Updated: Sep 22, 2022
If you change your mindset, you'll change your life. It's that simple. Notice I said SIMPLE, not EASY! People often confuse the two as being the same. This is the first in a series of blogs that I intend to write, in which I'll be sharing my experiences and struggles in more detail, health and mindset tips and the changes I made to overcome them in the hope that it will help others. I will also be sharing my opinions on various things and my love of rock, METAL and HARDCORE music as well as playing drums and all things BORN 2 BLEED of course!
UNFUCK YOURSELF! - Step 1
I'm going to share the first, and most important step, that I took just a few years ago that kick-started a series of changes that would completely turn my life around and pull me out of the dark place I had found myself in after suffering chronic knee pain that there seemed to be no cure for, going through a relationship break-up, being forced to stop doing the thing that I loved more than ANYTHING else in life and stuck in a job that was going nowhere, one that I simply fucking HATED and was doing my mental health no good!
Being a very quiet, shy and private person all my life (except when drinking and partying HARD lol), I never thought I'd be sharing my thoughts, feelings, struggles or personal experiences with people in a blog and definitely not on video as I have done in the last 6 months on the BORN 2 BLEED Facebook and Instagram pages.
I also never imagined having my own clothing brand. In fact, not that long ago, I didn't really see any future for myself or that I would be doing anything worth a fuck!
HOWEVER... after going through the things I went through and making positive changes that made a HUGE difference, I wanted to share this in the hope that it might help you or somebody, somewhere who has found themselves in a similar situation, simply struggling and feeling stuck, unhappy and like there's nothing that they can do to overcome their struggles or change their life for the better.
I know what it's like to feel broken, down and out, anxious, depressed and like there's no light at the end of the tunnel.
The first time I REALLY felt like this, was when I was literally broken! In the year 2000 I broke my back, snapped my upper left arm and badly broke my left wrist, needing surgery to put me back together again with metal plates and rods.
I'm not going to go into detail here on this right now as I'm going to write a separate blog on this one. As you can imagine it was fucking devastating, the physical pain was unreal and the mental struggle was even worse – but, I got through it!
Although the pain of breaking my back was A LOT more extreme, it was the suffering from chronic knee pain that broke me down and kept me down for much longer. When I started my recovery from the back injury, I may have been a lot worse off initially but at least I was seeing progress as every week and month went by.
I was back on my feet, albeit very weak and unsteady, in less than 3 weeks and pretty much fully functioning and back at work within a year and a half.
The pain in my knees however, lasted about 5 years!
A “burning” pain developed in both of my knees early in 2012 just as I was going into the studio with my new band 7 DAYS DEAD to record our first EP. Great timing! I was just getting over the heart-break of my previous band INTERROGATE breaking up in September 2011 after 10 years of blood, sweat and tears trying to turn it into a career!
This was absolutely DEVASTATING to me! ...like the death of a close friend or family member (only those who have lived and loved playing music and know 'the struggle' will understand!).
The pain in my knees was at it's worst when I was sitting down and even lying down with my legs bent slightly brought it on. Now, being a drummer requires sitting obviously, driving to band practice required an hour and a half's driving, I worked in a job where I was sitting behind a desk, I had to drive to work, and sitting as you know, is a big part of life for most people in general!
Standing whenever I could, which could be awkward, gave me some relief but I was in constant pain pretty much all day, every day and the worst of this lasted for about 4 years or so with NO improvement and as anyone who has suffered from chronic or extreme pain etc know, the worst thing is actually the mental pain and struggle that it leads to and when you're suffering physically, mentally and emotionally, it puts you in a very dark fucking place where every day is a struggle. The most frustrating thing for me was that no matter how many doctors and specialists I went to, conventional and unconventional, none of them could truly identify the cause, give me a solution or even help with the pain (painkillers had no effect).
X-rays and MRI scans showed no sign of any physical damage and my movement wasn't restricted or affected so it seemed to be a fuckin' mystery! One Orthopaedic “specialist,” who I saved up and paid a lot of money for at a private hospital, told me “it's probably just one of those things you'll have to deal with the rest of your life” and for pain he suggested that I could take Pregablin but “you probably wouldn't want to be on it for long!” That comment set off alarm bells in my head, so I got the tablets and checked the side effects in the info leaflet and online. Possible side effects included everything from dizziness, memory loss, diarrhoea, mood changes and your dick not working to suicidal thoughts!
FUCK THAT I thought!
