Why Being Lazy Isn’t Selfish, It’s Necessary

Who doesn’t love a lazy day? Or for those of us that often find ourselves exceedingly busy, even a lazy few hours can feel like bliss. But often with a little downtime comes guilt. Our seemingly never-ending to do list of life weighs down upon us, making us feel like we are doing something wrong by doing nothing.

We worry we are letting other people down, that we are falling behind in our work, letting our house get messy. We worry that doing nothing is a negative thing because we aren’t attending to these important matters that drive our every day.

But here’s the thing. You are not doing anything wrong by taking time out. You are not being selfish by being lazy. Believe it or not, you are actually making yourself more productive, happier, and a better person for those around you.

Sounds crazy, right? Well it’s absolutely true. Because we need to rest and recharge. We need to allow our minds and bodies the time and space to break from all of our busy tasks, chores, and being there for others. If we do not take the time to do this, we end up being slower and worse at everything because we exhaust ourselves into not being at our full potential.

Think of a cup. When a cup is full, you can pour from it. When it is empty, you cannot. Think about that again. You cannot pour from an empty cup.

If you don’t allow yourself time to be lazy, to just be, to fully rest all of yourself, you are not allowing your cup to ever refill. You will be trying to give when there is nothing there. So, you NEED to be lazy from time to time, to fill your cup and keep on pouring.

Do it today. Do it every day. Allocate yourself time to be lazy. To do nothing. To be alone and just chill. And don’t feel guilty. Remember this will benefit others, just as much as it will benefit you.

Are You Okay? No, Really?

Recently here in Australia we had “Are You Okay Day.” Now leaving aside there seems to be a national day for just about everything you can think of, this one is important. But has the question itself lost its impact?

Think of all the times you have asked someone if they are okay. How many times did you genuinely mean it? How many times can you honestly say that you wanted the truth? Be honest with yourself. Did you ask because it felt like a social convention, or did you really care if that person was okay? Were you willing to lend your time to them to listen and help?

“Are you okay?” has become such a throw away question these days. We ask it all the time. Sure, we may bear some measure of concern. We may even tell ourselves that we care. But more often than not, our busy lives prevent us from being able to truly give ourselves to that person in need.

In today’s locked down world, most of our communication is remote. We do not get to see each other as we once did. While we do have video chats at our disposal, most of our communication has become increasingly text or voice based. With text becoming the far more common option. It is quick, it is easy, and it allows us to communicate with multiple people at once without any of them being any the wiser.

And therein lies the problem. If you are texting or messaging multiple people and find yourself asking one of them “are you okay?” you are going into that conversation half-assed. Unless you are prepared to put your other chats on hold and really BE THERE for that person in need, you are wasting your time even asking about their well-being. And worse, you are wasting theirs. Because you are depriving them of the opportunity to potentially speak to someone who is willing to give them 100% of their time to really listen and really care.

We are all busy. And we do all want the best for those we care about. But be mindful of asking the “are you okay?” question as a habitual query. Because asking that question is more than just asking a question. It is an offer of support. Please do not put it out there unless that offer is a genuine one.

And check in with yourself. Ask YOURSELF, “are you okay?” And make sure you really listen to your own answer.

You Are Responsible for Your Own Happiness… Right?

It’s a saying that gets thrown around endlessly. Popular in memes and inspirational quotes on social media, common mantra of self-help advocates. The notion that you can simply “choose” to be happy is lovely. That you can somehow magically decide to remain unaffected by any hurt people or situations sling your way. But how accurate is this?

Firstly, it depends on what you classify as “happiness.” If to you, happiness means waking up every day with a smile and an eager zest for life, certain that your day will be wonderful, then you are very different from those who view happiness as successfully getting through a day without breaking down into tears.

Point is happiness is relative. It is not the same thing to all people. Some will not settle for less than unrestrained joy in their every day, while others will have a far lower threshold.

