My book’s introduction and motivation to write:
Motivation, an extremely overused word in our modern technological milieu. Nevertheless, we all need to speak into this mysterious area of human behaviour for the benefit of others, more often than not. My motivations are difficult to articulate, even so, I will try to shine some light. Foremost, you need to understand some basics about me. I manage things from a deep sense of understanding, consequently, some might say an inner guide or guiding voice. All you monotheistic believers don’t think I am referring to God, not in the sense you’re getting excited about or familiar with. The guiding voice is more of a knowing than any revelations or epiphany from divine sources. Some may identify it as a clairvoyant, however, I do not consider myself clairvoyant. Others will verbalise it as intuitions. Personally, I read it more like seeing through the fog of life as a metaphor. The fog, is the world’s endless supply of data and information on how to lead our lives, we all get confused, especially when, people like me experience poor mental health. Even people with outstanding mental health cannot see the path clearly and end up in a world of trouble and confusion with how it all happen. This fog, can become extremely dense and cause people to feel completely lost. I have experienced this many times, after years of navigation through the religious conundrums, business, disasters and financial and relationship turmoil and breakdowns I have developed some wholesome and helpful tools that has created wisdom that is easily transferable and helpful.
I am not some religious person, often well-meaning, but caught in the game of winning brown points with their chosen God or deities. I am not attempting to convert or persuade anyone to follow any particular thing. My degree in Theology often conjures up presuppositions, or questions my motivations and ideas, specifically, the Christian religion or typically regarding God and Scripture. I don’t call myself Christian and do not see scriptures of any source as the ultimate truth. Truth is a whole chapter on its own and something that people can waste lifetimes chasing. I have postgraduate studies in spiritual care / pastoral care or as I fondly described it once Practical Theology and this type of study is very universal in nature. I have received wisdom and profound experiences in this discipline that changed my life forever. Lastly, on the Academic conversation, my recent interest, and the current study, an M.A in Applied Buddhism has been very helpful in terms of mental health. Looking at the Buddhists who spends time working with the mind, you could say its fundamental or the cornerstone of the religion. Hence, my formal education has offered me a chance to rub shoulders with some fascinating people who enable me to keep navigating the fog with more skill and enthusiasm. Often here in Australia, I come across an anti-intellectualism in a variety of circumstances. Fuelled by materialism or simply nuances of wealth is all you need and it, of course, corresponds to intelligence. In religious circles, God and scripture are all you need and in Buddhism walking the ”Path” or spiritual practice is all you require. Without my training I would be dead or extremely ill, and possibly lost in the mental health system.
This book, according to publishers and people in the writing industry is categorized as self-help. I agree, I am putting up some wisdom-and tools for people who are caught in the fog of life. My fog was heightened by a condition called Bipolar 1 and also PTSD. I will talk more about this mental illness in more detail in other chapters. My many years studying religion and involvement allow me to shed some light on the religious cultures and its positive and negative aspects. You might wonder if I am merely another academic writing a book for some notoriety. I left school in year nine in Tasmania and was considered a scatterbrain in primary school, according to one teaches assessment on an end of year report. My former life will be explained in more detail later and the hurdles I managed to jump will fascinate you and hopefully inspire you to jump a few of your own. A birds-eye survey of my life; Painter and decorator predominate, self employed, Navy, submarines briefly, Tram driver, Australia post, teachers aid, Spiritual care. Understandably, I am your ordinary worker, ironically, one day through the pain and suffering I started my ten year, and ongoing tertiary education journey. This came about at forty and again is a fascinating aspect of my life I will enjoy sharing. You can conceive of how unrealistic writing a book would have seemed to me most of my life. Getting through the day was a huge challenge at many points.
