World Mental Health Day

I just found out that tomorrow is world mental health day today, and this has inspired me to talk about the state of my own mental health. To put it bluntly, its fucked. I suffer from Bipolar disorder, or as it used to be known, Manic Depression. This means that at times I can be incredibly low and lethargic with no motivation to do anything, and at other times I can be all systems go, with a great deal of hyperactivity, and a fairly overactive personality.

Right now I can feel myself slipping from the hyperactive manic side, sliding back into depression, possibly as a result of being too overactive over the past few weeks. The problem with being manic is that it isn’t the opposite of  being depressed, but rather its reflection, the similarities are all too similar, you may, like me, still neglect personal care, in order to focus, you may still have trouble sleeping, because you become focused on whatever is occupying your time, you may also find it difficult to concentrate but in different ways from the depressive side of things, and then if that isn’t bad enough, sometimes, but not all the time, you can fell your mood descending, its like in a cartoon when a rain cloud forms over one persons head, and you can see them rolling in, and unfortunately there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it, you might try and fight it, by loading up the things that you try and do, a mad blitz of housework, or a barrage of emails, to make up for the days where productivity will be zero. However I’ve found that doing this makes the initial onset of the depressive side of my disorder worse, because on top of the depression tiring me out, I’m tired already, and feel the effects twice as bad.

Having been initially diagnosed with depression after the birth of my daughter and later re diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, the last few years have been a bit of a bumpy ride, I’ve tried medication, although I chucked this due to some adverse side effects, and whilst I can by no means say I have a complete handle on my condition, I can at least say that I’m getting better at coping with it, I’m forcing myself to be more active when I’m depressed, and channelling my mania into more productive avenues than my old stand by of drinking myself into a stupor and its actually having a marked effect with my work as a councillor and within the community.

Depression Raises It’s Ugly Little Turtle Head Once More

You know what I really hate most about depression? You can be having a great few weeks, even a few months without an episode beyond your usual nihilistic tendencies, and then you dare to hope, maybe you’ve finally gotten over it, then BOOM, WRONG MOTHERFUCKER, like a plank of wood to the skull out of nowhere it hits you, and this is where it’ll be different for everyone, but I personally will lose all energy, find absolutely no joy in anything, will begin lashing out at those closest to me, I’ll get annoyed at the smallest things.

Usually though I can sort of shut myself off from the world a bit until I get over the worst of it, but because the civic stuff has been going on and keeping me pretty busy I haven’t been able to do that, and so what I’ve been doing is looking for some alternative coping methods, so far none have really been that effective, I mean I had a pretty big win the other day, something that I’ve been working on since becoming a councillor, looks like it’ll be met with approval and may actually be acted upon (I’m not saying what as I don’t want to jinx it ), and I just feel numb to the fact. So I’m going to beg some indulgence from those around me until I can sort my shit out.

30 Before Thirty (Comics & Graphic Novels)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the Comics and Graphic Novels that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

Grant Morrison’s 18 Days

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Camelot 3000

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Miracle Man: A Dream Of Flying

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All Star Superman 

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Preacher: Gone To Texas

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The Crow

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Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes

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Alan Moore’s: Saga of The Swamp Thing

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Marvel 1602

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Saga: Volume 1

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 The Order: Die Mensch Machine

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The Complete Scarlet Traces 

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Button Man

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Ronin 

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Superman: Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow 

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The Infinity Gauntlet 

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Amazing Spider-man: Kravens Last Hunt

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Promethea Book 1 

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Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus 

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Multiversity 

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Son Of Superman 

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Hellblazer: Original Sins 

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The Authority: Relentless 

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Hellboy: Seed Of Destruction 

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Doctor Who: Emperor Of The Daleks

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Death: The High Cost Of Living  

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JSA The Liberty Files 

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Alice In Sunderland 

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Daredevil Yellow

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The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch

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How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

30 Before I’m Thirty (Films)

Congratulations Mr Trump (2)

I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the films that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

How Green Was My Valley 

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Gentleman’s Agreement

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From Here to Eternity

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Gone With The Wind

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Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

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West Side Story

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Lawrence of Arabia

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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf

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Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

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Funny Girl

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Fiddler On The Roof

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All The Presidents Men

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Milk

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Kramer Vs Kramer

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Terms of Endearment 

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The Cider House Rules

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An Education

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The Wolf Of Wall Street

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Guardians of the Galaxy 2

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Moonrise Kingdom

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Saving Private Ryan

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Going In Style 

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Wall Street

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King Ralph

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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The Monuments Men

