On my mission of “doing good stuff to be a better me”, I’m uncovering a lot of not-so-goodness and my Silly-Serious balance is way off.
But as it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I’d feel really guilty not giving this big topic a mention.
Some people in arms length of me or my social network have been through some hideously tough times…. Death of parents, siblings, partners, children, cancers and other illnesses, sexual abuse, alcoholism, divorce, drug addictions, suicide, serious debts and gambling, affairs, bullying and abusive relationships.
Turns out all of that stuff doesn’t just happen in one episode of Eastenders, it’s real.
Bitch please, you must have a mental disease
I talked about phsyical and emotional pain in Mind Over Matter, but I forgot to mention something really obvious… Physical pain is visible and gets instant sympathy from anyone without a heart made of stone, but emotional pain can be really hard to spot.
I lived through three, maybe four years of, at times, excruciating mental and emotional torture and apart from family and a few friends who I only told the tiniest of snippits to, nobody could have possibly guessed what was going on behind closed doors. For quite a long time I couldn’t see a way out.
I found one.
Other people aren’t as lucky, they don’t succeed in rewiring their brains and clambering out of the dark hole. In the last six months, two friends of friends have taken their own lives before the age of thirty-three. Suicide rates are massively up in the last few decades, and men are outnumbering women at least 3:1.
I used to ignorantly roll my eyes at people banging on about stuff like this on social media, telling their sob stories and preaching. But now I get it. The subject of mental health is still not fully accepted without an onslaught of judgement and the easiest way say hello to that big fat elephant in the room is to type, tweet, like, share and talk.
I know it’s not just chemical imbalances in the brain that cause mental health illnesses, but I’m a firm believer that in the majority of cases, we have enough medicine in our minds to combat things like depression and anxiety – popping back pills should be the very last resort.
When I broke free from what was causing me pain, I recognised that my brain had been dysfunctionally conditioned, so I got help… I went to group counselling sessions (comedy sketch material), a one on one counsellor (useless) and psychotherapy.
The clinical term of the latter makes you feel embarrassed to admit it, like you’ve been locked up on Shutter Island wearing a deranged face and a tatty cardigan for months on end, but actually it was just as much fascinating as it was helpful.
For who to talk to, Hub of Hope is a good place to start. It’s a national mental health database bringing help and support together in one place, set up by a Hero called Jake Mills. Jake is a comedian and mental health campaigner from Liverpool who has lived through his own dark days and now wants to help others get through theirs.