OMG! You’ve got OCD!

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Apparently, it’s the new black.

All the models in Milan are being sure not to step on any runway cracks.

The fashionistas are out in droves developing their own unique brands of obsessive.

For the first time in history, it’s cool to be out of the ordinary (sarcasm, for those that missed it…)

It might just be that I live in a microcosm, exponentially populated with a swarm of OCD sufferers. I use the term “suffer” very liberally. But before I’m tarred and feathered, I am quite fully aware of the serious nature of this disorder. I know that it consumes lives, and I empathise with anybody whose life is dominated by OCD.

But as society tends to do, people associate themselves with the first explanation they come across that possibly describes the way they feel. Sad and lonely? Well I guess five years ago that would have made you an Emo. You know how to do the running man dance? Oh that’s so 80’s, it’s called shuffling! In the same way, it feels like every second person you come across these days identifies themselves with the plight of the Obsessive Compulsive. Perhaps it’s the hypochondriac within us, but it is beyond coincidental.

It may just be me being pessimistic, but it almost feels unsavoury to be making a “mockery” of this disorder. Or am I looking at it the wrong way? Is it society’s means of raising awareness, so that synchronicity can align our subconscious what is really out there in the big world? Setting up pods for the epiphany of Baader-Meinhof proportions for some poor sap in about to realise he has a life altering condition.

Either way, trends come and go, and so the only way we’ll know how real these cases of OCD are, is to let time unfold all events. I’m pouring a Gin, getting comfy in a chair, and waiting it out. Gosh, I hope it’s not contagious!

Guise

For more on the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, have a crack at this article from 2006 on damninteresting.com
http://www.damninteresting.com/the-baader-meinhof-phenomenon/

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Speak Up

When did society start breeding them? When did we decide it is okay to nurture a lack of social skills and inability to speak in front of even the smallest gatherings? I’m curious as to whether it’s a lack of confidence, fear of judgement or simply too many people taking the easy way out by reading unconsciously from a script of paper. Our politicians do it, so why shouldn’t we?

On first instinct, we look at the internet and the online presence of human beings as detracting from the primal skill of public speaking. An increased time spent engaging computer screens against that spent interacting with physical specimens has, by no doubt, affected the our social skills as humans. We lose the freedom of buying time in between responses, effectively diminishing our ability to think rapidly and spontaneously. Most of us with an inkling of common sense can see this, and yet we continue to dedicate greater lengths of time to our digital presence.

Our ability to write essays, blogs and share creative ideas have in no way been reduced because of the internet. If anything, creativity flows more fluidly for this reason. The lack of 25 sets of eyes no longer has to stand in the way of human expression. For this, many more ideas and thoughts are shared every day. But at what cost? How do we value our inherent ability to address the masses upon a stage? Where would culture and politics be if the great speakers in these fields had given into their fear of attention?

I see a trend, a negative spiral of acceptance for giving into ones fears. When society reinforces and allows for our youth to stand and fake their way through speeches and addresses, we are taking one giant cultural leap backwards. We are accepting mediocrity and encouraging social anxiety.

These words will not change our schools curriculum to promote better speaking skills. It will not encourage the masses to take on speaking coaches. No. All that these words can do is encourage. They can provide the encouragement to deny yourself from mediocrity, and look to address this issue in each of your lives. When we lose our ability to speak to one another, we are but bricks in a wall. Knowledge may be power, but language is mortality.

 

Guise

To Shave or Not to Shave

Laziness, style, superstition, religion or simply the fact that we can, whatever the reason, all men, at some point in life, are guilty of growing their beards out. Despite the itch, and comments from our disapproving mothers (there’s another reason for some), we sport our beards to work, uni, and inappropriately to, formal occasions. We wear them as our badge of manhood, instead of literally showing off our “manhood”, because that will land you in jail, with your name freshly pressed on the sex offenders list.

In the same boat as many young men have, and will continue to experience, is that in terms of facial hair growth, the term late bloomer sums me up perfectly. It was lonely at times being one of three students not being sent to the bathrooms at school to shave off their developing bum fluff.

Years on from school, I comfortably wear my “beard” for no reason other than the fact that I can.