AND this is a drug used to treat people with Epilepsy and anxiety! I wasn't for taking that shit, I'd be better off with the knee pain I thought so I listened to my guy feeling on that one rather than the "expert" who didn't seem to give a fuck.
I later spoke to a couple of people who had taken this drug - 1 said her eyesight started to deteriorate and the other suffered a lot of short-term memory loss! I walked away very disheartened and disappointed but also with a 'FUCK YOU' attitude and refused to accept that I would be stuck with this the rest of my life.
Over the next few years I tried about 30 different things, one after the other, including various doctors, knee and back Orthopaedic specialists, physios, spinal injections, ice packs, anti-inflammatories, laser treatment, B12 supplements, Kinesiology, reflexology, acupuncture, neuro-muscular treatment, Cannabis Oil (with THC) and even a faith healer... but nothing worked! It seemed there was no solution and I felt like there was no hope. I was in constant pain, unable to sleep properly and do any of the things I loved, like playing drums in a metal band (my no.1 PASSION) and I felt more and more depressed and things seemed to get worse, though on the outside I pretended everything wasn't that bad and at a glance I didn't look like there was ANYTHING wrong with me.
People I worked with and my friends knew I had the pain but had no real idea how bad it was affecting me and I never really talked about how I really felt. I would mention it to people sometimes hoping they knew someone who could help me or sometimes because I had to keep standing up like a fuckin' weirdo in places where everyone else was sitting!
The only way I could mask the pain or get any relief from it was by drinking hard, smoking weed and dabbling with drugs at the weekends (something I said I'd never do for years).
It gave me an escape and a break from the pain for a while, but what goes up must come down and the hangovers and come-downs from the weekend left me feeling more anxious, paranoid and depressed.
I did have some really good nights out with friends and seen some awesome rock and metal gigs though but the good times were very short lived!
Even though I had suffered worse physical pain before and knew there were others a lot worse off, it got to the point were life just felt stagnant, pointless and I didn't care if I even woke up the next morning. Every day just seemed like a struggle and not knowing what to do was so fucking frustrating! The turning point came when a man named Pascal Benson, who practices Chinese and Holistic medicine here in Northern Ireland and treated me many times, suggested I read a book called The Secret.
Being an Atheist at the time who believed in nothing and wanted nothing to do with anything religious, “spiritual” or “woo-woo” of any kind, I would've normally just dismissed this book as “air-fairy” bullshit but as Pascal had become a friend to me, was someone who helped give me hope, raised my spirits many times and was someone I trusted, I decided to give it a chance.
I also realised that everything I had been doing and the way I had been thinking clearly wasn't working so I decided to be open-minded and willing to try anything!
I made a decision to be completely open-minded and do WHATEVER it takes to heal myself and reading that book back in July 2015 and watching The Secret movie was a turning point and truly CHANGED MY MINDSET.
It was a game-changer for me, gave me new perspective on life, lead to me changing my attitude and going on a mission to learn how to improve my mind, health and life on every level!
Looking back, the Einstein quote above really resonates with me as I realised, although I was looking for other people to help me – I was doing the same thing over and over and waiting for things to things to change for me, without actually making any changes in my life and had a 'fixed mindset' instead of the 'growth mindset' I needed!
It sounds like madness, but so many people are doing the same thing! You get so caught up with how “shit” things are in your life sometimes you fail to see things for what they really are and what you can do about them.
The Secret is about the LAW OF ATTRACTION which basically explains that “thoughts become things” and you attract things into your life according to your dominant thoughts. If you're negative most of the time you'll attract more negative shit, if you think positive most of the time you'll attract positive things. I'm not going to explain it here but I will do a blog about The Secret and all the things I learned from it. A lot of people call bullshit on this book which I understand to a degree, as it leaves out a vital part when talking about attracting what you want into your life - taking action. Visualise what you want, have faith and BELIEVE it will happen and you'll eventually “manifest” it.
Taking action was obvious to me as I didn't believe shit just comes to you by doing nothing and I read the book with the Bruce Lee attitude...
What helped me make sense of it was the fact that I could relate it to so many stories of musicians in rock and metal bands I looked up to, as well as fighters, footballers and movie stars who visualised themselves being successful and living their dream years before when no-one believed in them.
Despite people calling them crazy and doubting them, they could see it in their mind, believe it and worked their ass off until they made it come true! I came across videos on YouTube of former UFC champ Conor McGregor and movie star Jim Carey talking about the Law of Attraction and how it worked for them which further cemented my own belief and help me understand it. I've linked the videos to their names here.
Different things work for different people but if you're feeling stuck, suffering from chronic pain or illness or just plain miserable and unhappy with your life you must CHANGE YOUR MINDSET!
If you don't fucking change, you're life won't change – simple!
I really recommend reading The Secret and/or watching the movie, and do so with an open mind, you just never know what you might take away from it. If nothing else it's good practice to question your old beliefs and be open to something else even if it's not the thing that works for you.
Of all the things I tried, I really didn't expect a book, let alone one like this, to be the thing that set me on the path to healing and a better quality of life.
Rock, metal and hardcore music has been something that I've loved with a fucking passion since I was about 12 years old. Music has been a massive part of my life and helped get through all the bad times and the lyrics in the Sepultura song Breed Apart, from the Roots album, came into my head around the time I read this book and stuck with me...
“OPEN UP YOUR MIND AND GO YOUR OWN WAY!”
I was willing to try anything, weird shit or whatever and do whatever it takes to get better and didn't give a fuck about what people might think!
If YOU want to get better and improve YOUR life, you need to DECIDE now that you are going to do whatever it takes, be open doing things you've never done before, try things you've never tried before and fucking BELIEVE that you can succeed! FUCK what other people think and FUCK everyone who says you're stuck and that nothing can be done – that includes Doctors and medical “experts” and even family members and friends.
You need to realise that even the smartest people don't know everything, "Western" medicine is aimed at treating the symptoms with drugs a lot of the time instead of treating the root cause, and there are many examples of people around the world healing themselves from conditions, overcoming all sorts of struggles against the odds and turning their life around after being told it wasn't possible!
Be willing to do weird shit that you wouldn't normally consider – be open to everything!
It can feel like you're alone and life is unfair but I realise there is ALWAYS someone worse off than you and you can find stories of people who were worse off than you and are now kicking ass and doing amazing things while you moan, complain or feel sorry for yourself. I firmly believe now that there's ALWAYS hope and ALWAYS a way to improve things but you have to believe it and be willing to make BIG changes in your life - DRASTIC changes if need be.
It's fucking hard, but you need to get out of the victim mindset and realise you CAN change because feeling sorry for yourself doesn't help you. Sometimes simply changing your perspective on a situation can make a huge difference alone! A new way of thinking is needed and you'll probably need to change your beliefs but the good news is you don't have to do it all at once. You might have to give up treats and habits that you don't want to but you have to ask yourself do you want to stay miserable like this forever and keep suffering... or go through short term suffering for long-term gain?
You MUST be willing to get out of your comfort zone but it's YOUR CHOICE! When I changed my mindset and was open to trying anything and everything, I started believing I would heal somehow and it lead me to making change after change, doing new things and introducing new habits over the next couple of years and bit by bit I started to feel better, more hopeful and eventually healed myself.
With a closed or narrow mind (fixed mindset) you limit your options for everything in life within your current beliefs, but with an OPEN mind (growth mindset), the options and possibilities are endless!
Here I am pictured below in June 2018 at my come-back gig, the INTERROGATE re-union show in The Limelight in Belfast feeling on top of the world! Something I thought would never happen at one point after about 5 years of no drumming!
It required a complete life-style change and new way of thinking but at age 40 at the time of writing this, I'm now stronger, fitter and healthier than I was in my 20s, back playing and teaching. SOMETIMES SUFFERING IS A BLESSING IN DISGUISE Looking back, I'm actually glad I suffered like I did as the suffering led to massive growth and improvement once I adopted the right mindset and I ended up learning about nutrition and health, completely changing my diet, doing new things like Samba drumming, yoga, meditation, MMA training, hiking up mountains, learning a lot about how the mind works and this all lead to creating my own clothing brand BORN 2 BLEED.
Through the band I aim to help and motivate fellow METALHEADS and HARDCORE fans (and others) all over the world to SURVIVE, THRIVE and in turn INSPIRE others to over come their struggles, be the best they can be and NEVER GIVE UP! The RIPPLE EFFECT is real!
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET – CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
For more about me, BORN 2 BLEED, metal-inspired apparel, mindset coaching, inspiring stories from metalheads around the word and some awesome rock, metal and hardcore playlists hit the button below.
And please share this with anyone you know who needs some inspiration!
Join the BORN 2 BLEED Facebook Group:
METALHEADS WHO SURVIVE, THRIVE & INSPIRE - Health - Mindset - Motivation SIGN UP to the BORN 2 BLEED Mailing List and get 10% off your next order! You'll receive discount codes, inspirational content, hear about new products first!