What the Internet has taught me

Hi everyone!  Welcome to the meeting of the minds that is The Lounge!  Grab a drink, make yourself comfortable and get ready to share some stories!  This week the prompt is ‘Things the Internet has taught me’.  If you haven’t written a post yet and still want to join in then please feel free as we have the link open for a few days!

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I’ve been accessing the internet for nearly 20 years and I have learned a lot of things over the years.  Social media was only just starting to be appealing to teenagers when I was in highschool and I am so thankful.  I could often be found skulking around forums dedicated for people with mental health issues and the worst I had to deal with was the occasional troll who would come in and spew hate at the ‘crazies’.  They were often dealt with pretty swiftly though.

I learned (and so did my parents..sorry!) that listening to emo music on internet radio for hours on end every night will make your parents go over the internet allowance, and they will be pissed at you because they now have a ridiculously massive telephone bill (I am so glad that have now introduced no extra fee internet!).

I learned that a kid in year 9 can create a virus that will wipe out half the town’s computers, including businesses and it will be one of the times that I was glad I wasn’t msn friends with the popular kids.

I learned that if someone tells you to google something and then laughs…NEVER EVER GOOGLE IT EVER because what has been seen cannot be unseen.

I have learned to bide my time until investing my all into another person online.  I have a tendency to blurt stuff out and then I chastise myself for letting so much of myself out.  I find it easy to get caught up in what others are doing.  I have learned to take a step back when I need to.

I have learned that the internet can be a lonely place sometimes.  That it can feel like everyone else is doing stuff, while you are being left behind.  It’s these times when again I need to take a step back and take stock of the things that I do have.

I have met some of the most wonderful, supportive people online.  Many who I am happy to include in my circle of friends in my day to day life.  The internet has allowed me to engage with people all over the world who have similar philosophies.  I have been able to connect with people who challenge my way of thinking, who can educate in a way that leaves you hungry for more.

I have learned that the internet is forever, it doesn’t forget.  For this I am worried about the world that Mr 5 is growing up into.  A world where everyone is a google search away, that things they do as a stupid teenager could come back to bite them in the arse when they go for that dream job.  I worry about the mental health of our future generations.  I worry that the anxieties of growing up in a technological world where no one is ever switched off.

Most of all I have learned that the internet is about what you make it, just like anything else in life.  If you choose to only seek out the negative, then that is what you will find, if you don’t reach out, then you will always feel lonely.  The internet is massive, there will always be room for you.

What has the internet taught you?

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Depressed: An Anonymous Guest

Being depressed and being a man are two things that often aren’t spoken about.  Today I have an anonymous blog post from a man who wants to share his story.  I am happy to provide this space for him to speak about his experiences safely.  Please make him feel welcome.

If you or someone you know is struggling with feeling depressed then please seek help.  The first port of call is usually your GP, however there are a plethora of help lines available including Lifeline, Kids Helpline, and Beyond Blue.

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Sometimes something happens in my head that just makes functioning as normal seem like an incredibly difficult thing to do. People say things like, oh we all go through slumps, we all have peaks and troughs; we just have to buck-up, take a teaspoon of cement and crack on. She’ll be right, as you Aussies say. Stiff upper lip for us Poms.

Sometimes though, the mountain in front seems insurmountable. And yet it might be something as simple as going to work in the morning. Sure, we all have days where we can’t be bothered going to work, but you know something is amiss when you would rather not do anything for the fear of a situation in front of you. I’m not talking about a soldier going to war or a fire fighter running into a blazing inferno, I’m talking about those times in our lives when, for some reason, the situation we are about to be in, as mundane as it may be, just seems too damn hard. And so, rather than put yourself forward, you make excuses to not do anything. You orchestrate a way of ‘getting out of it.’

This will take some explaining and first of all I should address my anonymity. I am a male blogger and there are clues to my identity in here but I’d rather keep it a little hush hush. Tegan has been kind enough to host my rambling as a guest post and I thank her for that.

My blog goes alright but many of my readers know me personally and I’d rather some of the things I say here not get back to certain people… particularly my mother, my wife and the students I teach (or rather, the parents of students I teach) The first will worry, the second doesn’t quite understand, and the third… well, I give enough of myself in my job every day. I don’t need to give everything.

So back to my point about orchestrating a situation in order to avoid something. In my job I am the person at the centre of things. That is my role. I’m a counselor, a disciplinarian and a motivator. Recently though I seem to have lost my edge. Or, more accurately, I am very aware that my ‘edge’ is at risk and I don’t know what to do to fix it. There are huge events that I organise, lead or a play a big part in. If I don’t show up, I let a lot of people down. The world will still turn without me of course, I’m by no means indispensable, but it is an expectation of my role (and the persona I’ve created for myself) that I will be there. Front and centre.

