitting down. I have ‘Skinny-Fat’. My diet is good. I walk a lot. But stress increases cortisol production from the adrenal glands and this in turn leads to weight gain. Until I can deal with the stress (and I’ve tried for years at this point), I am screwed.

I just feel like I’m sinking into a pit of doom. I want to feel safe. I want to feel like there is hope and that I can get better. But I don’t know where to start.

I would like to hear some words of encouragement if anyone is in a position to help me. I’m feeling really lost.

😦

 

How To Deal With Anxiety (HSPs).

Matrix

This follows on from my last post, where I talked about why anxiety is common among Highly Sensitive People.

You can read that post HERE.

After living with Anxiety (and Depression) on and off for 10 years, I wanted to share what I have learned and how I deal with my crazy little mind.

I spent a lot of money on supplements for a long time, because I was convinced my anxiety and depression were related to a physical problem. I’m not talking about serotonin – I am talking about the negative side-effects I experienced following treatment with Accutane (as previously discussed). I figured I was only depressed and anxious because I felt weak and tired a lot of the time. Or that my body was over-run by toxic medicine residue.

Did any of those supplements help? No. I literally pissed away thousands of pounds and noticed absolutely NO changes. And when I say supplements, I mean I tried like everything. Ancient Chinese herbs, multi-minerals, other herbal remedies (specifically made for me by a Herbalist). All kinds of nasty stuff, like ‘Chinese Bitters’. Holy cow, they were bad!

At one point, I literally put Coffee up my ass!

Don’t judge me! I was super desperate to feel better and even though I knew it seemed like a long shot, I was advised that it’d help cleanse my liver of toxins. To be honest, it felt quite nice (haha) though those days are now ‘behind’ me.

Get it? ‘Behind me’ … like my butt.

Anyway … it’s totally true that there is a mind and body connection. Stress can literally kill you if you don’t take it seriously. At times, I wonder how the f*ck I’m still alive. Like, I’ve been through some deep shit, man. How has my body not just given up? How have I not got cancer?

Despite some ongoing health issues – which I will touch upon in a future post about Health and High Sensitivity – I am very lucky to have not been struck down with anything life threatening.

But if you lack energy, motivation and generally feel a bit naff, it could be that your mind is having an effect on your body. Just in case anyone is still in doubt or somehow thinks this sounds New-agey, it is pure science. The placebo effect has proven how our mind can influence our body. There are plenty of metaphysical books out there about healing. People claim to have beaten Cancer and other incurable diseases by changing their lifestyles and their minds. I for one believe them, because life is too bizarre to be a mistake.

I don’t think we are supposed to just die for no reason, having not achieved the things we are capable of. Although, having said that, this World is obviously very mysterious and, at times, frustrating and brutal. People die because of other road users, or terrorist attacks, or sociopath cannibals. It is hard to give meaning to some things.

Can you tell I am just writing without a thought? This post may seem a little all-over-the-place, but I’m in the zone!

Let’s get to the point though. Anxiety is a big problem. If you are anxious (or depressed, or just generally feeling like crap) a lot of the time, your body is in fight, flight or freeze mode. I’m sure you have heard this before. The whole Caveman thing, where we are faced with a Lion and our adrenal glands are put to work. Everything is put on hold, resulting in susceptibility to illness, a low sex drive, digestive problems and a bunch of other weird stuff. Your heart might race. You get a throbbing headache. Maybe you feel dizzy.

