Deceit has a certain allure when your life doesn’t match up to the ideal of what it means to be a modern man.
Tom’s lost his job and now he’s been labelled ‘spermless’. He doesn’t exactly feel like a modern man, although his double life helps. Yet when his secret identity threatens to unravel, he starts to lose the plot and comes perilously close to the edge.
All the while Adam has his own duplicity, albeit for very different reasons, reasons which will blow the family’s future out of the water.
If they can’t be honest with themselves, and everyone else, then things are going to get a whole lot more complicated.
This book tackles hard issues such as male depression, dysfunctional families and degenerative diseases in an honest, life-affirming and often humorous way. It focuses particularly on the challenges of being male in today’s world and explores how our silence on these big issues can help push men to the brink.
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Everybody hurts – Guest Post – Jo Johnson
In my debut novel “Surviving Me” my main character Tom Cleary is hurting. He’s experiencing feelings of loss, guilt, anxiety and sadness. Instead of acknowledging his pain, he ignores and buries his painful feelings, he withdraws from others and uses alcohol in an attempt to drown his sorrows.
The R.E.M. song tells us, ‘Everybody hurts sometimes’. I don’t think many would argue with that.
However good life is, there will be times this week when you’ve experienced emotional pain. Whenever we do something meaningful, it gives us pain as well as pleasure.
Writing this blog feels positive, I hope it helps someone but I feel anxious it is boring, guilty that I should be at home and frustrated that the table I’m working on is making my neck hurt.
Unless you live on a desert island you’ll know even the best relationships bring disappointment, frustration, conflict, grief, fear, anxiety, anger, sadness and guilt.
Given the amount of experience we have with emotional pain, we should be great at dealing with it but most of us are not.
Often, when we are hurting, we inflict further hurt on ourselves.
The most recent research makes it clear that self-compassion helps.
Self-compassion involves acknowledging your own emotional pain and responding with compassion and care. This means treating yourself with the same warmth and kindness that you’d show to someone else.
Here is a little test.
When a friend is hurting, would you?
- -Tell them to stop whining, to man up.
- -call them boring, pathetic or stupid.
- -encourage them to isolate themselves, stay in, keep quiet.
- -make them self-harm by drinking or eating too much, make them starve or dehydrate.
Now ask yourself these questions.
What do you do to yourself when you are hurting?
What do you say to yourself when you are hurting?
How do you say it?
I bet you are a good friend. Are you as good to yourself? If not, here are a few starter steps:-
1. Acknowledge you are hurting, simply say or write, I’m sad, hurting or feeling ashamed.
2. Notice where in your body you feel this pain. Draw it out on the outline of a body. Colour in where it hurts.
3. Write down the thoughts that are taunting you. For example, you might write or say, “I’m noticing painful feelings of rejection” or “I’m noticing thoughts about being a loser” or “I’m noticing sadness and anxiety”.
4. Then ask yourself, what do I need? How might I treat my friend? Perhaps you could have a warm bath, enjoy a walk or spend time with people who care.
Self-compassion doesn’t get rid of our pain but it changes the way we manage it and makes us less likely hurt ourselves further. Our default is to try and stop emotional pain by distraction or another behaviour. The most common are excessive or restrictive eating, substance misuse, over work, blaming others, searching the internet or using social media. Notice what you are doing, ask yourself if the behaviours will help you in the long term. Would you suggest the behaviour to a friend in pain?
‘’Surviving Me” tackles hard issues such as depression, male suicide and degenerative disease. It focuses particularly on the challenges of being male in today’s world and explores how our silence on these big issues can help push men to the brink.
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Jo Johnson is a clinical psychologist specialising in neurological disorders and mind health.
I’m very excited that my debut novel ‘Surviving Me’ is due to be published on the 14 November. The novel is about male minds and what pushes a regular man to the edge. The novel combines all the themes I can write about with authenticity.
I qualified as a clinical psychologist in 1992 and initially worked with people with learning disabilities before moving into the field of neurology in 1996. I worked in the NHS until 2008 when i left to write and explore new projects.
I now work as an independent clinical psychologist in West Sussex.
Jo speaks and writes for several national neurology charities including Headway and the MS Trust. Client and family related publications include, “Talking to your kids about MS”, “My mum makes the best cakes” and “Shrinking the Smirch”.
In the last few years Jo has been offering psychological intervention using the acceptance and commitment therapeutic model (ACT) which is the most up to date version of CBT. She is now using THE ACT model in a range of organisations such as the police to help employees protect their minds in order to avoid symptoms of stress and work related burnout.
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