The 6 week challenge and why I love it

As my regular readers know I recently signed up to take part in a 6 week challenge. This was done on an impulse decision because I was unhappy with so many aspects of my appearance and lifestyle.

Without a doubt best decision I could have made….

The experience has been so rewarding both mentally and physically because I’ve had to push myself.

For the first time in my life I’m following a nutritional plan and eating 3 meals a day….but proper meals. Better foods.

When I started i was eating a bacon baguette for breakfast, a half pounder burger for lunch and as much shit as I could find in the evening after dinner…

I hadn’t done proper exercise on a regular basis for 5 years either.

I’ve loved it so much.

I had a mental wobble, it caused me to miss 10 days of the challenge and lost out on 3 sessions too but the trainer sent me an email to check up on me and that was all it took to remind me what I signed up for.

The group is fantastic. Lots of men encouraging each other, pulling you up when you’re flat out on your back from exhaustion and motivating you for that one more rep…

I feel like I’ve found somewhere I belong. The trainers push you out your comfort zone because ultimately they want you to succeed, they want you to better yourself and they actually treat you as a person not just a client.

The challenge has changed how I see myself, I’m certainly nowhere near as big as I thought I was in my head and I can look myself in the mirror and feel pride at the weight loss so far…. Without the wobble it would’ve been a whole lot better but that’s depression for you. I’m happy and looking forward to my final weigh in Sunday.

But its not the end there…..a new challenge begins on Monday as I have signed up to continue with 30+ mens fitness and continue this journey for a long time to come.

The buzz I get after each session does wonders for me mentally. I’ve made new friends and look forward to the pain of each session knowing its all for the greater good.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is “accountability” if i lose or gain weight, if i go to class or miss class then its no one else fault but mine. I will get out of this exactly what i put in and this journey has been life changing.

I’m hitting a new 30 day challenge hard next week. 30 days till I hit 40 and with the help of Russ, Chris, John and all the guys in this fantastic group im going to smash it even more.

Exercise is fantastic for depression and improving mental health. Find a group like this join up and I guarantee you that you won’t regret it.

I look so much better, feel so much better and loving Garry again.

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One year on

Today marks a year since my world fell apart and I was hurt like never before. I could have broke down, I could have spiralled into a depression, I could have gone off the rails and I could have wasted 12 months feeling hurt, bitter, angry and sorry for myself…

Except I haven’t done any of those things…

I’ve just had the most productive 12 months of my life in terms of personal growth, development and re-educating myself on the great person I am.

I’ve rediscovered old friendships, rebuilt broken ones, made new ones and basically had a fucking ball as often as I wanted to.

Im living life my way, not being told how to do it, free from shackles, chains, gaslighting, abuse, lies and pretty much drama free and frankly the shit I went through needs to be thanked for making me the way I am today.

Do I get the odd bad days/weeks? Of course I do but the difference now is that I’m allowed to have them and ride them out in my own way.

I’m still doing this 6 week challenge and I’ve lost 14 lbs. Not as much as I’d like BUT, im happy with it as the 6 weeks comes to a close. I had to miss 3 sessions because of the black dog and took my eyes of the prize for a week or so. That’s my responsibilty…That’s on me.

This challenge has been amazing for me. It has given me a new direction, a new outlet, a new group of friends and today im loving life. I’ve even signed up to continue after the 6 weeks is over. Exercise classes 3 times a week minimum, healthier eating choices and a group of men who just encourage each other to keep going.

I will write more on the wonders of 30+ mens fitness in a seperate post over the weekend but suffice to say its been a great impulse decision…

And it’s rare my impulse decisions work out for the best…

I can look back on the last 12 months with a victorious smile

  • Holiday to Majorca
  • Reopening this blog
  • Working every shift with not one day sickness, no matter how black the clouds were
  • Losing a stone in weight…so far (More to come watch this space)
  • Finding Garry again
  • Learning to love myself again
  • Being a part of a great group of people
  • Remembering my blessings in life, friends, family etc

You tried to break me, you made me stronger, you made me become a better me again.

So for this reason I thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart because there’s one thing that will result from this last year and that is I will never again find myself feeling unloved, unwanted, unhappy again.

AND THATS HOW WINNING IS DONE!!!

And just like that….gone forever. No more bad memories, no more hating myself.

The 12 months is now all about the amazing memories I’ve made on my own terms and the future is looking fantastic.

And this time last year i couldn’t have dreamed being able to write something so positive now.

Don’t give up on yourself….

el alce en España

El Alce is Spanish for the moose…

I’ve arrived and it was emotional. It was like a wave came over me. Relief pride excitement. You see this holiday has now become the last event in my life. Not a break up, not a breakdown but a holiday.