Sometimes I just don’t want to be. The thought fills me with dread and I look for a way out. I want to sit on the sidelines like an awkward teenage nerd at the school dance. I want to be in a room by myself. And this is the core of the matter; sometimes the simple act of getting out of the house is a feat in itself.

Let me make it clear. I have NEVER not done something I was expected to do. I have always made it out of the house, I have always played my part, and I have always found satisfaction from the achievement.

But it shouldn’t be an achievement. I’m increasingly aware of how much harder it is becoming for me to simply function. And it isn’t just work, though even as I write this I am consumed with the thought of my day tomorrow because I know there will be confrontation. It’s nothing big. Nothing I can’t handle, but it would be so much easier to ‘just not go’ and so my brain keeps whirring. But like I say, it isn’t just work.

I was so very close to cancelling or re-organising a trip away for my wife’s birthday because the thought of flying was consuming me… weeks before. I’ve never been afraid of flying until a terrible storm a few years ago. We nearly crashed. Now I have to chew down panic whenever we hit the smallest turbulence. Also normal, I know. What isn’t normal though is the anxiety that creeps in WEEKS before the flight. The heart flutters when I book the ticket. I fixate on things.

Years ago, our son was born not long after a natural disaster which took our house. He nearly never made it but he pulled through like a champ. At the time, and for about a year afterwards, I was having severe pains in my head that I’d never experienced before. I had a patch on the top of my skull that was prickly and sensitive to the touch and for nearly a year, whenever I touched it (daily showers were a nightmare) a shooting pain needled down through my skull and into my neck and shoulders. Then one day I collapsed. A storm broke over my head and the agony of it dropped me to my knees. My wife found me clawing at my own head and I was rushed to hospital.

They did every test imaginable on me but found nothing wrong. I got the impression the doc at the hospital thought I was bunging it on a bit… I promise you I wasn’t (this is anonymous, why would I lie?) And then a few months later I was in front of a different doc for an unrelated matter and the ‘head thing’ came up. He asked what I knew about depression. I said not a lot, but that I’d once sat the Beyond Blue test online and my score tipped me over the line.

The fact that I’d sat the test really interested him and he told me to talk to my wife about it and come back to him. I didn’t know how to approach this conversation with her so I made a joke of it,

‘You’ll never guess what the bloody doctor said, he reckons I might have depression.’

I waited for the response to see which direction this conversation would take,

‘What do you have to be depressed about?!’

Okay, that direction.

‘I know right!’ I said, ‘what a load of bollocks!’

That was three years ago. I never went back to the doctors. And here I sit, finally, for the first time ever, writing about it.

I don’t know how to describe it adequately so I’ll recount a conversation I had about two years ago with an older man I worked with. He sat at the desk next to mine and he asked me if I was okay. I said I was fine to which he replied, ‘cut the shit, you’ve been out of sorts for ages. What’s going on?’

We talked and somehow I managed to squeeze out the dreaded D word and then waited breathlessly as it hung in the air between us. I felt like such an arse. Men don’t talk to each other about this shit. I waited for the ‘tea-spoon of cement’ or ‘she’ll be right’ but it never came. He looked at me and said, ‘so how do you feel?’
I hesitated and realised I didn’t really know so I stammered out the D word again. He told me that wasn’t good enough. The D word wasn’t a feeling. He wanted to know how I felt.

I didn’t know what to say to him. I’m a sensitive sort of guy but even I have my ‘grunt and scratch myself’ limit. The silence dragged on as I searched for the words to express what I couldn’t express. You’re a writer, damnit! Speak! But I didn’t. Eventually, he looked at me and said, ‘I don’t want to put words in your mouth but tell me if this is close. Sometimes you just get washed over by sadness and you feel like crying for absolutely no reason. Or fear. You get attacked by a sudden and irrational fear that leaves your heart fluttering uncomfortably. You feel like you’re walking through a tunnel.’

I swear to god those were his words. His eloquence and absolute accuracy hit me like a shot to the gut and I stood up and walked away to smoke my first cigarette since my daughter was born. And then I had the second. When I finished the third I went back to my desk and said, ‘yes.’

