Month: October 2022

Sobering Thoughts Volume Twenty Four – Ooh La La

When you are really young, all you want to be is older. I know I did. I can recall a memory from my youth when I said this to my mum. She laughed at me and replied, “be careful what you wish for” and she was right. Although there were some challenging times growing up, in general I had a good childhood. Although my parents split when I was nine and that was indeed traumatic, they both loved and cared for me. I was a lot luckier than other families that go through unpleasant divorces. I recorded a podcast with Ross (check out the Aesthetically Trained Podcast) a few months ago and one of the last things he asked me was, what is the best piece of advice you have been given? Having not prepared for this part I rather feebly (I thought at the time ) came up with something my dad said to me when I was young. He told me to enjoy school as, “they are the best days of your life” at the time I will have undoubtedly laughed it off and rubbished this ludicrous claim. But in a lot of ways, he was right and it was very sound advice. Like most kids, I had no responsibilities when I was at school other than to do my work and enjoy my time. I did half of that at least. This blog is about growing older. I am in my thirties now. Which at first, really terrified me. I thought I was getting on and no longer could enjoy the folly of youth. I am learning that with the new lifestyle I have chosen (without alcohol) I am not heading towards obsolescence just yet.

I had a chat with Jack not long ago and with us both now being in our thirties we did a little bit of reflecting. We both concluded that the current position we are now in was better than where we both were back in our early twenties, possibly even mid-twenties. When you have the benefit of being older and looking back, I don’t think I would choose to go back to my early twenties. Yes of course, I was younger and with less responsibility but I was also immature and “not piss wise” as an old boss used to say. I feared turning thirty, it definitely played on my mind. My birthday was in lockdown so it was a very low-key affair but that in some ways that probably made things worse. I didn’t embrace it. If anything, I wanted to run as far as possible away from it. What I should have done and my advice for anyone just about to turn the magic three zero is, don’t worry about it. It does annoy me a little when people will say, “oh age is only a number” that is bollocks. Becoming thirty and leaving twenty-nine behind is clearly different, as I am sure it will be leaving my thirties and entering my forties. But what it doesn’t have to be, is negative. When I was getting ever closer to thirty, I anticipated everything would become bleaker, mundane and less fun which is probably why I went as hard as I did last year. If I could relive one part of my life it would almost certainly be the latter part of last year when I full lost control of my relationship with booze.

Having decided to leave alcohol behind, I want to make sure that my thirties are so much better. I am not saying that I didn’t have many good experiences within my twenties, I just know that better days are there for me to enjoy. I think about all the time and money I wasted on booze. I dread to think what the number is. I had plenty of good nights out and sessions on the razzle dazzle but ultimately, they have brought me to where I am now. I am excited about the next five to six years to see where I land and what happens. But mostly I want to enjoy them fully and be present throughout it all. Not dropping back to old times when drinking as much as possible on a night out was the only thing occupying my mind or making alcohol the centre of my universe. That’s gone now, and left behind. If I had been asked to write this piece a few months ago, I couldn’t have done it. Now sitting here penning this with as much conviction is really great. I feel I have now completely shed my old life and denounced my old ways. It feels liberating.

Focusing on a brighter future full of new experiences and people to meet is all I am thinking about at the moment. My life is in a good place right now with a strong solid balance of work and social time. I feel content and wish to remain in this current state. Not deviate from the routine and structure which has played a crucial role in maintaining a better mental state.

You might think the title to this one is a little strange, but please go and listen to Faces – Ooh La La. All will become clear.

Thanks again for reading, I have enjoyed writing this one.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts  

Sobering Thoughts Volume Twenty Three – Shake It Out

I was at the Newcastle game last night. Another three points for Eddie’s mags. I came away from the match buoyant and happy to be part of another great night at St. James Park. Contrast that with how I was feeling coming away from a Newcastle match just over a year ago indicates how far I’ve come. On Monday, it had been exactly one year since the night where I had wanted to end things. It has not been plain sailing to get to this point, so I wanted to share that timeline with you and also get it written down in the form of a blog mapping out the progress that has been made.

If I go back to that point in time a year ago, I could not have been any lower. As I have mentioned in other blogs I had been drinking heavily and in a downward spiral to a point where days and nights were just passing me by. I was not happy, but I hadn’t appreciated how unhappy I was. I wanted things to end, I wanted to die. I did not feel like I could offer myself or anyone anything worthwhile in life. I was in a cycle of drinking most nights and feeling extremely lousy the next day. The time I spent with loved ones could not have been to any quality. What followed after the night in question over the next three to four months was not much better. Having reached the lowest point in my existence, things didn’t get better instantly. At first, I don’t think I wanted to get better, I wanted to feel down. I wanted to carry on drinking and wallow in self pity for my situation. I wasn’t accepting the help that those close to me wanted me to get. I started therapy sessions and alcohol support in December, but I wasn’t receptive to it. Although now, I was beginning to talk about my problems I wasn’t combating them. I never returned to that very dark place in my mind following that night, but I certainly didn’t start to feel better until I binned the booze.