Secondly, it depends on whether you consider happiness to be a more or less permanent state, or a particular mood that is subject to change. A person can consider themselves to be generally happy, yet still be floored by receiving devastating news. Informing someone who has just suffered a tragic bereavement that they are responsible for their own happiness is cruel, not kind.

The point here is that happiness is not a static state. It is subject to change depending on factors that can be out of our control. Even the happiest people cannot be happy all of the time because life just does not work that way.

The bad news is that you cannot control how you feel. Emotions are what they are. Happiness, sadness, anger, fear, hurt, jealousy, they will all crop up from time to time for the average person. No matter how happy or secure you think you may be, nobody is immune from that sting of feeling something bad. Something that triggers you to feel a certain way.

The good news is that you can always control your behaviour. I’ll say that again. You can ALWAYS control your behaviour. No matter how angry you get, you can always control whether you become violent. And no matter how sad you get; you can always control whether you allow it to take over your life.

I need to state here that I am talking about standard emotions arising in mentally healthy people. Some people with mental illness do have less measure of control over their actions at times. Note here, I said “some” and only “at times.” One day I’ll drop a post on my opinion of the DSM-5 and you’ll see my views on its use as a diagnostic tool that labels people and offers excuses for terrible behaviour. But that’s a separate issue…

If you find yourself feeling unhappy, you need to ask yourself “why.” Are you generally unhappy? Or has something just happened which is prompting you to feel this way? If you are generally unhappy, then chances are you need to make changes in your life. If something has happened triggering a response of unhappiness, then simply move away from it. No, I am not saying run from everything that makes you unhappy. I am simply saying that if social media is dragging down your mood, log off. If a particular song is upsetting you, skip it. If a person in your life is making you unhappy, speak to them about it. Or distance yourself if needed.

The short answer is you are not responsible for what you feel. But you are responsible for controlling your environment to the best of your ability to increase your happiness. Do not knowingly expose yourself to hurtful stimuli. Do not put up with toxic people in your life. And do not let anyone dictate what your happiness should mean to you.

So, let’s all make our lives happier by controlling what we can. We got this, guys.

Anxiety and Escaping My Silent Prison

Let me just say upfront that I am not making this post to garner sympathy. Far from it. Sympathy and pity feel like poison to my usually steadfastly resilient soul. No, the purpose of this post is to shine a light on a darkness. To normalise. To give a name to the pain. And to stop hiding myself away in isolation.

Anxiety sucks. How’s that for the glorious eloquence of a professional writer? But it is an apt and accurate commentary on my feelings on this illness. I have lived with anxiety for most of my adult life. But it has usually been in the background. A sort of lingering passenger on my life’s journey. The source of productive stress, which led to motivation. A motivation which has seen me achieve me many things.

But when the anxiety takes over… when it ceases to be a passenger and takes the wheel… when it is no longer a silent partner in life spurring you towards progress and helping you set and attain goals… it becomes an unbearable feeling.

My rational mind knows that I am not stupid. It knows that I am skilled in some areas. It knows I am attractive. It knows I am a good person. It knows I am worthy of respect, kindness and joy.

My anxiety convinces me that I am stupid. That I am useless at everything. That I am ugly. That I must be a bad person or why else would bad things happen? That I am not worthy of anyone’s time or attention, much less their respect or kindness. And that joy will be forever out of my reach.

My anxiety has caused me to withdraw from everything. I have kept working, but it has been begrudgingly. Jobs that I once loved have become a chore where I constantly feel like I am performing poorly and failing at every step. I have kept writing but hated every word I’ve put down. Feeling like I am a terrible writer, not worthy of ever being read.

I’ve been slack with basic life tasks. Cleaning, gardening, all those little things that used to bring me such a sense of pride. My anxiety told me these were insurmountable tasks and that doing them was pointless anyway. That it was far more productive to spend my time drinking, wasting time watching Netflix or gaming, anything to fill my mind with nonsense until it was time to try and sleep again.

