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In my last blog, I explored the word ‘crisis’ and what it might mean when it comes to a so called ‘mid-life crisis.’  Having done so, it is clear that the word and the term is often used to describe a phenomenon which can range from mild acting out (maybe buying an ‘age inappropriate’ pair of jeans) to catastrophic (involving serious harm or loss).

Given this, and the tendency to, in my view, mis-apply the term, I think it’s important to get clear on where we are on what I want to call the ‘mid-life crisis continuum.’ This will help us to appreciate and reflect on the appropriate things we can do in any given circumstance. 

In order to create a way to conceptualise this I thought I would use the idea of a line running from mild to catastrophic and then attempt to put some loose definitions around the key locations along that line.  So here goes:

The Mid-life Crisis continuum:

I will provide some rough definitions for these, but they are not clinical based or fixed. They are intended to give you a rough idea, nothing more.

The first thing to note is that 'mild' is not the beginning of the continuum.  I'll develop this in the next blog in terms of what are appropriate interventions at each stage, but the reason i have shown 'mild' as starting a little way along the continuum is to illustrate the fact that being human is a state which naturally leads to us having questions, thoughts, desires and feelings of being up and down with life.  That's called 'normal.'  And, arguably, 'mild' falls into that category.  As human beings it would be very unusual to not have feelings of dissatisfaction at times.  The reasons, however, for including this on the continuum are two-fold:

1.  It seems to be common place to chuck the 'mid-life crisis' label around almost flippantly when we see examples of .so-called 'mild' acting out.  'Oh he's just having his mid-life crisis' can be heard from friends when, for whatever reason, you might turn up at the pub quiz sporting a pair of pink socks (not that that's happened to me you understand!)

2.  It is worth appreciating that these 'mild' manifestations of those feelings may indicate the start of a move along the continuum if the individual concerned doesn't take constructive steps to acknowledge it and mitigate or deal with the underlying feelings.

So, that said, here are my rough initial descriptions for each of the labels:

Mild:  

Low level feelings and thoughts of dissatisfaction, questioning life and your own value, purpose and direction.  Feelings of dissatisfaction with elements of your life, work, relationships, family life.  These may manifest in low level maladaptive coping strategies such as drinking more, withdrawing from aspect of life a little more than usual, just appearing less buoyant and happy perhaps and irritability, frustration, with other people, situations and things.

Moderate:

The consequences of your lower level feelings are starting to manifest in more significant ways in your life - your health may be starting to suffer - you may be feeling constantly tired, or low mood.  Your relationships are starting to suffer and risk breaking down.  You might find yourself angry more often and taking it out in non-violent ways which are nevertheless causing upset, and hurt in those closest to you.  You may find yourself losing motivation and struggling to get out of bed with any sense of positivity.  Behaviours you have perhaps relied upon to help you cope are now becoming your default and feel almost habitual.  For example drinking becomes an almost daily habit, spending time away from family, on porn sites, or sitting in the pub.  

Severe:  

Things are getting serious now.  You might find yourself in a constant state of depression or anxiety.  You may feel crushed by life, or always angry and resentful.  You find yourself at odds with the world and lash out at those closest to you, being verbally cruel and then beating yourself up for it later.  You may find yourself with a severe drinking, gambling, porn or smoking/ drug habit.  You are increasingly out of control and find that you are unable to moderate or control your behaviours, mood or emotions.  Your only option is to withdraw from the world and isolate yourself. You feel you can’t open up.  There may be severe consequences when it comes to your closest relationships, friendships, your work, career and finances.  These may result in losing the most important things in your life - your loved ones, work, home, financial stability.

Catastrophic:  

You are finding yourself so desperate, angry and lost that you become violent, towards others, or to yourself.  Suicide is a serious consideration and you may have attempted or planned it.  Alternatively you may find yourself drinking so heavily that you get yourself into a state where you are vulnerable to impulsive acts of despair or violence.  The consequences can be catastrophic. In other words you risk your life, the safety of others or your ecology as you know it (becoming homeless, financially bankrupt or with a severe and debilitating addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc)

The above may not be doing the phrase justice as ‘mild’ implies one can have a ‘mild crisis’ and that is clearly not possible from the definitions in the previous blog.  But perhaps if we consider this in the context of the consequences and outcomes rather than the way it feels to the individual experiencing it.