Here is what I can tell you …

  • The more you fight to change the anxiety response, the worse you feel. Because it doesn’t work like that. You are anxious because you are stressed out and resisting what is your current reality. Continuing to fight, while seemingly noble, will not change anything. If you enter a situation where you feel fear, do not try to change your reaction. You can’t! Allow the anxiety to remain there and slow down. Focus on your breathing and allow yourself to just stop caring for a minute. I mean, Jesus, you can’t carry on living like this all the time, right? It can be hard when you are stuck in a rut. Sometimes you need to get away from the situation that’s bringing you down. But sometimes, you need to accept your limitations and shift your focus.
  • The more grateful you are – for the things that are awesome about your life – the better you will feel. There are some Millionaires who are less satisfied with their lives than those who can’t even meet their basic needs in Eastern Countries, stuck in poverty. Often, what we focus on is what we feel. So choose to be grateful for the things that are good in your life. I guarantee you have plenty to be grateful for. Your current mindset may say otherwise. Don’t believe a word. It’s easy to keep saying you will be happy when you quit your job, you find a loving partner, you go on holiday or whatever. But sometimes things are complicated. Sometimes dreams remain dreams. Sometimes a holiday is not forthcoming. So look around at what you have now, in the present. Nothing can last forever, so remember to enjoy the things that surround you at this moment in time.
  • Exercise is so important for the following reason. Anxiety and stress cause your adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline and cortisol (hormones). This is okay in moderation, but if it keeps happening you wind up feeling like a deflated bag of potatoes. Exhausted. The best way to release that pent up tension is through exercise. Like, for me, I do get stressed more easily than some people. If I don’t get away from the office during my lunch break, I can start to feel more and more pissed off. I need to have some alone time and space from people. I need to get away from buildings and cars. I get to a spot of nature and it helps. Maybe I still feel fed up afterwards, and want to go home, but it’s the best thing I can do. Combine nature with exercise and you’re onto something good. For me, gyms are ugly factories filled with steroid-injecting, mouth breathing meat-heads, so I avoid them.
  • Anxiety is normal. We can’t feel great and relaxed all the time. And our World promotes anxiety through the negative stories in the news – and there is always a new one. The trashy magazines that tell you how you should look are nothing but poison. People on Social Media can seem so happy and all-together. Remember to keep a realistic perspective. Some people like to make our they are fine when they are really not fine. Not everyone in the streets is a murderer. Celebrities aren’t flawless and pictures are heavily edited. Most of all, accept that with this life (that we have been GIVEN) we can’t always have it our way. Appreciate the good times and carry on when things are hard.

Because I guarantee you, if you feel beaten up at the moment, you will feel better and will have a smile on your face again soon. Anxiety cannot survive if you have hope and love in your heart. So choose to believe there is a reason for all of this. Look for the good in things and if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to take the reigns and create change.

I wish you all a wonderful week.

Please share this blog post if you enjoyed it. It isn’t easy trying to reach people when you are only just starting out.

I would love to hear from you. What makes you feel most relaxed? What are your anti-anxiety tips?

Peace and love,

~ Alex.

Anxiety in Highly Sensitive People.

Stefan 4

I have lived with Anxiety ever since entering Adulthood – around 10 years ago (I am 26 as I write this).

I was shy and sometimes anxious when I was a child, but when our eyes are opened and we are told the truth about some of the things that happen in our World, it’s hard to go back to that state of innocence and naivety.

I mean, let’s be real … it was much easier to relax and have fun when we thought that Santa Claus was real. We loved that guy purely because we wanted some gifts.

Now, if an overweight man with a beard came down our chimney and entered our homes, we would call the Police. We would also probably wonder how an overweight man can actually fit down a chimney. Oh, and if they want to invite Children to sit on their lap, be sure they aren’t a pedophile!

I think I’ll tell my future children from the get-go that Santa is a lie. I’m not having some fictional fat-ass take the credit for the Playstation 6 (let’s hope that they come up with a new name by then) that I bought ’em!

Oh, and with regards to the Tooth Fairy, what kind of weirdo is paying to collect some second-hand teeth?

Anxiety is something that everyone has to deal with, but some can suffer chronically, until it takes over their lives and makes everything appear very hostile, dangerous and bleak.

I would say the highly intelligent and highly aware are those most likely to struggle. Ultimately, I think we HSPs are much more prone to becoming anxious (and depressed – but more on that another time) because we feel things deeply and it’s hard to find distraction when we are constantly trying to live with purpose. Sometimes life gets in the way and we are not able to achieve the things we dream of achieving. It can take a long time to get anywhere.