My book is not about Bipolar and mental health predominant. It will touch on the issues because it’s a challenge and huge hurdle many are confronting today. My lived experience and my insights into good management offer a lot, making it a tragedy, not disclosing the tools I have discovered. Furthermore, this book is not a bad guy getting good through God or any other divine intervention. It’s not a Buddhist publication about a Bipolar patient finally overcoming mental illness. However, God, and Buddhism have played a part in my mental health management over the years and offered different things at different times. Not always beneficial or positive, consequently, I will speak in detail about my experiences and my thoughts on the pros and cons of religion in mental illness. I am objective and also honest, this will be construed as a disgruntle regarding religion by some. I reassure you I am very objective and certainly not bitter or angry at any religions. I will be brutally honest and may offend some, nonetheless, that’s their hurdle and the ideological world they live in not mine. I will write frankly from living experiences and years of teaching. I am a prolific reader, considering, I only read nonfiction, and historically, wisdom literature often published by spiritual / religious persons, therefore, offering me a broader understanding on the subject. I will take just about anything on the subject, and certainly have over the years. I do see the Buddhist literature wonderful and wholesome, these days. The Bible was a front-runner for me for many years and offered some wonderful wisdom into mankind’s conundrum with God.
Nutrition, I am not a dietician. I have spent many years improving and adjusting this vital facet of my life. Being on a plant based diet these days and for a few years has altered my life. I will not be using the book as a platform to promote Vaganism. I will share my journey from a youthful age, I started eating game food such as wild duck, kangaroo, and fish. My journey with food was intersected and influenced with my spirituality also. Which is complex, spirituality and food are really connected in my world today. I don’t like the word “ Vegan” these days because it’s almost like a new religion and making many young peoples health issues due to ignorance and ideology. Food and alcohol are a big component of the Australian culture. Hence being a non drinker and on a plant based diet has offered some unique challenges, positive and negative. My non drinking started out as a sound mental health strategy, now like diet, spirituality has intersected with my deepest sense of the universe and its workings. My early life with booze and the culture here in Australia is worth discussing in more detail too. The culture here in Australia goes back to former settlement and meals are predominantly larger at dinner. I deliver some thoughts and fascinating lived experience, that question this meal habit and is based on thousands of years of different practices of many.
Escapism, is very real and affects so many in many complex ways and I am no different. We all wish a break from reality or to get away from our normal routine. I have gone through the ups and downs of this endless roller coaster. I, too, have some tools that will help liberate you from this endless, and hopeless “ ground hog day “ I have learnt to be content right where I am every day and this is achievable through practice and choices over time. We just need to look at our culture and see the damage escapism is doing on so many levels and I guess substance abuse is the most obvious. People, love to create false identities on social media, largely because it’s easier than figuring out who they are, and finally sitting still and observing themselves long enough to accept who they are. This author is a complicated and sophisticated writer… not for everyone, nevertheless, I like his thoughts here on the subject,
“It is like a man separated from light by a wall and who cannot touch his wall without making it higher and higher, but a day comes when all the absurd efforts that have built up the wall to such a height that it becomes unsteady and collapse suddenly, a catastrophe that is final and triumphant, and which leaves the man bathed in the light
You and I live in a highly advanced and complex world today. This world puts up so much at our fingertips. I am not some older guy looking back at the good old days. We all know looking back often through “rose-coloured glasses” is extremely unhelpful and some other form of escapism. My motivation is to look at today with clear, honest eyes, that extend beyond the fog and see the truth about what is entangling us or distracts from reality.