Anyone experiencing those deep questions prompted by the passing of years and the appreciation that the years ahead may be moving to the point where there is less ahead than behind, can start to feel and experience a powerful mix of emotions and thoughts combined with our current physical condition be that good bad or indifferent.

And perhaps, the impact of that cocktail can range from mild - feelings of dissatisfaction, questioning ones value and contribution, frustration, resentment, through moderate - growing sense of sadness, loss, anger and anxiousness (by no means an exhaustive list), to severe - mental ill-health (anxiety, depression), excessive drinking, smoking, drug taking, acting out such as promiscuity, gambling, spending, obsessively exercising, eating disorders and finally catastrophic - which could at worst include suicide, violence to others, breakdown of stable relationships with partner, children leading to isolation and guilt exacerbating mental health issues.

Obviously the above is focused on the negative aspects and that’s important for now, but we will explore the opportunities and how to take a positive perspective and more positive action to not only cope but work through these.

For now, though, it might be worth reflecting on where you, or your loved one, might be on the continuum.  

It goes without saying that the further along towards the ‘catastrophic’ end, the more immediate is the need for intervention and to a more significant degree.  At the extreme, it might be making an emergency appointment with your GP, ringing the Samaritans helpline (details ahead) and at the very least opening up to someone about how dire the situation is.  In those instances, this blog is not the answer.  Nor, to be fair are any self-help books, tapes (showing my age there) or seminars.  They may flag up the situation where once insight was failing you, but nevertheless, professional help along with loving support form those closest to you is the only answer.

So with that in mind, if you have any suspicion that you are on the ‘severe’ to catastrophic’ end of the continuum or heading at a pace that way, or at any risk of doing so, then please, put down this book, stop reading this blog and take action now.

And that action?  Simply speak up. Get in touch with at least one loved one and tell them. Tell them any way, anyhow, but tell them you need help.  Then, get in touch with  some professional support.  These range from contacting your GP for an urgent appointment (if out of hours, your non-emergency medical support in the UK that’s the 111 number, or if in an emergency situation, ie you are in imminent danger of doing something catastrophic to yourself or another, then in the UK 999 and ask for help).  You can contact other support like the Samaritans, or check out the other resources available through the NHS and charities such as Mind.

Dave

PS - Don't forget to visit the man sprouts page to find the latest podcast episodes and to sign up to the man sprouts movement - intended to promote a positive sproutlook on male mental health.

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As a word of advice for any one experiencing their own sense of desperation, loss or crisis, please, don't endure it alone.  Seek help.  From family, trusted friends and professionals.  Your own Doctor or GP is a great place to start.  Or there are great services provided by organisations such as the Samaritans.  For further advice on professional support and advice check out the NHS resources.  

This series of blogs is intended to encourage reflection on your own wellbeing and mental health.  It seeks to encourage you to speak up and get help where needed and take hope that you things can be better.  It is not intended as therapy or a replacement for professional help and advice.

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I think, given the mixed messages surrounding this whole mid-life crisis thing, it is important to get clear what we mean by the word ‘crisis.’  

Especially in the context of the phrase as a whole (for convenience I am going to refer to the ‘mid-life crisis’ as MLC form now on.  As we have explored, the phrase can be chucked around as a joke, a label, a criticism, a way of writing off strange behaviour.   And it need not actually be applied to someone during ‘mid-life.’

So, I dug out a couple of definitions of the word ‘crisis’ as a starting point to help me and you understand it a little more.

