Being left alone with loneliness…

Feeling alone in a room full of people is a terrifying experience.

Recently I have had a lot of people talk to be about loneliness. This encouraged me to look back on conversations and thoughts I had during 2017 when I was at my most recently memorable lowest point.

Through pain we find ourselves…

Whilst I was having a tattoo done during the middle of the 2018 my artist and friend, Bob, introduced me to a term called serial monogamist which I had never heard before.

This really struck home with me as it is largely how I have led my life…

  1. 4 years
  2. <period of self destructive behaviour>
  3. 11 years
  4. <almost a period of self destructive behaviour>

What I realised was that I never took the time to be alone. I have never spent a prolonged period of time by myself and getting to know what my own company is like and getting to know who I really am.

Due to my mental health, my maturity and just general change in approach to life, I really did not want to return to another period of self destructive behaviour. I could see the signs of it starting and I needed to…I wanted to…avoid it at all costs.

So I have forced myself to be alone and to spend time with me.

This is one of the hardest decisions I have made and one of the hardest things I am living with but it is important for me to do this for myself.

Here is a little story about where my struggles with loneliness come from, some of the problems loneliness can lead to and how I battle with it on a daily basis.

Abandonment…

Many of you know I have two brothers. What many of you don’t know is I have a late sister. We lost her very early on when I was very young. I was excited to have a younger sister at the time. Good parenting taught me that! Unfortunately when we lost her, nothing helped me really recover.

This was the first time I was left…

As I was growing up both my parents worked away a lot. They were working hard to care and provide for our family. Credit to them, they did a fantastic job raising three healthy children and providing for them throughout their lives.

Sadly for me, I was old enough to remember being left alone with nannies, relatives, friends and others. I couldn’t complain at the time, my parents showered us all with gifts and presents whilst they were around (note: this is also probably why I really dislike the receiving the gifts and really like the spending of quality time in my 5 love languages). In hindsight, I would much prefer them being present during those formative years as I know it has impacted my life.

This was the second time I was left…

I know that I have always sought acceptance from my family, particularly my dad. I have always wanted to be able to spend and share time with him, even though we don’t share the same interested. I couldn’t stand going to football matches whilst growing up so I focused on the only way I knew to stand out, but performing well at school and then trying to build a career that emulated his to the best of my ability.

I pushed myself in ways I never really wanted to and that contradicted what I loved in life. I was seeking his acceptance in any way possible to not feel that abandonment…that loneliness that I felt when I was younger.

I got close.

But close never seemed to be close enough.

So I kept trying.

When I was dating my first girlfriend I realised that the love, affection, attention and connection that I sought from my family relationships could be matched by a relationship with someone else I began to shift the emphasis towards that.

This wasn’t healthy.

Replacing one source of “addiction” with another still leaves you with the underlying problem. My addiction was to “not being alone” and to “be accepted and wanted”.

I didn’t care about who I was. I was already willing to sacrifice my personality and ideals to try to get closer to my family, so I was more than willing to change and shift as needed to maintain happiness with my girlfriend.

When that ended, I was back to craving acceptance again and not wanting to be alone; but now I was at university, away from my family and was on my own. This is why a period of self destructive behaviour happened. It was fun at the time, but it wasn’t healthy and caused me a lot of problems when I was ready to move beyond it.

Luckily, I had friends who helped me through it…one of whom I then ended up dating and marrying (…and now divorcing *sigh*). The rest is mostly well documented, but if you have questions, do feel free to ask.

Alone in the dark…

I have heard countless friends, colleagues and people say something along the lines of the following;

“I’m unhappy in this relationship but I’d be more unhappy if I was alone”

Similarly I’ve heard people say things akin to;

“Being single must be so lonely, I feel sorry for you”

This is partly due to the way society has grown over the years. Being in a “couple” is thought to be the base state of society as it was necessary throughout the decades and centuries previous to be able to have children etc. We were all born by a couple (our parents, whether they are still together or not) so surely it makes sense for us to try to form couples.

Similarly it is also a part of human nature. We as a species can build emotional ties and bonds to one another, so surely we should want to?

Well, sadly, not all humans are nice people. Not all humans share our beliefs. Not all humans care about the same things. Not all humans are “compatible” with one another.

As such, sometime you end up in a relationship based on something that was superficial…

This often happens when we are younger. We are fuelled by hormones and end up relationships based on lust, passion and looks. These are not bad things for a relationship and are necessary for any relationship to succeed, but these fade with time. We get older and life takes over. You can then end up in a relationship where you feel almost compelled to stay together because of the time invested so far. I know for Deborah and I this was discussed many times.

Worse yet, you could be in an “abusive” relationship. This could be physical or this could be mental abuse (gaslighting as an example). The person you are with could be sociopathic, maybe even psychopathic (…or even osteopathic?! – I never said I wouldn’t make niche inside jokes). Because of the fear of the unknown and the fear of being alone, we continue in those relationships regardless of the pain and suffering we endure.

This is not healthy in any respect.

As I said in my first major article and my recent talks, one of my close friends told me that the longest relationship I would ever have would be with myself, so I best spend the time getting to know me and being comfortable being around me.

This is all about confidence.

Confidence in yourself. Confidence in your ability to keep going. Confidence in your own happiness. Confidence in your own skin.

If you have confidence in yourself you don’t need the acceptance of others.

Be your best self to yourself…

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Ted “Theodore” Logan from the Wyld Stallyns built a society based on the ethos of “Be excellent to one another”.

Keanu Reeves isn’t a hero of mine or anything like that, but I saw what I guess you would refer to as a motivational poster about him that stated;

“Someone told me the other day that he felt bad for single people because they feel lonely all the time. I told him that’s not true, I’m single and I don’t feel lonely. I take myself out to eat, I buy myself clothes. I have great times by myself. Once you know how to take care of yourself, company becomes an options and not a necessity.” – Keanu Reeves

I have no idea how valid or true this statement is, but it really doesn’t matter. The sentiment is what matters.

I have only started doing this recently. The previous year or two have been a bit of a blur dealing with the raw emotion. I have talked previously about accepting myself, being who I want to be and going from there. This is the start of knowing how to take care of yourself. It is something I am still working on.

I have started saying no to things I don’t want to do.