My colleague looked at me and said, ‘I know mate. I’ve been there and I see it in you and I’ll tell you the same thing a doc told me that made me finally understand. It isn’t a weakness. It isn’t something you can just ‘get over’. A teaspoon of cement will not fix it. It’s chemical. The levels are wrong and you need help to get them evened out again.’

He gave me the analogy of a runner. Someone who runs every single day and then suddenly stops. The chemicals in the runner’s body are used to being at a certain level and then all of a sudden they no longer have the means to reach those levels. This affects more than we can possibly know. The runner quitting his routine is just an analogy for something being wrong with the balance and we can’t put it right ourselves. We need help. He told me to get help. I said I would.

I didn’t.

I haven’t.

So why am I writing this? It isn’t a cry for help; it is simply that I was given an opportunity (thank you Tegan) to write about it for the first time in my life. To really and truly express the inner turmoil that sometimes threatens to completely, totally, and utterly consume me.

I’m a ‘Daddy-Blogger’ and being a parent is the worst part of it.

Every parent deals with the stresses and anxieties of having their heart outside their body; running around in the fragile forms of their children. We all know the terror when they get hurt, the sleepless nights when they’re ill, and the ache when they aren’t with us.

But sometimes I can barely leave the house for fear that I’ll never see them again. My wife is getting wise to this. The days I ‘forget things’ and come back inside, giving the kids one more hug and kiss before I finally leave for work. The nights I sleep on the floor of their room in case they stop breathing (??!!) The times at the park I bring them home early when other kids show up, just in case they get pushed over and hurt.

And the night terrors that have me screaming.

But don’t worry, this isn’t a consistent thing. This isn’t something that you, as a reader, need to be concerned about. I know it isn’t healthy but I have it under control.

The very act of writing this is a great help and I thank Tegan for publishing it and you for reading it. I think we all just need someone to talk to; whether it is the guy at the desk next to us or a collection of readers I may never meet, it’s good to talk.

Now go give your loved ones a hug.

Linking up with Jess for IBOT.


Scars Don’t Define Me

Two weeks ago, Sonia from Life Love and Hiccups started the story of her scars.  In the comment section of her blog, I also shared a little of the story of my scars, of the feelings that I had towards them and the stigma that followed.  I have been thinking a lot about this recently, and a reaction from a man in the supermarket last week has renewed this desire to share.

I want to share the reactions that I have had to my scars, the misconceptions that I feel people develop.  Some of these, honestly are my feelings about a situation, the way that I have read a look given to me and so I admit up front that some of them may be different to what the person intended.  Unfortunately, a lot of these people are strangers, and so I only have my feelings to work with here.

scars self harm

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To the man who I helped in the supermarket last week…  My scars do not stop me from being a nice, helpful person.  I saw that you were struggling to find the product you were after and so offered my assistance.  I could see your expression changing to frustration as you stood staring at the myriad of different products available.  I asked if you needed help because I wanted to.  I also saw the way you looked at my arms, the way you started after you said thank you, as if you wanted to take back the words.  My scars, do not have an impact on my ability to help you find the chips you were after.

To the first doctor I saw at the antenatal clinic when I was a 16 weeks pregnant with my first baby…  My scars do not have an impact on my babies heart beat.  My refusal to talk about them, after explaining to you that I was already under the care of the mental health team attached to the hospital was warranted.  You implying that you would be surprised if a ‘personal life me’ after looking at the scars on my arm could have a baby with a heart beat was not.  I wish that I had been as mentally strong then, as I am today.

To the nurse at the emergency department…  Yes I do have scars that cover my arms, and at the time I did have several fresh ones.  This does not mean that if I present with self harm thoughts that the appropriate response is to tell me to just get on with it, especially when I am then treated worse again by the staff under you when presenting with self inflicted injuries.

To the elderly woman at the bus stop…  My scars do not impact on my ability to parent effectively.  Looking me up and down while you tut tut at the tantrum my ridiculously sleep deprived 4 year old is currently throwing is not necessary.  It’s always interesting that in winter, when I have a jumper on, I don’t get the same tut tuts.  There is always one of course, but there isn’t the same eye sweep before landing on my scars.

To the random check out person… Please do keep asking how I got the scars because it gives me a chance to educate someone.  I don’t always feel up to answering, truthfully sometimes I like saying the truth just to make you squirm, but if you forward enough to ask a stranger why they are covered in scars then you deserve the uncomfortable truth.

To be completely honest, I have had the scars so long now that there are times when the questions or looks catch me off guard.  I’m not proud of the scars, not the same sense that one would think of a trophy but I do see them as proof that I have survived.  They are a part of my history, the parts that make up the person that I am today.

Linking up with Ann from Help! I’m Stuck who is hosting I must confess this week.

5 Things Head Lice Taught Me

This week in the Musings house, we’ve had those annoying creatures known as head lice.  As much of a pain in the but it all was, we did manage to learn a few things along the way!

  1. You know that itching feeling you get when someone starts talking about (like right now), that is nothing compared to the itching when you do actually have head lice.  It’s been nearly ten years since I last had them (touches ALL the wood) and I still remember the excruciating itching feeling.  You know how, as a kid you would roll down a grassy hill and your whole body itched with the fire of a 1000 suns?  That is what having head lice feels like.
  2. The eggs of head lice aren’t actually white.  In all of the pamphlets that they used to send home every time there was an outbreak when I was at school, it told the parents to look for small white eggs.  My hair is naturally quite dark, and it’s thick, plus there is a hell of a lot of it.  All of this means that I get really bad dandruff, so my hair is constantly filled with small white things.  What I learned from Mr 4 having head lice is that the eggs are actually more transparent.  They looked like water drops on his hair and when I was able to peel one off a strand of hair I could see the louse inside it.
  3. There is a ton of head lice removal products.  Seriously.  I stood in the chemist for ten minutes just staring at the shelves, while telling Mr 4 out of the corner of my mouth to stop bloody itching.  All of them claimed to be able to kill lice dead in their tracks, and be the best product available.  All of them are bloody expensive..I found the more natural a product is, the more expensive it is..
  4. Banshee like screaming while I washed Mr 4′s hair is nothing…especially when the smoke alarm is then set off from the steam of the shower (seriously why are the smoke alarms always outside the bathroom!?).  The hair that I love because it is beautiful and thick just like mine, will be a pain in the arse to comb through, even if I set him up in front of cartoons to do it.
  5. If the packet of head lice solution says that it includes a comb, buy another just in case.  Buy the metal tooth comb, because without a doubt the packet will contain a shitty plastic comb that doesn’t really work.  It gets the surface head lice and eggs off, but once you take a closer look there will be more eggs mocking you.  If you think you have gotten all of the eggs..comb through for another ten minutes just to be sure.

We’ve been pretty lucky that despite Mr 4 being in childcare regularly for years, this is the first time he has gotten the dreaded head lice.  We’re chalking it up to experience at this stage and hoping the little buggers don’t decide to make his head a regular feasting spot!

Have your kids (or you) gotten head lice?  What are the things you’ve learned along the way?

Linking up with Emma who is guest hosting for The Lounge today!


Core Beliefs

Did you know that knitted into your subconscious are beliefs about yourself, about the things that you deserve/need and without you even realising it you seek out things that help to prove those things as absolute truth?  These thoughts are called our Core Beliefs, and are often developed in those extremely crucial years before a child turns 5.  Although a major change in a person’s life can also alter their core beliefs, or add extra ones that become more prominent.

A core belief has the potential to impact on a person’s life both negatively and positively.  These beliefs go deeper than what we determine to be our values and it is often the case that a person may not even realise the effect that these core beliefs have on the way they interact with those around them.

I have recently begun working on core beliefs with my psychologist and it has been interesting for me to determine both what my more prominent core belief is and then to notice the impact that it has had on my life up to this point.  One of the things that we are working on is creating new core beliefs, of which are the opposite what I subconsciously believe about myself.  It’s kind of like positive thinking, although I do feel that it is less wishy washy than that.

The most interesting thing that I have discovered about core beliefs is that through these thoughts, we then go about our lives seeking out people and examples of how this core belief is true.  So if your core belief is that you are stupid, then you seek out things that have happened in your life that prove you to be stupid.  You forget about the things that prove that you aren’t, it’s like a negative seeking missile in your mind!

Getting to my own core belief wasn’t an easy process.  It wasn’t a simple case of just coming up with something that I knowingly think about myself, as core beliefs are often so deeply entrenched in our being that we don’t realise we are subscribing to the belief.  My psychologist worked through a series of ‘I think this because’ word play until we got to the heart of the beliefs that I hold.

At the moment I have one core belief to work on, and it’s hard.  There’s been tears more often than not in therapy but I do feel like I am moving forward.  Even admitting out loud what my inner most fear/core belief was, was hard.  The belief has a catch 22, with admitting out loud what it was, that I would have that core belief realised, that the person I told would tell me that what I believed about myself was in fact true.  Maybe I’ve been ready to give it up for longer than I realise.

Have you heard of core beliefs before?

Linking up with Jess for IBOT.