Crisis:

1 ‘a crucial stage or turning point in the course of something, esp in a sequence of events or

a disease’ Collins English Dictionary website

2 ‘A time of intense difficulty or danger.’ Oxford Dictionaries website

3 ‘A time when a difficult or important decision must be made.’ Oxford Dictionaries 

website

Now, having absorbed the above, I find myself being a little surprised.  To be honest, my own internalised understanding of the word was more akin to definition number two which refers to ‘intense difficulty or danger’

Maybe it’s my background in policing? Maybe those experiences working with people who, whether as a result of psychological difficulty (threatening suicide or having attempted it), or physical injury (following a road traffic accident for example),  I have always viewed the word in a negative context.  Maybe that’s why I have sometimes found the phrase ‘mid-life crisis’ when applied in a joking fashion a little hard to stomach?

But, I have to say, when researching this, there are plenty of variations of the definition. Many of them focus less on the harm and danger potential, and more on the fact that it is a time for a challenging decision or path to be taken.  

This sits more comfortably with me in the context of the MLC.

Don’t get me wrong, I am more than aware that men and women can be pitched into a place where psychological danger can be a genuine risk.  But, for many of us, perhaps many many more than we care to acknowledge, the crisis we face is more akin to facing a difficult choice, coming to terms with something big, or finding ourselves at a turning point in life.

I guess too that the ‘intense difficulty’ aspect of definition number two doesn’t have to mean extreme difficulty in terms of our physical or mental health and wellbeing.  

How many of us have faced the most gut and heart wrenching conflicts within ourselves when we dare to face up to questions like, ‘am I really happy here?’, ‘Is this it?  Is this my life now?’  These sort of questions can lead to real difficulty. 

And that difficulty can manifest in a number of ways.  

In the arguably lesser taken road, we confront them head on in a positive manner and really work through our feelings.  We seek proactively out options and, perhaps, make the hardest of choices consciously rather than by default or impulsively.

The alternative more commonly chosen path (even if not consciously selected) is to try to quash those feelings and questions.  In so doing, we can find ourselves adopting some of the coping strategies more commonly associated with a MLC.  Which for men, can range from buying a flashy car, chasing women, drinking heavily, and/ or working all hours.

So, what does crisis mean to you?  

Do any of the definitions above resonate with you?  

Have you your own definition of ‘crisis’ and the phrase MLC?

In part two of this blog, I will introduce the ‘crisis continuum.’ This is my attempt to conceptualise the variation in the impact of such experiences and feelings arising from the MLC.  I intend to use it as a means of identifying where we might fall on the continuum when experiencing our own so called MLC.  The aim is to then identify the most appropriate support or action to take.

Today, however, I think it is worth reflecting on what the word ‘crisis’ means to you.  

And how does it fit into the overall phrase of ‘mid-life crisis’ for you?  Do you see it as something catastrophic? Or something less so?  It may nonetheless still have a significant impact on you, your life and your sense of place and happiness, but be less extreme.

Dave

PS - Don't forget to visit the man sprouts page to find the latest podcast episodes and to sign up to the man sprouts movement - intended to promote a positive sproutlook on male mental health.

Contact Dave to share feedback and questions, or learn more about his work in developing resilience and enhancing wellbeing. 

As a word of advice for any one experiencing their own sense of desperation, loss or crisis, please, don't endure it alone.  Seek help.  From family, trusted friends and professionals.  Your own Doctor or GP is a great place to start.  Or there are great services provided by organisations such as the Samaritans.  For further advice on professional support and advice check out the NHS resources.  

This series of blogs is intended to encourage reflection on your own wellbeing and mental health.  It seeks to encourage you to speak up and get help where needed and take hope that you things can be better.  It is not intended as therapy or a replacement for professional help and advice.

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This is an obvious question to ask, but, let's be honest it can mean different things to different people and depend on whether you are male or female.  

It was the label that was attached to me, when, at the age of 34 years, I dismantled all that was seemingly great about my life.  I ended my marriage of 15 years, breaking the hearts of my wife, my kids and me.  

Into the mix, I found myself penniless and, stupidly, decided to set up and run my own business, taking the leap from my secure police career into the unknown.  Thankfully, because I didn’t know how to run a business (not sure I still do!), I had only taken a 'career break' rather than resigning.  Which meant that when everything crashed around me financially, I was able to return to some level of income and lick my wounds.