I have started spending time with people who I want to spend time with.

I am talking honestly and openly in a way I never have before.

I do things I want to do.

This is helping me both with my mental health but also with my general happiness, with my loneliness and with not craving that acceptance I have yearned for for so long. I am reaching a stage of comfort in myself. It isn’t where I thought it would be, but that doesn’t matter.

So how do I deal with loneliness…

I talk to people. I text people. I go for a walk. I see the world. I do what I want.

I also have a new friend…

This is Pika.

My rescue kitten. She is three months old and was the last of her litter to be adopted as she was a black cat and supposedly they are bad luck and take poor Instagram photos. This image proves otherwise.

She is brilliant. Pets in general are brilliant.

You may be by yourself but you are never alone…

If you ever need help with loneliness or need someone to talk to, please do feel free to reach out on one of the many social media platforms I am on.

As always you can follow along on TwitchFacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

Thank you

 

Andrew Salkeld

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Being more and less social…

I fully appreciate the irony of sharing this article on social media…

Do you remember the days before Facebook, Instagram and Twitter? Do you remember what came before that? Myspace? MSN Messenger? Do you remember a time when an ‘argument’ over some trivial fact wasn’t able to be answered by just asking Google on your phone?

It was a different world…

‘Connectivity’ through social media and mobile phones in general has provided many great benefits to society, but it has also caused many problems that are coming to light slowly over the course of time.

Starting late with tardiness…

I was always raised (and then taught) that…

If you’re on time, you’re late.

Simple really.

Back when I was growing up, we didn’t have mobile phones. As such, you made your plans in advance and then stuck to them, otherwise you would be inconveniencing the people you’re meeting up with etc.

Nowadays however, we can inform people when delays occur. We no longer need to apologise profusely if we’re stuck in traffic, or our train is stopped and we won’t make our connection.

On the other hand, there is (at least in my opinion) becoming less respect for people’s time.

If you’re going to be late…so what? just drop them a text…

Meeting overrunning…doesn’t matter. Just send them a message on Slack…

So we end up in a situation nowadays, where we make plans, put events and meetings in calendars, but almost fully expect people to be late for them.

How many of you send a message ahead of a meeting to make sure that it’s still going ahead?

We have entered a time where we simply don’t trust that things will go according to plan.

We feel nervousness and unease about the uncertainty of our plans…

This is the very definition of anxiety.

We are now an anxious society and this is simply because we can better communicate that we are running late, or that something has gone wrong.

This double edged Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads is both helping and hindering our society!

Closer than ever yet able to push you further away than before…

We are an inherently more connected society now. Social media, messenger programs, text messages, mobile phones and more allow us to be in touch with whoever we want, whenever we want.

I’ve talk about the downsides of this at work in my ‘Just a Guy‘ presentation where you are unable to switch off. However, this is also impacting on our physical social interaction.

How many of your friends do you actively speak to face-to-face now?

How many of your friends do you phone up to see how they’re doing?

How many of your friends do you text message on a regular basis?

How many of your friends do you just follow on social media and see that they’re doing okay and then occasionally throw them a ‘like’ here or there to show some remote level of interest?

Our circles of friendship are shrinking. In my opinion, we as a society are spending less and less time on actual social interaction and more and more time on social media interaction…

We are better connected that ever before yet social media and the connectivity of our world allows us to shut people out even easier.

“Sorry, didn’t see your message.”

“Your e-mail went into junk mail for some reason.”

“I haven’t checked my phone in ages.”

“Sorry, no signal.”

We even shorten how we communicate with people due to the limits imposed on us by the technology we use to keep in touch.

kthxbye… Okay. Thank you. Goodbye!

omg… Oh my god!

lol…

…how many of you have started saying lol in conversation…

…it’s more than will care to admit it that’s for sure!

Life is always greener…Other people’s lives are always always greener…

Social media is a duplicitous place…

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You know you’re onto an important topic where there are literally hundreds of graphics about how people lie on social media…

As this has been covered by many people in many places I’ll boil it down as simply as possible to speed things up.

Social media is a lens.

Most people only post positive things on social media.

When your contacts (how many of those 1,000s of followers are genuine friends?) see this they compare their life, happiness and positivity to yours.

Since the majority of people only post positive things (regardless of the actual position), we then apply the same lens to what we’re doing, showing a positive ‘spin’ on our lives.

This would be great if people we’re positive, happy and smiley all the time.

Sadly we’re humans and can actually be sad…

When someone who is not feeling positive (whether struggling from depression, anxiety, or just having a bad day!) sees all this positivity in every single person they know and are connected to (because this is what Facebook has become) they begin to feel isolated.

 

Why is everyone else having a good time yet my life is shit?

Why are they being so successful whilst I’m stuck in this mundane life?

How can they afford that? We earn the same? Do we? Are they better than me?

Why can’t I do everything they’re doing?

Maybe something is wrong with me?

Maybe I’m the problem.

It’s probably me.

It’s me.

 

These people then try to positively post on social media to match their connections (friends…?) and then their friends who might be having a bad day start feeling exactly the same…

And then you realise that everyone feels worse because no one is truly honest.

Stop using snapchat filters and tonal overlays to make your pictures better.

Stop airbrushing wrinkles and hunting for the best angle.

Just be.

You are beautiful for who you are whether you are happy or sad. Be proud in yourself that you can express all emotions and are comfortable in being yourself whether fat, thin, trendy, nerdy, geeky, straight, gay, bi…whatever. BE YOU!

Pick up the phone, break the trends, go see your friends and ask them how they’re really doing.

I know lots of people my age (and of all ages) who are just disengaging entirely from social media as it was causing too many problems for their mental health. They are so much happier now because of it.

How has understanding this changed me?…

Firstly, perspective.

A wise friend said to me:

“Perspective continues to evolve.”

It really does.

The more you begin to notice these things and what is happening around you the more you begin to become to resilient to it and the less it bothers you.

Secondly, I know how I want to engage with people. I much prefer face-to-face, heart-to-heart communication and interaction with everyone. Online conversations are great, but actually doing something with someone (or someones) is another level.

