This journey started just about two years ago and today I can certainly say I am in a totally different space...what was surprising was how easy it has been.
In November 2017 I shared how I was really feeling with a friend, who quickly said I couldn't be anxious, depressed and unconfident as I was one of the most confident and successful people he knew...surprise it's a mask. He told me he was experiencing the same and I too return the answer you can't be anxious, depressed and unconfident you are one of the most confident and successful people I know... And that is how all this began...by taking the step to share how I felt with someone else, few days later a new closed Facebook was created for men to find a space where they felt comfortable, safe and understood by others who were on similar paths.
This expanded to the creation of Rotundus a public community interest company where we now provide support for others who are in of help with their own mental ill-health and well-being.
Here I am now nearly two year on and in a place where I am delivering workshops for schools, businesses and the community, speaking at events, providing 1:1 Therapeutic NLP Coaching and running peer support groups for men in South Wales.
So how did I do it...
The first step was the hardest but the simplest...acknowledging I was not in a good place. This means that I was finally being honest with myself - that doesn't mean I was being honest with other at the time. The next biggest step I was to take was to seek help - this came through the booking of an appointment with my GP.
As suspected I was put back on anti-depressants and offered active monitoring. Active monitoring is have a short course of talking therapy based in sharing knowledge and CBT, plus a focus upon monitoring my depression scale.
The depression scale monitors how over the period of time between tests how I have been or am feeling which included suicidal thoughts to actively monitor if crisis intervention was needed - thankfully it never was needed.
There were 6 sessions in total and on reflection were pretty useless apart from the fact I had somewhere to have an outlet of thoughts. The biggest problem I had with them was that they were just 15 minutes long...you would easily lose 5 minutes in the pleasantries and booking of next sessions. The other part that was annoying for me was they told me how I felt...now forgive me I am pretty sure I know and knew exactly how I felt. What I wanted was to know how not to feel like that...and they never did give me any tools or strategies.
They ended and I was on my own with my anti-depressants - my saving grace was my Facebook group sharing my journey and helping others to keep me focused and going.
I had also decided that on 1st January 2018 I would stop drinking for 30 days - not for anything specifically, just for me and because I wanted to. I also joined Slimming World as I too wanted to lose weight...again for me and no one else.
How much do you want me to lose?
That first visit to SW I stood on the scales and it was around 16st 9lbs and they gave me a target of 13st 3lbs...HOW MUCH!...I instantly thought that isn't going to happen anytime soon.
To my surprise it was really easy for...why? Well at the beginning I didn't know why, but after being asked by other members what is my secret and me saying "it's easy...I want it more than I don't..."
This I am now aware is the difference between an away goal (running away from something) and a towards goal. I quickly managed to overall drop 4st in weight which was truly amazing.
This combined with my 30 days of alcohol free it flew off...and it didn't stop there. The 30 days became 38 up to my 40th birthday...and then it just didn't stop, since 1st January 2018 I have not drunk any alcohol and I do not miss it. Many friends know I do not drink yet they still say you act drunk when out with them...showing I never need alcohol to have a good time.
Two separate individuals I knew said that I need to speak to their friend about my journey and the work I had started to help others. It took sometime and eventually we managed to meet up. We both had similar journeys and aspirations to help others with the simplest and barrier free methods.
Dennis and his wife had created a training aid and format that did exactly that - sharing knowledge, understanding and real skills that could be implemented instantly. Through personal self-discovery I was using similar versions already of their coping strategies including the control song, positive affirmations and the negative monster. I had been using these skills in another form but they were exactly the same and I liked that we were on the same wavelength.
The control song is all about negative chatter and turning that inner voice off - this is done because you can not talk and listen to that inner voice at the same time.
Positive affirmations are about saying what want to be as if you already were doing this...this is done through 'I am' statements - I am a positive person...this I later found out is very much linked to how the unconscious mind works by a set of rules.
The negative monster is about disassociating yourself from the inner voice and creating a separate persona that isn't you and one you can tell to f-off as it is not me, it is someone trying to be horrible.
For a number of years I had been interested in NLP and I cannot recall when it started, but I do know it has been bubbling under the surface for a number of years. A few years back I undertook my first official steps into formal NLP training which made total sense. It must of stuck in because I unconsciously was using the skills I had learnt to support myself.
Through being in the right place as they say...I met a new connection who was a NLP trainer and was running a full set of course including Practitioner, Coach, Time Line Therapy, Hypnosis and then onto Master.
I took on these courses with the belief of up-skilling to be able to support others - what I didn't know the process included fixing your own problems.
By now I had pretty much dealt with my own stuff to the extent that I could share my journey, my thoughts and my methods with pretty much anyone who was willing to listen.
On the first day of the NLP course you write up you 'SHIT LIST' all the things you want to get sorted, removed or change. My personal list wasn't that long initially as I believed it was pretty much done.
Within NLP there is the belief that the presenting problem is not the real problem...and this is true in many other forms of treatments and personal development. So as the first session went on my list got bigger and more came up to the surface...and as it said on the tin NLP removed the blockages that were stopping me. I was able to let go of years of negative emotions linked to past events...the events didn't go away, but the emotions attached did. When the process of Time Line Therapy was initially explained I was worried that you would have to share the details and relive them...I couldn't be further from the truth. You never have to say what it is, or have to relive anything, yet you let go of the negativity.
Few months later I am now learning how to do exactly that same process to support others and this is where the cogs really started to slot together showing how the unconscious really works and creates our personal operating system.
This month I have just finished my Master Practitioner, Coach, Time Line Therapy and Hypnosis which totally blew me away...again going into it thinking that 'SHIT LIST' had gone. As the weeks went on my personal list and underlying root cause was discovered...again as part of the learning you undertake the process a Breakthrough yourself.
A Breakthrough is an intensive Therapeutic NLP Coaching session that is done over 2 days where the discovery and elimination of the biggest sticking point - with this removal and limiting beliefs removes all the other blockages. For me I felt so much lighter from the experience than I had done previously, plus clarity, focus and motivation to make the changes I deserved for myself.
What I never did expect on this part of the journey was to feel like I do now...going forward anyone looking for themselves to make the big change in their life I would totally recommend undertaking a Breakthrough. I am not saying this as someone who can now guide people through them, but as someone who thought he had dealt with his 'SHIT LIST' only to discover the benefits of finding the right blockage to release them all.
So what next...
Well I have a goal, an action plan it is set out on my personal time line - this very much includes working more with schools and pupils to share simple and powerful tools they can use instantly, plus the further development of Men Up peer support groups.
For these to continue the workshops run as Rotundus and my work as 1:1 Therapeutic NLP Coach enables me to further the support I can offer to those in most need.
My personal investment in myself has made a massive difference to me and my head space - if you are interested in taking your own journey simply get in touch, call, email or using social media.
It really is amazing how one small step has turned into where I am today - and you can do it too!