Exercise, this theme is so prevalent on the internet and often seen as the secret to longevity and the fountain of youth. Understandably, there is some truth to all the hype, and promises. It’s even got a line as the ultimate weight management tool. I have been extremely active all my life, surfing, exercising in a physical job, running, swimming, gym, yoga and the list go on. What has it taught me more or less exercise? Seeing I am ex military too, this adds another level of experience that’s unique and worth talking about. Ironically, and not surprising the fog in this area is so dense that people normally give up or get so overwhelmed that they never start. What to do? Where to start? Surprisingly, it’s simple and very effective once you understand yourself better and accept today. Nutrition, is the cornerstone and understanding you physical limitation is a great starting point. I am in good shape, considering I have L4, L5 degenerative discs. How do I manage this condition and still remain active and strong. Excuses, and pain killers did not answer it, nor did complain and feeling sorry for myself. Comparing myself to others was the greatest setback in preparation. Also, obsessing over body image and constantly caring about your weight will only serve as an obstacle. Finally, understanding, even with illness or injury, we can invariably do something to help. Remember the old saying, ‘ The guy walking slowly round the block is lapping the guy on the couch”
This book in context of my complex health issues and lived experience with chronic illness offers hope, and through determination and persistence we all can reach things. Success; this is another potentially dangerous word, so widely used Also, complex in nature in-terms of human experiences, often ideological and philosophical, ethnic, and religious. The media generates enormous quantities of fog in this area. I, like many of you have endured the horrendous experience of feeling like a total failure due to all the aspects mentioned and so many more unmentioned. How did I begin to visualize through the fog of success and understand my idea of this modern phenomena. What if you are poor and chronically sick, even uneducated or disabled? Where do you fit into the modern popular versions of success? Clearly, with a mental illness, I have suffered from stigmatization and still perform. Where does my success fit and how have I managed to get a line through the fog?
Some people got it like Carl Gustav Jung all those years ago,
‘If we feel our way into human secrets of the sick person, the madness also reveals its system, and we recognize in the mental illness merely and exceptional reaction to emotional problems which are not strange to us.
Trauma, this is something very personal, like pain and we all go through it differently. Even though we feel similarities, we can never feel what another individual does. I had a traumatic event at eight years old, my father was killed in a fatal trench cave in. I will talk about this more obviously, for the benefit of understanding how I overcome the death of a primary care giver so young. My life was lived in a small country town in Tasmania and my play was always centred on the South Esk river as a child. My mother had her own demons to deal with at twenty six years old in losing her husband. Understandably, this impacted my life and continued for many years later. I had some supernatural experiences as an adolescent that still fascinate me today. My dreams often scared me and become an instrument for discovering as an adult. Carl Jung and his experience offered some help for me in clearing the haze in this unusual, but very common phenomena. My experience as a postgraduate student in a specialized Oncology hospital for nine months full time changed my life. How? Dealing with death and suffering ever-day has a profound effect on carers. I went through a lot of death as as a child and young adult. This experience is foundational in terms of my spirituality and life choices, which I will expound on. My dream, in sharing the trauma and learning experiences based on lived experience and studying loss and grief is paramount in understanding me and the tools I have discovered. We all have endured loss and grief on many different levels. Hoe to overcome such things and live a full life?
I encourage you to have an open mind and heart when reading about my experiences and learning how I cleared the fog, that caused tremendous suffering at times and exasperated my poor mental health. This is a narration of a scatterbrained fatherless child, who comes from an uneducated bunch of dysfunction country Tasmanians. I assumed I was invariably the problem and never cared much for myself. I staggered around lost in the fog of life and living undiagnosed, Bipolar 1 and PTSD for many years, which wreaked havoc on myself and many others. I had all the things poor mental health has on offer, confusion, loneliness, suicidal ideation, anxiety, etc. Finally, at forty I collapse from back spasms and reach for help.
This began a ten-year rebuild and today I am well, educated, no addictions. In healthy relationships and at peace. I see clearly through the fog and do not listen to nonsense. I am open-minded and have compassion for all living things. I know that people are all whole they just do not understand it and have no clue how to achieve wholeness. I know life is more or less what you do today, not yesterday or tomorrow. I brought up before my enjoyment in Buddhist literature and this is a great closing quote that resonates with me today.
Panna – Using Wisdom;
He lives his life with wisdom and acts with reason: he does not react impulsively to incidents he encounters or gets carried away by temptation; he studies things to know them clearly and penetrate to their reason; he understands things as they really are, too (realizing) the highest truth.