Pete Wildman

I’m embarrassed to write this blog, but it’s overdue.

Today is RUOK? Day – a great initiative highlighting the importance of asking a friend, colleague, or loved “are you okay?”. You never know what people are going through (people can hide their problems pretty well), and a conversation can sometimes change a life. By asking, you’re inviting them to reach out for help, and letting them know you’re there if they need to talk.

Someone asked me this question today, and the truth is, I’m not okay, really. I haven’t been ‘myself’ for the past year or so, but I’ve been trying to ignore it because I have a business to run and mouths to feed (and also because I didn’t want to admit to a weakness). The reality is that sticking my head in the sand has been hurting my business, not helping it; despite good intentions I’ve struggled, and not being on top of my game means that in turn there are people I could have helped more than I have done, which sucks. It’s time to publicly acknowledge that, and get some help (if you’re reading this and you’re someone I might have provided a better service to over the past year or so, I’m genuinely sorry!). I find this whole thing really embarrassing, but I’ve decided to blog about it because there’s still a fair bit of ‘hush hush’ around mental health issues (especially in business where people feel they have to protect their personal brand and/or their business interests), and the more openly this is discussed, the more easy people will find it to seek help when they need it.

On the face of it, my life looks pretty good – we have an awesome business model, I’m surrounded by great people at work and at home, I have a lot of flexibility, regular holidays with family overseas, and I’ve every opportunity to provide a secure future for my young family here, living in the sunshine, by the beach. None of that is lost on me and I’m grateful for my good fortune, yet this year I’ve been really struggling to function properly, often finding it really hard to focus, and I’ve become trapped in patterns of self-destructive behaviour that I know aren’t going to lead anywhere fun. Obviously I need to dig into the ‘why’, but the manifestation has been days where I hit some kind of strange paralysis/inertia whereby I can’t focus, and I end up procrastinating things that I really want to get done, even though I can clearly see the negative future consequence of inaction. This change in me has happened quite quickly, off the back of a good year in 2016, and I’ve become frustrated and angry with myself. Excuses come easily, but they don’t fix anything. We all have our ‘game face’, or whatever you want to call it – but we don’t have to pretend everything’s awesome if it isn’t. Life’s not without its challenges and we aren’t superhuman – sometimes people struggle, and often we can be embarrassed to ask for help.

So that’s me………what about you? If you’re reading this, please take a minute, make yourself a cup of tea, and ask yourself whether you’re okay. Shut yourself off from the million things you have to distract you this week, step away from your crazy-busy inbox, your LinkedIn/Facebook feeds, that Netflix series you can’t press pause on, and try to ignore the looming deadlines in your calendar for a few minutes and be honest with yourself. RUOK? Hopefully the answer is ‘hell yeah’, and you can crack a smile and carry on about your day with a spring in your step. High five yourself, be grateful, and carry on being awesome (but consider asking a colleague how they’re doing). If you’re not okay though…then please don’t sweep it under the rug.

We live in a really busy world, and it’s often easier to distract ourselves than it is to deal with our problems properly…. because work, because deadlines, because (insert 101 reasons here), and because facing our demons can be hard/challenging/confronting. Many of us feel a strong need to help others, but if you’re struggling, as the airline safety videos tell us, you’ve really got to make sure you put your own oxygen mask on first.

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