When being physically ill seems “better” for you
As you saw from my last newsletter someone very close to me is suffering. And they are suffering from, probably, some form of depression and social anxiety disorder. They have been in pain for a while.
It has been really interesting when I say to people that we have a friend staying with us for a while as they are quite ill that people really want to know what the illness is – looking for a physical ailment, a disease, a physical condition.
In the explanation of mental health I have seen people squirm, avoid eye contact and effectively shrug it off as someone being lazy.
In working with clients over several years these conversations is part of my normal day-to-day life, part of my DNA.
It has not until now that I have become aware. Really aware.
Aware that the conversation about mental health is still not acceptable.
That awareness of depression, anxiety and social disorders, whilst higher, is nowhere near where it needs to be.
Especially since 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year. Statistics also tell us 20% of children have a mental health problem in any given year and about 10% have a mental health problem at any one time.
Ok, you get the picture.
When my friend has spoken to people about it he has felt worried and scared but comforted. Because, more often than not, the people he is speaking to – the friends and the family have suffered, or know someone who has/is suffering.
“Our experiences overlap with other peoples but they are never exactly the same experience. Umbrella labels like “depression” and “anxiety” and “OCD” are useful but only if we appreciate that people do not have the same precise experience of things.
Pain is felt in different ways, to different degrees, and provokes different responses”
As a result of this I have started to read Matt Haig’s amazing book “Reasons to stay alive”. I want to shout from the rooftops that everyone who is having problems should read this book to know that they are not alone.
Matts’ frank, honest and forthright views and sharing of experience has taught me an incredible amount in a short space of time. I feel like I have been handed another lens to look through, another “guidebook” of awareness and appreciation.
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems in Britain
and women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men. Suicide is now a leading cause of death.
It causes more deaths (according to the World Health Organisation) than stomach cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver and Alzheimer’s disease.
But apparently it’s not “that bad”.
It isn’t tangible; it can have different causes and different manifestations. There isn’t a set blueprint for mental health as everyone has different brains and, as a result, different experiences.
Everyone deals with it differently, and so help and treatment needs to be different too. A common denominator is talking. Speaking out loud and hearing what you are feeling is fundamental to recovery. Gaining professional help – whether it be counseling, CBT, psychotherapy – will aid and accelerate change.
So, friends, rally round. If you are unsure about how someone is, ask them. If you are wondering “if”, speak. Reach out to the people in your life and let them know you are there.
‘… Once the storm is over you wont remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain.
When you come out of the storm you wont be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm is all about”
Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore – adapted from Matt Haig’s book
Check out Matts website and pass onto anyone you feel would benefit from his book.
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* We promise not to virtually stalk you, it will be (at max) weekly round ups and elements that it would be rude not to tell you about...