I was out the other week seeking some of my favourite bands live with one of my closest friends and we had people come up to us and say that the two of us were #couplesgoals all over. “We’re not a couple, but thank you.” we both replied and the response they gave us to that really meant something. They said:

“That’s even better. You two represent everything everyone wants a relationship to be and you have that as just friends. It’s incredible.”

Drunk people are the best!

Take the time to talk to strangers, meet new people, experience new things, but do it face-to-face. It might be out of your comfort zone, but taking that first step is huge and then every step thereafter becomes that little bit easier.

And with all that said…

It wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t have some little bit of excitement to share at the end. Through socialising with another friend at another concert, I was invited to be on BBC Look North. I am on TV! Seriously! WTAF? (what the actual fuck?…)

I was asked to be on as a ‘gamer and twitch streamer’ to give my opinions on loot boxes in games and my interactions with them. They have promoted my stream, showing clips of our Fetid Devourer kill, and have also allowed me to talk about what I do here at miz7.com and the work I am doing in regards to mental health. Any press to help break the stigma around mental health is appreciated.

As always you can follow along on TwitchFacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

Thank you

 

Andrew Salkeld

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Learning to love again…

…Love really is all around us…

As many of you will know from reading my articles and seeing my presentations I have gone through my fair share of heartbreak. I have spent time on self development and following a talk given by Daniel Burton on World Mental Health Day 2018 and a question posed to me at my most recent Breaking the Stigma presentation in Birmingham I thought I would share some of my thoughts.

A simple questions…

The question I was asked was this (paraphrased):

As a young employee at a business that is involved in senior leadership team meetings and is wanting to see change within the organisation but isn’t sure whether to ‘fight for the change’ or to ‘leave’?

There’s quite a lot to unpack in here, but my response was largely based around something I mentioned in one of my most recent articles, love languages.

I said:

Treat this (and any other situation to be honest) like a ‘relationship’ (a romantic relationship).

When in a relationship with someone, it is often perceived that things will be easy and that everything will work out fine through a combination of compromise and ‘Disney magic’.

However what actually happens is two individuals with their own history, upbringing, opinions and beliefs come together and try to both be happy in their relationship as well as being happy in themselves (if you haven’t played the board game Fog of Love, go and do so now!).

So unless you are almost identical to your partner in hobbies, likes, dislikes, beliefs, upbringing etc you will need to put in some work to your relationship. This is why some couples (or individuals) seem like they were meant to be together whilst others seem like they’re fighting an uphill struggle all the time.

There’s nothing wrong with either of these scenarios, but it does give an indicator on the longevity of said relationship. If one person if receiving everything they want from the relationship (through the love languages they value) and the other is not receiving what they want (through the love languages they value) then either something needs to change, as the relationship is heavily lopsided, or the relationship might fail.

The same is true in your relationship with you and your employer.

Your employer will be satisfied in their relationship with you if you are performing your work to the required standard, are meeting all criteria and deadlines and are promoting the Company positively (there may be other things, but largely speaking, employers are happy if you’re doing your job adequately).

In return your employer puts into their relationship with you a salary, a holiday allowance, a pension, maybe a bonus etc.

The above question can just be seen as an imbalance in the relationship between employee and employer.

The employee wants a certain point to be recognised and emphasised by the senior leadership team as important; however that senior team does not come across as interested in the point.

So what would you do if this relationship was a romantic one?

If you were invested in the relationship, you’d try and fight for what you believe in (in my opinion) and you would try to reach a compromise of recognition but maybe not emphasis.

…You’ve spent time with the person, it’s been a year or so, but they still haven’t engaged with your family in a meaningful way and family means a lot to you…

So you insist they come to a really important family event but that they don’t have to sing karaoke or whatever…compromise!

You try to reach a balance.

However what if they just say no? What if they ignore your family gatherings altogether? What if they aren’t willing to do anything involving them? Due to their upbringing, or whatever, they may not value family in the same way as you and it may be something you are never able to change in them.

The same is true with the employer employee relationship.

In the question above, you would ‘fight for the change’ (giving it time to play out etc) but then ultimately, if there was no compromise or willingness to compromise, then I would suspect you would likely ‘leave’ (or at least I would; but this will depend on the importance of the matter at hand).

A millennial old problem…

Many organisations, consultants, advisors, leaders and just people in general seem to have attached a stigma to being a ‘millennial’. Simon Sinek gave a talk on Millennials in the workplace at at the time it seemed to break the internet. I won’t go into the significant details around it and what was covered in it, but I think that this can again be viewed through the eyes of a relationship.

A relationship between generations who have different love languages.

Let’s for argument’s sake say that the ‘Boomer’ generation gave birth to the ‘Millennial’ generation. There are clearly blurred lines across age categories and demographics, but this is largely the case in my opinion.

Boomer’s come from a time of:

  1. Economic growth and prosperity
  2. High minimum wages that grew rapidly in plentiful jobs
  3. Used resources to accelerate and maintain growth for themselves

Whereas Millennials come from a time of:

  1. Recession, war and conflict (typically over resources that are now sparse)
  2. Poor economic conditions with significantly increased competition
  3. Higher connectivity and visibility of everything current, historic and forecast

Now, I am exaggerating some of these points, but these are largely true statements.

The values (and love languages) are linked to these. Boomer’s typically value the Receiving of Gifts, and Acts of Service whereas Millennials typically value Words of Affirmation and Quality Time. Physical Touch plays a part for both generations, but isn’t linked to the mentality of relationships for each generation.

Now this could go on for quite some time and is probably an article topic in itself so I’ll keep it short.

Millennials aren’t necessarily entitled, arrogant, impatient, demanding etc. They just want something different from what’s on offer. They value time spent with their peers outside or work and hearing positive things in a world that is very dark all around them.

Don’t think as a business that your need to do anything special for Millennials. You just need to look around, see how the world has changed and respond accordingly…

…as you would with your commercial strategy.

I Got Love…

A little personal bit at the end for some insight into me. I ‘lost’ my wife. It hurt. I am slowly getting more and more comfortable in myself with each passing day and this chapter of my life is slowly coming to a close. I am in a better place now than where I could have been otherwise.

Thinking about things, what I miss most is the constant friendship and the companionship that came from the marriage. Not the love, not the sex, not the lifestyle or anything like that. I miss just knowing that somewhere out there someone had my back without question.

