Understanding the Struggle- Ally's Story Part 4
Indeed, understanding the struggle really helped me. The more you can try to understand the mechanics of the disease, the easier it is to negate. Simply understanding the rudiments of the disease can help a huge amount. I read widely around the subject from philosophy and psychology to medicine, and also found solace in the empathy of good literature - more stories demonstrating this age old aspect of the human condition, demonstrating that I wasn’t alone in my inner battles (indeed, what this blog is now doing). I became interested in the mind that was causing my pain. Turning to face the oppressive rather than running away from it is an axiom of western psychotherapy and eastern philosophy. Through educating myself on it I woke up to the practical advice of mindfulness and the practice of meditation, distilled, now, in various helpful forms whether in a book or on the internet (I know people get overwhelmed when this type of help is prescribed with the baggage of dogma of organised religion, such as Buddhism). Slowly but surely, the beast that seems so alien, incomprehensible and impregnable at the beginning is able to be broken down in to manageable chunks to come to terms with. Personally, I had to ask myself some tough questions, and I knew there were aspects of my life that had to change in the process: the engrained habit of heavy cannabis consumption, for one. It was something that I was a constant stumbling block in moving forward. Cannabis is not in itself a bad substance, and I do not regret my usage or reverence of it. However, in this context I was right to remove it from my life. Whether this removal was a placebo or not, it was symbolic of change. Damage limitation. Whether a placebo or not, the anti-depressant medication was useful, for me. Again, it was symbolic of combative action, and of change. Speaking figuratively, it was an assistance that lifted me from my knees and back to my feet again. From there, I was able to learn to walk again for myself. Through my struggle, the beautiful struggle (to steal Talib Kweli’s poetry) as I now call it, I have forged a new outlook on life. A new sense of perspective. Paradoxically, it took a feud with purpose to give me purpose. Writing these words, now, gives me purpose and meaning, knowing (hopefully) that someone may read them and some weight of the proverbial yoke around their neck will be lifted. I do not look back at my past with regrets. Rather, it is that perspectives have changed. Silver linings invoked. My suffering was a signpost to a better path. It has given me a renewed sense of direction. Indeed, I would go as far to frame my suffering in a positive light. I truly believe that through the lens of the anxious and post-anxious mind, I have a deeper sense of empathy, love and compassion for the world around me, sentient and otherwise. Having quit a corporate job, and dispelled some unhelpful habits, I have since volunteered for a charity (Voluntary Service Overseas: a charity engaging young people directly in the notion of international poverty and development through placements in the developing world) in India, and embarked on a voyage across the Pacific Ocean in a small sailing boat. To many of my friends, sailing across an ocean seemed to represent a regression to an unhealthy mind, even delusion: “Ally, f*** that - you’re mad”. To me, the trip attests to a fruitful life. One stripped, for the most part, of a problem that previously governed it. A different attitude. An opportunity presented, and one taken. One that, previously, I may not have. I didn’t seek anything from sailing across an ocean. Perhaps, precisely because I wasn’t seeking therefore I found. I found a profound sense of liberation in the middle of the ocean. Submitting to the elements in such a way, making mother nature your master, the trivial anxieties, as they so often are, almost seem laughable as the great game of life churns far, far away from you. To be sure, I am a lot, lot better, now. I hope that is encouraging for others who are suffering. I bare scars. Ones that will never be fully removed. As a result of my battle, my spectrum of suffering has been broadened. But, as I have conveyed, I am more complete for my wounds, better equipped to deal with my consciousness. Anxiety and depression, now, no longer assume governance in my life and have been reduced to their normal, fleeting selves. Once a young man who assumed the worst of life, I now have hope again.
Turning the tide on taboo, then, JCADE is a conversation, a narrative, it is sport, family, community, together as a platform to tackle one of the greatest concerns of a generation. JCADE is one of those nods of the head that, through community and [social] enterprise, can transcend itself and Set Free.