From a ‘Drunk man’ to an ‘Iron Man’.

‘Welcome to this world… You are beautiful’. These could have been the words that my mother said when I was born. The miracle of life is the most special at that moment when life from the unknown, from the womb, surface into the developing conscious life of unpredictable.

When I look back, I see the life of obeying, blending in, of following the customs and rules. However, there are so many flaws that I was able to recognise when I was younger, as I am today. One significant recognition was that our social worlds do not offer equality; they only pretend to. In all of their shapes and ways, they tell us that inequality is not something to be celebrated, but it remains present. And it was the world where I have found myself, always wondering if I am equal or unequal.

I asked myself is it the world to blame, is it myself, or is there no one to take responsibility for the road that I was on. That road included a war effected childhood and growing up in the post-war community, with different challenges filled with fear, insecurity, deception, betrail and death. I was of an idea that I am managing well, however, unaware that I had become seduced and that my life was situational. My free will was deteriorating, and I was not aware that the payday would come.

Probably the worst self-deception was the thought that I am in control when I was losing control. In the world that was becoming extremely negative, I failed to realise that so was I. It has slowly brought me to the endless nights of drinking, drug abuse and negligence. Finally, I have found myself in a situation with only one possible outcome, which was a life without feelings and with a shallow mind. Worst of all, I was not able to recognise the change. While following these newly acquired, auto-destructive patterns of living I have witnessed changes in my body, that has become ill and restrictive while the joy of life was only to be found at the end of each wild night. Furthermore, the feeling of correctness, with that single ambition, was so strong while nothing seemed right. I have become generally dysfunctional and when I have noticed it, the two choices which I had terrified me.

The first choice was of continuity. To keep my habits, which would make it hard for my loved ones while witnessing a painful and agonising life as a deteriorating human being. The second and terrifying choice was a choice of change, which I have finally decided to take. At first, it did not seem like there are any problems, but from one day to another, I found myself falling into a bottomless pit of darkness and confusion. There was a whole world responsible out there, and everything seemed like a threat. I could not even function among the closest friends or family members, as the feeling of emptiness was tearing me apart. The closest description of that experience I have found in ‘The Tibetian Book of the Dead’, which describes the internal feeling so destructive as if the lord of the death himself has licked your soul, chewed on your muscle, bones and left you in painful condition for what seems like an eternity. It made me realise that I have long lost something I should have cared the most, myself. It took me a while to face my life and denials and to realise that I was slowly committing suicide with a constant deception of enjoyment. However, it led me on the path of knowledge.

When I started with the research, the world of depression and anxiety introduced itself, the world I never considered to belong. Up to that moment, my behaviour was out of ordinary, but I have somehow managed to be social and outgoing. My job as a skipper kept me social and responsible on one side, but the downside of it was the life which was hard to maintain. Few months after sobering I just could not understand why now when I am doing my best the increasing agony is jeopardising my will to remain alive. I have reached my breaking point! After a series of months with insomnia, a considerable loss of weight, there were nights where I wished that if I manage to fall asleep, that I would not wake up again. However, life in me was not willing to easily let go. I have realised that I am out of balance and that it will take a lot of effort to restore it. The decision I made was to dedicate my life to life while respecting the three essential dimensions, mind, body and spirit. The world within me became the only real world as I had to bring back the strength to face the external. Dedication to my inner world was the only way to restore respect and self-awareness.

After encountering a study about brain plasticity, I have engaged in the learning of maths, philosophy, psychology, painting, music and everything I would find interesting. Maintaining focus and concentration was difficult, but the main goal was to be consistent, to accept mistakes and to learn from every experience, especially ones of the emotional nature. Noticing and understanding of fear, frustration and anger gave me a chance to restore my balance. I was still not prepared for the world around me, but I was getting closer to accept myself. As soon as the intensity of the mental torment has fallen, I was able to get some sleep. That was the moment when I have decided that it is time to work on my body. The responsibility that we have towards our bodies, the obligation to keep our bodies in a maximum form with an aspiration to achieve more is the legacy of the underlying Greek ideas in philosophy, and I have decided to live up to that standard. However, I needed a goal to keep me focused, and that is when I have found the Iron Man competition.

When I found out that I could apply for Iron Man 70.3 in Luxembourg for the first time in two years, I could feel the excitement. For a person that was unable to run for half a kilometre, it was a severe challenge with only six months to prepare. Even while sportive in youth, with each activity that I have tried, I have learned that I don’t know how to run, swim, cycle or even breathe properly. After a series of injuries, I found myself questioning the ability to pull it through, however, that questioning was the side of me that I had to learn about, the ‘giving up’ side of my psyche. I realised that even if it seems wise to give up, it is always the easiest solution. The feelings of meaningless and emptiness I had previously experienced along with the realities of this world, made me consider the responsibility that I had toward my well being. It was tough and challenging to realise that and even harder to live up to the new self, but it has shown as rewarding.

For most of us, adults, we fail to realise that we have been driven through our childhoods, following everything that societies, our caregivers and influential characters have imposed on us. We continue to drive ourselves without proper knowledge of how to drive. Merely living up to expectations will bring a brief satisfaction when those are achieved, but in the long run, confusion is inevitable as much as it is necessary. The road of change which I took enabled me to start end finish one of the most physically and mentally difficult challenges, but the lesson which I have learned is that the change is always possible and necessary.

According to the WHO, there is one out of six people that are experiencing some form of mental distress. However, the real ratio may be even more alarming. There is a lot that a person can do for himself, but if the people make societies, they should not turn their back to the people. I consider that every community has failed if it can not address the basic needs and provide dignity for every individual. While nobody wants to be a number, we have all become one and life which was suggested to be priceless has become worthless.

The change within self is an excellent place to start for a change in general.

Human, father, brother, husband, son, friend, skipper, entrepreneur, life long learner. That's me!

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