One of the critical problems I had during this time was that I didn’t care about myself. I knew I was damaging my wellbeing and not getting better but I still couldn’t let go of my liquid friend. I felt it was the most loyal thing in my life, always by my side when I needed it in the dark days not willing to accept that it was contributing to causing those dark days. Reading this, you could think that the alcohol is to blame for all my problems, but it isn’t. I am. I am the root cause of all of my woes, and it is my choices and actions that led to this. I had to take control of myself again. For too long, I had been making poor choices and sliding further down. Yes, alcohol played a large part in my plummeting mental health, but I had not reached a point of no return. I still had the power to take control of the situation and for many months I chose not to. Maybe I am being over critical of myself here and downplaying the hold booze had over me. Not sure, still working that out, I guess.

Fortunately, I was able to regain control and begin to properly get better. Both mentally and physically. When I quit drinking, I wasn’t expecting miracles, but I was surprised how quickly I started to feel better and have more clarity in my thinking. By working with my therapist, alcohol support team and the love of my friends and family I have managed to get to this point feeling a lot more positive about life and the future. Yes, of course there has been bumps in the road getting to this moment but on the whole, it has been a positive life changing experience. I had a therapy session this week and one of the focus points was, what is the end game for this treatment? At what moment can I walk away from that fully ready? I think the answer to that, is never. I don’t think I can ever completely leave therapy and conclude I am no longer needing that support. Yes, the sessions may become less frequent but still vital to have some contact for my wellbeing. Knowing that avenue is never closed off will also be a positive for me. I was thinking back to why I started going. The generic reasoning was to feel better. For it to assist in that process and of course it has but it is so much more than that. I want to talk about therapy in an upcoming piece, so I won’t get into a lot of details just now. My physical health is a lot better now. I still enjoy the occasional cigarette or junk food but on balance I am healthier now than I have ever been. Going to the gym with Jack has been so important in my stronger mental health. My mind is stronger now because of it and I feel in a very good place at the moment which is nice. A couple of months ago I had a setback which I dealt with quickly. In a much speedier fashion that if this had taken place last year. I am now stronger because of that setback. I know that challenges will come, and I will look to draw upon this experience to combat them. Not revert back to normal coping mechanisms which ultimately don’t work.

I would never have been able to reach that better point without the truly amazing support I received at the darkest times. I want to thank my family, friends, work colleagues and Chloe. All of whom were there for me when I needed them. Although Chloe and I are no longer together, we remain friends and I want to say that I will always be very thankful to her for being someone I could rely on during what was an awful time.

As always, thanks for reading this if you are. If I can ever be of help to you or someone you know who needs help, then please get in touch. My details are on the contact page on the website.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts  

Sobering Thoughts Volume Twenty-Two – She Works Out Too Much

No blog last week as I had been on holiday with the lads and their partners in Valencia. Seventh wheeling was actually not bad at all. We had a really enjoyable time and it was great to get all of us together in one place away from home.

Blogs will now be returning every week so I can focus my attention back onto my writing and most importantly my self-development.

So, Monday was world mental health awareness day. How many people knew that? Probably quite a lot as I personally saw a lot of posts online from individuals or organisations discussing the topic and hammering home the message that it is ok to talk about this once taboo subject. This is great. As more and more people feel comfortable in speaking out about their own experiences and issues surrounding their own mental health the stigma will eventually evaporate. Obviously, with myself included in the form of this blog. But has social media played a key role in forming the crisis we are in? In this blog I would like to explore that and identify how it has affected me.

Let me set this out right from the start. I love aspects of social media, well mainly twitter. It is a big part of my life. I can spend hours on twitter (not so much latterly) looking at everything from silly stuff to serious political goings on back to checking who Newcastle are going to sign in January – Maddison please. It is my main source of news and believe that on the whole it is a force for good. Maybe. Hopefully Elon doesn’t get a hold of it and wreck it for all of us although I think it may be too late for that. Instagram and Facebook I can really take or leave. Yes, I have them and they are certainly a decent platform for getting this blog out there for people to read but on the whole my life would not be worse off if I didn’t have them. Does that stop me from going on them more often than I should? No, sadly not. I have tried over the last couple of months to limit the time spent on these apps. Do I feel better for it? Maybe, a little. Would you be able to give these things up if you were asked to right now? We have all seen those posts from people (ironically) telling us all about how they are going for a long walk in the countryside and will be switching their phones off so they can be at one with nature. I genuinely hope they do and are not tempted to open their phone whilst out doing this activity. It is actually liberating to switch it off or leave your phone in the car/at home so you can enjoy the time whether you are alone or with someone else.

