Movember, Mo’s & Mental Health!

I was recently approached by Men’s Fashion & Lifestyle magazine The Idle Man to talk about Movember, Grooming and Mental Health. Here’s an extract from the article:

“Day 11 of Movember: I’ve just passed that awkward early-growth phase and have serious beard withdrawal symptoms. The last time I clean-shaved was seven or so years ago – a fact my barber smugly pointed out, several times over, whilst getting my not-so-usual trim. Losing my beard was a decision I had been toying with for the entirety of October, (I have one of those faces that are really defined by facial hair). Starting November 1st baby-faced was a dreaded thought but I took the plunge with the intention of getting more people talking about the ever-elusive topic of mental health.

Since 2012, I’ve been part of CALM’s team of ambassadors raising awareness of mental health, depression and suicide in the United Kingdom; the latter of which is the biggest killer of men in the UK (2013’s figures being the highest in the past fifteen years). 5,140 suicides were reported in 2013 and alarmingly, 78% of those were committed by men: that’s 4,020 suicides, meaning there were 4 male suicides for every 1 female. It’s widely acknowledged that men don’t really open up so these statistics being a consistent trend come as no real surprise. What is surprising is the recent spike last year. It had me thinking about possible triggers (of depression) and the list is endless: money, relationships, jobs and careers, family, bereavement and illness are just the beginning of a downwards spiral to not wanting to wake up in the morning.”

Read the article in full, here: http://theidleman.com/manual/movember-mos-mental-health-rkz/

CALM: Social Anxiety

The following is an extract of my article for CALM:

“Feeling anxious can be an absolute nightmare and, much like depression, it’s a lot more common than we believe it to be. There are many forms of anxiety including panic disorder, OCD and post-traumatic stress, but I wanted to touch upon the most common one: social anxiety disorder.

Social Anxiety – as explained by the NHS – is a persistent fear of social situations and being around people. Much more than just “shyness”, social anxiety disorder causes intense, overwhelming fear over what may just be an everyday activity, like shopping or speaking on the phone.

The thought of being in a new – almost alien – environment can bring a horrible discomfort to the point where you question whether you should even go. By cancelling a potential meet up, you’re saving yourself from the mental anguish that builds inside. It stops you from worrying, feeling socially awkward and self-conscious. Being at home is better because your surroundings are comfortable, safe, and there’s no need to feel on-edge for an entire evening. But, how long are you going to stay cooped up indoors?

A very close friend of mine suffers from severe social anxiety, so I spoke to her about her personal experience, and how she’s gradually beating her fears.”

Read the article in full, here: http://www.thecalmzone.net/2013/08/social-anxiety/

About CALM

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) exists to prevent male suicide in the UK.  Suicide accounted for the deaths of more young men in England & Wales in 2011 than road death, murder and HIV/AIDs combined.

We believe that if men felt able to ask for, and find, timely and appropriate help when they need it then hundreds of male suicides could be prevented in the UK.  We believe that there is a cultural barrier preventing men from seeking help as they are expected to be in control at all times, and failure to be seen as such equates to weakness and a loss of masculinity.  We believe that suicide is neither inevitable nor an indication that the individual was a failure in any respect.

We’re a campaign for all men, not just ‘service users’ – we avoid mental health terms and start with the belief that all of us, at one time or another regardless of gender, will hit a crisis. We could all do with specialist support when things go wrong. For more information: http://thecalmzone.net

CALM are a registered charity, no. 1110621.

CALM: The Dreaded Graduate Job Search…

The following is an extract of my latest article for CALM:

“After utilising my time out of conventional work by making two years’ worth of music (and confusing the hell out of myself on the HMRC website), I set myself up for a string of musical releases which was a good start, but the quarterly royalty income I was getting as a newbie musician wasn’t cutting it. I jumped on the internship bandwagon because I was determined to use my skills – and degree – doing something I loved (digital/social media, video production, writing). However, the majority of internships only covered expenses, so I ended up doing a lot of work for no money. Ah, the curse of the internship.

The problem being a graduate in this economic climate is the fact that jobs are really hard to come by. A lot of companies know this and abuse their power by hiring interns to do invaluable work for peanuts. And they get away with it because experience is an invaluable asset in the long-term career hunt for those on the first rung of the career ladder, plus they have a bottomless well of eager graduates queuing up for that experience.  You want to get paid, do you?  Well in that case, we’ll find someone else willing to work for nothing.  Don’t let the door bump you on the arse on your way out. You get the picture.”

Read the article in full, here: http://www.thecalmzone.net/2013/08/21775/

About CALM

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) exists to prevent male suicide in the UK.  Suicide accounted for the deaths of more young men in England & Wales in 2011 than road death, murder and HIV/AIDs combined.

