• Andy Salkeld

Something's Going On...

It's been a lot longer than I thought since I last wrote one of these. My life has been quite busy and I wanted to do what I could to both bring you a bit of an update, but also to share with you some thoughts on a topic that has gained quite a bit of interest as of late thanks to a popular new movie.


The Boring Bit


Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic I've been struggling. I've been finding it hard with my work, with my book and just with my life in general. Sparing you the details on the ups and downs (they've been documented countless times), I have needed to return home to live with my parents and sacrifice my one last freedom in owning a flat to keep going and to continue doing what I'm doing.


Many might see this as a sign of the times.


Many might consider this a failure.


To me it's just life. I've lived with enough failure and enough change to know that the wind blows in different directions and just because the world isn't favourable for me now, doesn't mean it won't be favourable for me in the future.


I see this as a necessary part in the growth that I as a person am undertaking.


Because...


The Exciting Bit


Starting in late September I am going to train to become a psychologist!


For the past two years, ever since I started talking about my mental health and my experiences living with suicide and depression, I have caveat everything I have said with,

"I am not a psychology, psychoanalyst, psychotherapist, whatever you want to say; and have no formal training in this field. I only have lived experience!"

But what if I did have formal training and education?


What if I was a qualified psychologist?


I started on this journey with a simple goal, to share my story and hopefully help one person to find life a little bit easier because of it.


Since then my life has changed so much. People from all walks of life, who I've met and who I haven't, have started referring to me as an expert, or a specialist, or at least someone of knowledge in this field. Maybe it's my impostor-syndrome kicking in, maybe it's just a lack of confidence from a lifetime of failures, but I still don't believe it!


I believe mental health is as important as physical health. I believe mental health should be a pillar of professional practice. An institution built around the minds of their people, should safeguard those minds as best practice. I see a future where large businesses have in-house psychologists/therapists (I still don't know the difference...) that are there to safeguard and protect their people. These are not external organisations who have a bottom-line to consider, or reporting requirements to fulfil, but genuine internal, salaried members of the same organisation that focus on the mental health of the employees. We have engineers that protect the machinery within manufacturing businesses. We have internal audit and controls teams protecting the processes of large businesses. We should have in-house psychologists that help our people to deal with the hardships they face daily both in and out of work!


I am starting on this journey through education and will be sharing it throughout. Just as I shared my experiences writing a book, I am now going to share my experiences in psychology. Where it leads, I don't know. I simply have an idea!


I will of course be doing all this studying alongside my work at dscvr, my talking at events and organisation, my blogging for theHRDIRECTOR, my blogging here, my other content creation and of course; writing another book.


The Thought Provoking Bit


So.


Tenet.


I thought Entropy was a moderately well known concept until I found myself needing to explain it an awful lot following the release of this movie! I will endeavour to explain a bit about entropy and a bit about why it's relevant to your mental health and wellness along the way.


Entropy in thermodynamics is a measure of the disorder or chaos within a system (technically I believe this is the Shannon Entropy of a system, but we don't need to know that). The second law of thermodynamics states that the Entropy of a closed system (like a box, or the entire universe...) will always increase with time until a state of thermodynamic equilibrium is met. This leads to a broad-brush description that Entropy acts as "The Arrow of Time" (it always points in the direction of which way we as humans consider time to be flowing - from past to present to future).


Tenet does a pretty decent job of explaining entropy in a very fundamental sense, as I have tried to do above, but people still asked me plenty of questions about time travel and so on, so I wanted to put some spoiler-free advice for watching Tenet below.


Imagine there is a mirror in a room. When you observe the mirror, you see the same thing on both sides but with the usual nuances that come with reflection. In Tenet, at least from my point of view, the entire movie is played through a mirror (it actually has a mirror at this point so you'll know it when you see it!) at a central pivotal point in the story (no spoilers remember!). The movie plays out with Entropy increasing during the first half of the film and then plays out again from that point with Entropy decreasing during the second half up until we encounter another "mirror" which then sees Entropy to start increasing again. "Inverting" Entropy is not time travel (or at least not what we consider time travel by "jumping" from one point to another). It's just living more of your life just in a mirror of time.


I'm probably not doing a great job at explaining this!


Regardless.


So how does Entropy effect us and our daily lives?