I have some of the most amazing friends who look after me, worry about me and are there for me.

Someday I hope to find that companionship with someone again, but for me to be ready for that (if it ever happens) I need to be comfortable in myself and happy in myself.

Thank you to all my friends who are supporting me in finding myself after these past 18 months!

Thanks

Treat every relationship like a romantic relationship and make sure you are satisfied with what you are receiving from it.

You can follow along on TwitchFacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

Thank you

 

Andrew Salkeld

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Just talk more…

If you don’t have anything good to say…just say it anyway…

This article will mostly be written as a bit of a retrospective of last week… Mostly… I will try to keep as many references to people anonymous as possible so as to not give more information than is needed, but ultimately, you know who you are, how we interact and it just is what it is.

2lrlfi

On Thursday I was invited to a meeting with a Company who wanted to discuss their strategic plans and financial model. Whilst I work with companies all the time, I normally work with much smaller and less established companies where I can bring a lot more of myself and my knowledge to the table.

The meeting went really well and subsequently it looks like we are going to work together in some capacity. However, this was the first time I actually felt like my experiences to date were worthwhile and that the knowledge I have gained over the years, combined with my own personality (post Breaking the Stigma), really provided value to a potential client.

I even received some incredible kindhearted words following the meeting as one of the people I meet decided to read all the articles here on miz7.com.

I have said this before (slide 3), but regardless of how well I come across, I feel like a fraud and that I really don’t deserve the praise I receive for doing what I’m doing. I am slowly learning to accept people who thank me and congratulate me, but it is a struggle every time as I value myself that low.

A simple conversation made me feel really positive about myself, something I haven’t felt in ages…

On Friday I saw my therapist (the most excellent Gemma Ridge) and talked through the previous few weeks of my life and I suddenly realised I was speaking positively about my life. I wasn’t dwelling on questions or concerns, I was happy talking about what had happened and I was looking forward to the future. Sure, I had questions and there was uncertainty, but for the first time in a long time I was happy just saying “so what” and “I’ll figure it out if and when”.

As someone who has spent (terrifyingly) almost 18 months going through the emotional roller-coaster that comes with my experiences over the past two years, I was actually in a place where I could say and mean…

…things seem pretty good right now…

…and that is something I really haven’t been able to say in a long time. It was great. Hearing myself say those words really made a difference to me and gave me some confidence that my life could someday return to a state of well-being.

I was heading to London and was listening to ‘My Brother, My Brother and Me‘. Almost every other question the McElroy seemed to be answering was along the lines of…

…”So I like this girl AND…”

…and almost every answer was always…

…”just talk to them like a person and be honest.”

This seems like an obvious answer, but it’s surprising how hard it is to follow through with when you are a teenager going through puberty with issues of confidence.

I remember those times well (and other similar times not so well…).

It reminds me of the first time I actually felt the confidence to speak to a Partner at PwC (where I trained as an accountant) as a peer rather than a boss. I had realised that we are all equal, regardless of what a title says…we are all equal, regardless of what we earn…we are all equal, regardless of what our hobbies or our jobs are…we are all equal, regardless of our knowledge…

…We are all equal BECAUSE no-one is equal and EVERYONE is an individual. You are you and that in itself is special.

So to all those ‘My Brother, My Brother and Me‘ questioners; if you like someone, have a crush on them, think they’re beautiful and enjoy spending time with them; just tell them. Even if they are seeing someone else, or are not interested, or respond in some other way, you have paid that person one of the greatest compliments there is to pay. Speak to them like your peer, like you friend, like anyone else! Your ‘relationship’ together in whatever form it takes will be so much better as a result.

In London, I proceeded to see my friends and catch up, reminiscing about old times and talking about current situations. On a number of situations (that I won’t go into in much detail to maintain their privacy), those involved along with myself were just…

…”Just fucking have the conversation and get some answers.”

As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety on a daily basis I find it tough to let go of a situation when I don’t understand everything that is going on and can’t see the bigger picture.

I float between ENTJ and INTJ depending on how socially active I am; both of which require me to be in control or in charge of the design of things.

When I am involved in a group activity or am working as a team, I find it hard to fully appreciate where I fit in the bigger picture as I cannot see what’s going on elsewhere in the grand design. This previously caused me no end of anxiety…

…until I just asked “what’s going on?”…”I feel lost.”…”What am I meant to be doing?”…”how do i fit into this team?”…

Once I started asking those questions and being honest with my peers and those in reporting lines to and from myself I felt so much better!

Now I still complained and wanted to change everything I disagreed with…but at least I knew what the art of the possible was now!

Closing

Whilst not a revelation, it is important to know that you can talk.

That is the whole point behind Breaking the Stigma and what miz7.com is about.

It is why I will keep talking without a verbal filter. It is why I will continue running ‘Ask Me Anything’ events online or over on Twitch.

Please just keep talking to one another.

You can follow along on TwitchFacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

Thank you

 

Andrew Salkeld

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Helping yourself to help yourself…

Your relationship with yourself will last a lifetime…

I am not sure how to start this…

Since I gave my talk, published my presentation, held an ‘ask me anything‘ and just generally; I have received so much positive feedback from so many different sources that I have been humbled in a way I never thought possible (especially after the very humbling experience that started all this!).

The one piece of feedback that I have taken to heart however is one of people seeking to know how I cope with living with depression and what I do to look after myself.

SIDE NOTE:

Meme1

Anyone else have this? I’m fairly certain it’s commonplace now… Doesn’t matter how much positive feedback we receive; that one comment of how you could improve weighs on your mind so much more…

So today I thought I’d let you in on how I look after myself, what I do to maintain a balance in myself and how I care for me.

Get to know yourself and accept who you are

This may seem a strange place to start but it is the most fundamental of things that helps support everything else I’ll talk about later. This is very introspective and many people struggle to really get to know themselves and what matters to them. Our lives are busy, so it’s easy to forget about yourself.

In my case, I was left with an identity void. For 11 years I was part of a couple and then I was not. I continued to try and live the life of what it was like with a partner. This made that void worse as I was trying to replace something that could never be replaced.

