Sh*t, I’m 29 today.

Sh*t, I’m 29 today. At 7.42am to be precise. I mean, I actually don’t feel so bad about it right now. My feeling on this number seems to fluctuate. There are times when my mind gets thinking about all the things I thought I’d have achieved and the milestones hit by this stage in my life. And then I try to push these thoughts out of my mind – or, better yet, try to be still and tell myself to stop it.

It was only 2 years ago that I turned 27, and I wrote this post. On the one hand, there are some gems in there. On the other, it gives me a headache just looking at it. Years of consuming knowledge all spilled out onto a page. Constantly trying to self-diagnose, to find ‘better’ information, to seek answers to the big questions and somehow come up with this grand-theory-on-life.

How to be happy. What career to do.

The irony is, this constant information-consumption leads to over-thinking and anxiety. A state of paralysis and in-action. I’ve worried so much about what to do with my life work-wise, that I have found myself not working – which itself causes low mood. My identity has become so wrapped up in “work”, that my life used to be unbalanced and key parts of my life neglected. Friendships, family, exercise, sleep.

Even at the gym this evening, I found myself pondering the 5 or 6 projects I’m currently interested in, work-wise. I’m constantly worried about making the right decision, about where to focus, about which ones to choose and which ones not to choose. About what I’m supposed to do.

Fuck it’s exhausting.

It’s really hard for me to let go, and just commit to – and focus on – a couple of those projects. I get this ridiculous FOMO and worry about making the right choice. What the f*ck is the right choice?! Surely there isn’t one. I know this logically, but it’s not easy to untangle myself from this destructive mindset.

Because I spend so much time thinking and worrying, I stop myself from just going with it and enjoying the moment. Living in the present. I have recently gotten back on the Headspace app and I usually do a little meditation whilst sat in the gym jacuzzi after my workout. I incorporate stretching and yoga into my workouts to relax and ease tension in my body – and thus in my mind.

Anything to keep me as still and relaxed and as focused on the present as possible.

I’ve spent so much time reading books and blogs and listening to podcasts, trying to reconcile my life and my work with those free-living freelancers whose stories I have endlessly devoured. I love to learn new things and have always been curious – but all this info-consumption only makes me more anxious.

Not too long ago, I even put myself on a non-fiction diet to stop putting irrelevant information in my head. I wish I could just make a choice and stick with it. And not need reassurance from the stuff I read and the people I see online. Really, it comes down to self-belief and self-confidence. There’s a lightbulb moment right there.

It looks like I’m about to start a job working for a good friend of mine in an exciting business, and I’m feeling good about this for a lot of reasons. But then I ask myself what projects I should be working on on the side – which might potentially become ‘the thing; further down the line. Again, it comes back to those stupid expectations.

I am just trying to be still, to feel rather than think, and to do rather than ruminate. I’m pretty sure that once I start this new job of mine, I’ll largely be kept busy and engaged. So I reckon I’ll have time for just 1 or 2 side-projects, maximum.

And whilst I’m still teetering over which ones to focus on, I am trying to lean into feeling rather than thinking. Both my therapist, and a good friend of mine who is training to be a coach (none other than ‘Girl J’ – remember her?), have asked me to imagine myself how I feel and experience doing the thing I’m pondering over, rather than thinking and ruminating about it.

And that’s what I intend to do from here on in. Less thinking, more feeling. Less ruminating, more doing. Less anxiety about the future, more being in the present.

Happy 29th to me. Perhaps I’m becoming more of an adult after all.

by Jas

✏ Written: Monday 4th June, 2018

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My night-time dreams

Dreams are fascinating.

No one really gets them, nor understand where they originate from. When I was little, I used to sometimes have vivid dreams of both the nice and not-so-nice kind. I guess you could call the latter nightmares.

Sometimes, I even used to try to influence my dreams; my thinking was that, if I went to bed thinking about something in particular, it would then morph into a dream. Sometimes, this worked. Other times, it probably just stopped me from getting to sleep in the first place.

Recently, I’ve been dreaming regularly. Most nights. Or at least, I’m dreaming and recalling my dreams, in varying detail/ One school of thought says that everyone dreams all/most nights, it’s just that we don’t always remember them.

I’ve noticed that I seem to be dreaming more often (i.e. I am more lucid – great word, eh?) with the sertraline medication that I am on. I take this at night before I go to bed. I am aware that others who take sertraline, and other SSRIs/anti-depressants in general, also report ‘dreaming more’ as a side-effect.

My wonderful therapist has encouraged me to notice my dreams, and even to note down what I have dreamed out. A ‘dream diary’, if you will. In the last couple of weeks (at time of writing), I’ve kept a dream journal, where I basically write down what I’ve dreamed about the previous night. I’ve done 3 or 4 entries now. It has been interesting to note the themes that keep appearing at certain times; things that I am thinking about during the day, whether consciously or subconsciously, appear to be emerging.

My therapist tells me that dreams are linked to our subconscious, and I believe that – especially given the links I’ve been making between my dreams and what’s been coming up in my mind.

Our subconscious is an incredible, mystical thing. My feeling is that little do we know, but things which may have happened in our life which we can barely remember, are there somewhere in our subconscious. Perhaps buried, somewhere beneath the surface, but there nevertheless. These memories may or not float back to the surface, and appear in our consciousness – in our dreams, perhaps. They may be, unwittingly, tapped into after we’ve been somewhere, or listened to a piece of music, or had a piece of dialogue. The most curious of things can spark an insight.

