Let’s be truthful here for a moment, when people think of Mental Health, they still find it hard and taboo to talk about. No matter how many fundraising campaigns are carried our or how many mainstream celebrities speak out about Mental Health and the importance of talking about it, it is still going to be considered the dark shadow of the underbelly of society. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be talking about it. We should be. More than we are, and we are now more than we ever have been in the past. My view is that some people are of the believe that they don’t have issues with their own Mental Health. It’s not something that most people would share with society or broadcast to anyone outside of their own head. – In many families even, it is considered a taboo subject that’s there but never spoken of. Some people believe that if they ‘think’ they don’t have a mental health, then its not something they will need to deal with. – I can see how this self-reverse psychology could work for some, in the same way that CBT can work for some (if you are in the right place for that kind of help or suggestive assistance), but I also believe it to be quite an unhealthy option or opinion, and not one which I personally can get behind. The connection of people suffering with Mental Health issues and the suicide rate of people of all ages has never been so connected as it is right now. But there’s not only a taboo nature attached to the subject of Mental Health, there’s also a stigma. Particularly in family situations, and more widely spread now more than ever. When you mention Mental Health, people can often jump to the most extreme fringes of it and its effects on people. – Just because you are suffering Mental Health issues, doesn’t mean you are having suicidal thoughts or tendencies. It doesn’t mean you aren’t either. It doesn’t mean you never have or you never will, and it doesn’t mean you should be scared of frightened of if and when those thoughts are feelings approach. When people tend to think of Mental Health, its fairly normal for them to then think Suicide, where as in reality, there are many many steps between feeling a bit down and feeling suicidal.
I have Mental Health issues. I have done for years. I have had depression for around thirteen years so far now. In the past when things have been bad for me, I have managed to self-manage my mental health through these hardships and navigate out the other side of them. I have done this for years. Through many different experiences, challenges and life-changing events, there have been some ‘for sure’ hardships and times throughout the years. I have always felt however that I have remained ‘in control’ of my thoughts and feelings throughout, and I have been able to survive throughout these depressive episodes without medication, without support and mostly through my own free will. For the past fourteen months however, I have been stuck in the latest depressive disorder episode. I have first of all been diagnosed for the first time in those 13 years, which all that really boils down to is the fact that I have self-identified where I have not been feeling right, where I know something has been incorrect in my day to day life, and I have actually gone out and found myself some help, support and assistance. I have basically, found the courage to take myself to see my GP. I have been receiving ‘treatment’ to help manage my depressive disorder for just over a year now. During that time I have tried several different medications, all of which have a different range of side effects and all of which have been met with a change in my personality. – So finding the right drug for me, is very much an ongoing and ever-changing situation. Not an easy one to get right.
Following my Mum’s death in June 2019 I have been in therapy. Initially I was offered an online course in CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy). which is designed around the concept of everybody being able to help themselves. Which feels very much like everybody being able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, which we should know from years of trying, doesn’t fucking work for everybody. Yes, its an understandable concept, and wouldn’t it be nice, and a reduction of pressure on the system if it universally worked? – But it doesn’t. As you have to already be in the right frame of mind for its concepts to mean anything to you. Following this spectacular failure, I was referred to the Liverpool Bereavement Centre for one-on-one, face-to-face therapy. THIS.. is what I needed from the start. – But the service is limited. In fact you are limited to a set of 10-12 weeks of counselling (one appointment of 50 minutes per week) and there is usually a waiting period of around a month or so. I was lucky in that there was no waiting period for me, which makes me think, perhaps I was in more need of starting therapy than I believed I was at the time. Therapy is a good option, if it provides a constant and consistent method of support to patients and service users. That is why sessions are regular and offered in a block, to try to get you to become better and be able to manage things more over the course of the therapy sessions. Progress is continuously monitored. Except when it isn’t.
In March 2020 was when the UK started to feel the effects of the global pandemic called CoVID-19. This infection has rapidly spread around the World following its outbreak in China in December 2019. We as a society have been surprised by its rapid growth and it is currently showing no signs of slowing down. In the UK alone, as of today we have lost a total of over thirteen THOUSAND people. The World population is going to be drastically reduced if we do ever manage to get on top of this virus. – There is a lot more to be said about CoVID-19, but this feels like the wrong time and place to say it. We have a wonderful resource here in the UK called the NHS or the National Health Service, and I would be doing them a dis-service if I didn’t stop and say ‘thank you’ for the hard work and dedication of the majority of their staff. They are working hard to protect us the general population from the effects of this virus. Many NHS staff have lost their life to this virus.