I’ve been distant with family and friends. Absent on social media. Hiding away as I feel like I, the REAL me, should be alone. Not wanting to inflict my constant fears and steadily growing self-loathing onto others. I’ve lied to people. Told them I am okay, fine, just kicking along doing my thing. When the truth is I have been far from it. My anxiety has lied to me and then made me lie to others.

I have tried so hard to fight this alone. To battle my anxious mind. Mindfulness. Breathing. Exercise. Healthy eating. I have even been seeing a psychologist regularly for the past six months. I have fought and fought against taking medication, as I felt this was a weakness. That if I reached the stage where I needed to take pills just to feel normal, it would mean I had failed.

As I write this, I am five days sober. For… I’ve truthfully lost count how many times I have previously achieved this milestone. As I write this, I am also medicated. I have mixed feelings about this. I’ve always been one that believed the mind could heal itself without psychoactive drugs. But here I sit, two days in since commencing my new medication regime, and this is the first time in as long as I can remember that I have been able to put words down without hating them and hating myself.

I have absolutely no intention of staying on medication forever. I remain determined to fight my anxiety and win. Somehow. But for now, I will not hate myself or judge myself for using these meds as a steppingstone towards becoming myself again. I have hated and judged myself enough over this past year to last two lifetimes. That ends now.

For those of you out there dealing with anxiety, I am with you. You are not alone. Please do not give up. Reach out, seek help, use all the tools available to you to keep fighting your fight. I am absolutely going to kick my anxiety’s ass. And I know you all can too.

Much love,

Harley

Work From Home, But Don’t Live at Work

Ever since the dreaded COVID hit, more people than ever have been working from home. Some adapted to this change easily, even embracing it as a far better way of working. Others struggled, finding the new way of working to be a significant challenge.

The reasons for this vary. Regardless of your own experience, working from home presents with both benefits and drawbacks. No travel time means being able to devote more hours to work, the home, family, friends, or other projects. There are cost savings that come with no travel also. Not needing to purchase coffees or lunches has also saved people a few dollars. Being able to dress in comfort, get more sleep, spend your lunch hour with the loved ones in your home, including your pets. Sounds like a pretty good deal.

Not entirely. You may be saving money on travel, food and coffee. But you will be spending more on electricity, heating, internet. Then there is the shift in social interaction. We would be lying if we said we would otherwise engage with our colleagues if not for work. Sure, we all have friends at work. But the majority of our co-workers only converse with us because we are in physical proximity in the workplace. Working from home means we are only speaking with colleagues if we need to for a specific purpose. The random lunchroom and water cooler chatter has been lost.

You could argue that this increases productivity. And studies are showing us that in some cases, working from home does indeed result in people achieving more in their workday. Those that have stable home lives, who are able to set up an appropriate workspace in their house, and an absence of home-based distractions, are thriving in this new way of working.

But not everyone has a happy home life. Some unfortunately are burdened with factors that are not conducive to an enjoyable work from home experience. It may not even necessarily be as extreme as a family violence situation, although that is undoubtedly a devastating and extreme example. People with children have demonstrated significant loss of productivity when working from home. The combination of needing to home school their kids and still maintain their employment has proven a difficult task. It has almost become socially acceptable to parent your child while trying to work. Previously, the two tasks were mutually exclusive as work necessitated absence from the home. The problem here, is that the parent trying to do both is not only stretching themselves, but they are also not giving either work or their child their full attention. Spreading yourself too thin leads to stress, which is something we can all use far less of.

The key issue that is causing people to suffer when trying to work from home is an alarmingly simple one. We are not working from home. We are living at work. Think about it. Prior to COVID, people who were able to work from home were the envy of others. You would hear that and wish it was you. But how would you react to the notion of someone living at work? Hopefully with horror, as this is not the way life is supposed to be lived.

But the two states have become blurred. We continue to place the same expectations on ourselves in terms of our work and home lives. Trouble is, now we are working from home, we feel the pressures of both worlds at all times. We cannot put the responsibilities of our home aside when working if we are working in our home. And we cannot put the responsibilities of our work aside when home if we are living at work. So how do we fix this?