Smart phones have undoubtedly changed our lives. Things are totally different in how we communicate, how we date, how we socialise, how we work with one another. Is it for the better?

Social media and technology played a key role in enabling people to contact one another during the pandemic. If you had access to the internet then you could facetime, zoom, teams people from other areas in the country that you were not able to see or even members of your family and friends that lived close by. That is obviously a good thing and should be celebrated. As I said, there is strong advocacy for the use of social media and it came into its own during a time when people were feeling very isolated and cut off from the world, myself included. One of the many positives of starting this blog is the ability it has had to reach more people than I could have ever expected it to. I have spoken to strangers I would never have met, reconnected with people I may have never spoken to again. That is surely a good thing, isn’t it? People have the power to be very supportive to one another if they want to and we do see this on social media.

Online global apps like Facebook and Instagram have the power to connect people that may never have had the chance to had they not existed. We live in a very fast paced society where everything is wanted now and to wait for tomorrow is too long. We see advertising all over these sites, algorithms targeting us with ads that they know we will be interested in. We can be sent an ad for a pair of trainers, and they can be on our feet the next day. Again, is that a good thing? I will let you decide for yourself. On the flip side of that, how businesses operate is totally different to how things were fifteen or even ten years ago. Small organisations can flourish with the help of social media and are not relying on word of mouth to grow a business or brand. It has its positives, that should be acknowledged.

Looking at it from other side, is social media a toxic and vile place? Well yes of course it is. It is now easier than ever to write hurtful things to people you may not even have met before. I have to admit that over the years I have been guilty of this myself, some of which I am ashamed of, other stuff not so much. It is very easy to write a comment on a picture or tweet some nonsense about someone else. Psychologists would state this is for many different reasons such as feeling better about your own situation or something you are unhappy with. It may be designed to gain more attention or followers. Ultimately, some individuals will write vile things because they are vile people. Simple as that.

Facebook and Instagram came in my late teens and early twenties, so I think I escaped what the youth of today have to endure. But anyone is a target on these platforms. One of the weirdest things to go through on socials is a breakup. One minute you can see a couple very happy together posting pictures of themselves and their lives or on holiday etc etc and then next bang, gone are all these photos and memories after the couple have split up. Now I get why people do this. They want to cleanse their lives of the person that is no longer in it and that is fair enough. I haven’t deleted any of the pictures I have with ex-partners on my social media because I believe that although that relationship has ended the memories with that person are important and part of my life. I guess everyone is different and there isn’t a right and wrong formula to that.

We see a lot of fake reality content online. I am taken in by it as much as the next person. We can see a happy couple, someone on holiday, buying a new house or new car and think that I don’t have that. My life is rubbish. I am learning more about this at the moment because I think about how I have thought about my own social media profiles in the past. As strange as this may sound, in some instances I have been jealous of friends when they go away on holiday and posting their pictures because I have thought that makes them look more interesting than me. Or if friends have gone away on holiday together and I haven’t been there then I will be jealous of firstly me not being there and then secondly people not seeing me there with my friends. I would create scenarios in my head where I would think other people would notice I wasn’t there and think I wasn’t friends with my best mates anymore. Writing that down and looking back at it, it is totally fucking stupid. Because who would care about that? I mean come on, that is some serious self-conceited shit right there.

But this is what I am trying to get at. The illusion that people want or feel they need to create or be a part of can have a detrimental effect on your mental health. It is ridiculous of me to have felt like that about my friends. I am glad that I do not in anyway feel like that now. I love seeing my mates away doing stuff together and I am totally at ease with not being there. I know that they care about me and if I am not there this time, I will be the next. Valencia was really good in that respect because it brought us all together, nothing better. Touching back to the relationship side of things, seeing a person move on can be tough. Having social media allows us that ability to see this playing out in real time and for the other person that can be tough. I broke up (sort of) with someone in my early twenties and struggled to come to terms with seeing them move on with their life. Coupled with heavy drinking self-medication and regular scrolls of profiles that was not a good way to get over it. But we are all exposed to that unless you of course are blocked and removed. Which again in itself is a horrible process to go through. Social media can be bittersweet for us all in navigating through all aspects and areas of our lives.

Would better regulation help save the mental health of many more people? Maybe so, will that happen? Doubt it.

Thanks for reading.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts