Global Mental Health Day

Today is Global Mental Health Day, and I thought it worthwhile putting down some thoughts. I’m not going to claim that I fully understand what it is like to have a mental health issue, but I do know that I am personally working through a variety of issues. I have seen counsellors, and through that understand that I am trying to comprehend a lot of factors from the events of the last few years. Grief for the loss of the way of life we once had, grief for the loss of the wife I had, concern at how things will turn out for her in the future, fear of what may happen at any moment, on top of the pain of dealing with the various traumatic events that have occurred. Now don’t get me wrong, my wife has lost so much more, but our lives have been changed 100% from where they were.

Why mention this today? Posters in my office are raising awareness of Mental Health Day, with a focus on suicide, and the need to ask people how they are – ask twice being a theme. And posters giving facts that most, if not all of us will answer 14 times a day to the question how are you, with I’m fine. I’ve done it today, you probably have. But today I know that that isn’t true – today was one of the days when I could feel dark clouds descending this morning, for no obvious reason, other than it being a nice morning, and not wanting to waste time at a desk. That triggered overwhelming thoughts of despair, and I have spent the day feeling like I am walking through water, and that at any point I may trip and go under. My heart is heavy, I feel unmotivated, and am struggling with doing anything. All I really want to do is go back to bed and stay there warm under the covers, blocking out the world. But when people ask that question, I force a thin smile, and reply, fine, what about you. Not many people know what has happened in our lives – it is my choice to keep it private in work, but it means that on days like this I fight my own corner. And I understand that is stupid, that a problem shared and all that….

I should respond with a not great thanks, few things on my mind, but we don’t do that do we. We bottle it up for fear of showing a weakness to the world. I also feel that unless I have a physical problem, it isn’t real – my wife has a real, calculable illness, we can see it, measure it – she has a right to feel depressed, but for the rest of us…

I didn’t know what I was going to write at the start of this, and am not sure if I have got where I thought I would. Just a splurge of words, but sometimes a splurge is better than nothing. I’m no specialist, but I know what I am feeling, and am trying to understand how to cope with it. I try to go for a run, or listen to music, but a lot of things that used to bring pleasure simply don’t anymore.

I don’t have an answer, everyone deals their own way. Keep on keeping on.

PS The following sometimes helps me:

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