We seem to be in a weekly cycle at the moment of taking a few moments on one day a week and sharing our appreciation through the social act of clapping for the NHS. – It’s very nice and good for moral (at the moment), but it’s one hell of an empty gesture to be giving. Yes, absolutely the NHS are doing the best they can with the money and resources they have available to them. But I can almost guarantee that I think they would appreciate a face mask and proper PPE than the country clapping for them every Thursday evening. All I am saying here and now is this: The NHS is doing a wonderful job, looking after us and our families in this time of need. However, can we appreciate for a moment that we as a general population are not making the situation any easier for NHS staff if we don’t pay attention to the lockdown and current situation in our country. We are taking the time to congratulate their hard work and dedication to they jobs. That is all great and fantastic. But can we please stop for a moment and realise that we are firefighting the virus. We have no cure. We have developed no cure. We have no vaccine developed, we have no mass-produced test available, we have not got all the answers as yet. We are nowhere close to being at a place where we can say we are confident of beating this virus. There are too many variables that we just don’t have at this time.
Can we please throw our support into finding and fighting for a cure to this virus? Before we start congratulating people en mass. – Take a look at the sights on Westminster Bridge last night… Hundreds of Police men and women, all standing outside their cars, on the bridge. With the general public while nobody was obeying public order, social distancing guidelines. What the fuck? – For a fleeting moment of national unity? – At what cost? All I am saying is, lets get something done about the situation before we congratulate anyone or any group of people. – We must realise, we haven’t done anything yet. We have not achieved anything yet. If you like me want to show and share you support for the NHS, on your next shopping trip, pick up a packet of face masks (as these have become a symbol and a representation of PPE [which is potentially the wrong message in itself]. but this is what the UK public – in its infinite wisdom – have chosen to focus on. Pick up a pack of these and donate them to your local A&E department, your Doctors Surgery, your Drop-in Centre or wherever you usually find yourself when you are suffering. This could become a symbol of your support the same way that clapping has. – The Rainbow symbol that people are putting in their windows… Great, but again an empty gesture and one which if full of anything, is full of false hope. – And false hope can be just as dangerous as no hope at all. The Rainbow.. Shouldn’t be complete. Completeness symbolises that we are out of the dark days, because rainbows come AFTER the rain. But we haven’t achieved anything as yet. IF you want to be different and you can make a financial donation, donate and support the World Health Organisation, without whom we will never have a truly global, truly tested vaccine. American President Trump is an idiot. We know this. The American People know this too. Pulling support for the WHO is the same as saying ‘Oh you dropped the ball and we all got coronavirus’. It’s the blame game and its a political bomb. Stay far far away from it, and support the WHO.
Back to the subject of Mental Health. In these times of uncertainty, where the focus is mostly on supporting those who have symptoms of the CoVID-19 virus, many institutions which assist those who are suffering with Mental Health issues are currently closed or suspended. Personally I went to sign up for one such organisation, on the day before the UK was plunged into Lockdown. I got through the signup process only to be told that all support groups are off until further notice. – What a pointless waste of time that was. I am not being hard or unfair on the one I have signed up with, nobody seemed to know that Lockdown would do what it’s done to us. But really, we don’t know yet what it’s really done to us as a society, as a population, as humans. Mental Health and its sufferers & survivors are being largely forgotten by the healthcare system at the moment. There are hundreds of thousands of people every second who are falling through the cracks in society. We cannot let this happen on our watch. We have to find a way to provide support. Meaningful support to those suffering with mental health issues, and we also have to realise that the number of surfers is going to increase exponentially due to the current crisis we find ourselves within. The support system was already at breaking point before any of this kicked off, it will be overrun if more assistance and help doesn’t come its way.
What’s the great solution I am offering? – I am not, who am I to offer such a solution? I am nobody. I am simply a person trying to manage day to day life living underneath the enteral dark cloud of depression with a sprinkling of anxiety on top. Sometimes it helps me to write about how I am feeling, or sometimes it helps me to write about something completely random or out of the blue. This time it seems to have been mental health and CoVID-19. We all run the risk of feeling this way in one way or another if we don’t start listening to each other.
God (or somebody), help us.
[DISCLAIMER: If you’ve been affected by the thoughts and opinions expressed above, or you are really interested enough to read through a wall of text and click a link at the end of it, why not make it this one:
https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/ – Time to Change is supported by Mind and Rethink Mental Health, Two supportive charities who are involved in the battle to end the stigma and taboo nature of the ‘other’ epidemic happening within today’s society.