The only way is up

Written by James Dear

This blog follows my life through drug addiction, anxiety and life's challanges. I cover my own experiences as well as the loss of several friends to suicide. I want to share my knowledge in the hope that we can save lives and all live a happier and more fulfilled life.

January 24, 2019

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please know that you are not your thoughts.

Someone once told me this metaphor and it really helped me. Think of yourself as water. Water is pure like you. The negative thoughts that you are having are dirt that has got into the water. Despite the water being dirty, the water can be filtered and purified again. I have spoken to many people who have had these thoughts and with some work have managed to break through and are living a happy life now. I am going to share some of the things that help me on a daily basis, advice that I have heard and information that I have found during research.

It is good to spend time with people that make you feel better for being around them. I have found great solace in going to yoga and meditation. Going to meditation has completely changed my direction and given me some clarity. It always teaches you to be in the present. This is useful, being depressed is a consequence of living in the past and anxiety is a consequence of living in the future. Do you notice how you can spend time with a group of people and everything seems fine, but when you leave you feel like something has been taken from you? I feel this when I spend time with negative people who moan a lot. When I have been going to yoga and meditation I leave feeling like I have more than when I went. I almost feel guilty for taking this from them. I don’t fully understand how it works but at an intuitive level, I know that I can feel it and that it is good for me. I would describe it as a really clean feeling. If it seems like people are never nice then it is possible that you are not going to places where people are nice. I find this when I train in big Globo gyms. No one talks to you, people are rude and they spend most of their time staring at themselves in the mirror. I don’t judge them because I am sure that many are battling their own insecurities but it is certainly not a positive environment for healing.

I ensure that I have my go-to place for cheering me up. Everywhere I go, I make videos full of my best memories. Whenever I feel down I watch them and it reminds me that life has been good and that it can be good again. Something that I have heard recommended is making a “distraction box” – fill it with things that provide comfort, remind you of the good things in your life, and help lift your mood. You can include anything meaningful and helpful to you, e.g. a book, photos, letters, poems, music, notes to yourself, a toy, perfume, jokes etc.

When I was younger, I used to get away with it or at least I was unaware. As I get older and the longer I spend time sober, I realise how sensitive I am to getting enough sleep, rest and exercise. If you are feeling worn to the bone and need rest then take some time off work and don’t feel guilty about it.  I find any less than 7 and a half hours sleep I start noticing big differences in my mood. The less sleep you get the more cortisol is released into your system. Think of cortisol as nature’s built-in alarm system. It’s your body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear. Symptoms that I became aware of were being hungry all day because it is impossible to satisfy your hunger with too much cortisol in your system, fatigue (especially when spending a lot of time in the gym), and elevated levels of anxiety. I also quit drinking coffee for the same reasons. The combination of getting enough sleep and no coffee has improved my mood, motivation and focus tenfold. I am by no means saying that it is easy to do either of those things but it is worth the consideration. I was lucky that my friend offered to quit coffee with me. He was drinking ten cups a day and I was only drinking 3-4 so my withdrawals were a walk in the park compared to his. It made it seem easier. Coffee is the world’s most commonly used psychoactive drug!

What I eat and when, plays a huge roll in how I feel. Not overeating has been great for beating fatigue. I tried intermittent fasting, the idea is that you eat all of your meals in a smaller window each day so that you spend more time in a fasted state. This improves cognitive function, your body heals itself and there are so many other benefits that are worth a google search. My willpower is not the best so I try to make sure that I push my first meal back to 10am earliest and this allows me to get the ball rolling and build some momentum for the day before I slow my system down with digestion. There have been some checkpoints that have made a noticeable improvement in mood and motivation. The first was stopping eating meat, the second was cutting down refined sugar and carbohydrates as much as possible. (not an easy task for me!), stopping eating dairy and my most recent experiment has been observing how I feel after consuming certain types of oils. I am finding that I feel ok from extra virgin olive oil but heavy and foggy if I have vegetable oil. With diet, everyone is so different and there is a lot of contradictory information out there but it is worth paying attention to and seeing how you feel mentally and physically when you eat different things because our body speaks to us if we are willing to listen.

Alcohol and prescription drugs are a dangerous game if you are feeling really low. They have a habit of making thoughts a reality. The rate of suicide amongst my group of friends in the UK is way above average and the thing linking many of these tragedies is drugs. They are not always the cause but they are mood enhancers so you are either going to have the best or worst time of your life. As someone who has been trapped in a position seemingly of no choice but to use drugs, I know how difficult it can be especially as it can seem like they are your only comfort and in the short term they can be helpful, but if you are in a desperate and dangerous place then it is essential that you change your situation, one way or another. There are always two options in life. The path to the dark and the path to the light. Using drugs every day will not lead you to the light.