Once I realised this (and it took a good few months if not half a year) I started focusing on me and what I liked;

  1. I like learning – so I started trying new things; this included painting, drawing, decorating, language, music and pretty much anything I could try… – I felt like I was growing as an individual again, and growing in a way that I wanted
  2. I like entertaining – so I doubled down on my Twitch streaming and started updating this website and developing games again. I started writing articles and designing games and stories again… – I was doing something for others and bringing them happiness and that lead me onto my last point
  3. I like helping people – so I started fundraising again, publicising the stream, doing volunteering and then starting heavy fundraising with my first 24 hour stream… – I gave something back to the world, trying to create a net positive impact from my being here

What matters to you could be anything at all and you should not feel embarrassed or ashamed about it in any way. Be who you are, accept it, embrace it!

Understand that it is okay to not be okay

This was an incredibly hard one for me to begin with as I was trying to remember a time before the pain and before the numb feelings had consumed everything about me. I began to not be okay with ‘not being okay’ which lead me to a vicious circle of feeling worse.

What I needed to do, and do now whenever I start to feel those negative feelings, is to simply accept it. I may be feeling down now, but there is always tomorrow when things could improve on where they are now.

Then, once I have accepted where I am at, I follow what I feel…

Sometimes this is comfort food, sometimes this is lying on a sofa and watching TV, sometimes it’s going for a walk, other times it’s going to sleep…

The key thing is that I am listening to what I’m feeling in that moment and that I try to do what feels most appropriate.

Clearly this can lead to some self destructive behaviours without moderation, but as with all things, if you need help managing and coping then you should seek help.

Understand your love languages

One of the things I did with my ex-wife Deborah was understand how we both wanted to receive and give love to one another. Love Languages was one of the best things we did as a couple and I honestly would recommend it to everyone to understand about themselves and their significant other(s).

Love Languages

This is me!…

I value spending quality time with people above all else and hearing those people say positive things about me.

I do not like receiving gifts at all….

What’s important here for me personally, was seeing that I really value people ‘putting time and positive feelings’ into me. Physical intimacy…Sex…is great. You won’t hear me say otherwise. However for me, sharing a positive experience, doing something together and someone investing their time and effort into me means more than any wild and passionate night… (many not any… 😉).

So I changed how I interacted with people…and this was really tough.

I emphasised and tried to focus my time on people who actually wanted to do things together and who showed positive responses to who I am and what I am doing.

I stopped putting myself out and started letting others come in.

This made me so much happier in my life and in myself.

Obviously I can only talk about me and my experiences. You can do the test and see what your love languages are and then focus your efforts on how to receive them in some meaningful way.

Try everything twice

My final point of how I handle living with depression is a fairly straight forward one, but one people often only go halves on…

Try everything TWICE

Not once…

TWICE

The reason I believe in this so adamantly is that the first time you do anything, there will be some level of uncertainty in your thoughts and some level of anticipation or anxiety in your body that could impact on how your first experience feels.

The second time you do something however, you know what’s coming and the above thoughts shouldn’t be as prevalent so you can have a true and honest experience.

The same is true with depression. You don’t know how its impact on your first experience, so try it again regardless of how you might have felt before and during the first experience.

Wrapping up

With all this said; mental health remains a deeply personal experience and a journey you must walk yourself. What works for me might not work for others. I can at least share what has worked for me in the hope that it could help those who read this.

You’ll notice there is some new branding that I’ve put up in various places…

miz7Logo_Black_BreakingtheStigma

I wanted to include the vision I have for miz7 within the core of the logo. I’ve added this as a new category at miz7shop for those interested in supporting the cause. I will certainly be wearing these with pride.

I have a few more talks and interviews booked in over the coming weeks and have some other projects and joint ventures kicking off shortly to spread the word further. If you are interested in having me talk or work with you please do not hesitate to contact me.

You can follow along on TwitchFacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

Thank you

 

Andrew Salkeld

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Answering the questions…

Ask me anything…

Following on from my recent articles, talks and general outward communication with regards to my story I was asked by someone to speak to their online community about my experiences etc.

It’s important to note at this point, that my main recent interactions with this person were in relation to my 24 hour charity stream. I had very little communication with them ahead of this and this just sort of happened.

Knowing that is was going to be online, I fully assumed there to be various ‘trolls’ who just wanted to disrupt and cause anarchy…this was however not the case. The conversations we had were incredible, highly civilised and very thought provoking.

I streamed this live on Twitch and thought I would ‘highlight’ the actual ‘interview’ part so those interested in hearing and seeing more of my story could do so. See below for an embedded video of the highlights, but you can also see the full discussion that follows.

Watch Highlight Reel: Ask me anything… // miz7.com // Andrew Salkeld from miz7 on www.twitch.tv

I found the discussion very thought provoking!

A few questions caught me off guard and highlighted my lack of knowledge on certain subjects (politics…) but what I could answer I did to the best of my ability.

For those that have not see this already, please feel free to watch the first 18 minutes of the talk I gave on World Mental Health Day.

I am happy to do more talks and interviews like this to help spread the word further.

You can follow along on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

Thank you

 

Andrew Salkeld

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Just a guy who has a story and likes talking…

I promised I would share this after the fact. It’s now up to you to read it if you want.

adventure-contemplate-depressed-54379

Slide 1

My name is Andrew Salkeld. I’m 34. I’m a Chartered Accountant. I trained at PwC before moving into industry. I specialise in corporate finance and business intelligence; ‘data and deals’. I work as CFO for a start-up based here in Leeds, helping them raise funding and developing their business plan.

My name is Andy. I’m 34. I suffer from depression. I almost committed suicide in 2017. It changed me. I stream World of Warcraft and other games on Twitch in my spare time and in doing so raise money to support mental health charities across the UK.

Generally speaking, not a dick…generally speaking…

Which of these introductions is more honest? Which is more the person standing here in front of you today? Which is more relevant? Why should we talk about the first but not the second?

I was asked to speak today after I published Breaking the Stigma on LinkedIn and on my website miz7.com. I published that article to raise awareness of the 24 hour charity stream I was doing, but also to share my story with my professional network for the first time.

I said this in that article and I will say it again here. Some of you might not like what I say. Some of you my not want to work with me in the future. Some of you may not want to talk to me again. It doesn’t matter to me what you choose to do.