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Good Will Hunting

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Good Morning Vietnam 

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This Is Spinal Tap

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How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

How To Look A Million Dollars, When You’re Worth About £2.80

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They say that looking good comes naturally, but dressing well takes a massive bank balance. I have often found this to be the case. A decent suit will cost in excess of £200, a good pair of shoes will set you back to almost 3 digits and that doesn’t even begin to factor in the cost of, shirts, boxers, socks and various other accessories that you need in order to look like a functioning member of the human race. It isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t cheap, to get a wardrobe from the pages of GQ. Here are some tips that should help ease up the burdens on those purse strings.

  1. Online Tailors: Using online tailors can save you an absolute fortune, to get a tailored suit in the UK, from scratch will cost you over £200, but using an online tailor, usually from the far east, you can get a completely bespoke, made to measure suit from as little as £35.
  2. charity shops: Vintage is always in, and charity shops are a great way of finding those vintage threads for rock bottom prices, to be honest, you may spend days routing through charity shops trying to find that one amazing item, and a lot of the time you will come away empty-handed, but its an immeasurable feeling when you do find that piece that is just you.
  3. Up-cycling: Sometimes you just give in and buy that hideous jacket from the charity shop, purely out of social embarrassment, Brenda behind the counter has been eyeing you since you walked in, so you snap and buy the old blazer in your size. So now in order to make this purchase wearable, you should have the thing seriously dry cleaned to get it looking as good as it ever will, then add a few elbow patches, change the buttons for some extra little bit of flash, and see if maybe you can add some sort of crest to the breast pocket and then you’ve actually got yourself something straight from the pages of Gentleman’s Quarterly.
  4. Cheaper Alternatives: Sometimes you’ll want those £4000 Brioni shoes, but lets face it, why on earth would anyone pay that massive amount for a pair of shoes? Especially when you can get a pair that look pretty damn similar for less than 1% of the cost? I mean outside of a Milanese fashion show, or a Parisian runway who’d notice?
  5. Hair care: Regular haircuts and styling your hair can go a long way to imposing your look on the world, being well turned out, with a haircut you could set your watch by is certainly a way to look like the proverbial big spender, even if you are only getting a £10 haircut once a month and using a Tesco value gel to style it between cuts.
  6. Grooming: Trim that beard, clip those nails, and for god sake pluck those eyebrows. Shave every two days, if you have a beard, define the edges regularly and don’t forget to moisturise. Use teeth whitening toothpaste and for the sake of everyone around you, please use an antiperspirant style deodorant especially if you use public transport, but remember no deodorant should ever replace a regular shower, even with 72 hour protection.
  7. Cologne: Use a nice smelling cologne, it might not make you look any better, but as any blind person will tell you, smell is a distinctive part of your image.

Hopefully these tips will help you to maintain or improve your personal look and even if you don’t quite hit the million dollar mark, at the very least you’ll probably look better than the 50 pence you feel like.

Are Men Really Men Anymore?

Men are a dying breed these days, real men anyway. I’m not taking pot shots at this new generation that needs a safe space to go to because their history lecture looked at bad things, I’m talking about in general.

There are no men anymore, even if you go out with friends, it will always be seen as a group of lads or a group of boys, it may even be qualified with an adjective like old or young, a group of young lads, or an old boys outing, but you very rarely hear a group of me described as that, a group of men.

In part I blame feminism, and no this isn’t going to be some misogynistic rant, but for decades now girls have grown up to be told that they can do anything, and men just haven’t had that same nurturing, so they see no reason to come out of this childish shell. Its even reached the point where this sort of manchildishness is actually starting to be portrayed as the norm for male behaviour, the way it’s popularised on television from the likes of Homer Simpson to Peter Griffin, and it shows that men just can’t seem to act as functioning adults. I know that showing the protagonist as well-rounded human being would not make for interesting viewing, but I do see this sort of manchild like behaviour every day.