As I have mentioned, talking about your problems with someone you trust is one of the most cathartic feelings and it can instantly relieve some of that built up discomfort. I know that it can feel like it’s a really difficult thing to do and it can feel shameful but it shows great courage and you will be surprised how people will respond to your honesty, in a positive way. Telling the truth always works out for the best. If you can’t talk to someone you know then there are a lot of helplines with some really nice people to talk to.

Part of the reason that you are feeling down could be because so many small things have built up into one big problem. Ask a friend for some help because with their fresh eyes they may be able to see a simple solution for all of the small problems and they will more than likely be pleased to help you with a few things.

There is an unlimited amount of videos on the internet of people who have been in a similar situation to you and have found their way out and are sharing how they did it. Watching these can be very inspirational.

Making a plan is good for anything. I am lost without a routine. I feel like I am falling into an abyss of nothingness unless I know when I am working and when I get to do my exercises and other classes I have. Try to make a plan with some small and achievable goals for the week and you can build on this as you improve. Just remember to start small and not ask too much of yourself.

One thing that I do is make signs with positive affirmations on to keep myself motivated. Looking around my room now, I can see three handwritten signs that I wrote, ‘no ones gonna do it gotta do it for yourself’, ‘the only way out is through’ and ‘I believe in you’. This might seem cheesy or silly but is like a little message to you, from you. You have no idea how many times I have been stressed out or depressed lying on my bed and I’ve looked up and seen the sign saying I believe in you. It has helped me to have more faith in myself. It is really important that you are able to trust yourself.

Just as your suicidal thoughts took time to appear, it will take a while for them to fade. Live from day to day and don’t expect too much of yourself. Even if you can’t see a way forward now, you can be certain that the way you are thinking and feeling about things will change.

Thank you for making it this far. If you enjoyed reading this or anything resonated with you please like and share. I would love to read about your own experiences and thoughts in the comments.

Be kind to yourself always.

Strength and love

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  1. Midge

    Well done mate…. I’m going to implement some of these things into my daily routine.

    • jamesdear0048

      Nice. Let me know how you get on 😊

  2. Arceline Ang

    “I’m on a roller coaster that only goes up, my friend.”
    ― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

  3. Jordan

    I can resonate with this too much. Beautiful words man, healing is a long painful road, I’m at a crossroads in my life right now and I need to get my self in the right path. One day at a time. Big love.

    • jamesdear0048

      It sure is a tough one! I’ve found that finding the path is a combination of a wanting to find it and saying no to a few things that are hard to say no to. Keep on trucking brother you’ll find it!

  4. Henry

    Finally got round to it.

    Since I’ve been out here I’ve realised a lot of things. Like eating cleanly helps massively to your lifestyle choices and I turn your mental health.

    Exercise can be a small daily goal which can seem like a huge win on bad days. Likewise with making small daily goals to achieve, as small as doing the washing or doing your hobbies. The keep your mental health in a good state.

    Positive thoughts also come from putting yourself in good circles/positive people. And when your in the wrong circles Theres always positive people to help, whether that’s other friends or on the end of a helpline. For instance in my situation someone pulled me out of my darkest days, and applied to university for me and I achieved a first class degree. Now I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

    And fantastic blog James. Very informative and I hope it reaches the right people.

    • jamesdear0048

      Cheers for the feedback Henry. The American olympic gymnastic coach said “some people drastically over estimate what they can do in a day, and drastically under estimate what they can do in a year”. This has been played a huge part in my current situation including turning this blog from and idea into a reality.

      I keep my morning really simple and achievable. A small but effective stretch/mobility routine, make my bed and a cold shower. Not a big deal but it’s important that you get it done and it’s not overwhelming.

      It sounds like you’re on a good path mate.

      Keep on trucking 🕺

  5. Dan Arnold

    Good information James, well written, acurate and true. I’ve started doing small meditation sessions recently and found it helps clear my head and gives me more clarity for me to help achieve my goals.

    Hope it helps others and reaches the right people.

    Much love brother x

    • jamesdear0048

      Thanks Dan.

      I have to do group meditation otherwise I can’t make myself sit down and do nothing. The people are decent as well. Certainly essential if you want to blast a hole in life.

      Love to you too ma bro x


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