By then, a couple of years had passed and I had spent most of that time, beating myself up about how I had ruined everyone’s life, including my own.  Consequently I steadfastly refused to allow myself to create a new personal life.  Why?  Well I didn’t deserve one, did I?  it took me a while to overcome that belief and the crushing sense of guilt that accompanied it.

So, is that a typical ‘mid-life crisis’?

In today's blog, lets deal with the first half of the phrase...

The 'Mid-life'

I did a bit of research and found this quote from one of the NHS websites (UK National Health Service).  Apparently a mid-life crisis actually warrants mention by the National Health Service in the UK!  Here’s what they say…

A midlife crisis can happen when men think they've reached life's halfway stage and feel time is running out.
It's not a medical condition but people going through a midlife crisis can experience anxiety and depression.
The age at which people experience a midlife crisis can vary. It can typically occur anywhere between the age of 35 and 50' (NHS WEBSITE, REF 1)

Hmmm.  

Does what I went through fit that?  

Maybe actually.  I don’t know about the ‘halfway stage’ bit, but there was certainly something about realising my life was moving ever onwards.  And I was starting to ask myself, what I was doing with that time?  

And, I guess the consequences and choices I made, whilst not the way everyone handles it, were very much rooted in a feeling of, ‘is this it? After all I’ve done, the effort I’ve put into life, is this as far as I get?’

I think the questions to ask ourselves as men, and perhaps as a partner to a man you believe is experiencing this are…

How are you feeling about you and your place in life in general?  

Let’s face it, an unhappy marriage, or feeling unhappy with your level of fitness, your weight or your career, don’t in themselves mean you are experiencing a mid-life crisis.  We are human beings and we make choices in life that can prove to be misguided or plain wrong, or that no longer suit us.  We can also experience dissatisfaction at any time of life.  And this can often be remedied with support, action and communication - especially when it comes to relationship issues.  Communication is often the first thing to go as a relationship drifts.  It can often be the answer to rekindling former passions and interest, and overcome those resentments that may have quietly built up over time.

But, these things, especially if there are several of them, can sometimes indicate something a, little bit deeper.  And that is why, it is important to explore this question.  

Because, typically, as men we may deal with the symptoms, such as the feeling of being unhappy about the relationship, rather than dealing with the underlying cause.  Let’s face it, when it comes to something like the common cold, there are numerous symptoms (sore throat, runny nose, headache, and so on), but there is one cause - the virus.  We can spend a lot of time buying remedies to help us feel better, but ultimately, tackling the cause is the best bet for eliminating all the symptoms and providing a lasting solution (Ok, so I know they haven’t found the cure for the common cold, but they are working on it).

And perhaps that's where the metaphor continues to apply to the so called mid-life crisis.  There may not be an obvious one size fits all cure (just like the cold).  

But, one thing is certain.  

Simply focusing on the symptoms and attempting to find some ease or respite is not only likely to be a short-term fix, but could have catastrophic consequences for ourselves and those closest to us.   Destructive ‘remedies’ can include excessive drinking, working long hours, being unfaithful, getting into debt to buy the cliched sports car and so on.

I’ll deal with the ‘crisis’ element in the next blog, but for now, it is important to understand that what you think is the reason or explanation may not be it.  

Don’t get me wrong, you may still make some of the same decisions - like getting fit, losing weight or sadly even ending a relationship. 

But you will be doing so from a foundation of genuine consideration and reflection rather than simply steaming ahead with some ill thought out plan.  Or acting on a powerful impulse when temptation is placed before you.

And, before looking at the ‘crisis’ aspect, it is worth acknowledging just how vague a term ‘mid-life’ really is.  Let’s face it, we have the potential these days to live longer than our grandparents, so where does this phrase actually come from?

After a bit of digging I found reference to an article which most claim is the originator of the term.  In his 1965 article Death and the Mid-life Crisis (REF 2), Jaques, Elliott coined the phrase to describe the period in life when men and women get to grips with the reality of their own mortality and the reducing number of years ahead of them. The years between age 40 and 65 tend to be the period during which the term ‘mid-life’ refers in this context (REF 3).  

