Focus, Focus, Focus.

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You sit alone.

Just you… and your thoughts.

The never-ending taunting.

Never Give Up.

Head bowed, eyes closed.

Silent tears pooling at your feet.

The lights are on, but you are in a dark place…

Never Give Up.

You want it to end, but won’t let it.

You want to see the light, but are blinded.

You want to believe, but all hope is lost.

Never, Ever, Give Up.

Many of us have been there. Some more than others. We all know that some do end it, never again seeing the light or finding that hope.

What of the others? Those who have reversed this insidious curse; at least for now. Trust me when I say I’m doing all I can right now to bring the black dog to heel and focus on the blue skies.

There is a couple of key activities or learnings that have helped guide me through and/or out of tough times. I will share one of them with you today – having something, anything, to FOCUS on.

I have found that by having a focus, something I can commit to, gives me a distraction from the negativity I associate myself with and lets me get on with living.

Sometimes when I feel like I am struggling, or when I can feel it coming on, I look to find something that will allow me to focus on matters outside of work, finances, family or whatever may be challenging me mentally. This focus may be weeks or even months, yet it may be only hours or minutes.

I tend to set myself some decent challenges and, with the exception of one in which I made some strange decisions, they have worked pretty well for me. Some of you will be aware of a few of these challenges and I won’t go into detail as it may cause unnecessary pain or embarrassment for others.

The biggest I have done, is one that I am quite proud of and one I will happily share is the coaching of the EFL Junior Umpires.

I took this role on, eyes wide shut and against the seemingly better judgement of others, a little over two years ago. I have no idea why I agreed to it, I just did.

It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

This is something that I am very good at, very good. And I absolutely love it. To see young people achieve their goals and experience success is a great tonic, particularly when you know that you have played a role in that. If I could make a career in football/umpiring/coaching I would be almost happier than I was at 5:08pm on 1 October… ALMOST!

I still need to be careful that I don’t make it something bigger than it is and maintain it as a hobby that I enjoy and get great satisfaction from, rather than it becoming part of the problem. If I sense that happening, I will call on my network for guidance and reset or I will walk away.

As I said, the focus of your attention does not need to be big, in fact it often won’t be.

Sometimes you will be focussing sub-consciously. I can think of a few ways this might happen… reading a book – a good idea before bed to relax the mind, colouring in – it is the in thing for mindfulness (except when you cross one of those God forsaken lines!), or a jigsaw puzzle, crossword, sudoku or other game (prefereably non-screen based).

Remember, mental health and its associated challenges is unique to each of us but if we start sharing what works for us, then others may find some inner peace from that. Give it a go, start small and see how it works for you.

One other factor that can help is general lifestyle, and I will look at that, and its own inherent challenges, later in the week.

Thanks for reading and if you have anything to add to the conversation I invite your comments and feedback.

I will be back in a day or two with my next activity to focus on… and I will be looking for your support!

You are alone, but you are not on your own.

Never. Give. Up.

Fumble in the dark if you have to, but turn the light on.

Never. Give. Up.

Believe there is something better, and find some hope.

Find a focus, and… Never. Give. Up.

 

If you are struggling, please talk to someone. Anyone.
Call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 155 1800, MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 or check out beyondblue.org.au for more resources. In emergencies, please call 000

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