We fix this by finding a way to separate work and home, regardless of where we are working. One strategy is to “book end” your day. Do something before and after work each day to consciously separate work from home. Go for a walk, have a cup of tea, engage in mindfulness to prepare yourself for the mindset you wish to step into. Make the choice to shift from home to work and back and do a specific activity to help your mind and body adjust.

From there, you need to stick to your chosen mindset. If you are working, work. Give your work your full attention just as you would if you were in the office. Do not do household chores during your work time. Leave them for after work. Do not try and parent your toddler while working. Use childcare services, family, or take the day off work. No matter how tempting it may seem, do not allow your mind to exist in both work and home states at the same time. Separate them. Clearly and strictly.

As stated above, some people (like myself) have thrived working from home. We are more healthier, happier, and more productive. Not because of any favour or fortune, but because of possessing the ability to train our minds to create a clear divide between home and work, no matter where we are working. And you can do it too. Work from home. But don’t live at work.

Why I’ve Been Away From Here; And Why I’m Back Now

So, I’ve been quiet on here for a long time now. Which hasn’t been ideal, and I do want to provide an explanation as to why. Over the past eight months, I’ve been on insanely strict lockdowns due to COVID. Now, many of you may be thinking that would have given me lots more time to write here. But writing isn’t just about having the time to do so. It’s about being the in right headspace to get words out.

And during these past eight months, my headspace has not been great. I’m comfortable sharing this with you all because I think we all (and by that, I mean our entire society), needs to be real about mental health. We need to normalise these kinds of challenges. It’s ok to not to be ok and nobody should be shamed for struggling.

I’ve dealt with being locked down in some very unhealthy ways. Excessive alcohol use became a daily feature of my life. I stopped exercising. I stopped paying attention to what I was eating. My entire life became nothing but work, drinking, and gaming. These were my escapes, my ways of coping with not being able to see any friends or family. Not being able to leave my house without an essential reason and being required to wear a mask when doing so.

This lockdown has been harder on me than I expected. I thought I’d be all right. That seeing people over Skype would be almost as good as in person. That I’d find healthy ways to deal with the isolation. And at first, I was great. Working out every day, eating healthy, practicing my mindfulness. I can’t pinpoint when the shift happened. It wasn’t any one thing that led me back down that dark, negative path. It was gradual. Slow. But brutal.

I don’t want anyone to take this post as me slamming the lockdowns. That’s not the point of this piece. The point of this piece is that we can’t control what happens to us. But we can always control how we respond to and deal with it. Things happen, life throws us bad stuff. But it’s up to each and every one of us to take care of ourselves as best as we can, physically and mentally.

I’m happy to report that I’ve been making positive changes to get myself back to being me again. At least, the version of me that I want to be. I’m exercising every day and eating better. The booze, well, that’s still very much a work in progress. I’m under no illusions that this will take some time. But self-improvement isn’t something you ever stop doing. We are all a work in progress, and we can all get better.

On that note, I am making a pledge to be more active on this blog. I created this as a free space for all the random and sometimes slightly crazy thoughts in my head, and I haven’t been using it enough. It’s not about venting, it’s about expressing. Sharing. And communicating. Keeping things inside isn’t healthy and I’m lucky to have this forum to say basically whatever I want. So, I’ll be taking full advantage of that from now on.

I hope you are all doing well, or as well as you can be, wherever you are in the world. Please take care of yourselves, and your loved ones. Every day brings you another chance to do something to yourself better and get you closer to the version of you that you’ve always wanted to be. Don’t waste it.

Why Nobody is Built for Isolation

A friend of mine has been saying for months now that she believes she was “built for isolation.” Her tongue-in-cheek comments were often met with laughter from our little group, which has been communicating exclusively via group text since the whole COVID-19 thing started. It had never occurred to me to correct her, to share with her what I knew of human psychology, sociology and all the other “ologies” I’ve studied either formally or informally. I gave absolutely no thought to telling her at any time, that she was wrong. That none of us are “built for isolation.”