And that makes sense, especially as I now fall into my late 40’s.  I get that!  I get that sense of time passing by so quickly and being acutely aware that the number of remaining years ahead is not guaranteed.  I find myself worrying about the quality of my sleep and the impact on my health overall. Then I find myself worrying about the worrying about the quality of my sleep and I start to feel a deep sense of anxiety since I know that managing my stress is a critical component in long-term health and wellbeing.  Then I start to feel despondent at the vicious cycle of worry, poor sleep, high stress and anxiety.   And I reach for a glass of wine.  And then…

And on it could go.

The thing is, whilst I have my moments like the above, I am better at catching myself in the act and taking more positive steps to deal with all of those issues.  

And, why is that?  Well, because my mid-life crisis apparently started a lot earlier than the age range given above.  So, I guess I’m getting to be a bit of an old hand at handling these feelings.

And that brings me to one the main point of today's blog.  The term 'mid-life crisis’ need not actually manifest during ones 'mid-life.'  And it need not be a crisis for everyone.  

How many of us have had these thoughts and feelings a lot sooner than your 40's?

How many of you were, or are like me when I was in my early to mid thirties, asking myself that question…

'Is this it?’

If so, then your very own cliche may be upon you sooner than you think.  And, if significant, it can lead to you being receiving the diagnosis (from family, friends and the world at large),  ‘oh, you are just having your mid-life crisis’ early.  And that can be one of the better things to happen.  We still need to explore the 'crisis’ aspect.  What does it mean? What to watch out for?  And what to do to avoid or manage the process more positively?

For now, though, as someone who had their own early mid-life crisis, take heart from my own experience.  

You don’t need to become a cliche.  

You are so much more.

And it can be so much more.  

Rather than believing the nay sayers, and the negative Nellies, a so called mid-life crisis, can be a time for amazing opportunities and growth personally.  It can be the wake up call you are so desperate to receive.

Yes, it’s painful.  Yes it can be so incredibly uncomfortable and will be very unsettling for those around you, but it needn’t be the crisis everyone is so terrified of.

In my next blog, I will  explore the second part of the phrase and that word - 'crisis.'

As a word of advice for any one experiencing their own sense of desperation, loss or crisis, please, don't endure it alone.  Seek help.  From family, trusted friends and professionals.  Your own Doctor or GP is a great place to start.  Or there are great services provided by organisations such as the Samaritans.  For further advice on professional support and advice check out the NHS resources.  

This series of blogs is intended to encourage reflection on your own wellbeing and mental health.  It seeks to encourage you to speak up and get help where needed and take hope that you things can be better.  It is not intended as therapy or a replacement for professional help and advice.

REFERENCES

1.  NHS Website. Male Mid Life Crisis, 16/02/2018 https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/men4060/Pages/midlifecrisis.aspx

2.  Jaques, Elliott. Death and the Mid-life Crisis. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol 46(4), 1965, 502-514.

3.  Psychology Today.  Midlife - 20/02/2018 https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/midlife

Dave

PS - Don't forget to visit the man sprouts page to find the latest podcast episodes and to sign up to the man sprouts movement - intended to promote a positive sproutlook on male mental health.

Contact Dave to share feedback and questions, or learn more about his work in developing resilience and enhancing wellbeing. 

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The Mid-Life Crisis Can Strike Early...

an #mansprouts blog

In my previous #mansprouts blog I introduced my intention to write a book about positively managing the so called male mid-life crisis.'  I'll explore that term over time, but as promised, today I am sharing the next blog in which I share some of the back story leading to my interest in this area...

It was 3.44am.  

Again.  

Why was it that I always seemed to wake and notice the clock at that time?  And it wasn't just a stirring and then back off to sleep.  Like previous mornings, I found myself wide awake.  

And thinking the same thoughts.

I can’t do this anymore.  

That familiar clamp like feeling down the left side of my face, ever present lately, felt so heavy.  I felt crushed.  

