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Pick a direction, then pick up your load and carry it in the chosen direction

Almost every week on my timeline, someone (and it’s usually a bloke), makes a reference to depression or suicide.

Just last week, a mate’s son hanged himself. No warning. No nothing. Devastating.

I have battled with depression for a long time. It comes, it goes. Black Dog? I suppose that’s a good a name as any for it.

I have my reasons to feel like this. We all do, from time to time. But my cross is mine to bear. I talk to mates, I ride a lot, and I lift iron. It all helps.

Do I unburden myself to mates? Sure, but never entirely.

How do I cope with feeling the way I do from time to time?

Well, I understand that life deals with all of us in exactly the same way. With utter indifference. It is the same for everyone.

Life is life. It is neither good nor bad. It just is.

You cannot be happy all the time. If you are, you’re mentally ill.

If you’re sad all the time, then likewise, you need to address that by talking to a professional. I did when my wife was diagnosed with cancer. I really had some trouble coping with that.

But the few skills I learned with the psychologist I saw for about three months equipped me to deal with other shit that happens in my life.

It ain’t easy being made redundant at the age of 56 – especially with a skill-set as narrow as mine. There ain’t a lot of call for magazine editors out there.

It was just another one of life’s endless crossroads. Pick a direction. Pick up your load and carry it in the chosen direction.

Or stay on the fucken couch screaming about how unfair it all is.

You choice – and you always have choices – is not to pick up the load. And to not pick a direction. And then you are in stasis. You’re not going anywhere, you’re not changing anything.

You’re just spinning out. And that ain’t a good place to be. It’s actually no damn place to be at all.

So don’t be there.

Blokes in our society have all sorts of problems to deal with today. Our society is in constant flux. We don’t have to like it. We just have to deal with it. Well, we don’t HAVE to deal with it. We can choose not to deal with it and then we exist in stasis. Immobile. Like a rabbit caught in the spotlight seconds before a bullet rips its skull apart.

Sometimes, Social Media makes things worse. Sometimes it makes it better. Social media is like anything else. You get out of it what you put into it. But it is also a constant and it is changing the way we interact with each other and the world.

For good or ill? I have no idea. My worldview is not that simple. And I’m not smart enough to be able to predict what it will be like in six months time, let alone in six years.

What I can predict is my response to whatever happens – as horrible as that occurrence might be. I will shoulder my burden and walk on.

I will not surrender. I will despair from time to time. I will bemoan my lot in life from time to time. I will wish it was other than it is.

But then I will pick up my burden, whatever it may be, and march the fuck on. I will ride my bike. I will spend time with my friends, and I will go to the gym and make myself as strong as I can be for that is no bad thing.

I broke my neck and shattered my left arm, separated my shoulder, and ruined my elbow five years ago. That made me depressed as hell. So I went back to the gym and grunted my way through all sorts of pain.

I still grunt through that pain. It is what it is. It will not be any other way. I’m not so depressed about that anymore.

I look to my wife for strength and inspiration. Here is a woman who was diagnosed with late Stage 3 bowel cancer, which metastasised to her liver, which forced a liver resection on her (and a whole heap of other terrible complications), and then metastisised just last Christmas into lung cancer. So another procedure.

You know what she does? She lifts weights. All the time. She eats right, she trains hard, and she does not surrender. She has been to darker places than I could ever deal with and remain sane. Yet she remains stauncher and saner than anyone I know, and she is a marvel and a joy.

I don’t tell you this for sympathy. I’ve never needed that and don’t need it now. I tell you this so you might understand we all have burdens, sometimes quite terrible ones, to carry.

The only thing that matters is that we continue to carry them. Because the alternative is no alternative at all.

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Boris Mihailovic

Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.

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