SAC White must not suggest using his genitals to fix broken kit or for anything other than their intended purpose
I’ve spent weeks thinking about whether I should write this book, thoughts like “I can barely string a sentence together, never mind write a whole book’ and ‘Nobody will give a shit about your story’ kept flying through my mind. But after enough pestering from my wife and friends I decided to give it a go. Plus (for some reason) some people seem to like hearing about what’s happened to me. But my main reason? Well this is an honest, upfront, no bullshit account of a bloke who suffered through severe mental health illness, through one of the shittiest times imaginable and came out the other side not only alive but loving life and if this book can give one person going through a rough time a light at the end of the tunnel to focus on then surely, it’s worth it, right?
I’m not much of a writer, like many people I’ve tried a few times through my life, each filled about 2 chapters and then I gave up, I guess the difference between then and now is now I’ve actually got a story to tell. I never knew enough about one subject to write anything interesting about it or I’ve never had an attention span long enough to let my imagination create a piece of fiction that was any good. But what’s to follow is 8 years of my life in which I started out by thinking I knew everything about life and myself.
Quickly and painfully, I learnt that I knew fuck all about anything, and then built a brand new me. None of this ‘New Year, new me’ bullshit, it’s more of a ‘new life, new me’. I’m not aiming to write an autobiography, my life really isn’t interesting enough for that but what I aim to do is use my story to show people that no matter how bad things get they will get better, maybe give some ideas for people on how to start turning things around and if it makes an interesting read for people in the process, well that’s a bonus. Just be warned, there are points in this story where things will get dark, I intend for this to be a completely honest, nothing held back account of my journey through mental health because I believe that people aren’t open enough about mental health. How can people feel safe to talk about their health issues if people still talk about mental health like they talk about sex toys? Mental health can be a very dark subject, but it can also make you do some pretty funny shit (such as printing out a photo of my Sergeants wife, make a paper cigar and display it in the office implying she’s a post-op Winston Churchill) but more on this later.
As a result of everything that’s happened to me I’ve learned that the strongest people are those who have shed every ounce of pride and ego, let their façade fall and have been to the bottom of the barrel. When you’ve come from the bottom, you’re a blank canvas and free to create whatever masterpiece you want. This is why whenever I hear someone say ‘I suffered/suffer from mental health’ I know they’re strong, their own head has been their worst enemy and relentlessly beat the shit out of them, but they have fought back and they’re still here, which means they have won. To those still suffering all I can say is keep going, keep fighting because you don’t yet realise just how strong you are, you’re a champion and although you may not be able to see the other side of that canvas, I promise you it’s there.
This is the story of how I went from what my best mate described as “really bad diarrhoea shit” mental health issues where I was a genuinely horrible and, in some ways, a dangerous person to someone who loves life, is genuinely happy in themselves and runs a successful business helping other people achieve their dream lives.
So why should you read the ramblings of an overweight 31-year-old Northerner? Well the fact that you’re reading it means there’s a good chance you’ve already paid for it, so you might as well. The main reason, however, is that not nearly enough people talk about mental health, and even if they do its usually pretty surface level or media friendly stuff. Nobody talks about the really shitty stuff. Hopefully, people will take something away from it, maybe it’s a message of hope, maybe it’s a lesson in fighting through adversity, it could be to learn a bit more about mental illness or maybe it’s that feeling when you’re at the train station looking at people and thinking ‘what’s their story?’ Well here’s mine.
So finally we have a mailing list!
I've been thinking about doing this for a while but everything has bene so hectic that I've been putting it off but I've taken the plunge.
Firstly Don't worry! This isn't going to be one of those annoying mailing lists that keeps pumping out irrelevant, annoying stuff with nothing to do with the reason why you signed up in the first place. As a mailing list subscriber everything you receive will be meaningful, usefull and (hopefully) interesting.
My passion is helping people find what success means to them and then go on to achieve this success through creating positive habits, employing positive mindset and taking action to make solid change in life. I've spent years learning the methods of success. Notice how I didn't say 'secret'? That's because it's not a secret, it's all out there on the interweb, in books and on videos/podcasts to find. But what works and what doesnt? Do you really need to real millions of words in books and what if I don't have a huge bank account to get me started?
Well that's where this mailing list comes in. I'll email you giving you these methods to discover and achieve your ideal life for absolutely free. Why would I do that? Because I love it! It's my passion, it's changed my life beyond all recognition and so on a selfish level I get a kick out of helpig others do the same.
So, if you want to get some genuinely useful tips, tricks and methods for imporiving your life then sign up below! And don't worry, if you don't like it you can always unsubscribe (but please don't!).
Most of us want to be successful in life. But what does success mean to you?
I've got a little but incredibly powerful exercise I want you to try, some of you won't try this, that's fine, maybe you're not ready for that big change yet but if you want more out of life then do this.All you need is a couple of sheets of paper, a pen and 20 minutes.
Sorted? Right here it is
I want you to write down how you want your life to look a year from now. Consider these 4 areas,
Lifestyle (what do you want your day to day life to look like?)
