Running on empty…

 

A bank holiday weekend in the UK is always seen as an opportunity for celebration. This one was no different! However this time it was a celebration of a lifetime. It was my parents 40th Wedding Anniversary…

…and I was doing a speech.

Let’s do this!

For those that know me well, you’ll know I’m fairly confident and well spoken…and that I love giving speeches…

 

…a microphone…

…a captive audience…

…an excuse to talk about myself.

 

It would not be unfair to say that I am more comfortable talking in front of a room of hundreds of people than in a one-to-one conversation. This will seem odd to many (as I appreciate most people don’t like this at all!) but to me it is the most natural thing.

I believe this stems from my anxiety. One-to-one I am focused on the responses of the individual. I am reading body language. I am analysing eye movements. I am judging tone and intonation. I am identifying any inconsistencies in the language and trying to assess the truth. I am trying to read between the lines of speech… I do all this in every conversation and it takes a lot for me to turn it off. Why do I do it? I’m not entirely certainly, but I believe it comes down to…

…not wanting to be caught off guard.

This is a fairly basic instinct of humans as a species. It’s what prompts a fight or flight response. This is also typically caused by a predator-prey interaction…

Do I see everyone I talk to as a predator?

That’s a bigger question for another time. The point is that when speaking atop a podium in front of hundreds of people, I can’t parse the amount of information I would typically seek to glean from the conversation. I stop. I relax. My body knows I can’t do anything more. I open up.

 

Begin at the beginning…

I woke up and wrote my speech at 5:30am on a Saturday morning. That’s when my muse spoke to me. I often don’t sleep well (again, likely linked to anxiety and or depression), but I was awake at this time not for any reason other than being inspired to write.

I had finished the speech in 2 hours and was confident in what I had put to paper. It was caring. It was loving. It was brutally honest. I sent it to friends and family, practised it in front of people (you can even view some of the practice on the Twitch stream).

People were teary eyed at the end of hearing it. I even received feedback that I shouldn’t be as honest. It was meant to be a light-heart-ed and fun occasion.

I refused to change my words.

I knew what I was saying would be controversial. But I also knew it was balanced between the awful times that both myself and my parents have gone through over the past 2 years, and the love and companionship that we were celebrating.

 

This guy never shuts up…

The night was brilliant. Everything went perfectly throughout. I gave the speech that I had actually began to get nervous about. It went well… (video below)

…it probably went a little too well. It overshadowed my dad’s speech that followed…

I received a standing ovation at the end of the speech with the toast to my mum and dad. I have over half the audience come and speak to me individually and say that it was the best speech they had heard and that I should be proud. I had friends tell me that it was me at my best self. I had the people from the venue who weren’t even related to the event outside of catering come and tell me it was beautiful. This clearly spoke to people and touched them in a way I never expected.

 

But then the exhaustion…

I believe there are three types of energy that a person has and uses…physical, mental and emotional. And right then, after that speech, I was at zero across the board. I was so drained that I had to go and sit in a room outside the main function space just to find a quiet space to recompose myself.

I shouldn’t be physically exhausted; it was only 10pm at night…

I shouldn’t be mentally exhausted; I had already written the speech, I was just reading it…

…I was emotionally exhausted, and that exhaustion took with it my physical and mental strength as well.

I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t hold conversation, I just needed to find time to correct myself after giving this speech. It took a good 20 minutes for me to recover to a level where I felt I could engage with people properly again!

 

The important bit!

One of the things I have talked about previously in Breaking the stigma… and Choosing a your path… is the idea of acceptance and of being yourself. I knew all of the above was going to happen because I understand how emotions (for me) are actually more tiring than physical or mental exertion. My close friends and family are also learning this about me; that when I go recluse for a period, not to worry, but just to carry on as normal when I come back.

Understanding how each other deals with emotions is important for the future.

 

As always…

I am continuing to live stream on Twitch when I have the spare time to enable me to do so. I am going to continue writing these articles and trying to break the stigma attached to mental health (in the workplace).

You can continue to follow my journey by visiting the website or store. You can continue to follow on Twitch. Come and join the conversation! You can support by donating to Just Giving or simply Texting XMIZ70 to 70070 on your mobile phone.

You can also follow along on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

Remember.

Be you.

 

Andrew Salkeld

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