Introducing Inside Your Head
Inside Your Head is a podcast and blog designed to inform you about and demystify many aspects of psychology, mental health, neuroscience self-help and related matters. Nowadays, many of these things come under the general heading of “wellness”, and I shall certainly be covering physical well-being insofar as it affects our ability to successfully cope with life.
To this end, I shall be inviting a wide range of guests onto the show, ranging from academics and medical practitioners who specialise in particular aspects of the mind and brain, through to medical and science journalists who keep tabs on the latest developments, authors of best-selling books on the subjects within our brief and, occasionally, celebrities who have championed mental health and well-being. In addition, I may well interview members of the public who have had interesting or powerful experiences that help to shed light on the workings of the brain and mind.
The podcast will begin with a monthly schedule, and then progress to a two-weekly or even weekly schedule if it proves popular. The blog will carry transcripts of the shows and additional information, as well as links to useful sites and publications.*
Who am I?
My name is Henry Hyde, and whilst I’m new to broadcasting in this particular arena, I’ve been involved in publishing and podcasting for several years now and I run a Patreon site dedicated to a niche hobby. I am a history graduate and also work as a graphic designer.
But my real qualifications for launching this project date back to the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, when in September 2019 I was diagnosed with locally advanced and aggressive prostate cancer.
Whilst the diagnosis itself was shocking enough, I was also warned that, like for thousands of other cancer patients, the planned radiotherapy treatment would be delayed until the NHS could be sure that it was able to cope with the demands of the pandemic before it opened its doors to other therapies.
Alongside this double-whammy of news, I was prescribed, as is common for prostate cancer patients, regular injections of a substance called Prostap-3. This works to suppress testosterone levels, which has a direct bearing on the growth of the cancer. Whilst the drug proved efficacious, it had a dramatic effect on my personality, making me subject to wild mood swings and serious depression. It also has other, more worrying side-effects that can affect the patient for life.
I am delighted to report the radiotherapy was successful (I had 37 sessions running from June-August 2020) and my prostate cancer is in remission. The after- and side-effects were, however, fairly serious and it took me several months to recover, exacerbating the mental health challenges I was already facing. Finally, in January of 2021, fuelled by relationship difficulties, I suffered a mental breakdown and even contemplated suicide.
Fortunately, with the support of loving people around me, I managed to ‘put in the work’, as psychologists say, and began a journey that I am still on, reading self-help, psychology and neuroscience books voraciously, and discussing the subject with close friends who have extensive knowledge in the field of psychology. In recent months, I have also reached out and invested in professional therapy, which is helping me to deal with matters that bubbled up to the surface just prior to, and during my breakdown.
Alongside this, I had already started to address my physical well-being back in November 2020, when I was getting fed up with feeling so lousy because of the after-effects of the radiotherapy, suffering debilitating gut problems and crushing levels of fatigue. The only advice my oncologist was able to offer was that some patients find that increasing physical activity helped boost their energy levels.
As a self-employed person, with no government support during Covid (a long story, but let’s just say being a one-man limited company really limited my options!), disaster beckoned if I couldn’t overcome my inability to work longer than an hour or two a day. So I took some advice from a brilliant book and created a mini-habit of doing just a few minutes of exercise per day and, gradually, increased the amount I achieved.
By April of 2021, I had shed more than 50 pounds (24kg) in weight, reduced my blood sugar to pre-diabetic levels (I was Type2 for years), and my blood pressure had come down to within the ‘normal’ range. And the fatigue was 95% gone – I just grab ‘power naps’ when I need them now.
This obviously has had a dramatic effect not only on my physical well-being, but on my mental health too. Quite apart from the regular release of endorphins as a result of the exercise, which now also includes regular sessions with a personal trainer and long walks in the South Downs, it has gone a long way to restoring my self-respect, banishing the carping demon on my shoulder who told me I was crap at everything, and has boosted my desire to understand my own mind.
I now meditate regularly (I highly recommend the Calm app), practice mindfulness and devour helpful and fascinating books as often as I can. Learning self-compassion for the first time may literally have saved my life, and my transformation has not only benefited me, but also those around me. Quite simply, I’m a better person now than before the cancer struck, and am better able to help those I love with their own difficulties.
This, therefore, is why I’m so passionate about the subject matter covered in this podcast and blog – it matters to me in the most personal way possible. I’m not an ‘expert’ by any stretch of the imagination; I just know that this kind of material has helped me personally, and I truly hope it might help you too. Nor, indeed, am I completely ‘fixed’ – like everyone else, I’m on a journey, and some days are better than others. But at least now, I have a much better idea where to find the right tools to set me straight again if I have a bit of a wobble.
One of the joys of running a podcast is that I get to interview many of the people whose publications and work have made a tangible difference to my life. And if they’ve managed to do that for me, maybe they can help you, too.
As I write this in May 2021, I have been informed that my final injection of Prostap will be in July, which means that I should start to feel ‘normal’ again by the autumn. But after the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve all endured over the last couple of years, I have no idea what ‘normal’ means any longer, and I suspect that many of you feel the same way, given the explosion of interest in just the kind of information that I shall be sharing with you here.
Here’s hoping, then, that you’ll find something here and in the podcast that will help you to find, at the very least, a deeper understanding of what’s going on inside our own heads and what we can do to restore our equilibrium and achieve calm and resilience when things go wrong. And, as a result, live a calmer and happier life.
*Note: I am an Amazon affiliate and may earn a small commission when products linked to are purchased.