Today it hit her. Now I’ve always been a huge fan of self-realisation and insight. I love it when people discover things all on their own and don’t need to be told. For all the knowledge that I have rattling around inside my brain, I actually loathe telling people what to do or giving them advice. But I digress.. yeah, you regular readers here know I do that…

So today it hit her. Today was the day she made the declaration that she is not actually built for isolation. She spoke at length of the things she misses most, having never realised before, just how social this stuff was. She’d always felt like something of a loner. Single, mid-thirties, not close to anyone at work, with few dear friends, of which I am privileged to be one. She had always been content in her own company. Reading, watching television, playing with her beloved pet dog.

But she also loved going to the football. Doing yoga. Visiting friends. And these are things she’s not been able to do since the pandemic hit. Things she had been teaching herself to live without, but always holding onto the hope that one day, she’d be able to do them again. Her story and her feelings are shared by countless people. We’ve all given up things we adore in the name of following the rules and doing our part to help stop the spread of the virus. To stay safe and stay alive.

I guarantee you that you either know someone or have seen someone on social media making the comment or joke that they are perfect for isolation. People do often use humour to cope with stressful situations. But here’s the thing. Human beings are not supposed to be isolated. We are incredibly social creatures, constantly seeking connections, companionship, and communication. Social media has boomed since we’ve all been staying inside. Because we are not supposed to be alone. So we are all endlessly searching for some way of feeling like we are part of something, like there are others we can share ourselves with to find that common ground and delicious in-group feeling.

So, next time you hear someone saying they are built for isolation, look closer. Remember that all of us need other humans in order to survive and thrive. There are no exceptions to this, despite what some would have you believe. Reach out, communicate, and don’t shut yourself off from others. The only way we as a species are going to get through this crisis, is together.

Some Flaws With Psychology

When I began drafting this blog post, it was originally going to be entitled “Why Psychology Is Not A Science.” Now no doubt this was going to cause controversy, maybe even elicit some rage-fuelled responses. Knowing the storm it would likely cause, I wanted to ensure I had my facts absolutely correct before posting anything. So I did what any good writer, and of course, skeptic, would do. I researched.

Firstly, I am not saying that psychology is not valid. It is a very useful and interesting field of study, which has offered and I’m sure will continue to offer valuable information and insights into human behaviour. But, I have long been of the opinion that it wasn’t a science, at least, not in the true meaning of the word “science.” To me, science was something concrete and tangible, it was the study of things that were indisputably measurable. It wasn’t an area of study where the subject matter (human behaviours and emotions) couldn’t be directly observed and so relied on the over-operationalisation of its variables to be able to draw any kind of conclusion.

But then I actually looked up the definition of “science.”

Science has two main definitions, according to Webster’s, which are:

  1. Knowledge attained through study or practice
  2. Knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, especially as obtained and tested through scientific method.

Needless to say, the draft title of my post immediately changed, as clearly, according to the first definition anyway, psychology is indeed, a science. But does it appropriately use scientific method? The answer is, annoyingly, yes and no.

The biggest problem with psychology is that we can’t see a person’s feelings, thoughts, motivations or reasoning, all we can observe is the associated behaviour and their own self-report. Any scientist will tell you, self-report is one of the least scientific methods of gathering data, due to people’s unintentional inaccuracies, plus those that downright lie. But in most cases, it’s all psychology has.