Men no longer dress like men, they don’t speak like men, they don’t move like men and they most certainly don’t act like men. It seems to be some sort of Neanderthal like swagger with trousers pulled down bellow the arse using words like reem and on fleek and I’m actually embarrassed to be associated with this sort of person. This probably makes me, at best an old fuddy duddy, but at worst some sort of intolerant old man, but standards are slipping and I hate it, Is my daughter going to grow up in a generation where worse than this is the norm? where tracksuit bottoms and a hat indoors are considered, not only acceptable, but the height of fashion and sophistication?

I dread to think what the future holds for menkind, but I hope things improve for the better.

Postnatal Depression In Men

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Postnatal depression is something that affects as much as 10% of new mothers out there, however what they don’t tell you is that it doesn’t only effect women, it can effect men just as badly. It may be difficult to tell if you are suffering from Postnatal depression because some of the symptoms are just symptomatic of life, especially when you’ve just had a child. symptoms such as tiredness, trouble sleeping at night and feeling tired during the day seem like par for the course when a new baby comes along, and this would go hand in hand with problems concentrating, making decisions and a lack of energy and feeling all the time seems like it would again be part of the lack of sleep. The common symptoms of PND (postnatal depression) in men are:

  • a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
  • lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world
  • lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
  • trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
  • difficulty bonding with your baby
  • withdrawing from contact with other people
  • problems concentrating and making decisions
  • frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby

What causes postnatal depression in men is not entirely clear from a sociological and an anthropological standpoint factors could include

  • a history of mental health problems, particularly depression, earlier in life
  • having no close family or friends to support you
  • a poor relationship with your partner
  • recent stressful life events, such as a bereavement or job loss
  • financial difficulties

however from a biochemical standpoint however childbirth does some pretty crazy things to men’s heads studies in animals and people show that new fathers experience an increase in the hormones estrogen, oxytocin, prolactin and glucocorticoids, according to a recent review of studies by psychologist Elizabeth Gould and colleagues from Princeton University.

The research shows that contact with the mother and children seem to induce certain hormonal changes in fathers. In humans, fathers who show more affection toward their children also tend to have higher levels of oxytocin (the hormone responsible for bonding with children), the effects of this change in the chemical soup that makes up a human being could lead to hormonal imbalances that in turn could lead to depression.

If you do feel that you are suffering from postnatal depression as a dad there are many things you can do about it.

If you want someone to talk to anonymously you can call the Samaritans free on 0117 983 1000 from any UK mobile or landline.

Alternatively you can speak to your doctor who will recommend various forms of treatment for you such as antidepressants or counselling based on your needs. Most importantly you should talk to your partner, tell them what you are going through, they may be feeling the same and you can act as a little two person support group for each other, or by simply unburdening yourself to them they be able to help a little bit while you try to get your shit together. It is hard work and I speak from experience, I suffered through the sleepless nights and lethargic days (to the point where I had to have a sit down half way through washing the dishes), I suffered the mood swings, the obsessive behaviour and the constant tiredness. It got to the point where I barely recognised who I was as person anymore, and then finally it hit me, that moment of clarity, that I needed help, I went to my doctor and asked for a big pile of antidepressants, I started taking my daughter out more and more, seeing friends and just doing small things until now over the last few months (bearing in mind my daughter will be two next month) I have finally started to feel like myself again. I give a shit about how I look again, I care that my house is a mess, I do occasionally go out and have fun with my friends. And a big part of that is because I asked for help.

The mother of my child would joke that our roles were reversed after the pregnancy. I was the one who had the baby brain and the sleepless nights, I could drive a tractor through that bedroom and I wouldn’t have woken Jessica up, whereas Marianna farting in her bedroom will often wake me up to this day (even if I fall asleep on the sofa). But this made me think that if I were going through this sort of thing how many other men were out there, going through the exact same thing and not getting the help that they needed?  Men and mental health issues can be tricky minefield to navigate at the best of times, because by admitting that we need help, we are wired to believe that we fail as men, that we should be the strong silent type, but this sort of thing is not healthy, yes I know that there is a stigma around mental health, but there shouldn’t be, especially at a time when we as men really are at out most vulnerable. If you need help get it, if you had a broken leg, you wouldn’t leave it untreated (at least not for longer than it takes to sober up), if you had cancer you would get chemo, if you caught the clap you would take some penicillin, if you were stupid enough to mess around with power tools while under the influence, you would go to the emergency room. So why on earth wouldn’t you take the necessary treatments to combat depression and make your self well again? If not for your sake then for your child’s. They deserve a father, not just the shell of one.