I felt alive!! I feel like the weights been lifted. The perfect end to a less than perfect 12 months. I’ve worked hard and deserve this treat.

And im happy, genuinely happy.

I packed everything but my stresses back home and here im Garry, single and ready to mingle. Camera check jack daniels check happy smiling Garry check!!

Moose on tour

One more sleep. Well technically 2 but there’s no way I will be getting any sleep tomorrow night, especially having to be at the airport at the crack of a sparrows dart! But its almost here.

20 years, broken heart, broken mind and broken spirit since my last trip out of good ole England and im determined to make it a life changing experience.

I want to come back refreshed reinvigorated and maybe reinvented or at the very least moose version 2. My head is clearer than its been for weeks, and whilst other issues still linger in leaving them behind and taking charge of what baggage i take with me.

Moose is ready!

Bags are (almost) packed last minute clothes shopping done and in 36 hours or so i will set foot in Majorca ready for a week of sun sea sex (I can dream lol) and sorting myself out good and proper.

Obviously I wish it was different and I wasn’t going alone but it is what it is. I’m going to enjoy the experience no matter what and maybe one day will have someone worthy of a holiday with me. Certainly im no longer feeling like im not good enough because when the right person comes along at the right time it will all fall into place.

Expect plenty of updates over the next week or so. Moose is coming along for the trip and will share as much as possible with you.

For a week at least good bye depression, broken heart, low self esteem and negativity

Now if only I could find my passport….

Singers Sing, Dancers Dance

And writers write!

This was originally posted on another site of mine. Updated and improved now.

I’m a writer and I love feeling creative and believe I have a talent for writing. I get a buzz from sharing my writing and being confident enough in my ability to write and make it interesting and engaging for you the reader.

Having taken time out for a few weeks and dealing with other shit in my life I can feel my creative juices flowing again and feel ready to start blogging again.

I wont talk about the past 10 months its a period of time that I have processed and consigned to the history books. I’ve accepted my faults and my failings, my share of the blame and now its gone. No more feelings no more anger no more pain no emotion at all about whats happened. I’m gonna have bad days naturally but its more important how I deal with them than reflecting on “what ifs”

Right now I’m in a good place and feel happy. Im not gonna stop doing what I enjoy and I’m going to unshackle myself from negativity and focus on myself only.

I am lucky enough to have some very good friends who haven’t turned their backs on me but encourage, listen and advise in equal measure and i know they will be happy to see me writing again.

Today im free, happy and positive and I intend to stay that way. Im changing my habitual negativity and reinforcing all the good in my life.

Lets see what the dating world has to offer. Lets see how I do with reconnecting with lost friends and more importantly lets see how this new mindset changes my life for the better.

I want to be known as someone who openly talks about depression again. Not as a victim but as a survivor, someone people look up to and who people can turn to.

I stood up in a room full of strangers and spoke about my admiration and respect for anyone who has been like me, suicidal and rock bottom yet says “fuck you” every morning and gets on with it no matter what. Do you know what happened? Spontaneous applause.

5 or 6 years ago there were a lot more blogs about depression, now there seems to be very few, especially from men. The more awareness about mental health generated over that period has been great yet still there is stigma and misunderstanding about it. I talk to people about depression and they seem surprised how bad I was years ago. That’s the beauty of being able to laugh, joke and smile on the outside when inside you’re screaming for release.

Keep going keep trying and the bad day last 24 hours only. I cant predict what’s around the corner, change of career, more books, acting? Who knows and right now my focus is on day by day.

But I can promise you all this. If you need someone to talk to, someone to just listen or offer advice then you simply find me on facebook or Twitter and my inbox is always open. No matter whats going on in my life I always make sure im available for others. Pay it forward! People are there for me when I need them and the offer is reciprocated.

I hope to write more often again, not just about my feelings etc but to inspire people. I spent 5 years unable to work because of mental health and now I’m working full time. I hope to share some tips that help me. It doesnt mean to say what works for me will work for others but as i say to people “own your illness, dont let it define you and take control” and thats half the battle.

Lessons from the past

I am glad I never deleted this site and the near 500 posts on it. It has given me the chance to relive events from the past with a completely new perspective almost like it wasn’t me struggling with depression, suicidal, suffering and barely functioning. I have been able to look back at posts written in my darkest days and feel proud of myself for making myself write and share my battles with the world.

I dont see that person in me anymore. Thats not to say he isnt lurking underneath the surface or that I’m fully free from the black clouds that depression can bring. Its just that these days I am more aware of how much of a difference me controlling it can make as opposed to it controlling me.

