Wednesday, 15 March 2017

"You staunch bro?"

This post is more for those of you with a more "hardened/staunch" perspective on healthcare, generally your own. Has a lot to do with the Distinguished Gentlemen's Ride for prostate Cancer and Mental Health I try to help organise looming on the horizon again (Sept 27th). People will recognise your staunch-ness from 100m away, you're the ones who make statements like "awh nah bro, she'll be right", "Ooo yuck, feelings…" and "Nah, its all good, ain't serious.". 
Maybe you are one, or perhaps know one. Sheesh, I used to be one myself. Still fight the urge from time to time. But if you are one, please read on. I have a couple of things you should probably hear.
Right. I hate to break it to you buddy, but its time you listened up, spoke up and got help if you're trying to handle stuff that you know you can't. Emotional stuff. Mental illness type stuff. Stuff you're not coping with. Being that kind of "staunch" ignoring your challenges is no longer the way to go.

There is a new "staunch" in town and its far better for you, will look better on you and will gain you more respect than the old way would have. Its also braver and harder (read: makes you tougher) than what the word used to mean.
Welcome to 2017.
To start with (and not to take away from stuff you might be dealing with), have you ever had a moment where you went "Okay. This could be bad...I don't know what to do here..."?

You know, one of those times when it seemed the walls were closing in, doubt turned up and everything started annoying or hurting you, and there you are, refusing to admit anything or in a position where you are WAY outside your comfort zone with no idea on what to do next. Would have been one of the times when you dived headfirst into lock-down and closed everyone out. You know. Tryin' to be "staunch".
Sound familiar? Yeah, thought so. You closed down because you refused to deal with whatever it was or is, or maybe you just couldn't.

That "staunch" attitude you're so proud of or grew up with seeing people you respected displaying, doesn't and most likely won't ever help you. Even amongst others doing that same old staunch thing.

Now, if the answer to a question about "how serious is the stuff I'm dealing with right now?", is VERY serious, then you have a huge opportunity to try out this new definition of being "staunch". Step one is to book an appointment with a counsellor. Pretty much every single counsellor will be well trained to deal with any difficulties you might have in expressing yourself.
So whilst you go off and book that appointment, might help to understand what the old "staunch" one is about. In my opinion, it is actually built on three primary things.
1. Fear of looking / feeling weak / embarrassment
2. Lack of ability to talk about stuff
3. Inability to understand own feelings
Both 1 and 2 have always fed each other, just like a snake eating its tail. Cant overcome the fear because you don't have the ability to deal with stuff, cant deal with the stuff because you have too much fear. Point three just makes it worse.
Here's where it gets interesting for you, my staunch friend.
In order to deal with the 3 points, you actually need to harden up. 
Yup. I just said that. Sting a little bit, did it? Thought you were hard or tough already? Got news for you. You're not. And what's even more surprising, that fact is actually 100% okay. In fact, it's more than okay.
Accepting the fact that you're not as hard/staunch/tough as you have been portraying is the first step toward getting a handle on stuff. Its time to be okay dealing with feelings and growing personally (and likely professionally too). Keeping yourself on lock down is the same as doing something negative – it won't help you no matter what the situation you're in that you can't handle.
The kind of hard as detailed in the above 3 points, is a false staunch. It is a lack of understanding, a lack of being able to express yourself and a lack of ability to deal with fear. 
See, feelings aren't dumb, weak, useless, or even embarrassing. Everybody has them, like a pulse. By acknowledging them and not burying them, you get a chance to understand them and therefore, yourself. Doing that gives confidence, some peace, a better understanding of how to handle things in the future.
Wouldn't that be better than how you handle stuff now?
I dare you to put aside any bravado you might have (because we both know that's just a mask for fear of talking about stuff) and make an appointment with a counsellor if there is something you're not handling too well.
Trust me when I say that it is epic-ally braver and stronger to open up and talk about things you're struggling with, than it is to try and ignore them.
Do brave, staunch people bury their heads in the sand to avoid stuff?
The answer is the same you'd give if asked "do tough guys look at explosions after they caused them?". 
No, staunchness-Mc-staunch. 
They don't. 
Tough guys and girls (and undefined) get in, get stuff done and walk away again. Cool as. What you don't get - until now - is that this is exactly what going to a counsellor is like. 
Get in, get stuff done, walk out. Cool as.
The supposed stigma attached to asking for help and getting it (let's be honest, especially if you're a guy – ask for directions anyone?) is everywhere in popular culture, but it's not right. Movies don't tell real life. Real life does. 
Consider the following.
Why do you think its dumb to ask for help when you can't sort stuff that actually matters? 
Do you think that makes you weak? Less of a man/woman/person?
If you think that, definitely check out what I have to say next.
If the alternator in your car is busted, do you fix it/get it fixed?
Yes. Cant go far unless you're planning on pushing it next time you stop.  
What about when the blade on your lawnmower is blunt and needs sharpening? Do you keep mowing the lawns cutting less and less each time, until you're eventually just pushing around a noisy hunk of useless machine annoying the neighbours and wasting all your time?
No, of course not. That'd be stupid, right? You fix it or get it fixed.
Closer to topic, got a bad, bad headache or a high fever. You ignore them?
No, egg if you did. You take medicine…and then you feel better.
So why then, do you think looking after yourself by going to a counsellor, has to be any different?
​Right. Fess up time. 
Have I been to see a counsellor? Yup, absolutely. 
Couple of times now throughout my life. Helped me. A lot. Needed my head put back on straight when I couldn't do it myself. No shame in it. Life can knock everybody down at some stage. Counsellors were able to provide me with some insight as to my various situations and provide me with some tools I needed to get it together. And I did. 
Just like taking panadol for a headache or taking my lawnmower to the lawnmower shop.
Now consider the fact I've been trained to be tough, kickboxing, streetfighting, brutal. I'm supposed to be hard. Does that make me weak or less of a man for getting help? Hell no. If anything, made me stronger. MUCH stronger. Often gives me the opportunity to flick the fingers up to the world and say 
"Ha! You couldn't break me!"
Counselling can do that for you too, but only if you're "new staunch" and "hard" enough to go. 
Even Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has all this figured out. 
I already know you can do this (since you come here to read these posts), you just need to know you can and that new staunch is the way to aim. 
It is seriously as simple as changing your definition of the word/attitude. John Kirwan (aka J.K. – a legendary All Black and more lately super 14 coach – admitted dealing with heavy depression throughout his All Black days and afterward, even opened up publicly about the topic, faced the advertisements on where to go and how to get help. ​Brave. Admitted he struggled. But he got help and is sorted.
So...if he can handle the jandal and go get himself help as someone famous AND as an ex All Black…what's your excuse again?
Be that kind of a legend. Be that kind of staunch, like John (J.K.) Kirwan, not the staunch you were before you started reading this. Don't be that snake eating its own tail. 
Ask for help. Brave it up. You CAN do it, no matter how tired you feel or how hurt you might be. Never give up. 
You'll thank yourself for booking an appointment (and going to it) and so will those who care about you. If you have already sought help, got it and you're out through the tunnel where its brighter, back me up on here. Tell them that haven't opened up and been yet, how it helped you. 
If just one staunch person reads your words and goes to get assistance, what a great day that will be, don't you reckon? 
Spread the word. Get the help. Open up.
Daz