But for now at least please…

…just stay a while and listen

Slide 2

Slide 2

I’m going to talk about my story with mental health, specifically depression, but a lot of what i say can tie into anxiety and the wider subject of mental health. This topic is incredibly seriously, very real, incredibly emotional and deeply personal. To try to keep things lighthearted and simple, I’m going to try and use memes throughout. This isn’t to take away from how serious it is, more that they can simply a highly complex subject into one or two lines of text.

Please do remember that…

…this is my story.

Mental health is personal. No two people will ever feel or experience the same thing. Whilst this is me, it may not be how other think, feel, act or respond.

A lot of what I say today will be as honest as I can make it. It will cut very close to the bone, maybe even breaking a few… I have no agenda in what I say. I am just telling a personal experience.

I value every experience I have gained, every lesson I have learned and every person I have met in my life and career to date. I would not be who I am today if not for all those people involved, so I am truly thankful to all of them. I am more comfortable in myself today than I ever have been in the past.

So to everyone. Thank you.

Picture1

Slide 3

This is me right now.

Throughout this presentation (or reading this article) I would like to believe I will come across well, maybe confident, possibly lighthearted…maybe even funny! Some of you may warm to me as a speaker, or even as an individual.

However I feel like a fraud, a failure and a fake. I don’t believe I’ve done anything worthwhile to be the person giving this talk. There are people more qualified. There are people with more significant experiences worth sharing.

I’m just some guy with a story who likes talking.

I value myself less than the t-shirt I wear here today…and I think think it’s a pretty nice t-shirt. It has my logo on it and all!

When I openly say I suffer depression, am medicated and that considered suicide in 2017, understand that THIS is what THAT sort of person can look like.

It isn’t about crying and weeping in a corner…

…or being a Disney process and collapsing on the nearest object saying “woe is me”…

…nor is it about hiding in bed and wishing for death.

You can be, look and act like anyone else and still suffer.

That’s why I’m here today. I might consider myself a fraud and a fake, but I know that no one suspected this from me. No one knew what I was going through.

This is the first of a few points I want to make today.

Slide 4

Slide 4

This was how I felt at work. Everyday it felt the same.

Whilst I was never tossed out of a window, it did feel like having any form of social life, or just life, outside of work was frowned upon. What made this worse was it wasn’t actively frowned upon, it was completely passive aggressive…

…Oh you don’t want to spend any time with that team…

Hmm…

…It’s okay, we’ll stay late and pick up the slack…

From seeing friends, to taking part in sports, to having doctors appointments or even having children! The presentee-ism culture in the workplace was stifling to me as it was preventing me from doing what I enjoy most in life; spending time with the other people in it!

Slide 5

Slide 5

After a while, my personal life took a back seat to my professional life.

I am not an ‘old boy’. I am not part of a rugby club. I do not watch football on the weekend. I don’t know how to play golf.

I am quirky and I value myself on being different with experiences others don’t.

Being a generalist with a personality does not work in an industry that requires specialists.

This doesn’t make these place bad. It doesn’t make them ‘toxic’. It just means I wasn’t suited for that culture and that way of life.

As a result of my differences I can say in hindsight that I actively suffered from work place bullying. I was bullied for my hobbies. I was bullied for my taste in music. I was bullied for liking maths and cryptic crosswords. I was bullied for my hair…

…this one was fair…my hair hasn’t changed in 20 years…kind of like my taste in music…

I can remember every comment, every slur. I could name names. I won’t. These events stick with you and leave a mark on you.

You don’t realise it at the time, but this environment can, and was for me, damaging my physical and emotional well being.  I didn’t know it at the time and I certainly didn’t know it when I was applying as a fresh faced university undergraduate!

Slide 6

Slide 6

Don’t worry about it…

You’re a little bit different and people are bullying you about it…

Don’t worry about it…

So you made a mistake in the sample size…

Don’t worry about it…

So there was a rounding error in a calculation that caused a discrepancy in an equity schedule…

Don’t worry about it…

So you only spent two hours reviewing the audit file…

Don’t worry about it…

Trust me. We all worry about it. In business nowadays everyone is under scrutiny, everything is reviewed, no one wants accountability and no one wants to take responsibility. However large; However small; letting go is a near impossibility.

Slide 7

Slide 7

This is mostly related to professional services because of increased market competition, but I can imagine it applying to other business sectors as well.

We can’t differentiate on quality anymore. Quality is assumed.

Okay…

We can’t differentiate on our people too much. Being too different might scare the client.

So we differentiate by ‘putting ourselves in our clients’ shoes’ and trying to anticipate their every need and want. It’s a great time in a meeting when you get asked a question and already have a response and document prepared and ready to go. We can do that all the time. Right?

Well, we certainly try, but it differently brings up a few questions. We start second guessing everything as what we’re told isn’t what the client wants nor is it ultimately the reality of the situation. We try to anticipate what our boss wants whilst they are anticipate what their boss wants.

It is exhausting.

Slide 8

Slide 8

Then this!

You finally get out of work. You finally make it home. You can finally do what you want; maybe not when you want, but at least what you want…

…Nah…

We are constantly questioned and under review all the time that we start reviewing ourselves. We try to anticipate how other people will respond to something we said. It just never ends.

Slide 9

Slide 9

This may not apply to everyone, but it certainly applied to me.

As I said at the beginning; generally speaking, not a dick. As a result of this people often say some nice things to me. The response to ‘Breaking the Stigma’ made me cry. The comments from people leading up to this talk made me cry. I am just a guy with a story who likes to talk. People shouldn’t be saying this about me! Or at least that’s what I think.

So here’s a couple of examples;

“Thank you for your hard work.”

Do they think I’m weak and need recognition? Do they think I could have worked harder? Do they think I made it hard? Do they think I don’t work hard the rest of the time? Do they think it was easy?

Another one;

“You are beautiful.”

Do they think I need reassurance? Do they think I’m beautiful because of my make up? will they think I’m beautiful without make up? Am I only beautiful today and not the rest of the time? Have I put too much effort in? Are they coming onto me? Do they think all I am is beautiful and there’s no substance underneath?

Slide 10

Slide 10

I will say this once and once only. It is the first point I’ll make today.

Say thank you.

Make a habit of it.

