"Upstairs" Circuit


Mental Health: personal experience and advice!

Upstairs (aka the mysterious brain)

So what does one mean by the phrase upstairs? And, what do I mean about circuit? Locally, we tend to abbreviate words and phrases. In fact, our culture meant that our friends and family used certain phrases they could relate to. In the case of this Blog, the word “upstairs” literally means “the top of the human body” – that is, the brain. As you may have gathered, “circuit” refers to how our brain sends signals.

Our brain is an amazing organ. It determines what muscles we use to smile to a another person, it interprets sounds to have meanings (that includes words) and, most importantly, it determines how our chemical mood will be. Of course, medics have yet to discover this amazing organ. One thing, as a human being, is that our brain knows us, and we know it: we know our own bodies better than anyone else! That includes the professionals (Doctors, nurses, counsellors and psychologists etc). Yet, many people claim they know how to boost this wonderful organ.

Now, back to the intimate personal experience of (what used to be) a messy upstairs circuit…

…the start of adulthood began with constant questions on who I was. I was developing as a person, at college whilst holding down a part-time job. Yet, deep inside I was also on a journey into self discovery. I was finding out the real me, yes on the outside all my features were developed, people knew who I was by a smile, a laugh, yet I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. To me there was more to what was tangible, I looked at myself as being unclean, confused and lost.

Sadly, I took a really strong dislike to myself because I soon discovered that there was something I couldn’t change. That is, homosexuality. Sexual orientation cannot be changed (in my view) after a few talks. It’s something (I firmly believe) we are born with. What makes this more strange, is that, sexuality does not have a place in DNA: our bodies genetic make-up. As annoying (and sometimes misleading) as Wikipedia can be, they pose an article on the nature VS nurture debate.

When I looked in the mirror, or thought about life, I didn’t like what I was thinking. I actually couldn’t stop some of these thoughts. Soon, I realised that writing was the best way to come to terms with what was going on upstairs.

A few weeks later, I left (accidentally) a piece of my hand written journal on my bedroom desk. My older brother spotted it, and couldn’t help but read the content. Soon he realised that I was struggling to come to terms with my own sexuality. As a person who was always paying attention to detail, I even included something that freaked him out: self-harm. Yes, I literally hated and resented myself so much, the only coping mechanism I found was physically cutting my legs and arms.

As an adult, my brothers were now helping my parents (behind my back) to break this taboo. They were on a plan to see what was the best way to broach this subject. It came out (no pun intended) that my eldest brother took me for a drive around the coast to see how I was. Unknown to me, this journey was planned to a fine T. Everything was well thought out. My brother randomly talked about how a former pop star was able to embrace himself whilst being successful. Soon, the moment came when I clenched the passenger’s seat, gripping tighter and tighter as my eldest brother asked me openly:

____, are you gay?  

I simply, then uncontrollably cried. My brother pulled the car into a safe spot and through his arms around me saying that everything would be okay. He had a so what attitude. I guess, looking back on it, I was green with envy that I didn’t have such a relaxed take to being a young gay man. In truth, I couldn’t handle the pressures of be a gay man. On the way home, we spoke openly about how the 21st century (and local political peace talks) allowed gay people to be themselves. Looking back on this event, I actually laid an unexpected bombshell on my supportive brother: I was self-harming. He could understand why I was hurting myself. The thought of blood and cutting actually made him uncomfortable. I remember apologising to him and told him I’d do my best to stop it.

Several sentences over, more silent moments in the car, we were almost home. My brother said that

Mum and Dad are here for you, how do you want to tell them about your great news?

This freaked me out, completely brainless. I agreed that I’d go out to the outside garage once we got home. The car pulled into the driveway, the engine stopped, my heart pumped harder (faster and longer) than normal. I ran out to the back of the house into the garage. Within a few seconds, my Mum and Dad came out each one throwing their arms around me, reassuring me that everything would be okay

we love you, know matter what

In the depths of depression, confusion and typical teenage turmoil, I knew I had a fantastic family. I also knew that I was lucky to have such open parents. However, our conversation didn’t stop me from hating myself. Whilst I may have slept an extra half hour that night, life was (in my eyes) crap.

***I’ll pick-up on the next bit of my journey of self-discovery in another post. Thanks for reading this part though***

Tip: try to avoid self-harm. Whilst it can (in a strange, psychological way) seem like a good coping mechanism, try to delay it rather than letting your upstairs circuit get rerouted

Advice: when you have the edge to self-harm, try to use the above tip. Delay it for as long as possible. Albeit, 30 seconds or one minute, whenever you do this you have control over your self-harm. When you start to take such (powerful) control back from an unplugged circuit, the more likely you can stop it. Scares stay for years. Don’t let one thought give you one mark you’ll have to look at for decades … it is a horrible reminder. Distract yourself, take back control of your own brain.

I will return to this topic in a whole post of its own. Self-harm needs to be discussed, we shouldn’t be afraid of talking/typing about it. Sometimes, we self-harm without even knowing we do it…skipping meals, picking skin are just some of the more common forms of harm we are doing to our amazing bodies!

For now, thanks again for reading this. I hope it has been insightful


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