Where I can, I am going to continue to notice my dreams as they happen, and see if I can make any linkages. I feel that our intuition is somewhat linked to our subconscious, and that our dreams even have the potential to nudge us onto the right course. Some might say this is wacky, airy-fairy hippyish sh*t, and each to their own. It’s just my own hunch.

On another note, Girl J once told me about a dream she’d had about us, abroad somewhere together, me with sand in my eyes and laughing and smiling. I took that as a sign that she’d been thinking about me, or us. Perhaps that was her way of sharing that. Who knows.

I also recall a particularly wonderful dream I had as a child – which has to be my favourite ever dream.

I’ll have to write about that sometime, too. I also feel that more sensitive folks may be more prone to dreams than those who are not. Perhaps as an outlet of some kind.

A final thought: perhaps our night-time dreams are a reflection of our day-time, real-life dreams…

by Jas

✏ Written: Tuesday, 13th March 2018 @ 9.20am

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What about you? 🤷🏽‍♂️
Do you dream a lot? Have you noticed any patterns or insights at all? Whether or not you feel dreams are important, I’d love to hear what you reckon 💙

Am I bipolar?

In the last couple of years, I’ve reached out and reacquainted with a couple of others from secondary (high) school. Though I wasn’t really close with them at the time (with the exception of Dan, who was a best friend from day one – literally, we actually met on the very first day), we’ve found commonality as time has gone on.

I have also realised who I am, and the people I get along with. One of these, Harry, who also happens to be a brown guy (Sri Lankan), has a similar story to mine. He is the eldest son in a family of four, also with a younger brother, has had an interesting relationship with his father, was similarly ‘intelligent’ at school, and dropped out of university. He’s also dealt with his own demons, and mental health issues.

I actually shared my blog with him recently and he sent me this message:

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 17.36.46

After months of radio silence, he got in touch – and I should be seeing him soon. He confessed that he’d had a scare, but was back on the up, and we’re going to catch up when he’s feeling a bit better. When we last met, I remember him saying, “Sometimes I wonder if I’m bipolar, man. I have these ridiculous mood swings”.

We were both comparing how sociable we were around people we were (though reigning myself in at time of writing), yet were introverts and could shut away and turn into hermits for a while. How we experienced real ups and downs. How we seemed to be a couple of weirdos in a world were folks just seemed to be happy in jobs that they really couldn’t give a sh*t about.

As I’ve been paying more attention to my mood and mood swings (e.g. how I tend to feel better in the evening after I’ve ‘warmed up’ during the day – getting out of the house helps), I’ve begun to question whether I am on the bipolar spectrum. I mean, I guess we are all somewhere on the spectrum, but I mean significantly on the spectrum, or at least significantly enough. Aaaaaagh. #overthinking.

It was actually something my psychiatrist suspected and mentioned at one stage, though was reluctant to give me the diagnosis – and then he later backtracked, saying “I don’t think you are”.

Update: I actually saw my psychiatrist last week, and talked to him about this as I’ve been reading others’ experiences online and connecting some dots. He told me that I may be ‘slightly’ bipolar, but that it could also be seasonal affective disorder, or SAD (I feel better in the summer, and get low in the winter) or just this thing beginning with ‘c’ where I just have cycles in mood. Either way, I don’t want any medication as such for the bipolar, I think it’s more just because I like to categorise and make it feel like I have ‘something’ that others have and am not just a weirdo!

The last thing I want to do is incorrectly diagnose myself. But I was thinking about this yesterday. I googled it, and clicked on the first link to take a short test. There were about 10 questions, and I selected a mix of ‘sometimes’ and ‘often’ options for each one. The result was that I possess a ‘moderate risk’ of having bipolar – though continues to say that this was just a test and – of course – could not replace the opinion of a medical professional.

Whilst I’m sure everyone can relate to changes in mood, my swings can be pretty monumental. I can also get hyper when I’m around people, and music. This is also linked to my high-sensitivity (HSP). One of the questions on the test particularly stood out, asking about whether I swing between low-confidence and over-confidence. I thought about this time last year, when I was travelling and watching various sporting events (ah, dreamy), and I became convinced that I was going to become this big-time sports coach and that I had ‘the gift’ – yup, there’s those ridiculously high expectations again. I was in Europe and the US watching tennis and boxing. Acting the part and lapping up the mystique and attention I got from being this guy there on his own. I put on this swagger and this front, tryna act like someone special.

I like it too much. I became a person I’m not used to being. I went ape-sh*t when I thought someone had stolen my wallet at one of the tournaments, and then again at the train station when I missed my train and they couldn’t do something as simple as giving me another ticket at the kid – instead, asking me to go online and booking my ticket from there. It was ridiculous thinking about it, but I really got angry at them, made a scene in the whole place, and it was out of character. I usually avoid conflict or any form of tension at all costs.

I felt like I was an actor playing this part. It felt like O was important, and respected, even though I wasn’t being myself and was actually distancing myself from those around me (kinda like I do now at my gym – a post coming up on this soon). It felt good. Before it all got too much + then it came crashing down.

by Jas

✏ Written: Tuesday, 13th March 2018 @ 9.20am

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What about you? 🤷🏽‍♂️
Do you find that you have moodswings? Are there any patterns that you have picked up on? Whether you’re bipolar or not, I’d love to hear your experiences – or anything that you feel like sharing 💙