And some people may be happy to settle for whatever lands at their feet and then they enjoy their social lives or watching TV soaps when they get home from work, but for the Highly Sensitive we crave meaning and depth- more than can be offered by ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ or ‘America’s Next Top Model’.

And hey, I’m all for finding a healthy escape.

I enjoy watching shows on Netflix (maybe I’ll do a post on the kind of things I watch) but I can find it hard to relax when I feel I am not achieving what I would like to be. Or other things are at the front of my mind, such as the hopeless lives Farm animals are born into. I feel a duty to get involved with fixing this dreadfully broken World, because I am no longer in denial that things are okay.

Things are actually pretty shit. And that becomes apparent as you mature and learn about our reality.

I have learned to take better care of myself, but I do have to be extra diligent, or else I can fall into a pit of fear and apprehension. Things are stimulating for us, and so loud noises and crowds of people naturally wear us down and can leave us a frazzled mess. On top of that, if we skimp on sleep and eat poor diets, we suffer the consequences pretty quickly.

It can feel as if we are alone and separate and this, again, causes us to feel anxious. We feel like the odd ones out and can sense people’s judgement. We overthink things and end up worrying that people don’t like us, or think we are boring, quiet or even rude because we don’t quite fit in to the status quo.

As an introverted Vegan, I do feel very alone out in my every day life. I feel like I am more evolved than others, without meaning to sound like I have my head stuck up my ass. I roll my eyes (in my mind) when I hear people’s small talk or superficial conversation. I feel frustrated with my job and long to feel at peace. I get bored and agitated with monotonous routine.

Sometimes it can feel like I will never get there and that everything is just pointless (falling more into the category of depression here) …

If we don’t allow ourselves to live in line with our core values, we will feel like crap. We will feel like something is missing. We will have difficulty resting and sleeping through the night.

Given that I have dealt with these feelings for a long time, I have read hundreds of self-help books and spent a lot of time looking into treatment of Anxiety. I will share what I have learned soon, but please know that there is no ‘cure’. There are lots of little things we can do to help ourselves, but while the World remains as it is, we will feel pain. In our lifetimes, there will always be fear because things – if they are ever going to change – are not going to change quickly.

There is always the threat of another World War, and it can seem inevitable when Donald f*cking Trump might actually be elected as the next President. The new Prime Minister of the UK – Theresa May – has gone on record to say she would kill thousands of innocent people with a nuclear bomb to show ‘we aren’t afraid to use our weapons’. Pretty scary stuff. Of course, this was all said hypothetically and I don’t think it’s as simple as pressing a little red button behind a capsule, but you have to wonder what our future will look like.

Sometimes, although it is hard, we need to let go of feeling responsible for everyone else’s problems and look after ourselves. As I write this, I am feeling a burden. I feel like I could be doing more for the animals. I feel like I am responsible for helping them. But I also feel exhausted. I feel like my spirit is weak, because I have been focusing on the negative a lot.

I am a pessimist, although I sometimes think I am just being realistic.

I need to learn to let go of that which I have no control over and let people make their own choices – good or bad. Because telling people to stop paying for animals to be slaughtered isn’t guaranteed to change their mindset. In fact, most people become defensive and immature when faced with reality. They can get angry at you for asking them to change and argue that it’s a personal choice to murder innocent beings.

Anyway, I’m going off on a Vegan rant so I will end this one here.

P.S. I set up a YouTube channel and put up my first video, so be sure to check that out HERE.

See you in the next post!

~ Alex.

10 Reasons I HATE being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).

HSP

This is a follow up to my previous post on 10 Reasons I LOVE being a HSP. If you don’t like anything negative, you may want to skip past this one.

Although, I would say we need to accept both the good and bad in anything. Some things have been difficult for me lately, so this is my opportunity to rant. There will be the occasional swear word (because I think swearing can – sometimes – be a good way of expressing and releasing anger), so – again – if you don’t want to hear it, you may want to steer clear until my next post.

With that said, for those who are deciding to stick around, here is a list of the things that I really don’t enjoy about my High Sensitivity.

