Below is an extract from my book AND THEN WHAT…? currently scheduled for release in October 2018. In this book I tackle all the subjects I believe lead us to not only NOT fulfilling our potential as humans but , also how closely mental and emotional illness can follow those who have a huge depth and longing. I talk about my career in the most competitive industry in the world, my relationships and my escapisms as the pain of having no solutions to my constant thought life drove me to depression……
“Good morning guys. Drewe – how are you feeling this morning?”
‘Erm, I’m ok thanks James. A bit tired, but ok.’
‘Ok isn’t a feeling, Drewe. And tired is a physical reaction to lack of rest. How are you feeling?’
‘I’m scared. I feel really frightened. I’m scared of where I’ve got to in my life and what lies ahead.’
‘I understand. Thank you, Drewe. John, how are you feeling this morning?’
It was 7am on September 5 th 2011 and three men between the ages of 23 and 38 sat on three sofas in a cottage at the Sporting Chance Clinic for Mental illness and addictions.
Deep in the Hampshire forest this refuge was set up to save lost souls from themselves. You didn’t get in unless you had hit a real bottom. Out of options, addictions ruling your life, spiritually bankrupt and ready to surrender a life built on foundations of FEAR and a lack of self worth.
NOT WEAK PEOPLE, FAR FROM IT, LEADERS, WARRIORS , GAME CHANGERS….THE MYTH BUSTERS TO PUBLIC PERCEPETIONS OF MENTAL ILLNESS
James, the head therapist who is still there today, addressed the group. It was day one of 30. It was time to-
learn vulnerability, to learn fragility.
I’d escaped it for all of my life and ran and turned my back on the truth. I could lose. I might not get to where I know I can. I might finish my career underachieving. I might not stay married. I may never earn big money. All this was complete uncertainty.
As the weeks unfolded and this became a daily discipline – sharing feelings in groups, in writing, with strangers and one-to-one therapy, a sense of peace transcended me. All of a sudden I just knew all I had was me and my daily disciplines to keep in a fit physical, spiritual and mental shape; the three parts of the human being that need care. The fear of failure, the future, winning and all that stuff that consumed me to the point of insanity left me a day at a time. I say a day at a time because you never earn the right, as I’d always wanted.
I had this idea that if I worked really hard at something, gave all of myself – worked and worked harder – then finally I would arrive. There would be a destination. It was a killer . Vulnerability was for little children and girls I thought as I ploughed on for 17 years as a footballer, I searched and searched and changed all I could. My gift of incredible Will power also my curse.
My curse because I thought, I mean the belief system taught to me by most systems I was in from family to education to the football industry, it was about survival of the fittest, see off the weak, run past them, be tough, be strong…. don’t be human!!
To be human is to be afraid , to be weak, to feel so inadequate at times. Granted some of us more than others but its human. I know I’m sensitive and intelligent…. a thinker, dangerous, as I believed for years that I was my thoughts. I realise today my brain is an organ like my heart is, my kidneys are, my lungs, my liver…. just organs .It processes thoughts like my heart processes blood, my liver processes waste .
I learned to watch my I AM statements. I never knew who I was to say I am anything.
.” I am a man” ” I will never be beaten, I simply won’t go under I will fight and fight, I will do whatever it takes , I will find the best coach, the best dietician, the best psychologist, I will never surrender”
This self talk was the reason I was here. The answers weren’t in doing more they were in doing less.
NOT NOTHING…… LESS.
I came across an article recently on the New Zealand All Blacks, a formidable, legendary group of modern day sporting warriors. You could imagine that they come from a blood line of fearsome fighters. Their aura intimidates most opposition before the whistle is blown. It was music to my ears, because I feel at times I fight this quest to help educate about the power of vulnerability, when I read about their vulnerabilities. ‘A culture of acknowledgement, disclosure and acceptance of vulnerability is actively encouraged. People tend to think that vulnerability and high-performance culture don’t mix and that’s false. Accepting your vulnerability and having comfort in vulnerability is one method of relieving stress.’ Gilbert Enoka, Mental Skills Coach of the All Blacks.
The most used question, which is used daily, is ‘How are you?’ I find such a falseness in the question, such a lack of meaning and intent. 99 times out of 100, if I was asked that my response would be ‘Erm, yeah I’m ok thanks.’
What I’ve learnt in the seven years since my 30 days in that cottage deep in the Hampshire woods is that vulnerability is the key not only to performing at your best but. most importantly to maintaining good mental health.
As a coach today Vulnerability is my greatest weapon in disarming another’s blocks to fulfilling their potential