Tomorrow witnesses the advent of Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. As the subject’s education increases year on year, it’s re-assuring to witness the illnesses profile rise; with even prominent royals, like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, amongst it’s clarion callers.
Bearing the above. in mind, as someone who’s experienced the all-consuming joylessness of depression, I felt it’d be remiss of me not to pen my thoughts and experiences on the subject of mental illness.
Below I enclose an updated version of an essay I wrote three years ago on the subject of mental health. A time when I was more guarded about admitting my battles with the faceless nemesis which sporadically blindsides me from dark neurological recesses.
I’m significantly more candid these days, though, and the identity stealth I employed back then’s been long banished as one of yours truly’s behavioural traits. Anyhow, without must more ado, here’s the prose from the aforementioned three year old blog. Penned when I really wasn’t comfortable at revealing the mental health issues I live with:-
“Recently, through a variety of media channels, there has been a big drive to raise awareness about mental health. Within these campaigns, there’s been a particular emphasis on educating sufferers that it’s okay to chat about their debilitating nemesis. This strategy seen as an important step in reducing the number of people who suffer in silence.
I’ve written previously of a close friend with enduring mental health issues, who’s candidly spoken to me about the positive benefits he’s seen by adhering to this much advocated approach.
Yesterday, I spoke to this guy (for the purposes of anonymity I’ll call Granville), where we broached the subject of the ‘It’s Ok To Talk!’ campaign. A well-meaning drive aimed at encouraging sufferers it’s cathartic to open up about their oft stigmatised illness.
On asking him his opinion on this recent drive, he responded “It’s a good idea.”…… Despite the accuracy of his reply, as I’d asked an open question, I was hoping for a slightly more in depth answer from Granville.
Over the years I’ve learned he possesses many personalities. Consequently, it’s a matter of tailoring conversations around his behavioural changes, all of the time remaining supportive. Hearteningly, as this fellow holds great store in the recuperative powers of humour, these multiple personalities are predominantly affable, making counselling easier….. Not that I pretend to be a qualified counsellor, I hasten to add!
Granville is harmless enough chap, but his judgement can be clouded at times. During these times of recklessness his decision making processes aren’t always the best, leading to misguided thoughts which can exacerbate his condition.
Amongst these personalities, he has overly grand notions where he believes he’s head of the Welsh Tourist Board. When portraying this character, Granville acquires such a persuasive sales technique he recently convinced me to splash out on a weekend B&B break in Rhyl; along with procuring a ticket for the Llanelli Flower Show.
That was of course fictional and added to impart some levity to proceedings. However, his illness and capricious behaviour are deeply real.
Granville does advocate getting things off his chest can be remarkably helpful, even if it only affords short term respite. I tried to widen his support group by urging him to engage his brother for encouragement to embrace a more candid outlook. I’d forgotten, though, he doesn’t have a brother.
Apparently, he does chat about his woes to his dog Arnold. Although this is isn’t generally helpful as halfway through the tale Arnold generally wanders off, only to return a few minutes later with a bag of ‘Mrs Troutbeck’s Doggie Treats’. in his fur lined gob
As much as I’m flattered to be Granville’s confidante, for his own well-being I feel he needs to expand the audience of people he confides in. I appreciate it’s not easy if you have trust issues, but the more he reaches out the less he’ll fester in isolation.
From a personal perspective, I feel our conversations on mental health have given me a better understanding of the illness. Instilling in me a more empathetic outlook towards sufferers than exhibited previously.
There has been progression, Granners now embraces the surreal chambers of his mind, which are oft ventured in pursuit of raising levity. A side of him he’d previously loathed; longing instead for his erratic mind to behave like ‘normal’ people.
Granville understands his off the wall humour isn’t everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, however that no longer troubles him.
As an outsider looking in, I suppose getting rid of that self-loathing is a huge starting point to take his next steps. Some of the most prominent triggers for his depression (enduring family health issues) will not go away, however he continues to strive resolving things that can be altered. Such as ridding fungal nail disease
Although not always open about his dark mental nemesis, Granners does admit talking about his mental health with caring, trustworthy people is highly therapeutic. Disclosing that displays of candour provide catharsis providing a much needed escape from depressions vice like grip, no matter how fleeting
As the late actor Bob Hoskins advocated in the BT commercials over twenty years ago, “It’s good to talk”. Although with the advice coming from an actor who played a gangland boss, it had more than a whiff of a threat to me. His profferings warning its target audience to make lots of telephone calls, or he’d send the boys round!
Incidentally, even though I’ve added a few light hearted elements to this narrative, under no circumstances does yours truly think mental health issues are funny. I do though opine humour is an important accompaniment to aid recovery from depression.
Right, I need to conclude this monologue as I’ve a train to catch…… I haven’t really, I just thought it read better than telling you I’m going to sit on my ass binge watching Suits on Netflix.”
Incidentally, does anyone want to buy two tickets for this years Llanelli Flower Show?….. Oh, and yes, I am indeed Granville!
2 kids who've flown the nest, 1 wife whose flown with Jet2. Born at a young age in 1960's Leeds, the author became interested in the literary life when his wife bought him a dog. Having an allergy to dogs, he swapped it for a typewriter. Being unable to train the typewriter to retrieve tennis balls, he reluctantly turned to writing...... Website - www.writesaidfred.org