I see our careers, our relationships and our friendships very much through the viewpoint of Entropy. That is, they all naturally tend to disorder with time unless work (a function of energy and time) is done to them.


Think about it!


Starting with friendships; consider how many friends you had when you were younger versus how many you have now. Have you lost touch with people over the years? Have you struggled maintain contact? When was the last time you saw or spoke to someone who you were friends with years ago?


Our friendship circles shrink with time.


This is mostly because of the lack of time available to maintain strong friendships due to other life commitments i.e. career and children. But there is also a lack of energy as you grow older. You metabolise slower. Actions take longer. You have less energy to spend each day than you did the previous. It makes sense that the natural entropy of the world will kick in. You have less 'work' available to spend on your friendships, so maintaining only the strongest and most important becomes your priority.


This is why social media started so well but is now beginning to fall flat.


Originally, social media allowed us to believe we were maintaining a large circle of friendships. Through age we begin to realise that these aren't real friendships and that our real friends, the ones who 'work' on the friendship whilst we are also 'working' on the friendship, keep in contact through other means. Slowly, but surely, we migrate away from social media to offline, genuine and honest communication. I have come off Facebook. I will be leaving Instagram at the end of the year (when I finish #yearisafourletterword) and will leave myself only on Twitter and LinkedIn for professional purposes.


Let's now consider our relationships with people. Similarly to friendships, natural entropy begins to kick in with time. Many people refer to this as "the itch". Some people say it's five years, others say it's seven, some even say it's every-year or every-day. Regardless, the reasons behind such an itch can all be simplified in terms on Entropy and not 'working' on the relationship together.


The best relationships, the strongest relationships, require both people to 'work' on the relationship. Now work doesn't means anything forced as many might say. It simply means that there needs to be an input of time or energy or both (to overcome the natural entropy of the world). I don't want to talk about the 'how' of this. For one, I hardly think I'm equipped to do so given my love-life! But mostly, because it comes down to the individuals and how they choose to 'work' together.


Finally I want to talk about career entropy.


One thing I was never told when I started my career was that, "It's okay to stand still."It was never okay. It was always, "Onwards and Upwards."But sometimes, standing still is a necessity to survive!


The problem comes when you forget that standing still requires work as well!


To maintain anything constant through time, work must be performed to overcome Entropy.


Now may not be the right time to look at a career move or push for promotion. Now may require you to focus more on your personal life for any number of reasons i.e. moving house, starting a family. Sadly that doesn't mean you can take your foot off the gas. You need to find the Work-Entropy balance to maintain things as they are, because if you don't you'll find more and more disorder in your life as Entropy starts to take over.


Once again, how you go about doing this is completely up to you. I would urge you top speak honestly and openly with your colleagues and to tell them that you can't focus properly on work due to other factors within your life. An honest and open conversation is always the way to begin any change and here is no different.


I appreciate that this has been a mix of science-fiction, science and psychology, but i find these connections genuinely fascinating and feel they're worth sharing. If you don't think you'll remember any of this, don't worry, I can summarise it my usual way of usual a reference to pop-punk.


Nothing Gold Can Stay.


The Other Bit


You will also see that I have migrated my website over to a new platform and somewhat professionalised it. It still contains the same information and links and will simply make it easier for me to add yet more content to it over the coming years. Maybe someday I'll try to monetise it, but for now I'm happy sharing what I have freely. I've added ways for people to purchase Life is a Four-Letter Word directly from me and will continue to add bits like this over time for people who want to support me in other ways.


World Mental Health Day is coming up in October. If you or your organisation would like to organise a Breaking the Stigma event to support this, please do feel free to get in contact.


I am due to be speaking at the Medical Protection Society and IBM Consulting during September which is always a pleasure.


I am hoping to return to streaming on Twitch later in the year. It is the two year anniversary of Breaking the Stigma and there also happens to be another World of Warcraft expansion launching, so it seems fitting to return and run another charity event. I have partnered with Safe in Our World, a mental health charity centred in the gaming industry and once I know more about the event, I'll share it more widely.


Regardless to what is going on with me, I wish you all the best in life. We live in uncertain times and it's easy to get lost in the noise and confusion. Find your love, whatever it may be, and hold on it.


Take care and stay safe


Andy Salkeld

just another guy

 
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