Which brings me to something else psychology has, considered its most powerful tool in its arsenal. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The one book that psychologists will hold up as the proof that their discipline is a science, is valid and necessary. But the DSM, does not do psychology any favours in terms of asserting its credibility…

Let me explain. The DSM lists various psychological conditions and asserts specific diagnostic criteria for determining whether a person is afflicted with said condition. First year psychology students will inevitably diagnose themselves with something upon their first eager perusal of the volume. As laughably eyebrow raising as this is on its own, actually reading the diagnostic criteria reveals huge flaws. The most striking example lies in the diagnosis of anti-social personality disorder. One of the diagnostic criteria for this one, is that the person has a criminal record…

I can practically hear the criminologists shaking their head at this one, just as I did. To include criminal history as a diagnostic criteria in fact tells us nothing, except that the person committed a crime and got caught, and that the charges went far enough to end up on a person’s record. What of all the ASPD sufferers who didn’t get caught? Or, shock horror, have actually never committed an actual crime because they saw no benefit in it for themselves? And worse, what of criminals who do not have ASPD, but end up labelled with it because of their offending? These are important questions which many psychologists who tout the DSM as valuable seem unable to adequately answer.

But of course psychologists do realise that slapping a diagnostic label on someone has far reaching implications for that person’s life. So even though they have this DSM and insist its wonderful, they seem very reluctant to formally diagnose their patients with any of the listed conditions. Instead, they will assert that a person has certain “traits” associated with a particular condition or conditions. What they are saying here, is that a person meets some of the diagnostic criteria for a disorder, or disorders, but not quite enough to justify a full diagnosis.

Problem with this? Every single person walking the face of this earth has “traits” of these disorders. All of us. If you look hard enough, you’ll see these “traits” everywhere. So unfortunately, saying that someone presents with certain “traits” also tells us nothing terribly helpful.

To re-iterate, psychology is valid. And yes, it’s a science. But it does seem to somewhat overstate its power. I am not encouraging anyone to dismiss psychology, merely to urge you all to use caution when reading and interpreting the results and recommendations asserted by this field.

Check Your Sources, People

This blog post has sort of come about by accident, meaning, I didn’t sit down to write on this today. I was fully intending to write some more about alternative therapies. But while researching this topic, I was struck by the amount of studies I found online, which at a glance, seem to support their efficacy. Then I looked a little closer…

Today’s blog post was supposed to be about acupuncture, which some of you will remember from my previous post here that acupuncture was curiously not included in the Australian government’s study on alternative therapies. No sooner had my search begun than I was hit with a slew of studies claiming to find overwhelming support for acupuncture, concluding that it was an effective treatment for everything from mild pain relief to depression. One even alleged that it could be used to help patients recover from severe strokes. I was surprised to say the least. Last time I had researched this subject, I came across extremely different results. How could this happen?

Quite easily, as it happens. The journals publishing these studies had titles like “The Journal of Alternative Medicine,” “Acupuncture in Medicine” and “Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.” First clue, these journals are biased. And that is the absolute first thing you should check when doing research; where has it come from? Recall that for years cigarette companies bankrolled and published studies that claimed smoking was perfectly safe. Follow the money, follow the motive and ask yourself, could the publisher have an agenda? In this case, the agenda was plainly obvious.

But any good researcher knows that even sources which are likely biased can have a rare moment of truth. So I gave them the benefit of the doubt and read a couple of the studies. Now I won’t bore you all with the details, suffice to say, these studies were appalling. The methodology was flawed from the outset, the variable operationalisation was and the conclusions they drew from these poorly executed pieces of research were nothing short of laughable. And I’m being kind…

My research into this topic will continue for a later blog post, but this experience reminded me of the importance of checking sources carefully so I thought I would share this all with you. The Internet is an potentially amazing source of information, but there is a lot of nonsense out there. And the worst kind of nonsense is that which attempts to mask itself as credible, by being published in a peer reviewed journal. But not all journals can be trusted, such as the examples above which have a clear agenda and are funded by the very subject on which they claim to report. The take home message here is tread carefully. Vet your sources and check their work before you include it in yours. Happy researching folks!

Is Batman Insane?