Thank every person who does something for you. Even if they are well paid and rewarded and just doing what is expected, let them know you value them.

I can’t speak for everyone else, but if I call you beautiful, you better know it!

Slide 11

Slide 11

Let me just start by saying that,

I fucking love my friends and family. They are the absolute best. I want them in my life always and I wouldn’t change anything about them. Well…maybe a few things…

But this was the start of my darkness. I ended up not only questioning my own capabilities, but I questioned my relationships, some of which had lasted for years. It was an incredibly sad time.

I asked myself whether my friends actually liked me…did they just want me round for a superficial reason? Was it because I could and would buy all the drinks? Was it just because we’d known each other so long it was easier to keep up a charade than give up? Was it just convenience?

But then my family…did they even like me? We don’t share hobbies or past times. We don’t enjoy the same things and are from different generations. We value different parts of like. I knew they loved me, but did they like me? did they respect me for me?

My isolation grew.

Slide 12

Slide 12

Here’s my second point for the day. Took me almost 25 years to get here.

Stop saying “I’m fine” when you are not.

and

Stop saying “Things are okay” when they are not.

Start talking about how you are and how you feel. Culture has warped us to believe that feeling is a weakness. Culture has made it people expect men to always be strong.

We are the human species.

We are one of a few species on our planet Earth with real emotions and real emotional intelligence. Let’s embrace that!

If we don’t then we’re no better than the robots in factories that build cars, or the AIs we’re developing that will cause the end of days in a few years.

Slide 13

Slide 13

If you don’t embrace your emotions and talk about how you actually feel, this is where you can end up.

It’s where I ended up.

I was turning my back on my friends, my family, my loved ones.

I didn’t understand what was causing it at the time.

The pain was unreal.

I wanted it to stop.

I was consumed by it.

Slide 14

I was first diagnosed with depression in 2014 to 2015. In hindsight I can now see the signs of it running through my life since I was a teenager and throughout everything. I don’t blame this on anyone or anything. As I’ve said, your mental health is your own.

In 2017 following a number of significant life changed my depression got significantly worse. The catalyst for where I ended up was my wife Deborah leaving me after 11 years together, 12 months of individual therapy and 6 months of working together. She had accepted that she was a lesbian and that it was over and that there was no way to save it…

…my life fell apart…

I can remember her coming home one day and speaking to me in the kitchen whilst I was cooking a halloumi, pine nut and pesto pasta dinner for us…

…I’m a pretty good good cook, happy to share recipes if you want…

She said she was 90% sure it was over and that we couldn’t work things out and that she was going to leave.

I literally…and believe me when I say I fucking hate the word literally…collapsed on the floor in a ball.

I couldn’t do anything.

I made it to our bed. I stayed there. I missed my best friend’s first child’s naming day because the shame I felt was too great. The pain was beyond anything I have ever experienced.

But remember, it wasn’t just Deborah I lost. I lost the future we were building together.

We were redecorating our house. GONE.

We had our cats. GONE.

We were going to grow old together. GONE.

We were trying to have children together. GONE.

Suddenly my future was gone.

If someone asks me what depression is I answer along these lines:

Depression is a heavy numb emptiness in the centre of your being. It consumes every part of your personality, you emotions and your feelings. It doesn’t just remove the happy ones, it removed the sad ones as well. It leaves you numb. Everything about you, inside and out, is gone.

Just for the record, Deborah and I are actually still friends now. We are selling our house together. We will file for divorce together. We still talk and communicate with each other.

No one deserves to live a lie and I am proud that Deborah has the strength to be this honest with herself.

It hurts.

Don’t get me wrong.

It hurts.

But this is the right thing for both of us.

Slide 15

Slide 15

Here it is…

Didn’t think this was coming….

He wouldn’t tell us that would he?..

This is where I was one day. I was sat in front of the computer that I still use to this day. I remember it vividly.

I settled on the first choice.

I was too ashamed to leave the house and I didn’t want anyone else to have to suffer around me.

I sat there and I worked out the position in the house with the greatest load bearing capacity, least purchase for my feet, figured I’d probably need two leather belts as I’m a big lad…

One misconception is that people view ending your life as an often impulse thing. It isn’t. I spent hours researching, days contemplating and months considering. You exhaust every other option possible. You try everything else. You desperately seek a reason to keep going.

Moving swiftly on.

Slide 16

Slide 16

I struggled with the pain of losing everything in my life. The pain took me so far I went numb to the world and everything in it. I came to the conclusion after months of consideration that there was only one choice…

…and then…

…Probably moments before I was about to end my own life, something happened.

I was reminded of someone; a different best friend.

I’d known her longer than I’d known Deborah. She had gone through something very similar the previous year…

…not the marriage and lesbian thing. I definitely win the “who’s got the biggest and baddest baggage?” game…

…I just heard her say…

You selfish bugger. Don’t you dare. There are those of us who need you.

She saved my life that day.

All it took was a simple reminder that sometimes people want you for just being you, even when you’re broken and empty, they just want you for who you are.

And I realised I wanted to make sure I did the same for others. If it wasn’t for the people around me, I wouldn’t be here. There are people out there who have no one around them. There are people in my situation that no one thinks could be struggling. They needed a voice.

Slide 17

Slide 17

I stopped giving a shit.

Fuck it.

I almost didn’t have a future.

Now I want to make that future mean something.

I promoted my stream across all my gaming communities. I have around 200 active followers with regularly 5 to 10 people tuning in to view and chat. I’ve had up to 150 people viewing at one time and on the 24 hour stream I had 152 unique viewers and managed to raise almost £500 in a day.

I got my first tattoo for my stream.

Now I fucking hate needles. I really fucking hate needles.

Now my tattoos are a huge part of my life.

People tell me I’m emotional. People tell me I wear my heart on my sleeve. Now I literally…that fucking word again…do. Two in fact so far!

I’m slowly adding everything about my life that I love and that makes me who I am so that I can never ever lose it again. Who I am means something to me and I never want to forget that again.

Life is Unfair

Slide 18

Now I don’t give a shit.

I’m just me.

Here’s one of the most important lessons for today.

Life is unfair

Disney lied to us.

The universe owes us nothing.

There is no scales that balance out net neutral when you die so everyone has an equal number of positive and negative experiences.

