Tag Archives: Mental Health

MY GREATEST FEAR HAS ME CRIPPLED

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It’s been so long since my last post. 92 days to be exact and the longest time since I first started this site. While I wish I could blame it on writer’s block, this is certainly not the case – I’ve had so much that I’ve wanted to share with you. On the surface I blame my job for my lack of writing as it consumes so much of my time and energy but this isn’t the cause either. What I’ve come to realise is much deeper than effort or inspiration, it is something that has affected me throughout my life and permeates all facets of my being. What I’m referring to is vulnerability and the repercussions of not giving into it.

Vulnerability is the ability to put yourself out there, wholeheartedly, in the scary big world, for all to see, and without control of the outcome. It’s the strength to forfeit expectations and honestly live in the moment. I’m certainly not the first to discuss this topic, researcher Brené Brown does a far more eloquent job at explaining the concept in this widely watched Ted Talk, but this is the first time that I’ve realised how debilitating the fear of vulnerability can be.

But first, how does this impact on writing? Well, my writing can almost be seen as a metaphor for my life. When I write I ruminate over every word and every sentence, making sure the end product is perfect. If I don’t think that the final product is perfect, particularly in the eyes of others, then I won’t push publish on WordPress. If only you could see the unfinished posts that are sitting in my drafts. This translates into the real world too. I can’t start a project or move towards a goal until I know that everything is in faultless alignment. Such obsession with perfection is evident in my personality traits whereby I do my best to portray the well put together image of someone who has their life together, who is successful, confident, unfazed by other’s opinions and certain of his future. How far from the truth the reality. Like a vicious circle this in turn influences my writing because a post about how I’m afraid of vulnerability will shatter the illusion that I’ve worked so hard to create. Herein lies the power of this particular article.

I work in the communications industry, a profession where my day-to-day task is to control ‘messages’ that brands want their customers to receive. I’m great at my job and skilled at creating the right perception for my clients amongst the public, probably because I’m so good at doing it for myself. Using these same skills, I have crafted a life that avoids vulnerability at all costs. I’ll dismiss people before I’ve had a chance to properly meet them to avoid them doing the same to me first. I’ll do the same to guys I find attractive. I’ll create stories about how I shouldn’t approach them because they’re probably stupid or an asshole and I’m better than that anyway when in actuality it’s fear of rejection which in turn is avoidance of vulnerability. I’l be loud and boisterous amongst people who I don’t find intimidating but when I’m in a crowd of people I deem ‘superior’ in popularity or status I’ll purposely ostracise myself. As I’ve become more aware of this concept of vulnerability I’ve also become more aware of how it affects others, particularly gay guys. Have you ever noticed how some gay men love to tear each other down? How they’ll look at someone else’s success or someone else’s relationship and pick at all the flaws? “Oh he makes a lot of money but I bet his boyfriend is cheating on him”. Why do we do this? Because we’re jealous and too afraid to admit that we feel less successful in comparison or worse, that we fee we are not worthy of being loved.

This particular post is a personal first step towards vulnerability, a step closer to honesty and wholehearted living. I want to share more with you, dear reader, in the hope that we can overcome our shame together. You see, shame is a component of vulnerability. Avoiding vulnerability is a protective mechanism against exposing one’s shame. If I’m not open then you can’t see the darkness inside of me. Both Brown and Alan Downs, author of The Velvet Rage have explored this concept of shame. Downs looks at shame particularly in the gay context and how it affects ours lives. Personally I think you need not even open a book to understand the by-product of shame in the gay community. In my opinion, many mainstream gay mega parties are a perfect example of shame avoidance. These gatherings are a coming together of men who are hiding from their shame (either consciously or subconsciously). They mask their vulnerability behind hard bodies of muscle and supress their emotions through excessive drug taking and sex. In my eyes, the act of taking off of one’s shirt in this environment or similarly in a gay club is an overt expression of vulnerability avoidance. The act says, ‘don’t try know me for me but judge me only on what you can see of me on the surface’. Of course I am generalising and I’m sure I’ll be accused of stereotyping or internalised homophobia but I only offer these observations and musings as my own opinion. Whether or not you agree with me or Downs or Brown is not the point, the point is that we are open enough with ourselves and each other to discuss our shortcomings. That is what vulnerability is truly about.

I hope that I can continue to write stories and post articles that you find thought provoking. Perhaps some will be inspiring, while others purely entertaining. You may agree with what I say or my words may have no resonance. Either way my intention is to be more open so that you and I can share strength and embrace vulnerability together.

Image by Giuseppe Attanasio 

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MODERN GAY STYLE: UNDERWEAR WITH BALLS

Zayn Campaign 4

They say that you can tell a lot about a guy by the underwear he wears. Well if that’s the case then you want to be a man who wears Zayn. The brainchild of 24 year-old Melburnian Jarryd Haefele, Zayn underwear was launched in August this year to raise awareness of male depression in Australia. A percentage from every sale of underwear is donated to beyondblue, an organisation that works “to reduce the impact of depression and anxiety in the community by raising awareness and understanding, empowering people to seek help, and supporting recovery, management and resilience”.

As a victim of depression for over 6 years, Jarryd uses his underwear line to create a national rsponse to mental health disorders. “Depression and anxiety affects over 3 million Australians every year, many of whom are men,” said Jarryd. “As a sufferer, I wanted to create a product that supported more than just bums and Zayn does that.”

Available in a colourful range of men’s briefs, hipsters and trunks, the Zayn underwear collection is made from cotton and spandex materials and retails from $11.95 AUD (internationally shipping is available).

To check out the Zayn collection click here. To visit the beyondblue website click here.

Zayn Campaign 2 Zayn Campaign 1Zayn Campaign 3e

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RULE NO.8: IF IT MAKES YOU FEEL BAD THEN STOP DOING IT

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When do you feel the worst about yourself?

At the gym?

When you check Instagram or Facebook?

When reading gay men’s magazines?

When you’re at a nightclub?

When you log onto Grindr?

When you hang out with certain “friends”?

When watching porn?

Why don’t you….

Change gyms? Or try yoga?

Delete Instagram? Unfollow certain people? Limit your time on Facebook?

Read a book instead of buying a magazine?

Do something different on a Saturday night?  Stay in with one person you really like and watch crappy TV?

Delete Grindr? Approach the hot guy in the street?

Stop spending time with people who make you feel bad and make new friends?

Watch an inspiring lecture online instead of porn? Ted.com is a good place to start.

It can be hard to pull yourself away from things that make you feel bad. Some may call it an addiction to pain while others may say it’s a result of self loathing but whatever it may be it’s certainly something that we’ve all experienced. The knowing that you’re making yourself feel worse but being unable to stop yourself. The worse you feel, the more you do it. Does this sound familiar?

Challenge: For one week DO NOT log onto Instagram or Facebook, DO NOT go out to clubs, bars or social venues you frequent regularly (unless they make you happy), DO NOT spend time with anyone who has made you feel bad in the past , DO NOT use Grindr and DO NOT look at porn. I did. And after one week the results were amazing. I felt more relaxed, less anxious and most importantly my self-esteem was lifted. This may sound like a late night infomercial but the only thing I’m selling is an easy approach to increasing your happiness (and it’s free).

There is much scope for discussion on this topic but in the meantime, take an inventory of all the things that lower your self-esteem or make you feel bad about yourself and for one week, just one week, commit to not indulging in any of them. Let me know the outcome.

What makes you feel bad about yourself? Did avoiding these things for a week make you feel any different?

Photo Credit: Baptiste Radufe by Serge Leblon

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