Anyone who’s known me longer than five minutes knows I am a HUGE Batman fan. To me, he represents the ultimate hero and I’ve looked up to and admired him my entire life. It’s not just his ability to be a hero in the absence of superpowers, it’s his unfailing morals and belief that everyone has the capacity to reform and his willingness to take action, no matter the personal costs to himself and sacrifices he needs to make. Obviously I am speaking about the canonical Batman, the one who doesn’t kill, no matter what (however in this overall post, I am not necessarily discounting other versions of the character). Batman’s core values are ones that I share and they have only gotten even stronger over the years after everything I’ve learned from my studies and experienced in my professional career. I am not saying that I necessarily agree that vigilante justice is the way to tackle crime; in fact, no research has found that vigilantism does anything to reduce crime rates. What I am saying is that Batman’s motivation for his vigilantism, is a motivation shared by me in my own professional (and completely lawful by the way) career.

Over the years, I’ve come across a wealth of articles online asserting that Batman is actually not someone that should be admired because he is insane, or at the very least, has mental health issues. I take issue with these for two reasons. Firstly, they are fraught with inaccuracy about the character as well as the multiple disorders they claim with which he is afflicted. Secondly, the notion that someone shouldn’t be admired because they have mental health issues is one I find completely absurd. Am I defensive on this matter because I’m a huge fan? Of course the answer is yes. But I’m a huge fan who also happens to be an academic and qualified psychologist and I’ve yet to find any convincing papers by other credible academics that successfully argue the mental health diagnosis of this fictional (yes, folks, awesome as he may be, let’s not forget he isn’t actually real…) character. 

Anyone who has read the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders (DSM 5) and has a limited grasp of psychology, tends to be able to magically diagnose everyone, including themselves with at least one, and often more than one of the listed disorders. Trouble is, it takes more than a checklist to make such diagnoses and the DSM 5 doesn’t really offer more than this. I’ll spare you all the myriad of disorders other authors have claimed that Batman has, suffice to say, it is pretty much every single one in the DSM 5. 

You’ll get no argument from me that his behaviour is by no means “normal.” Neither are the circumstances in which he grew up. Both parents murdered in front of him when he was a child, raised by the family butler in an environment of wealth and excess, with few close friends and in a lavish home that bordered on one of the most crime-ridden cities that has ever existed. He took his pain, his grief and used it to make himself stronger, both mentally and physically to engage in vigilante justice, motivated by his desire to make his home, Gotham City, a better place. This endeavour consumed him completely, sacrificing love, relationships, leisure, normal employment, sleep and risking his life night after night for what has largely been a totally thankless task. His motivations have remained entirely intrinsic, even after he became more or less accepted by Gotham’s law enforcement and the general public. Does this make him insane? Or does it make him the ultimate example for positive mental health? Taking the pain of his past and letting it drive him to do some good? I tend to argue the latter for one very simple reason. If he was truly insane, or afflicted with a genuinely crippling mental health disorder, it is extremely unlikely that he would still be alive and so successful in his quest as Batman. It is even less likely that he would continue to allow criminals to live, in fact saving their lives on many occasions to ensure they face genuine justice and are afforded the opportunity to rehabilitate. These are not the actions of an insane individual. 

So why do people claim he is insane? Is it jealousy of this fictional character? A more likely explanation is that people look at someone who chooses to forego the “norms” of life for a seemingly endless quest as having something “wrong” with them. It’s comfortable for people to label those with values entirely different from their own as being “weird” and by extension, having some diagnosable condition. This notion could almost be an entire blog post on its own so I won’t dwell on it here. All I will say in conclusion is that until DC choose, as Batman’s creators and writers, to diagnose him with an actual mental illness, I will yet to be convinced by the amateur “experts” who continue to write articles claiming he is insane. And as someone who has also spent most of my life training physically and mentally, foregoing much of the “normal” that most people take for granted, to work in a field where I am at risk every single day from the very people I believe can rehabilitate, I take issue with the claim that these things make a person insane. Having a strong belief that what you are doing is right, even in the face of danger and being willing to make personal sacrifices to do what needs to be done, to make the world a little bit safer, does not make a person insane. It makes them necessary, and a valuable commodity in a world that desperately needs to change. 

“All men have their limits. They learn what they are and they learn not to exceed them. I ignore mine” – Batman.