But life being unfair isn’t all that bad…

It means nothing is deterministic. The bad times might not last forever because how long they last isn’t determined by the past in any way. Why not just stay a while and see?

Forget the past. Forget the future. Live in the now!

Slide 19

Slide 19

Mental health is a person journey and one that will last a lifetime.

I suffer from depression.

I have accepted that and it’s comforting in a way.

A friend told me that my relationship with myself is the longest one I will ever have, so I better settle in the for ride and get comfortable.

Whilst everyone’s journey is a personal one and everyone’s mental health is an individual experience, it doesn’t mean anyone is ever alone in facing it.

No one should ever feel alone.

Everyone should feel comfortable sharing.

And that is my final point.

Slide 20

Slide 20

And they didn’t…

The feedback I received from giving this talk was humbling.

I didn’t expect it.

I promised I would share these slides and the video (which will follow). If you’ve made it this far, I just ask one thing of you.

Share this far and wide.

Let everyone know that they can share.

Let everyone know they are not alone.

 

 

You can follow along on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

 

Andrew Salkeld

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Breaking the stigma (part two)

When life gives you lemons…you now have lemons.

Many of you will have seen that I have been publicising that I am giving a talk on World Mental Health Day about my story with regards to mental health and facing suicide.

In advance of this I wanted to share with you all some more detail about what I will be talking about, how I will be presenting it and give you a preview of some of the slides.

Firstly…

You can find more information about the event at the eventbrite website. I believe there are still spaces available, so please do come along if you have the time and are interested.

I will be making all the slides and my notes available after the talk. The talk will also be recorded and we will hopefully find a way to share the video, so those unable to attend can still see and hear what I have to say; so nothing is lost in just reading the slides.

Thank you to Zainah for inviting me to talk. It is something I genuinely enjoy doing and if I can help just one person through speaking in whatever small capacity, then I have made a difference.

The juicy bits…

It would be wrong of me to not start with this (as it is indeed my first proper slide).

Mental Health is not visible.

It is not about crying and weeping in a corner…

…nor about being a Disney princess and collapsing on nearby objects…

…nor about staying in bed all day and wishing for it to end…

Mental Health can impact each and every one of us. No one knew how much I was suffering until I spoke out. My colleagues didn’t know, my friends didn’t know, even my family didn’t know. This isn’t because they were ignorant, it was because we learn to hide it; we internalise it. Mental Health in whatever form is an entirely personal experience and we all deal with it our individual ways.

To me, I am just some guy who had some bad luck and ended up in a pretty bad place. I’ve got a story like anyone else, no where near as bad as some and there will be people far more qualified to do this talk than I am.

I shouldn’t be doing this…

…But I am…

…and I am doing it to show that regardless of how happy, well adjusted, confident, outgoing and positive someone appears to be, we never know what is underneath.

I consider myself a failure. I have no confidence in myself. I have no self esteem.

I may not look it, but that is how i feel.

and then the kick at the end…

This slide comes towards the end of my presentation and I feel it is a message that most understand but few actually accept.

Life is inherently unfair…

…Disney lied to us…

…The universe does not owe us anything…

…There is no positive and negative balancing force…

We are all start from nothing and end up as nothing so regardless of any impacts of nature and nurture on our lives; we are here for our time and it will be what it will be.

But in knowing it is unfair, and imbalanced, that in itself is actually a positive. We have no knowledge of what the future will be, our past has no impact on what is happening in the here and now; there is no point in living anywhere but the present.

You may be in a bad place now, you may be struggling and it may feel like this has been forever, but you don’t know what’s round the corner.

Forget the past. Forget the future. What is actually important is now!

As usual…

I still live streaming on Twitch. I still break the stigma attached to mental health (in the workplace) by talking openly.

You can continue to follow my journey by visiting my 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 follow along on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

You can do anything…

…so you go do what you want to do.

Andrew Salkeld

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World Mental Health Day

 

I would like to apologise for not writing anything in a while. Whilst that shouldn’t need an apology as I write these expecting nothing back, it appears that some people have actually started following them a little bit and like reading what I write. I have been moving house and everything over the last two weeks has been a lot to handle by myself, so I needed to focus on me.

Regardless, I’m back.

After posting Breaking the Stigma and completing my 24 hour charity stream over on Twitch I was approached to talk about my experiences with mental health. I was taken aback that people might actually want to hear my story and that there might be some people who benefit from it.

Now I’m going to give you a sneak peak into my upcoming 30 minute talk (information to follow in this article) as I think it’s important for everyone to understand how I am feeling about this and what to expect from my talk:

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This is taken from Slide 2 of my presentation, because I believe it is incredibly important that people understand what depression and mental health can mean.

I do not feel I deserve to be put up on a podium for being some person who happens to be willing to talk about his problems. I don’t even think in the universal scale of things that my problems ever matter.

I feel like a fake and a failure.

What I did realise though, and why I have agreed to give this talk and to speak openly in front of an audience, is that people didn’t realise I have depression. People don’t understand that;

Depression isn’t about weeping in a corner or collapsing on the nearest object and crying like a Disney princess. It isn’t about staying in bed all day and fearing the outside world.

Depression is just a part of those people who have it. People with depression just happen to carry with them this other part of themselves people don’t see. I personally see depression as;

a heavy numb emptiness in my very being.

Now that I understand it though, I don’t worry when I do notice it is there again.

That is why I want to give this talk and to hopefully push a recording of it out onto the internet somewhere. I want other people, those with or without depression, those who are or are not seeking better mental health, to realise that mental health can impact anyone; from the most successful to the most humble.

World Mental Health Day

So I will be talking at Chakra Corporate’s ‘Finding your Way to Wellbeing’ event as part of their ‘Mental Strength for the Nation’ tour.

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If you are interested in coming along and hearing me speak for 30 minutes on my experiences with mental health, my battle with depression and ultimately how I faced the ultimate decision in my life, then please do feel to sign up on the website.

I will be making as much of this talk available to everyone as I can.

As always

You can continue to find me on TwitchFacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

I am going to continue live streaming when I have the spare time to enable me to do so. I am going to continue trying to break the stigma attached to mental health.

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.

Whatever you choose to do, may you find your way to wellbeing.

 

Andrew Salkeld

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