#1 – Too much empathy. This one is kind of funny, because being empathetic was also one of the traits on my love list. But honestly, it’s not always great to feel empathetic. Look at all the messed up things in our World. As an HSP, it’s hard to not worry about it all. For me, I constantly worry and feel heart broken that animals are abused and murdered every second for food that – in my opinion – isn’t really food and is not needed to survive. In fact, I think it’s killing us because our hospitals are full of dying people. Animal products are obviously not the only problem in our diets, but 18 of the 19 leading causes of death (I think the 19th was falling/trips) have been directly linked to the consumption of meat and animal products like dairy (Go and search for ‘Dr. Michael Greger’ or read his incredible book, ‘How Not To Die’ if you want to find out more).

More pressing than anything is the reality that in Asia they believe that killing dogs in the most violent and merciless ways will make the meat taste better. I won’t go into detail on this, but be grateful if you don’t know about the Dog Meat trade and Yulin Festival. I still find it difficult to believe that this is actually happening. It makes life painful to know anyone could treat another living being in such a way. In a more general sense, I absorb people’s negative energy as well. If I speak with an angry customer on the phone, it makes me feel angry and irritable. And sure, nobody else (HSP or otherwise) likes to speak to difficult people, but I find myself less able to hold a barrier between us.

(Note: People are obviously also treated like objects and nothings, but I am more drawn to animals because I think they are the most helpless and innocent of all.)

#2 – Inability to deal with stress and often feeling anxious. I am going to do a future post on Anxiety, but let’s just say that feeling anxious every day takes its toll. The World is very stimulating as a HSP and every day work life (at least how it currently is for me – an open office, yikes!) can feel like a living hell. I recently started a new job and have been suffering with increased anxiety and insomnia. I thought by working for a smaller company, my problem with anxiety and over-stimulation would be decreased. It turns  out it is just the same, if not worse, because there is still a lot of noise. It is just more enclosed. This is also combined with working in a career that bores me beyond belief. I need to make a shift in what I do (it’s Car Insurance) but that can be easier said than done when you have bills to pay.

#3 – Feeling less of a man. Again, I want to do a more in depth post on being a Highly Sensitive Dude, because that is what separates this blog from others already out there. But for now, I will say that – even now that I know I am a HSP – I can get down on myself for not feeling manly or resilient.I can feel weak and ‘too sensitive’ in this often cruel and competitive World.

#4 – Lack of friends and support. Sometimes, I feel like I cannot connect with a single person, apart from my girlfriend who is very similar to me. I have grown to feel distant from own family, who all seem completely different to me and so I don’t know how I inherited my high sensitivity. When I feel peaceful and am away from hectic places (like work or busy supermarkets) I can feel at ease with myself and don’t really mind that I’m not super popular, but when I am feeling low and defeated, I worry that nobody would come to my Wedding (not that I have one planned) or, worse yet, to my funeral. I speak with people online, but without physically being with someone that connection can feel limited and not real. I am, however, grateful to have at least one person who gets me. Because that’s really all you ever need.

#5 – Other people don’t get it. I hate that people see sensitivity as a weakness. I hate that this World is so full of shit. The Kardashians. The Only Way is Essex. Famous people who only care about themselves. Rihanna and Drake outselling real musicians who actually put effort into their song writing. A lot of people are not good people and will do whatever they have to in order to benefit themselves. So much of our World is so superficial, narcissistic and shallow that I often feel like I don’t belong here. I hate that being kind and caring is undervalued and status/money/possessions are seen as the symbol  of Success. P.S. My Dad still thinks I am just shy and will grow out of it like he did.

#6 – Creativity is not valued and I feel like just a number. It is hard to remain spiritual or to have faith in a World in which Millions of people compete for recognition of their creativeness. Everything is about marketing and branding.

Although there have been many times when I have worked on music and felt deeply proud of my work, when I have only a small reaction (if any) it can make me doubt myself. I feel like if something doesn’t bring in money, it’s wasted time. I know that is silly and being creative is about more than making money, but when you feel like it’s the only thing you are good at and can succeed in, while struggling to exist in a job that feels empty, it can make you desperate for a bit of fame or some acknowledgement, at least.