That was it.  Crushed.  Physically it was like my head was being ground into the dust between the jaws of a heavy iron vice.  And it represented how I felt inside too.  I say felt.  I kind of felt nothing in one sense.  Nothing other than an icy grip on my soul. 

As I lay there, I tried to think about that.  Who am I?  Did I ever know?  Where along the way have I lost me?

I looked at the clock again, and felt a sense of dread seeping past that vice like grip.  I would have to be up and away to work for five-thirty to start my shift.  I closed my eyes again and prayed (I didn't even believe at that time)...

Please God, help me.  Give me a way out of this.  I don’t know what to do!  I can’t do this even one more day.

I lay in 'quiet desperation' as the Pink Floyd song so brilliantly describes the ‘English way', in their song ‘Time.'  Hoping for someone or something to show me the way.

Eventually I fell asleep at around 4.45am, knowing that I would have to drag myself out of bed,  some forty five minutes later, from the deepest sleep I would get that night.

That was over 20 years ago now.  I can still feel, if I try hard enough, that vice like clamp and that sense of utter despair and dread.  But, I don’t indulge those memories much now.

That morning all those years, ago, like so many mornings before, I did get up. I did go into work and do my job.  I was the sergeant leading a police response team at the time.

I had only recently been promoted to sergeant and didn't actually have a lot of service under my belt.  Having passed my exams for promotion very quickly I guess I was pushed for ‘greater things.’  Some even mentioned ‘accelerated promotion'.  I did explore that option, but for some reason chose not to go down that route.  I am so thankful now that I didn't as the thought of moving up the police ranks didn’t fill me with any sense of hope, pride or excitement.  Instead it filled me with more dread. After several months into my role as a newly promoted sergeant I began to realise that, as well as dealing with the challenges of the role, I was fast losing my battle to stay on top of my anxiety.  

My own sense of perfectionism and desire to please and impress people grew to monstrous proportions as I found myself leading a team in a high profile city under the gaze of an inspector who wanted to succeed.  He was a great fella, but his high expectations only served to fuel the fire under my own boiling pot of self-loathing, inadequacy and a belief that I was a fraud and would, at any time, be found out once and for all.

I sometimes joke (although it was true) that I didn’t change my Police Constable’s warrant card to a Sergeant’s Warrant card for the first three years of being in the rank.  I was so utterly convinced, that one day I would need it again.  Someone, sooner or later, would realise that I was a joke and take my stripes from me.  I would then return in shame to some back-water shift to serve out my days amidst knowing and pitiful glances from my colleagues.  

And, you know what?  A small part of me actually wanted that.  Wanted the merciful relief it represented, because it meant I would not have to face the soul crushing process of getting myself ready to go to do another shift as sergeant.  

Looking back now, I do so with a sense of compassion and forgiveness.   Something I never allowed myself at that time.  If only I could go back in time and share what I know now.

Maybe, just maybe, I would have woken up to what I was doing to myself, taken back some power and changed my life sooner.  And in not so destructive a way.

At that time I couldn’t see that I was my own worst enemy.  That my sense of misery and despair, was rooted in my perfectionism and, ultimately, in my own self-loathing.

I simply put it down to being unhappy.  That if only I could….  Leave my job, earn more money, have a better house, car or life, I would be sorted.

Instead I ground through my life turning to alcohol and ‘it’ll be better when’ as my coping strategies.

And the years passed.  

And here I am, writing a book about how to positively navigate the mid life crisis, that cliche phrase that is chucked about whenever some 30+ male leaves their partner, buys a soft-top car or worse.

In this book, I want to share the things I wish I had known back then.  And I was nowhere near my mid-life.  I was mid to late twenties and already feeling like I had lost my way.  

Because the truth is, a mid-life crisis, can happen anytime to anyone.  Male or female.  Yes this book is aimed at blokes, and blokes of a certain age, but I want to challenge the phrase mid-life crisis by taking issue with both halves of it.  I want to challenge the ‘mid-life’ aspect, whilst acknowledging the data that might support the perception.

I also want to challenge the word ‘crisis,’ whilst acknowledging that for so many it can feel like a crisis and can, sadly, end there.  

