It’s humpday once again and the weekend is just coming into view! I hope you’ve had a great week and, if you haven’t, well that’s ok, too. In fact, it’s far more than ok. Maybe you’ve had a week of highs and lows. Perhaps it was all lows. Let’s talk about that.
Last Thursday was the first of February. It was also known as ‘Time to talk Day 2018’. This was a wonderful initiative brought about by ‘Time to Change’ whose mission it is to change the way we think and act about mental health. They are supported and run by mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
I’m really proud to work for a company who recognises the importance of addressing mental health. At the start of February QVC sent out an email to all of its staff letting us know that they are making mental health a priority not just for the first day of the month but for the entire year ahead. There are posters up all around our building and we’ve been given advice on what to do if we need to talk and how to do it via telephone, email or in person.
I felt compelled to post this image of the #timetotalk poster on my social media. Below is a paragraph I wrote to accompany it and I was deeply touched by the amount of people who got involved by sharing their own experiences.
“I can’t say for certain but maybe my brother, Noel, might not have lost his life to suicide at 33 back in the 80s if public perception had been what it is now. My father, before him, also received treatment for a condition which would now be treated in a completely different and more compassionate way. My life is affected on a daily basis by mental health and I know I’m not alone. If you’re feeling alone please know you’re not.”
Even mentioning the circumstances surrounding Noel’s death was, for many years, something I felt that I maybe wasn’t supposed to talk about publicly. As though it was shameful. There was also a feeling that I shouldn’t upset people by talking about something as shocking as this, that it was something to be swept neatly away so as not to make anyone else uncomfortable. The same with my dad’s many years of severe depression. It’s not pretty or nice. The truth is sometimes uncomfortable and I think we have had a tendency of not wanting to think or talk about uncomfortable things like mental illness and death. Thankfully, we are evolving.
Someone else in my family currently suffers from some pretty extreme mental health concerns. I won’t go into too much detail as it’s not my place to do so but we are very close and I see, on an almost daily basis, just how dark it can get when you’re imprisoned by your own mind. We can run from many things in life but we can’t run from ourselves. When we understand an individual’s torturer and tormentor is their own brain it can shed some light on why some people feel the only escape is to exit life. This isn’t, in any way, condoning suicide or suggesting it as a reasonable option. It’s just to point out that mental illness can be an unrelenting terrorist and so we need to find ways to help people to see some light through the bars of their imprisoned minds. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Broken limbs. Not something I’ve ever suffered from, to date, and hope I never will. I’ve known people who have, though. Not one person I know of has just left it to heal of it’s own accord without seeking help from a medical professional. In our modern world we wouldn’t dream of leaving a fracture untreated. Or chest pain. Or any pain except, maybe, the pain of mental illness.
There are numerous organisations out there to help. You don’t have to ‘be strong’, ‘man up’ or ‘snap out of it’ or any other outdated cliche. Of course the ultimate goal is to move forward and not stay stuck but, going back to broken limbs, you wouldn’t expect someone with a compound fracture to immediately do everything the way they did before the damage was done. The problem has to be examined and assessed, perhaps medicine and some precautionary measures may need to be put in place whilst healing. It doesn’t happen overnight but it slowly gets better with the right care. The same can be true of mental illness. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not as serious. You never know what someone else is going through.
A theme which arose in the replies I received regarding mental illness was the impact bereavement had had on so many people. One of our on screen guests, Linda Magistris, sadly lost her husband to illness a few years ago. She has since set up The Good Grief Trust which was established to help those who are grieving.
The Samaritans are another wonderful organisation. They will listen if you need someone to talk to. It is said that a problem shared is a problem halved. Well, even if it’s not quite half, it could help and has to be worth a try.
I had planned to keep this brief and then move on to some of the recipes I’ve been concocting in order to keep this blog from being too ‘heavy’. I’ve changed my mind. It’s that kind of ‘polite’ thinking that stops us facing the, sometimes uncomfortable, truth about mental health. It really is time to talk.
Love and thanks for reading,
Ps… I may just squeeze in a healthy recipe blog between now and next Wednesday, too 😉 Healthy eating certainly has elevated my mood and energy levels x