#7 – Dear head, shut up. When I’m laying in bed at night and I cannot turn my brain off, nothing could be worse. I once went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Hemel Hemstead. I had been looking forward to it, but the long drive was very overwhelming and tiring for me (it was my first time on a Motorway, and hopefully my last). By the time I got there, I felt so on edge and annoyed. I ended up having such bad insomnia that I literally didn’t sleep for one second. Not ONE wink of sleep!

The next day, at the Studio Tour, I was sat at the opening (just before you go into the Great Hall) and they play a short movie. I was struggling to keep my eyes open and all I could think was, ‘No! This is meant to be an amazing day and now it’s fucking ruined like every other thing I try to do!’ After the tour, several hours later, I had to get back on the Motorway (so I guess the first time wasn’t my last) and head home. It’s about a 3 hour drive. Holy shit, was I tired! I somehow managed to make it home without falling asleep at the wheel and then crashed on my bed for about 30 minutes before my Mum woke me and reminded me that I needed to get to the theatre that night to see ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’ (which turned out to be amazing, despite the lack of rest). I learned the hard way that I should never create too many plans for myself at once. The next day, I was in bed doing absolutely nothing and feeling like a zombie.

#8 – Having to plan things, rather than being able to go with the flow. I wish I was able to just book a holiday, or begin a new job, or turn up to a restaurant spontaneously, but because I am a HSP, I need to know exactly what to expect so I can begin to make plans. Most people will start a job, albeit it with some nerves, and then will quickly fit in and find their ‘place’ in the company. For me, I am very slow to warm up and it can take weeks to feel comfortable in a new environment and around new people. I can accept a job offer and then I start and realise the environment is going to be too stimulating and stressful for me. I wish I could adapt and just be more easy going and relaxed. The same with a holiday … I need to know it’s going to be a peaceful setting and I want to know everything about it because, as I said, new situations can kind of freak me out a little bit.

#9 – Getting stuck in deep depression. I am speaking about my personal experience and don’t want to imply that every HSP is depressed. However, I think it is common among us and the reasons for that should be understandable. We are in a minority and the Working World (if you are not self-employed) is nearly always designed with extroverts and groups in mind. The typical employer believes that people should work together (even when they have individual duties and objectives) and this can be a living nightmare for us introverted and/or sensitive folk. I will probably do a full-length post in which I rant about open offices. I also get depressed because of point #1 (the suffering in our World) and because I think too deeply about everything. Last night I was watching some conspiracy theory videos. I’m not going to delve too far into the conspiracies – and some might even be offended at the theories – but let’s just say that there is a lot of weird stuff surrounding 9/11 and The landing on the Moon in 1969. Go find Shane Dawson’s videos on YouTube about these topics. It’s pretty scary to think the government might manipulate us to such an extent. I will shut up now, because some of you are going to think I’m crazy. Oh, and Madeleine McCann’s parents totally did it – just saying.

#10 – There are just so many obstacles to peace and relaxation. I would love to sit around all day in my underwear doing Yoga, Meditating, walking my dog (maybe put some jeans on at that point) and playing guitar. Oh, and reading. But life always finds a way to stop you having that freedom. My Mum keeps suggesting I partake in the lottery … because that’s working out for a lot of people, right? But honestly, it can get to a point where I feel so sleep deprived, over-worked and starving of fun that I struggle to pull myself out of bed and do it all again another day.

There we go. 10 super-negative things! I hope I didn’t make you feel like you want to jump off a bridge. I’m sure as a HSP you can relate to a lot of what I have talked about. I would LOVE to hear from you about your own struggles. If you missed my positive list, be sure to go back a post and read that. This really can be a great thing. We are awesome people. Life can create a lot of problems for us, but we have to carry on and see things through even when we are burnt out. We need to practice daily self-care and be more diligent than others, but when we feel good and peaceful, there is nothing else we need.

I look forward to speaking with you again soon.

~ Alex.