The greatest gift I gave myself through blogging was the ability to re-read my posts. When I write its not prepared, edited or planned, an urge takes over me and I just go with it. The emotion, the rawness, the thoughts were all how I was feeling at that precise moment and that made me educated when it comes to recognising triggers and red flags.

I have been antidepressant free for the best part of 4 years, in fact in that time I have only taken them for a month as a precautionary measure when I caught myself sinking fast. After all prevention is better than cure as the saying goes.

I have triggers and symptoms that do rear their ugly heads but because of a greater knowledge and understanding I can usually get on top of them well before they can start a spiral.

I have spoken in the past about being a pessimistic/negative person by nature, thats a symptom of one too many kicks when I am down throughout life, but these days I am working a lot harder on optimistic believes and a more positive, happier approach to life.

You see things happen for a reason dont they? People come and go from your life for a reason and you have no control as to who stays or goes, destiny deals with when things happen and all you can do is follow your path and take the rough with the smooth.

Lessons can be hard, painful and destructive but I honestly believe that we can grow from them if we give ourselves time to heal properly.

I have been through hell the past 6 months but I made it through, the person I was 5 years ago wouldnt have been strong enough. Did it hurt me? Yes very much but ironically the person who hurt me pulled me out of depression in the first place. She helped me, made me stronger mentally and because of her I can work full time again. Sad because its over? Yeah I WAS, thankful it happened? Absolutely.

And life moves on, people move on and the next chapter starts.

I have bad moments, like everyone else but because I have been down that slope Im very well equipped to stop it happening again.

And the lesson I hope to teach you from this? Find an outlet, do what you love, explore your hidden talents because you just never know when they could be a game changer in your life!

Reflecting, Recovery and Reasons to be positive

I haven’t written for weeks now. Not for any particular reason, I have been busy working six days a week but my time away from blogging hasn’t been wasted. I have had a clear head for a long time and it has given me time to reflect on lots of things and work on a few issues that needed attention.

I guess by nature i am not a glass half full person. My glass is more of the smashed into a million pieces than half empty kind and I have been working very hard on focusing on the many things in my life I am thankful for. Trying to be positive when nothing positive happens can be hard yet there are so many positives I was just looking in the wrong places.

I have some wonderful friends who are always there for me if I reach out to them. Some reach out to me if im quiet for a bit just to make sure im alright and I appreciate the effort so much.

I can be guilty of neglecting my friends needs and im working on reconnecting with people and rebuilding relationships with those I feel I have let down over a period of time.

I am trying to be more aware of my faults and feel like I have made massive strides forward in how I view and treat myself in the past few weeks. The smile on my face these days is real though I have come through the worst part of my life and can really see that the corner has been turned.

People will like me and people will hate me and whatever they decide its not going to impact on me anymore. I am a good person and I would be a liar if I said I dont fuck up at times. I am impulsive and have a nasty vicious tongue and instead of taking a deep breath im a 2 minute volcano – this is the area Im working on the most.

I’m in a good place and my recovery has moved on a lot once I cleared my head of negativity. I can live in the past and be unhappy or I can live my life today and see where it takes me. The options are that simple and Im choosing to live it now.

I have seen the confidence returning, the smile natural not forced and I genuinely feel like I am on the verge of something big happening.

Learning to appreciate the great things in your life is a great tool because it shows you’re focusing on the right things.

I am enjoying having people encourage me to write because they enjoy reading my work. I am happy when I feel like I make a difference, and my mood has been very different in the past month.

Garry or moose its great being me again and looking forward to each day. Im tired working so much but Im trying different ways to channel my energy and release negativity and so far its working. I cannot stress enough the importance of an outlet when it comes to good mental health and whilst I may not yet be where I want, I am closer than I was yesterday.

And as for one person in particular…Im ready to take that glint in the eyes and smile on your face when you see me and roll with it.

Remembering Who I Was

Making this blog active again and reopening my facebook page has been a real eye opener for me. For the first time in a very long time I actually feel like I belong somewhere again. I feel a great deal of pride in what this blog accomplished many years ago and as a stat whore my numbers astonish me that a humble little blog could have such a big number of views, visits and followers considering the subject matter. Writing about mental health has been a challenge at times when I could barely function yet its been a life saver and changer for me at times. Check out the photo below this little site is nearing ninety three thousand views!! 93,000 imagine that!

Having this site available to the world again gives an insight into my journey from depression heartbreak suicide attempts and recovery and back into heartbreak again. The majority of the posts here where written when I was suffering from depression and then once I felt that life had finally brought happiness again I walked away from a world where I was well known, respected and someone who was available for others at their lowest points. In 2013 I was on the end of the phone to 7 people as they were at the point of ending things and I talked them around – more than anything this is something Im extremely proud of. I made a difference to people.