But I want to take a positive ‘sproutlook’ on this.

If only I knew what I know now, I could have more positively navigated my own ‘mid-life crisis.’  I could have been kinder to myself, and still re-shaped, reinvented or re-discovered the real me.  

I may have made some of the same key decisions, but I could have done so in a more positive way.  And I could have spent fewer months and years drifting in a sea of guilt and self-loathing.

And that's what I want for you.  I guess you are reading this because the title has drawn you to it.  It resonated with you.  Perhaps because you are feeling this right now, or you have a loved one, or partner going through what appears to be a ‘mid-life crisis.’

Well, let’s dig in, and start to reclaim our man sprouts.  

What does that mean?  Put simply it means we re-connect with ourselves and what it means to be a man.  Our own man.  Not one defined by culture, stereotypes and the expectations of others. But our own definition.  With our own set of principles, values and direction.

This blog is intended to help you reclaim your man sprouts, and be the real you: the man you really can be…

More in two weeks time.

Dave

PS - Don't forget to visit the man sprouts page to find the latest podcast episodes and to sign up to the man sprouts movement - intended to promote a positive sproutlook on male mental health.

Contact Dave to share feedback and questions, or learn more about his work in developing resilience and enhancing wellbeing. 

If you need professional support and help...

As a word of advice for any one experiencing their own sense of desperation, loss or crisis, please, don't endure it alone.  Seek help.  From family, trusted friends and professionals.  Your own Doctor or GP is a great place to start.  Or there are great services provided by organisations such as the Samaritans.  For further advice on professional support and advice check out the NHS resources.  

This series of blogs is intended to encourage reflection on your own wellbeing and mental health.  It seeks to encourage you to speak up and get help where needed and take hope that you things can be better.  It is not intended as therapy or a replacement for professional help and advice.

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In this new series of blogs I want to explore male mental health and, in particular, the cliche that is the male 'mid-life crisis.'  

This ties in with my intention to write a book on the subject, so, in a way, these blogs are my way of chunking down the writing of that book into self-contained sections to get you to think, reflect and, hopefully, take some action to reclaim your own man sprouts.

Why 'reclaim your man sprouts'?  Well, I will elaborate ahead, but for now, the short answer is that I believe many of us struggle with our sense of place, purpose and identity as a man.  What does it mean for each of us as individual men?  The reclaiming of our own man sprouts is, I feel a critical part of life as we journey on through the various stages from childhood through to manhood.  Yes man sprouts is a euphemism, but it is also intended to represent that sense of male identity that resonates with each one of us.  Don't forget to check out my Man Sprouts Podcast to find out more and join me on the journey to explore a more positive sproutlook (ahem) on male mental health. Episode Zero in particular lays out more of the context for the show and these blogs.

So, I will share my writing over the coming weeks and months.  I do so, hoping to allow me to create the basis for the book, but also to allow you, the reader, to share your thoughts, questions, perspectives and feedback.  That will, I hope help me to shape the book and make it as relevant and meaningful to the intended audience - blokes and/ or those who care for a bloke who is struggling with their own 'mid-life crisis.'

The working, and possibly finished title for the book will be:

Reclaim your Man SproutsYour Guide to Positive Mid-Life Crisis Management

(I am copyrighting the title and phrase 'mid-life crisis management' as I feel it is a useful way to look at what has become a cliche, and to many a joke.  I do, however, take issue with the phrase in my writing, acknowledging it's value as a phrase, but also providing alternative perspectives and viewpoints.)

So, today, I will tease the next blog in which I will introduce why it matters to me and what I hope to get out of the process of writing the book, and, most importantly why I hope it will be of value to others...

Reclaim Your Man Sprouts - Introduction

It was 3.44am.  Again.  Why was it that I always seemed to wake and notice the clock at that time?  And it was just a stirring and then back off to sleep.  Like previous mornings, I found myself wide awake.  

And thinking the same thoughts.

I can’t do this anymore.  That familiar clamp like feeling down the left side of my face, ever present lately, felt so heavy I felt crushed.  