Impact (what impact do you want to be making?)
Finances (how healthy does your bank account look?)
Emotions (how are you feeling?)
This can be in a list, paragraph, mind map, whatever you want just get it down there on that paper.
Got it? OK good
Now do it again! No, really. I'm willing to bet that first one doesn't excite you, it's just slightly preferable to what you have now.
So do it again but this time it needs to excite you and scare you a little. It needs to make you think 'how the hell am I going to do that?'.
Off you go, I'll wait.
Got it? Feeling scary? Feeling excited?
That's more like it. How does that maker you feel?
“Couldn’t you just man up?”
In 2012 this sentence was uttered to a severely mentally ill me by my line manager, a Flight Lieutenant. At the time, it didn’t have much impact on me; I politely said to him “That’s not how this works, Sir” and explained to him about the chemical imbalances and brain activity associated with depression. We finished our ‘meeting’ with me simply thinking he was a bit ignorant.
Approximately a year later the same Flight Lieutenant asked two of my line managers to have a chat with me. “We have reason to believe you’re using your ‘symptoms’ in order to get out of taskings and get time off work, we need to ask you to stop this or we will need to start disciplinary action”. Now, this situation was different, this felt like an instant punch to the gut. What followed was a full-blown breakdown in myself which includes a panic attack and a situation in which I very nearly hurt myself. I was furious, I was hurt, I felt betrayed by the very people who oversaw my well-being at work.
The following years I grew angry, very angry, not just at these management figures but everyone. My motto became ‘Everyone is an arsehole until they prove me wrong’, I would happily start an argument with anyone, shout and scream at them, take pleasure in making them small because they had wronged me in some way, I constantly had imaginary arguments with people in my head, had thoughts about hurting people, in short I was a complete bastard, all because of this one 10 minute meeting back in 2013.
‘That’s great Pete but what’s your point?’ I hear you asking.
Well, I wasn’t only living in the past because of what had happened, I had let this one event define me as a person, not only that but I had given these 2 managers so much control over my life that I had forgotten that I’m in control of my own thoughts, words and actions. It took a lot of medication and therapy for me to finally realise that although what they had done was a really shitty thing to do, what they thought about me and my illness was irrelevant, their actions didn’t define me, and I was in control of my own thoughts, words and actions.
Life will throw things at us, sometimes awful things. In the moment it’s completely normal to react however we react. But once this has passed we have a choice to how we react. For example, This is why someone who has suffered from a robbery (for example) may develop a fear of leaving the house, or someone else may become a champion of community security and lowering crime rates (There’s no judgement either way here, just different ways of reacting to an event).
For many (including myself) this was a bitter pill to swallow but an incredibly powerful one. I realised that we’re not the result of what happens to us, we’re the result of what we do about it, or another way of putting it, your past doesn’t define you, your choices do.
Many of us have seen Limitless, the 2011 thriller in which Bradley Cooper playing Eddie Morra, a down and out writer struggling to pay his bills and unable to hold down a relationship discovers NZT-48, a mystical pill that unlocks his potential and turns his life around overnight, learning new skills, making loads of money and eventually becoming a congressman. It’s a great movie both for its sheer entertainment value but also it makes you think, what if this was possible? What if we could take a magic pill that changes our life, means we can do whatever we wanted, achieve all our goals and give us limitless potential (hence the name of the movie).
Well maybe we can do all of this and we don’t even need a pill that costs hundreds a pop. Now before we go any further we need to make some things clear.
So how could we do this in real life? Well let’s look in detail at what Eddie actually does to achieve all of this. First thing he does is cleans and organises his flat, nothing spectacular here right? But why would this help? Well it’s difficult to get our life in order if your environment is a mess, our heads are busy enough without everything around you making it feel more chaotic. Also, it’s as simple as this; Take control of the things you can control, start with a small circle of order (cleaning your living space) and expand the circle outwards. Once this is done he sits down and sets his priorities, first on the list is to finish his book. Now am I’m not saying everyone needs to write a book, but I am saying to identify what’s your biggest priority and start working on it. By completing his book, he not only manages to earn some money, he feels a great sense of achievement and doesn’t have that sense of urgency looming over him. We all put things off that we know we should do, sometimes it’s because we give something else priority or because we decide to something more fun but less productive but by focusing on the important we free ourselves to live life rather than let life happen to us.
So, we’ve got things in order, and ticked off the important stuff, what’s next? Eddie goes to work on himself, spending time on improving various aspects of his life, getting fitted for a nice suit, learning different languages, getting fit and healthy, learning to play the piano and getting up to date with current affairs. So, what’s going on here? Well aside from the fact that he learns a lot of skills to an advanced level impossibly quick, he’s growing as a person, in the movie he jokingly calls it ‘self-improvement month’ but why just limit it to a month? Eddie is taking the time to better himself in things he enjoys, not only does he enjoy them, but they also benefit him in the long run. It’s like the old proverb ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’, in other words if you want to be a better you then start taking the steps to become a better you. Now learning 3 languages, getting in shape, bcoming proficient with musical instruments among many other skills in the space of what appears to be days or weeks isn’t realistic, but the concept is solid, by regularly spending some time on bettering yourself the result is a better you, simple really.
