I had a huge crisis a few years ago and I began seeing a psychotherapist. I was depressed and didn’t know what to do with my life. I kept wondering where to go and what to explore. 

I kept having anxiety attacks during the night and I was worried that something was wrong with me. I used to cry a lot. There had been failure in love too, and I had overwhelming feelings that I was a failure as a person. It was difficult, but when I look back I see it was a cry for wanting more out of life. It was this realisation that I had to change something.

One of the things I did was get a dog. A dog doesn’t let you sleep in your hole. She invites you to take part in life and she gave my life some structure. I woke up in the morning and I had something to do: I had to take the dog out. This helped me with structure. I start work at noon so before that I used to just swam in idleness all morning wondering what to do with myself. With a dog you can’t.

 

I remember it was on my 33rd birthday that I had my first mindfulness class. We were given a raisin and told to smell it, and watch it, and sense it, and hear it. I thought to myself: “oh my god, you’re 33, and you’re watching this raisin with the hope that maybe it will give you the answers to the purpose of life.” Mindfulness has become a really important experience for me because I’m able to observe what I experience and think, without identifying with it. It’s given me a platform to see things from a different perspective.

At the moment my father is dying. I’m struggling to be with that and not run away. In the same way it brings a lust for life in me. I see my father’s fear of course. This is something he carried with him all his life, most of it he was afraid of something. I told him that I love him for maybe the first time in my life recently. It wasn’t common in our family to express love.

We had a complicated relationship. Perhaps he was never even that present because his head was always elsewhere worrying. Most of the time I’m not angry anymore. I see him as human being and not just as my father. I had this chance to talk with him about his childhood which helped me to see the child and teenager in him.

What message would you give to 20-year-old you?

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