We believe that if men felt able to ask for, and find, timely and appropriate help when they need it then hundreds of male suicides could be prevented in the UK.  We believe that there is a cultural barrier preventing men from seeking help as they are expected to be in control at all times, and failure to be seen as such equates to weakness and a loss of masculinity.  We believe that suicide is neither inevitable nor an indication that the individual was a failure in any respect.

We’re a campaign for all men, not just ‘service users’ – we avoid mental health terms and start with the belief that all of us, at one time or another regardless of gender, will hit a crisis. We could all do with specialist support when things go wrong. For more information: http://thecalmzone.net

CALM are a registered charity, no. 1110621.

CALM: Lonely Places

Stay Away From Lonely Places”

But what about when those lonely places reside in yourself? How do you avoid THAT? It’s not as if you can escape from.. you. Right? I mean, I’ve tried. And all I’ve learnt is that you’ve gotta come back, eventually.

But you know what? Life doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom – just don’t sit idle. Immerse yourself in a new hobby; be pro-active with seeing people that make you smile and laugh (you don’t need to spend lots of money to have fun, either); read more; watch TV, films every now and then. Go for walks and keep active. You’re only ever as lonely as you allow yourself to be. So unless you’re deliberately trying to drown in self-pity (it’s good for your soul sometimes, just not when it becomes excessive) you should keep moving!

When you keep yourself busy, you won’t have to think about keeping yourself busy. And hey, if none of that works.. you can always speak to the people at CALM, via thecalmzone.net. They are incredibly important, and have an extremely informative website – and I bet you’ll be surprised at the amount of people in your life that will need it at some point.

CALM: Jiah Khan, Depression & Suicide

The following is an extract of my latest article for CALM:

“We need to understand that depression is an extremely serious issue that should be dealt with through understanding, and being there for someone. The terms ‘selfish’ and ‘cowardly’ are thrown around way too freely when it comes to discussions about suicide. Some people believe that suicide is taking the easy way out. I cannot begin to explain how wide of the mark that is. Imagine what mental torture you must be going through to believe entirely that your existence being cut is the only way to stop the pain, for both you and those around you. That stress, which often manifests in the physical, is unfathomable.

It is such a personal emotion that it makes you believe no one else could possibly feel the same. Being suicidal can often leave your mental state askew of reality in rushes of adrenaline, and life becomes increasingly claustrophobic – a nightmare you can’t wake up from. I was taken aback by certain ignorance following Jiah Khan’s death, and the alarming lack of empathy towards such a serious issue, which claims so many lives worldwide..”

Read the article in full, here: http://www.thecalmzone.net/2013/06/first-person-jiah-khan-depression-suicide/

About CALM

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) exists to prevent male suicide in the UK.  Suicide accounted for the deaths of more young men in England & Wales in 2011 than road death, murder and HIV/AIDs combined.

We believe that if men felt able to ask for, and find, timely and appropriate help when they need it then hundreds of male suicides could be prevented in the UK.  We believe that there is a cultural barrier preventing men from seeking help as they are expected to be in control at all times, and failure to be seen as such equates to weakness and a loss of masculinity.  We believe that suicide is neither inevitable nor an indication that the individual was a failure in any respect.

We’re a campaign for all men, not just ‘service users’ – we avoid mental health terms and start with the belief that all of us, at one time or another regardless of gender, will hit a crisis. We could all do with specialist support when things go wrong. For more information: http://thecalmzone.net

CALM are a registered charity, no. 1110621.

CALM: Depression In The Brit-Asian Community

An extract of my article for UK Men’s Health charity, CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). Taken from Issue 6 of CALMzine (October 2012).

“..In the last few months, my family noticed some changes in my behaviour. I was a lot quieter, I kept to myself and my conversation was muted. I couldn’t help what I was feeling, and couldn’t do much to stop it taking over. After slowly being reassured that talking was okay by a great friend at CALM, I began expressing myself more and it helped. It still does.

I have a very open-minded family, so talking to them about how I felt was an easy process once the proverbial ice was broken. However, this is not always the case with some Asian families. After a long discussion with my father regarding depression, he mentioned a few things that resonated with me. “We often underestimate the stronghold that depression can have on our minds.” Within the Asian demographic the concept of depression can sometimes elude people, usually because we do not know much about it – thus immediately dismiss it.

This habit is something we need to break. We need to understand how serious depression is, and how much it can affect someone’s life. Yet, more importantly, we need to know how to spot it in others.”

Read the full article in Issue 6 of CALMzine, by clicking here.