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Viewing entries tagged with 'anxiety'

Have we got mental health wrong?

Posted by Philip on 30 June 2017, 4:48 pm in , , , , ,

Last week I started taking anti-anxiety medication. After six years, starting with the neighbours in 2011-2012 and culminating in the car saga earlier this year, I decided I needed help. I was sick of feeling like shit most of time.

So I went to my GP last week and asked for help. He assessed me on the Kessler (K10) scale for depression and anxiety — I scored 30 out of 50, qualifying me for treatment with SRRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and psychological therapy.

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The courage (and opportunity) to not know

Posted by Philip on 29 May 2017, 3:25 pm in , , , , , , , ,

When it comes to the future, we're pretty conditioned to expect certainty. Whether it's what we're going to say next, what's happening tomorrow, what the outcome of a project is going to be, or what life will be like in five years time, we want to know beforehand. We crave certainty.

Expectations are the outcome of this need to know what's going to happen before it does — and anxiety about things not going to plan.

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Trapped by the prospect of my new-found freedom

Posted by Philip on 15 April 2017, 1:26 pm in , , , , , , , ,

As I posted on Facebook, yesterday I got trapped in my new car. I literally couldn't get out. My wheelchair was secured to the floor of the car and the boot wouldn't open to allow the ramp to deploy.

rear view of white skoda yeti in driveway

After being freed by the AA, who were amazing, I reflected on the emotional toll it took on me, even though I was in my own driveway with my friend Jude there for support. It was really quite scary. And given the prospect of freedom it offered me, I can't help feeling a sense of betrayal, especially as it was such a large investment of money.

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My problem with productivity

Posted by Philip on 12 March 2017, 2:44 pm in , , , , , ,

Last week a colleague sent a link to this article on Task-Based Thinking (TBT) vs Outcome-Based Thinking (OBT). Briefly, its point was that TBT makes you less productive than OBT because the former leaves you thinking, "What do I need to do today?" instead of, "What outcomes do I want to achieve today?"


I read it, as I have hundreds of similar "be-more-productive" blogs, and found myself getting really pissed off. Why the hell do I need to be more productive? What's wrong with doing what needs to be done and feeling like that's enough?

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Depression and anxiety — illness not weakness. Or something else?

Posted by Philip on 9 May 2016, 4:38 pm in , , , , ,

Last Thursday I attended the Health Promotion Agency's video preview session for its refresh of The National Depression Initiative​ (depression.org.nz). The National Depression Initiative (NDI) "aims to reduce the impact of depression and anxiety on the lives of New Zealanders by aiding early recognition, appropriate treatment, and recovery."

I was there as one of 15 New Zealanders who have shared their stories of living with depression and anxiety. For me, it was living with aggressive and abusive neighbours over two years (2011 and 2012) that created acute anxiety ​​and prompted me to offer to share my story. But, in the course of doing so, I've come to realise that I've experienced both depression and anxiety many times over my lifetime.

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Laughter, anxiety and diversity

Posted by Philip on 3 March 2016, 10:55 am in , , , , , , ,

I wrote the other day about my own experience of anxiety and my thoughts that we have emerged into an age of anxiety. While I tried to keep it light, it's a dark topic.

It has occurred to me since that one of the most healing behaviours for me, both during my period of acute anxiety and now as I still experience low-level but chronic anxiety is my ability to laugh. Laughing in the face of fear and dis-ease is challenging, but it has an incredibly positive effect.

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The age of anxiety?

Posted by Philip on 29 February 2016, 11:40 am in , , , , , , , , , , ,

I'm working with some folk on a project around anxiety and depression, sharing the story of the two years I spent living with hostile neighbours. It's made me wonder if we are living in an age of anxiety, because I meet a lot of people who struggle with it, as well as depression, to varying degrees.

Anxious nerdy guy

Since doing this work, I've come to realise I've actually struggled with both for most of my life. Anxiety as a kid about being different, or Mum being late to pick up me up, thinking she'd died in a car crash (no "Running late" texts in those days). Depression as a teenager about, well, everything. Anxiety in my early 20s about living independently and getting my support needs met. More depression in my mid to late 20s about feeling isolated and not fitting in.

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The time "in-between"

Posted by Philip on 30 December 2014, 12:56 pm in , , , , , , , , ,

So, in the past couple of weeks, my unravelling has stopped. I've successfully returned to my usual muscle relaxant medication, so my anxiety has ceased and my co-ordination is back. I'm ten days into a four week holiday and I feel relaxed and unstressed. The archangels have been and gone, working a little magic.

The weather has been beautiful and I've spent many hours sitting on my deck, reading, drinking, eating and laughing with friends. I've even written a few more paragraphs of a book I started writing this time last year.

(By the way I've been reading This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein. It's dense but a must-read if you are interested in the bigger picture of climate change.)

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I'm a bit unravelled — is that ok?

Posted by Philip on 9 December 2014, 2:16 pm in , , , ,

It's been so long since I last posted. I have almost forgotten how to do it. I just read a post I wrote five months ago, almost to the day. I can't quite remember the person who wrote it.

The last five months have been incredibly difficult. I took a part-time job, realised I was probably drinking a bit much and changed my muscle relaxants to a different sort, having read a book that said they were also good for addiction.

Nothing worked out particularly well. 

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Speaking tips for non-speakers

Posted by Philip on 14 August 2013, 11:12 am in , , , ,

Recently someone I was working shared that she was working on a three minute speech for a competition and was nervous about blanking and forgetting what she was going to say. I told her how I prepare to speak from my experience doing comedy. Yesterday she emailed to say she'd done well and got into the finals. Here's what I told her:

  • When I started doing comedy I used to script my sets word-for-word. I would be terrified about forgetting my lines. This became a self-fulfilling prophesy as the anxiety made me more likely to forget. (Seth Godin says, "I define non-clinical anxiety as, 'experiencing failure in advance.' If you're busy enacting a future that hasn't happened yet, and amplifying the worst possible outcomes, it's no wonder it's difficult...")
  • Quite soon after realising this I stopped scripting my routines.
  • Instead I made bullet points about what I would say, usually between five and seven.
  • I would then study the bullet points and create an internal visual image of them because I have a visual memory — if I had an auditory memory I would have said them to myself, or I may have created an NLP anchor if a had a kinesthetic memory.
  • Now I only had to visualise the bullet points to keep track. What words I said didn't matter.
  • Rather than rehearsing I would imagine myself on stage delivering my set confidently and brilliantly! I'd visualise the audience laughing, giving me a standing ovation etc.

Most of my techniques are backed up by Pete Burdon and TJ Walker of Media Training NZ. In their e-book 1001 Ways to Wow the Media and Speaking Audiences, they say:

  • "A speech that READS well will sound HORRIBLE. Be conversational."
  • "Visualise your audience giving you a standing ovation."
  • "Right before you speak, visualise other speaking successes you have had."
  • "Right before you speak, visualise your speech being a stunning success."

They disagree with me about rehearsing:

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