That was it.  Crushed.  Physically it was like my head was being ground into the dust between the jaws of a heavy iron vice.  And it represented how I felt inside too.  I say felt.  I kind of felt nothing in one sense.  Nothing other than an icy grip on my persona.  On who I was.  

As I lay there, I tried to think about that.  Who am I?  Did I ever know?  Where along the way have I lost me?

I looked at the clock again, and felt a sense of dread seeping past the vice like clamp of despair.  I would have to be up and away to work for five thirty to start my shift.  I closed my eyes again and prayed.  Please God, help me.  Give me a way out of this.  I don’t know what to do!  I can’t do this even one more day.

I lay in quiet desperation as the Pink Floyd song so brilliantly describes the ‘English way, in their song ‘Time.  Hoping for someone or something to show _me  _the way.

More in next week's blog...

Dave

PS - Don't forget to visit the man sprouts page to find the latest podcast episodes and to sign up to the man sprouts movement - intended to promote a positive sproutlook on male mental health.

Contact Dave to share feedback and questions, or learn more about his work in developing resilience and enhancing wellbeing. 

If you need professional support and help...

As a word of advice for any one experiencing their own sense of desperation, loss or crisis, please, don't endure it alone.  Seek help.  From family, trusted friends and professionals.  Your own Doctor or GP is a great place to start.  Or there are great services provided by organisations such as the Samaritans.  For further advice on professional support and advice check out the NHS resources.  

This series of blogs is intended to encourage reflection on your own wellbeing and mental health.  It seeks to encourage you to speak up and get help where needed and take hope that you things can be better.  It is not intended as therapy or a replacement for professional help and advice.

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Final Daily Sprout | daily sprout 500 - YouTube

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SG out

Finding it hard to de-stress, take time-out or switch off?  Check out my free 6-step e-book - 'Emergency Stress CPR'

Dave Algeo, Stressed Guru, is a speaker and writer committed to spreading the message - well-being and success need each other. Get in touch to find out how he can help your organisation develop greater success with wellbeing, or learn more about his speaking and workshops.

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It's not being brave | daily sprout 499 - YouTube

More tomorrow.

Sign-up to get the Daily Sprout direct to your inbox.

SG out

Finding it hard to de-stress, take time-out or switch off?  Check out my free 6-step e-book - 'Emergency Stress CPR'

Dave Algeo, Stressed Guru, is a speaker and writer committed to spreading the message - well-being and success need each other. Get in touch to find out how he can help your organisation develop greater success with wellbeing, or learn more about his speaking and workshops.

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They are not winning now | daily sprout 498 - YouTube

More tomorrow.

Sign-up to get the Daily Sprout direct to your inbox.

SG out

Finding it hard to de-stress, take time-out or switch off?  Check out my free 6-step e-book - 'Emergency Stress CPR'

Dave Algeo, Stressed Guru, is a speaker and writer committed to spreading the message - well-being and success need each other. Get in touch to find out how he can help your organisation develop greater success with wellbeing, or learn more about his speaking and workshops.

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There is more to life than stress | daily sprout 497 - YouTube

More tomorrow.

Sign-up to get the Daily Sprout direct to your inbox.

SG out

Finding it hard to de-stress, take time-out or switch off?  Check out my free 6-step e-book - 'Emergency Stress CPR'

Dave Algeo, Stressed Guru, is a speaker and writer committed to spreading the message - well-being and success need each other. Get in touch to find out how he can help your organisation develop greater success with wellbeing, or learn more about his speaking and workshops.

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Why I do the daily sprout | daily sprout 496 - YouTube

More tomorrow.

Sign-up to get the Daily Sprout direct to your inbox.

SG out

Finding it hard to de-stress, take time-out or switch off?  Check out my free 6-step e-book - 'Emergency Stress CPR'

Dave Algeo, Stressed Guru, is a speaker and writer committed to spreading the message - well-being and success need each other. Get in touch to find out how he can help your organisation develop greater success with wellbeing, or learn more about his speaking and workshops.

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