So far, we’ve got our life in order, completed our to do list and become a better version of ourselves, what’s left? Well before things start going all Hollywood thriller on us Eddie does one more thing. He gets a job at a stock broker and makes loads of money by being good at it. What can we take away from this? After all, not many of us want to work in the stock market. The lesson here is find something you enjoy, get good at it and find a way to make money doing it. In the case of this movie he enjoys math and current affairs and uses this passion to make money on the stocks bit the applications for this are vast. Enjoy drawing? How do people make money from drawing? Are you good with coding? Could you build websites for people? Do you love dogs, maybe charge people to walk their dogs for them or start a doggy day care? The possibilities are endless.
One last thing, we’ve spoke a lot about how to improve ourselves and our lives, but we can’t forget one critical component and something in this movie that most of us miss. Eddie takes the time out to enjoy himself, his life and time with people around us. Self-development is great but it’s a waste if we don’t enjoy the person we’ve become
We can’t turn our lives around overnight, it takes time, effort and a little sacrifice. Growth is a constant process, there is no end, only progress but the point is if you’re not happy with where your life is now, if you want more or better, you can turn it around, your potential is limitless.
What got me to where I am now?
I guess you could say my coaching story started 9 years ago. The 1st of February 2009 at 8am to be exact, when I joined the Royal Air Force. I was 21 and embarking on what I thought would be a life long career as an engineer in the RAF. Back then I had no idea who I was, what I stood for or the challenges that life could bring (though if you would have asked me back then I would have told you I knew it all). My early days in the forces taught me the basics of discipline, overcoming adversity (or manning up as we called it; which is a term I now dislike), the value of hard work and what it means to sacrifice.
I was deployed to Afghanistan 04 April 2011 and spent nearly 5 months there, I was the new guy on my Squadron so worked in lots of different menial jobs because nobody wanted to give the new guy an important job. Eventually I found myself in a job monitoring casualty and contact (fighting) reports. My job was to monitor these reports and any footage or images of the incident and put them together in a report. This was a solo night duty over 10 weeks (In other words I was on my own, every night watching people be killed and seriously injured). As you can imagine this took its toll on me, but I wouldn’t know this for a while.
Just over a year later I started to become mentally ill, over the next few years my health deteriorated and eventually I was diagnosed with depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). My lowest point was actually over the course of a couple of years, I remember on one occasion I sat on my sofa in my own pee because I was so low I didn’t see any point in any form of self-preservation, I was also attempting to plan a trip to Syria to fight terrorists which now I look back on it is so ridiculous it’s funny as I don’t think there’s much need for overweight communications engineers in Syria but again I thought it would be a good way to end my life.
I had also had some incidents with my chain of command in which I faced discrimination over my mental health, was told to ‘man up’ and ‘just wake up and be happy’ and was prevented from doing various activities and training because they wrongly assumed my health meant I couldn’t take part and that I’d make others depressed. This all left me incredibly and permanently angry, every day I was angry and genuinely believed that nobody should be trusted until they proved me wrong. This is the point in my life that I look back on and consider myself as being at the bottom of the barrel.
Happily, after a lot of treatment, medication and with the unwavering support of my wife my health began to improve, it’s at this point that I was medically discharged from the military which meant an end to my mental health treatment and although I was vastly better than I was there was more work to be done. I could either wait for the NHS to pick up my treatment or start taking responsibility for my own future and move my life forwards.
Although I didn’t know it yet, I’d just decided to become my own life coach. I started listening to motivational speeches on my commute to work, they gave me something positive to focus on and the confidence that things would get better. Lots of the folks giving these speeches would speak about how beneficial reading was and how the most successful people read a lot. I remembered how a sergeant early in my military career recommended I read ‘7 habits of highly successful people’, having never been much of a reader I thought I’d give it a go. This book gave me so much more self-belief and knowledge and I became obsessed about personal effectiveness and success. The next year saw me reading lots more books, learning what success means to me and turning my life around. I felt great, better than even before I joined the military.
I started thinking about how I’d love to help others do the same, achieve their best, find success, believe in themselves and be the best version of themselves, I still didn’t know that life coaching was a career people could do, after telling my wife what I wanted to do she told me about life coaching. After a lot of research and learning I applied to complete the Animas diploma in life coaching which I’m starting in July and I’m very excited about.
Once I have completed my course I plan on leaving my current career as an IT engineer and starting my own coaching business. Although I’m yet to discover my style of coaching and target audience I would really like to work with people who have recently left military service and help them use their military skills in civilian street. I would also like to work in schools and colleges speaking to teens about mental health and helping them achieve their best through techniques to achieve effectiveness and forming positive habits.
If all of this has taught me one thing it’s that a person doesn’t truly know who they truly are until they have been to the bottom of their own barrel, shed every ounce of pride and let go of their ego. This is when a person finds out what they really stand for.
The future is looking bright.