But there’s more to this point, than the fact that “we are men, we grow beards!” This is the time of year when we wear our facial hair for a greater cause. Another year has passed, and Mo-vember is now only just around the corner. An opportunity to say more than words can, and by getting by your fellow man, particularly those unfortunately dealing with the stress, and illness associated with prostate cancer and male depression.  It may not seem to be much, but the Mo-vember cause continues to grow wider awareness, achieving international adoption and contribution from 2007 onwards.

Be a man in 2012, and whether you raise money, or you simply raise awareness, get on board and do your part to “change the face of men’s health”.

Guise

 

For more information visit www.movember.com

 

The Difference in 1%

We don’t speak out enough, us men. I don’t mean that in some kind of activist way; it’s more a realisation that our genetic thirst for knowledge and superiority often pushes us to accept the face value or the first opinion we hear, as being Gospel. Why? Well it’s with this fresh gossip that we seek out the nearest ear to unload the news, claiming our fame for “being-in-the-know”, a throwback perhaps, to our Neanderthal ancestors, and our desire to fulfil, in some small way, the traditional ‘provider’ role.

I remember when I was growing up that there was an unspoken duty for the ‘provider’ to make sacrifices. It was when sacrifices weren’t made, that it all seemed to go to shit. So, as men, we do as our provider did before us, and we make sacrifices, be it as simple as keeping the peace with silence.

I hear the women in uproar, “Women make just as many and larger sacrifices than what men do”. Too true ladies. I agree one hundred per cent, but this isn’t a competition, and I am only trying to make a point. I could never be misogynistic because the women in my life have had too much of a positive impact on me. The point I’m making will be clear soon enough, but for the meantime, let me highlight the significance of the “one per-cent-ers”. They are those processes and events which require barely any extra effort than the easier alternative, but slowly raise us to a better place.

A recent holiday away reminded me of the 1%. Wanting to avoid an overcrowding elevator, I turned to take the stairs instead. “You’ll fit, come on, jump in”. But I couldn’t bring myself to make myself and six others uncomfortable, just because walking three flights of stairs was the alternative.  “I’ll be fine; it will be good for me”. It was then that a relative proceeded to tell me about how he is such an advocate of the “one per-cent-ers”. It was then that the light bulb switched on, and I was reminded of what it was I was actually doing. I was exerting minimal extra energy, but contributing in a small, yet significant way to my overall health and attitude. That barely microscopic sensation of achievement. The one per-cent-er. And it made me think, ‘How many one per-cent-ers do I attempt on a daily basis?’ This is where I became aware of them, all the one per-cent-ers in my life that are available on a daily basis. Walking up escalators, saying ‘NO’ to the chocolate bar on your work break, listening to what an acquaintance has to say with intent and desire, reading a book or magazine on the train instead of listening to music or playing iPhone games. Or sitting down for ten minutes a day to slowly pursue what makes me truly happy. Writing. That’s why this has all come, a new channel to express and begin to fulfil a lifelong goal.

With an appreciation of the power of the one per-cent-er, we can understand ourselves better. Apply it to your work life, home life or love life. Look at all the little things you’ve missed or failed to see in the past. The new friend you’ve made by shooting a quick hello; the employee loyalty you’ve earned by showing a single grain of care; the tightened bond with your child by quickly empathising with their perception of reality. It is the one per-cent-er that makes all the difference in the end, and the entire journey greater throughout.

I suppose now would be the time to make my point, bring it all to a head and explain the lofty, unsubstantiated thesis I opened with.

As men, we don’t speak out enough. Perhaps the generic and preachy nature of this comment will leave me reeling at the missed opportunity to be inspirational, guiding and honest. But a whole bunch of one per-cent-ers has brought me to this point. Men don’t speak out enough, possibly out of indifference, but the most significant one per-cent-er I have seen between men and their partners is silence. It may be the case that I’m being too generic and assuming, but I’m talking from what I’ve seen, the ultimate assumption here is, we don’t ask “Why?” enough. Too often do we sit back and accept, afraid to question what we are told and what we assume.

So, I aim not to tell you there is something wrong with, to fix you or condemn you. I simply aim to challenge you, to urge you to take action two-fold. First, begin acknowledging the one per-cent-ers in your life. I want you to start looking for them, and challenging yourself with them. They make life so much sweeter and fulfilling. Second, start using “Why?” at least 30 times a day. Question anything. Whether it’s why we use a certain word or why we go to work day after day.

Eliminate the silence, and just add “Why?”