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This scene has always reminded me of an old, poor, rundown part of a Mediterranean village. Or maybe the backside of Venice.
I suspect it's a multi-million dollar Manly view.

Anger & Depression, A Year With My Fine Friends

Over the past week two people have reached out and asked, "How are you doing Mike?", one was a Monmouth school friend from way back and another someone I used to work with here in Wellington ... aren't people just awesome.

To answer that question I have had to stop and think as we don't allow, "Good" as an answer in the house. Not that it stops the kids saying it everyday we ask, "How was your day?" ... and yes, we know, it's a dumb question just begging for such an answer but we've not got into the habit of asking any of these just yet ... we try though.

So, how am I?
And how have I been since last year, "Depression & Anger: 2 More Things"?

In essence I am very good (!).
The meds I take do the job of alleviating the crippling anxiety and desire to hide beneath the duvet every waking hour. Although, we've discovered that they do make me extremely tired and I used to struggle to make it through the day without a nana nap ... that could, of course, be just old age and having the space to do so. I now take one every other day and have just started to take them at night because, dur, that's when I can be tired and have a sleep - so obvious really eh!

I will, once this current batch runs out, pop back to the doctor and see if there's any others I can get on that not only do the job but don't zap me of my libido and energy. Although, as I say, it's not really that bad at the moment.

Just before Christmas I stopped seeing the counsellor as we seemed to have shifted a lot of the big boulders out of thway. It was a pleasure working with Gordon, he was definitely the right man for the job at the time and I shall always be grateful for the work we both did together. Of course if I need to I will go back but I feel like I am wobbling along OK without the training wheels.

Exercise. Yeah, well, exercise hasn't been quite as successful as I'd like - I am, by nature, quite a lazy fucker and getting up and out was always the issue. Once I'm doing something I'm fine and dandy and always like that feeling of satisfaction falling asleep of a night with a tired, slightly achy body after it's been pushed a bit. I do walk A LOT through the nature of what I do for a 'living' (we'll come to that in a moment) and also with Liz when she and I have the time and space. On the plus side I drink a lot less than I used to, but do enjoy it when I do.

ADVERT: I am doing Dry July this year and would love if you'd show me support by popping a few dollars to the Cancer peeps and help them through their difficult times - thank you so much!

Oh, Jack and I are gonna be going to the gym - just having a hard time getting someone to show us the ropes, weights, dangly bits and pushy bits ... hang on, just gonna go message them one more time ... ... and I'm back.

So yeah, exercise (and the big tummy) are definitely something to work upon.

And finally, there's the support network.
People have expressed support in many ways but the one that always fills me up is a physical hug. There are many people, particularly men, that give me a hug when they see me and I am always grateful when it happens and it lifts me to the skies. I now hug A LOT, be aware.

"Being open and talking about it Mike, it's a wonderful gift you're giving to others in the same situation", was said to me recently and has similar phrases have been told to me over the past year. All I can be is honest, courageous and open ... and I know it's scary to do ,I am scared when I do it. But, if I can show that only good comes of it then I hope it means others do the same.

Oh, one thing, for those that have someone depressed, suicidal, struggling in their life the worst thing you can do is to post a glib, "I'm there for you" on social media. No, it's not the worst thing you can do, but be aware that it will have little if any affect. Having said that, the weight of support from many in such situations can be a base on which us strugglers stand. It's complicated eh. My advice if you want to help someone is to make time to see someone face to face, or pick up the phone and call them - that direct human touch is golden.

My close friends always check in, they make sure that we catch up and that I, "never do it alone". It's the being alone, inside ones head, thinking that I have to solve everything and that I can't, just can't reach out is my signal that I have stepped into the nasty land and that I have to turn back and get that hug.

And that hug comes from either Liz, Jack or Meg ... and all the combinations therein.

My kids live with me being me - they get that it's not perfect, that at times I will "get full" and that I need to monitor my behaviour. They help me in their way and as they get older it's deeper and more rich than I can eve express. Don't be fooled, they aren't living with a monster and they are just two normal kids getting on with stuff, sometimes they fight, sometimes they are the best human beings ever - like you, me and everyone else.

They are my reason.

My rock, my hero, my partner is, of course Liz.
Without Liz being who she is, who she has grown into and being there I struggle to see just how it could have worked out quite as well. Again, it's not perfect, we both have spats, we both get tired and drunk and argue and spit and claw ... but we now see it coming, we have a life together where we understand, and try to be kind. My goal is to talk, to let her in ... but that's scary eh, well it is for me.

This year has been a year of massive work achievements for Liz - she has nailed her target (already!), taken on new challenges and, whilst being sometimes shattered by her work she is totally nailing it. And that has taken a little of the financial pressure of me, and allowed me, with input from some very clever friends, to sort my shit out, especially around how I sell myself.

It's also meant I have had time to step up. To step back from some of the day-=to-day things that always kept me down in the mire and up into more leadership roles, more guidance and strategy type activities. Also, it allowed me to focus on Access Granted podcast and even pop over to Canberra and facilitate an event.

So , how am I doing - good eh.
It's never done, I take 2 steps forward and 1 back, I head down into dark places but now have the tools, experience and techniques to see the signs and turn away. I am also slower, less impetuous, more choosy and more interested in those close to me.

Never do it alone. I say it so much, and I mean it - the people in life are what it's about. And the love, the kindness that you give to those people is all you should focus upon ... well, I think so, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do, can you?

I leave you with a quote that still hits home to me, The Prime of Our Lives is NOT About Finding All the Answers - Brene Brown on Living in the Questions:
I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: 
I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go. 
Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. 
Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.
Oh, and of course, have fun ...



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