I’ve spoken about mental health from my experiences and many other personal aspects of my life and the feeling of goodwill I have received has really boosted my self esteem in the last few days. I forgot I was good at writing, I forgot I could be interesting to other people.

I need to look after my own health both physical and mental. As far as depression goes right now I would be honest enough to admit I’m struggling. I’ve been a lot worse and I have no real fears mentally.

I feel happier than I have in a while. I’m busy reconnecting with old friends healing wounds building bridges and finally remembering that in actual fact I’m not that bad. I’m flawed in many ways but I’m a good person if allowed to be me. maybe that was part of the problem, I was too busy being stifled to be the man who helped countless others..

so today I can go to sleep feeling proud of myself once more and feeling like I have finally found my place again

 

Guest Post – Mark

I have followed Mark for a long time on twitter and he is someone I have great respect for! I was delighted when he agreed to write a post for my blog and I hope you enjoy this as much as I have.

Music is helping Mark in is recovery and you will be pleased to know I have added his songs to the blog below.

This post may be triggering for some as it talks about suicide so please be careful if this subject may be too much for you… now over to Mark

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My story starts on Oct 17th 2001. The day my life changed forever.  I was working as a musician and working for a production company. I also ran 4 performing art schools for children. That day was a normal working day for me another gig another show. During that day we were on the road driving towards the venue when I was involved in a severe road traffic accident. I was a passenger and we were hit by a drunk driver coming round the corner at high-speed. That’s the moment the lights went out and one life ended and another life began. People were killed but I ended up in hospital seriously injured.  So began a long dark journey. I suffered broken bones and a brain injury. After months of recovery it became very apparent that I was not the same anymore. Headway got involved and so began the long slow process of starting life again and trying to recover only now it was different.  I suffered a frontal lobe brain injury. My emotions and everything about my personality had changed. I also found I couldn’t do what I used to do so on that day I had my life stolen from me. Another way of putting it is I was raped of my life. Months went into years and years. I was diagnosed with clinical depression PTSD and borderline personality disorder.

During the following years I attempted to take my own life on several occasions.  From taking overdoses to standing on a train track waiting for a train to come. The train didnt come. Once I was allowed to drive again I also drove to the lake district and took another overdose but some how I was found by the police and was rushed to hospital. We lost our house our cars are savings and most of what we owned .During this time I spent a lot of time inside an acute psychiatric hospital on a secure ward . I did not want to live any more because my life had ended as I saw it , I couldn’t earn the money I was earning and I couldn’t look after my family. My family went through hell my wife wanted to leave me and my children needed counselling. Such was the damage on our lives. During this time I was given a CPN called Kelly Perkins . She turned out to be an angel a saviour . I now owe my life to her. Along with many talking therapies  CBT and others. She along with Lyn Atkins another angel from headway kept us together as a family. Without their help we would not be together today.
Another problem I encountered was the lack of understanding from some family members. Often stigma is very close to home and  on one occasion drove me to another suicide attempt.

In 2010 we decided that the best thing we could do was to move to try and start again as everything around us reminded us of our old life. We moved from Bedfordshire to Dorset.  We settled into a quiet life by the sea. This was the first time I was trying to live a new life with some hope. Sadly during the spring of 2013 I suffered a relapse and ended back inside an acute ward. I was again suffering extreme anxiety depression and suicide thoughts again.
During my stay I found an old guitar and for some reason I started to play a bit again. This resulted in my wife bringing in my guitar.  I now found I had words and songs pouring out of me so I started to write and write.

During this time I had also started to become aware of Dorset Mental Health Forum. Somehow through my recovery this time I found a new purpose and that was that I had a passion for mental health issues and all the songs I was writing was about my lived experience , I had found a new voice and so I started to talk more openly about it. I was on a new meds regime and these were starting to work. I then found myself having meetings with Dorset Mental Health Forum. This led to me getting involved with something called Tea and Talking in conjunction with Time To Change leading to becoming a peer specialist for the forum now I had found a new purpose in life and that was to spread the message of recovery and to tackle stigma. I have been recording all the new material which is now nearly finished and will be available soon. Recently I was inspired to write a song for the Time to Talk campaign which I have done. I have also been asked to write a song for Blue Apple Hero’s about PTSD .
My passion and focus is now on raising awareness and sending out a message through music and speaking that recovery is possible even from the darkest place. I will live with what I have for the rest of my life but thanks to some great people and of course my wife who has suffered greatly  and family I move on to a new life, one that is wanting to see and help others who suffer . That’s my lived experience and I share it in the hope that it brings you hope.

Mark Storey

Mark can be found on twitter here

If you would like to submit a post for this blog please get in touch with me via twitter/facebook or email using the contact page