The Man that Cast No Shadow
As someone who has lived a seemingly sheltered life, it might shock some to hear of the daily struggles I experience. Grief, anger and loneliness, these are the crippling emotions that are fed to me on a never-ending Ferris wheel, a ride that won’t stop no matter how loud I scream. When asked “How are you?” I feel the cogs in my brain switch to mask any earnest response, an all too familiar reaction. By blocking the opportunity to speak freely a wave of tension is formed, and so I find myself wrapped up in seething fits of rage without anywhere to go. I refrain from letting the bubble burst, and instead reside to skulking in the corner of the room, squirming away from that trigger which only leads to regret and a list of apologies. Over time I have learnt to stand up to these dreaded demons of mine, staring them in the eye, fixated on not allowing them to get between me and my ambitions, an ineffective and laborious approach, and probably one many of us are familiar with!
The man that cast no shadow, present but unable do as he wills because he refuses to forget. At times it feels like I’m spread thinly across all these things I have, much like a once magnificent garment that’s been squandered by time and a lack of caring. I can’t deny my privilege, nor can I fail to recognise the emptiness that is felt on a constant basis when surrounded by things others would dream of possessing. In spite of my complexities, I count myself extremely fortunate to be born with such stubbornness and grit, despite their highlighted drawbacks. Without these inherited traits which I have become overly reliant on, I would have likely given up on any desires a long time ago.
My exposure to psychology has led me to utilise some evidence-based approaches to dealing with these dragging emotions, most notability Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT, a tangent of mindfulness training, relies on the non-judgemental acceptance of the thoughts and feelings that would otherwise prevent us from moving on. It’s a gradual, reflective and truly arduous process that has been affronted by my most aggressive of defences, however, as with anything, practice makes perfect and I’m now able to appreciate ACT’s ability to create the psychological distance necessary to achieve what I want.
ACT is by no means a permanent solution to my lasting grief and anger with the world, nor is there any permanent solution. Much like regularly attending the gym, ACT offers incremental benefits that can only be appreciated if maintained. I now find myself surfing a wave of confidence and belief in my abilities, a wave that will likely crash against the shores soon enough. However, experience means I’m now wise enough to know there will be another wave along shortly, and so its just a matter of treading water, exhausting but worth the time and energy.
I’ve had the great pleasure of befriending one of the most generous and yet amazingly irritating people I can think to know whose story of anguish feels much like my own. Although he has learnt to keep his cards close to his chest, I’m able to see the parallels we share that keep me putting one foot in front of the other. He’s a bit of an old codger, but his bounce back is inspiring. Old dogs can learn new tricks!
Inspiration can be found in the most unlikely of situations and circumstances, so keep your head up otherwise you might miss your opportunity to find that person who acts as your light at the end of the tunnel.
I urge people to look inside themselves and recognise when they need help. I’m not asking anyone to galivant around aimlessly exulting their story of woe waiting for The Angel Gabriel to help soothe their pain, but rather have a quiet and honest conversation with themselves in the mirror. As tempting as it is to give in to our enduring pains, be it for lack of energy or a yearning for attention, your mental health means more than you know. We all have a duty of care to our friends and family, and the people who have helped us to where we are now, so meet them halfway and keep your mental health in check.
Mind offers the information and support individuals need that allows them to move on and become the person they once dreamed of becoming. Their eagerness and commitment to improving our mental health is contagious, so I encourage anyone who is in doubt to see their website, https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/, or call their helpline, 0300 123 3393, and kickstart a journey that is uncompromising and forever rewarding.
If you would like to support Mind and the individuals they help, you can donate your unwanted car with Giveacar. Whether it’s on its last legs, or you are looking to replace your car with a newer model, donate it with Giveacar to help Mind continue their valuable and life-saving work.